Invented in the 19th century, the bicycle hasn’t changed much since then, and it’s sorely in need of a 21st century makeover. Luckily, there are plenty of designers eager to jump in and do just that, with amazing concepts that fold into compact portable packages, harness solar energy, store kinetic pedal power and even allow amphibious travel. Some are ready for the assembly line while others will never be more than an idea, but all 16 of these designs are quite a departure from the ordinary.
Laptop-Charging Bike Concept
(image via: gizmodo)
It’s probably the boxiest and least aerodynamic bicycle concept yet, but the most interesting part of Yuji Fujimura’s strange design has nothing to do with looks. This electric bicycle has a docking station for your laptop, charged by the bike’s battery as you ride. Sure, it’s probably uncomfortable and you’d be knocked down in no time flat by the slightest gust of wind, but you’d never run out of juice.
Incredible Folding Backback Bicycle
(image via: bergmoench)
The backcountry provides some of the most breathtaking, adventurous settings for mountain biking – but the journey to get there sometimes takes enthusiasts over terrain that has to be negotiated on foot, and most bicycles aren’t easy to carry. The Bergmönch folding backpack bicycle eliminates that problem. Not only is it small and lightweight, it folds perfectly onto itself in less than two minutes in a convenient configuration.
Solar Powered Electric Bike
(image via: the design blog)
While cyclists on traditional rides huff and puff up hills, Cycle Sol owners can glide up effortlessly using solar power instead of muscle power. Designed by Miroslav Miljevic, this electric bicycle has a roof that both protects the rider from the sun and rain and collects solar energy. It’s made for people who don’t feel up to the physical demands of cycling, but still want to get the rest of the benefits.
Collapsible Bike Concept
(image via: tuvie)
Portability is key when it comes to the bikes of the future, and concept designers are finding incredibly creative ways to make bikes light and collapsible. This design by Blair Hasty not only breaks down into a small package, but also provides storage space in the form of a bag positioned between the wheels. Hasty also set out to improve rider posturing, saying “I resolved these issues by moving the position of the pedals behind the rider and moving some of the pressure of their body weight onto the front of the hip bones, using a broad front section of the seat and onto their forearms with supports protruding from the handles.”
BMW Concept Bikes
(image via: millionface.com)
It comes as no surprise that some of the coolest-looking bicycle concepts were designed by automaker BMW. It’s not clear exactly what these concepts were created for, but with their colorful motorbike-esque shapes and proportions, they do provide some inspiration for bringing bicycle design firmly into the 21st century.
(image via: dvice)
Designed to carry the rider over both land and water, this strange bicycle concept was designed especially for the city of Helmond in the Netherlands, which has as many canals as it does roads. Created by GBO Design, the Di-Cycle is far bulkier than traditional bicycles – which would seem to limit its application – but does offer an intriguing solution to amphibious travel.
ThisWay: All-Weather Bicycle Design
(image via: dezeen)
One of the most common reasons people give for not riding a bicycle more often is that they don’t want to get wet. All-weather bicycle concepts aren’t entirely new, but they’ve always been rather clunky and unrealistic – until now. ‘ThisWay’, a covered bicycle concept by Swedish designer Torkel Dohmers, features a transparent roof that can protect against precipitation. It’s a cool idea, but critics point out that the lack of fenders means water from the road will splash up onto the rider.
Locust Flexible Folding Bicycle
(image via: coroflot)
With its large circular frame, the Locust folds in a way that most other portable, collapsible bikes don’t. Designer Josef Cardek told Ride This Bike, “The idea behind the Locust was developed in a very analytical way: I asked myself what parts of a normal bike can never fold? Wheels, of course. So everything else must be subordinated to wheels…and from this idea it was clear to me what shape the bike will have. Also, one of my core objectives was to keep ‘classic conservative geometry’, using the biggest wheels possible to achieve the easy handling and feel of a normal bike.”
Grasshopper: Folding Electric Bike
(image via: inhabitat)
Naturally, some intrepid designers have taken folding bicycles to the next level by making them electric. But none have gone quite so far as David Gonçalves, whose Grasshopper design not only gets you to and fro, but can also become a stationary exercise bike and even generates and stores the energy you produce when pedaling.
Wind-Powered Racing Bicycle
(image via: wee.ato-nh.nl)
Unwieldy? No doubt. But creating this monster of a wind-powered, multi-seater bicycle (tricycle, actually) was a dream of Gustav Winkler’s since he was a boy, and he’s thrilled with the results, even if the creation doesn’t offer much in the way of protection for the rider.
Minimalist Theft-Proof Computer-Aided Bicycle
(image via: The Daily Mail)
With spokeless wheels designed to eliminate wind drag, tires that can’t be punctured, no visible chain and a minimalist frame, this bicycle is a definite departure from old school designs. The brainchild of Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman, the bike has a solar-powered battery that assists the rider up hills and even has a fingerprint-reading device that only allows the owner to ride it. A tiny computer on the handlebars calculates the number of calories burned based on the number of times the pedals rotate. This is definitely a bike of the future: Boardman estimates that it won’t be available for at least two decades.
Adjustable, Eco-Friendly Versabikes
(image via: the design blog)
The Versabike seems to be employing some biomimicry, with a shape that calls to mind a human body. Designed to adapt to a range of different user heights, this bicycle concept adjusts using the same mechanics that we do, bending at the ‘knees’ to bring the seat and pedals closer to the ground. As a result, it can be shared by a couple or grow with a child.
Webcycle: Internet Exercise Bike
(image via: tom scott)
This bicycle isn’t going to get you from point A to point B, but it will help you get fit. Internet addicts who find themselves out of shape because they like to sit in front of the computer all day could use the WebCycle to pedal their way to fitness and browse the web at the same time – with a small catch. If you pedal slowly, the bike and accompanying computer program restrict your bandwidth, so you’re effectively punished or rewarded depending on how hard you work.
Nulla: Ultramodern Spokeless Bike
(image via: tuvie)
Nulla means “nothing” in Italian, and though this bicycle is closer to “nothing” than most, it’s still a whole lot of something. Like the minimalist theft-proof bicycle by Chris Boardman, the Nulla has no hubs or chain drive for perhaps the sleekest, most futuristic look yet.
Honda U3-X: If Unicycles and Segways Mated
(images via: Daily Mail and Engadget)
Okay, so this isn’t a bicycle, it’s a unicycle – and the concept is totally contrary to the essence of a bicycle, which requires some kind of effort on behalf of the rider in order to move. The Honda U3-X is like a Segway for even lazier people, allowing users to control it simply by leaning their bodies slightly. About the size of a retro boombox, the U3-X is battery powered and goes only 4mph. But considering that it’s the world’s smallest mobility device, it could possibly inspire other concepts that are a bit more useful in the real world.
Suspended Bicycle Lane Concept
(image via: kolelinia)
It’s not a bicycle itself, but rather a new way to ride them: a bike lane in the sky, where cyclists can literally rise above the headaches of car traffic. Architect Martin Angelov envisions the ‘Kolelinia’ as a sort of self-powered monorail for bikes: rails run between buildings and towers in the city, grabbing onto the bikes’ handlebars to keep riders safe on their sky-high trail. Cyclists are kept out of street traffic and can safely go anywhere they need to.