If you like putting things together and you like getting noticed, then you'll probably like the Bellcycle. Created by New York City-based cyclist Alex Bell, it will be sold as a kit that users assemble themselves. Among its interesting features are front-wheel drive, under-the-seat steering, and a modular design that lets users swap in different rear ends. It's also small, light (20 lb/9 kg) and cheap.
Although the Bellcycle's pedals are located on the front wheel, it's not a direct-drive bike like a penny farthing. Instead, utilizing an arrangement that's pictured below, it has a geared drivetrain.
"The crankset is bolted to a spindle/axle which goes through the front wheel," Bell explains to us. "Four jockey wheels route the single loop of chain from the crankset to the freewheel or cassette which is mounted on the front wheel. While a hub gear might be better in the long term, this solution is very inexpensive and allows for a range of gears."
It additionally has not one but two rotation points in the frame.
"Regular bikes have one axis of rotation for steering which is where the handlebars mount," says Bell. "The Bellcycles have two rotation points and a spring which function to remove any destabilizing effects of the pedals being on the front wheel when you are riding … In effect the rear section of the cycle 'casters' or follows behind the rest of the cycle and is free to rotate from side to side. It also allows the bicycle to easily fold in half."
That rear section can just include a regular wheel, although tinkerers can also swap in a wheel with an electric motor, a dual-wheel setup to turn it into a tricycle, or a longer section to turn it into a cargo bike of sorts.
It reportedly takes about 10 to 15 minutes to learn to ride.
Alex tells us that he plans on bringing the kit – which will include all the necessary tools – to market within a few months, hopefully priced at around US$149. In the meantime, he's looking for testers to try it out. If you're interested, drop him a line via the link below.
You can see him taking the Bellcycle for a spin, in the following video.
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