May 5, 2008 Shape shifting designs that provide convenient portability and storage options and push the boundaries of people’s accepted ideas of the bike came to the fore at the recent International Bicycle Design Competition (IBDC). The standout example was the third placed the Everglide concept, an innovative multi-purpose design that integrates a bicycle with a backpack.

Everglide, from Australian designer Frag Woodall, can be folded down into its rear carry-case meaning it can be wheeled, backpacked or cycled. The integrated solution satisfies all kinds of needs for short-distance cyclists and is able to be carried on other forms of public transport such as trams, trains and buses. Everglide represents a holistic and sustainable approach to individual transport, offering the user speed and storage-based mobility into one lightweight unit. The intelligent design of this bike makes it extremely practical, particularly because of its collapsing central bottom bracket. Releasing the central locking lever simultaneously effects three actions: the frame splits so that the bicycle folds, the shaft-drive gears disengage so that it can freewheel and the pedals disengage folding into the pack. The shaft-drive mechanism is light-weight and compact, making it a clean smart drive solution and hand held devices such as phones and iPod’s are able to be plugged in and regeneratively charged via frictionless magnetic dynamo technology.

Several other bike designs to emerge from the International Bicycle Design Competition also fit the theme of shape-shifting for urban transport. The first is the foldable Free Bike from Chinese entrant Tan Zhao Bin - a foldable city leisure bicycle with a frame-structure so minimalist that it looks like a uni-cycle with a training wheel. The placement of the seat is designed to avoid the back bending during cycling, thereby making riding less tiring for the user.... though we're not sure too many speed records will be broken on this one.

Another unusual collapsible entry is the Lohas hybrid bike by Chen Wei-Ping from Taiwan. This simple and streamlined design uses a combination of pedal power and a built-in windmill to recharge the battery pack. When stationary, the main "windmill" wheel of the Lohas Bike can be faced towards the breeze and continue its function as a recharging device.

Another notable designs is the Grasshopper from David Moreira Goncalves of Portugal - another foldable, electric bicycle that can be carried onto public transport with ease and also produce electricity when used as an exercise bike at home.

Finally, Jessie Chan Qiu Ping of Singapore entered the Revolution; a bike designed for young people who enjoy an entertaining and challenging riding experience. The faster you pedal, the shorter the distance between the front and the back wheel will be. The saddle also rises up as you pedal. The sense of speed and balance are the main challenges in controlling the bicycle.

For related reading see Amphibious Bicycle Concept and the Grand Prize-winning Sunny Day solar fold-up bike.

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