A typical electric bicycle tries to hide the motor inside. Some have clunky, bulky frames, and some, like the new Faraday Porteur, manage to disguise all of the gadgetry so the bike looks as much like a classic ride as possible. And then there are ideas like this one: The INgSOC concept bike looks nothing like any bike you’ve ever seen before.
The bike, originally designed a few years ago by Edward Kim, Benny Cemoli, and Stephan Mora, was never intended to be made. Kim compares it to a concept car that's not ready for the real world. Instead, it was meant to get people thinking. "It attempts to give a glimpse into the future of bicycle design and technology by choosing to let go of many aspects of practicality for the sake of expressing an idea," he says.
Like some other electric bikes, the INgSOC gives a choice of modes. A removable battery pack behind the seat runs an electric motor. The rider can choose to sit back and let the bike do all the work, or switch to a mode that just helps make pedaling easier. Or—if someone wants to actually get some exercise—they can switch to pedal-only mode. As they ride, some of that energy will be captured to go back into the battery pack and power lights and a smartphone dock.
It’s the shape of the bike that really makes it different. The bold design "acts as a critique of many widely accepted conventions within the cyclist culture," Kim says. "The conventional bicycle construct has been reworked and refined in a way that deals with functionality and performance—mainly the removal of wheel-chain-pedal drivetrain."
Though the bike is a concept, Kim says that as an experiment he and the other designers have spent time actually building the frame using hybrid digital fabrication techniques. The next step, he says, will be making a prototype.
"That effort will include involvement of engineering, testing of the ergonomics, structure and materials, safety features, cost concerns and many other considerations which can push this design towards a more practical state," he explains. "The success of those efforts is yet to be measured, but regardless of the results, it's important not to underestimate the value of concept design, which essentially aims to innovate and allow the designers and consumers to dream outside of reality."