Imagining the bicycles of tomorrow (images)

Results of the 2010 Seoul Cycle Design Competition are in. Get ready to rethink your concept of bikes.

Leslie Katz
1 of 12 Marcos Madia

Bikoff briefcase bike

Results are in for the international Seoul Cycle Design Competition 2010, organized by design magazine designboom in collaboration with the Seoul Design Foundation, and they're sure to make you rethink your old balloon-tired cruiser with the coaster brake.

More than 3,000 designers from 88 countries submitted ideas for bikes that could advance Seoul as an eco-aware, design-conscious city; they came up with everything from bikes that double as shopping carts to folding bikes, solar-powered electric cycles, and bikes made from recycled wood.

A few of the winning designs have already hit the pavement; many more are still in the concept stage. Among the shortlisted entries is the Bikoff, created by Marcos Madia of Argentina in hopes of convincing urban office workers to ditch their cars and commute via bike. The compact, foldable bike features a removable briefcase incorporated into the lightweight frame.

2 of 12 Arnaud Zill

Shopping Bike

Another bike with carrying capacity is the Shopping Bike by Swiss designer Arnaud Zill. Layers of plastic stretched over the bike's frame convert into a shopping bag when the sides of the frame are folded, with the handlebar serving as a handle for the cart. The seat can be stored in the trolley. It's unclear, however, if riders can bike home with their goods onboard, or if they should plan on pushing their cart.
3 of 12 Achim Dunker

Bike with wooden parts

German film director and bicycle builder Achim Dunker decided to keep it simple with an eco-conscious bike built using recycled ash and mahogany woods. The bike sticks to the basic functions--it's single speed, with brakes, a bell, and a battery-powered light.
4 of 12 Junkyo Lee


City bikes tend to get stolen, so Korean designer Junkyo Lee introduced the HELO, or Head Lock, bike. It contains a password-activated security system that allows the front part of the bike to recede into the main part, "just like when the turtle puts its head in the shell," Lee says.
5 of 12 Valentin Kirsch

Seoul Is Now

Germany's Valentin Kirsch also took theft into consideration when designing his Seoul Is Now city bike. Parts such as the drum brakes, hub gears, and dynamo for regenerative charging are encased within the exterior surfaces of the bike.

The bike features a handlebar with integrated lights, blinkers, and a navigation system. An enclosed belt drive system reduces maintenance, and single-sided wheel mounts ease tire changes and repair.

6 of 12 Garrett Belmont

Sunn Beam

Too much time in the urban jungle can make you yearn for fresh air and waves. Enter the Sunn Beam bicycle, aimed at "the serious beach bum," says U.S. designer Garrett Belmont. Its hollow "beam" frame carries a beach umbrella and folding beach chair, and a removable cargo rack accommodates additional beach supplies.
7 of 12 Renfei Bai and Likun Zhen


The Patrolman, from Renfei Bai and Likun Zhen of China, is a compact electric bike meant to be charged at one of Seoul's many solar energy charging stations. A GPS navigation system is located between the handlebars, and the power cord is wound and stored in the round compartment on the side.
8 of 12 Miguel Angel Iranzo Sanchez


The Unico plastic bike, from Spanish designer Miguel Angel Iranzo Sanchez, is constructed in just one piece, without any welded seams, to make for less parts and less assembly time. All materials (polypropylene for the frame and other rigid parts and polyurethane for the saddle, the tires, belt, and pegs) are recyclable. The designer says his bike is solid enough for city use.
9 of 12 Thuring Lukas + Lukas Thuring + Florian Vecsey

Tribune Generator Bike

The electric-operated tricycle-recumbent Tribune Generator Bike out of Switzerland is powered by a generator and an electric motor. With an external battery, its drive capacity can be increased to support the driver's power. A lockable trunk sits atop the back wheel.
10 of 12 Francois Bernard, Sonja Breuninger, Marion Pinaffo


The Bagbike, like several of its competitors, takes into consideration the fact that urban bikers generally need to tote purses, computers, schoolbooks, and the like. "But carrying a backpack can make you sweat, leaving your computer on the luggage rack is dangerous, even a cell phone in the pocket is not comfortable when we are riding," French designers Francois Bernard, Sonja Breuninger, and Marion Pinaffo say in their artists' statement.

Their solution? Dividing the bike frame in two, and joining the parts to create a storage compartment in the center for holding essential items.

11 of 12 Emil Tin

Northern Lights

Designer Emil Tin drew inspiration from traditional Danish messenger bikes for the Northern Lights bike share system, which incorporates mobile and GPS services for the easy location and reservation of shared bikes. The front carrier can be folded in on the sides to save space in dense urban areas like Seoul, and at night a row of LEDs light the container up so the bikes are easy to spot.
12 of 12 Michael Killian

Sideways Bike

Designer Michael Killian of Ireland likes to get around on the Sideways Bike, a bicycle with two independently steerable wheels that travels sideways, much like a snowboard.

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