Cercle touring bike features a built-in folding chair, table and cot
Camper vans (aka caravans) don't just carry your gear – they also serve as a shelter when you stop. So, why don't touring bicycles do likewise? Well, the prototype Cercle bike does just that.
Inventor Bernhard Sobotta initially came up with the idea when he was an Industrial Design student at Austria's FH Joanneum University of Applied Sciences. Motivated by residual wanderlust from earlier travels in Australia, he decided that his bachelor's thesis should address the question, "Is it possible to integrate overnight accommodation on a bicycle?". The current prototype is the answer.
Living up to its name, the Cercle does indeed have a big circle in the middle of its frame. Within that circle is a 3.5-kg (7.7-lb) aluminum module known as the CampingCompanion. While the bike is in motion, that module sits flat and in line with the rest of the frame. When the rider stops and puts down the bike's two-legged kickstand, though, the CampingCompanion is folded out to sit horizontally perpendicular to the frame on either side.
If the rider wants to have a meal, they can set the module up to serve as a recliner chair with a small table in front. When it's time to bed down for the night, it can be folded back to take the form of a cot. Plans call for an included over-the-frame tent to provide protection from the elements, although that role is currently being served by a sheet of tarpaulin.
Of course, the Cercle can be equipped with racks and panniers like other touring bikes. And although it may look like its handlebars aren't connected to the front wheel, Sobotta informs us that they are linked via two steering cables. He has already taken the bike on a 1,000-km (621-mile) test trip, on which it reportedly performed well.
Bernhard is presently on an internship with German bike builder Portus Cycles, where he hopes to learn new skills which will go into the creation of two second-generation Cercle prototypes. Plans call for him and his friend Liam Cornwell to then take those bikes on a round-the-world tour, beginning next May. Ultimately, he'd like to open a small factory where several Cercle bikes per year are hand-built to clients' specifications.
A crowdfunding campaign is planned to take place sometime next year. In the meantime, you can follow the project on Instagram @cercle_the_world, plus on Facebook and YouTube by searching under "Cercle the World." Prospective buyers might also want to check out one of the bicycle-towed camping trailers that are currently on the market.
Cornwell demonstrates the Cercle bike's CampingCompanion functionality in the following video.