Spokeless Cyclotron lights the way for futuristic riders
Modern bikes are lighter and more efficient than ever before, but their basic design is rooted in the past. Cyclotron is trying to change that with a hubless carbon creation, complete with lighting fit for a sci-fi film. It's not just a different look for the sake of it, though, with Cyclotron saying its bike is versatile and smart enough to revolutionize what we expect from the humble two-wheeler.
There's a lot going on with the Cyclotron's frame, but we're going to start with the basic construction. The team behind the bike says the bike's space-grade carbon sandwich is wrapped around a lightweight core structure, allowing them to use fewer layers of carbon and less resin without impacting on the overall strength and rigidity.
The shape itself is faintly reminiscent of current time-trial bikes, albeit blockier, although the company is adamant it's been modeled on the aerodynamic form of ultralight gliders and stealth jets. Unlike your average stealth bomber, this frame can be customized with decals if you want.
Whether it's a two-wheeled Blackbird or not, there are a few other benefits to the frame design. While some manufacturers hide their cabling inside the frame, the derailleur and chain are usually exposed. That's not the case here, with the drivetrain fully enclosed and protected from the elements, although we're not sure how that setup will go when it comes time for the annual service suggested by the company.
Ditching the spokes and running with solid polymer airless tires might make for a unique design, but it also frees up some space where the spokes used to be. Cyclotron wants to use that space for cargo or children, making its bike more practical than it would otherwise be. At the moment, there are three accessories available for those utility slots, including shopping baskets and a clever snap-in child seat.
In keeping with the futuristic frame design, there's a futuristic powertrain available for this sci-fi bike. As well as more traditional 12- and 18-speed manual setups, there's a electronic sequential gearbox available. Shifting in less than 0.2 seconds, the gearbox works at standstill or under full load and can shift for itself. Electric gearbox-equipped bikes will weigh just 11.6 kg (25.57 lb), making them 100 g (3.5 oz) heavier than the manual 12-speed version, but 200 g (7 oz) lighter than the 18-speed manual.
Enough of the boring practical bits, what the story with those lights? When darkness falls, a sensor automatically activates the LED wheel halos and laser-lane display, in an attempt to make the rider easy to see on unlit streets in the dead of night. We'd say it works, too, with those Tron-style wheels being hard to miss. Power comes from an integrated lithium-ion battery good for eight hours that is charged by an inbuilt dynamo, although the battery can be charged from a wall socket as well.
All this functionality is controlled through the Cyclo App, which hooks up with the 10 Bluetooth sensors scattered around the bike. After learning your riding habits, it'll give manually geared riders up-and-downshift suggestions, while electronic geared bikes get fully automatic shifting through the app.
There's a huge amount of information available to riders, with everything from cadence and time to power, speed and calories burned can be accessed through the app. This information can be harnessed to create a training program through the Cycle Coach, but you'll need to pay €10/month (US$11) extra to unlock that function. If you're paying extra, it's probably also worth stumping €3/month (US$3.30) for GPS tracking, which allows you to find the bike if it's stolen.
The team behind Cyclotron is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where the project has raised more than €64,690 (US$71,500) of its €50,000 ($55,250) goal with 12 days left.
Pledges start at €1, but you'll need to stump up €899 (US$993) to get in line for the 12-speed manual bike, while €1,299 (US$1,450) is the minimum you'll pay for an 18-speed model, and €2,599 ($2875) the current asking price for the electronically geared version, although just 10 remain at that price.
If everything goes as planned, the bike will be delivered to backers in June 2017.