Dubbed as ‘the hub of the bike world’, Eurobike is the prime showcase for European brands in the 50 billion EUR industry. Being present at Eurobike means being present in the market. Upon arrival to Friedrichshafen, Germany, we were met with a zeppelin floating above us, aromas of wurstel, kraut and beer, uncompromising urban and relaxed attire – not a suit or necktie in sight! Here are our thoughts after visiting the event.
As more people are riding than ever before, there’s massive growth in connected IoT devices. Often, unfortunately, these are ‘shiny objects’ with low usability and functionality. The tech is ready, while the user experience is often lagging. More careful reflection on people gives designers an edge in sorting out the real needs and the real advantages that technology provides. Emerging platforms are simplifying how we service our bikes, how we counter theft and even how our cities are controlling entire fleets of bicycles for the new wave of bike sharing. We need designers to step up and sort out how to keep things simple and enjoyable for consumers.
Technology is often tacked on or crudely fixed to bicycle frames as an afterthought. Everything changes when designers obsessed with beauty and form enter the scene. Now you can mould and embed light into the core of the concept design. It’s a bit like the auto industry, where new modules, custom optics and light are applied as a design material which brings in elements of safety, communication and visibility for the rider. Textiles and a handful of thoughtful IoT solutions are showing some promise.
The question arises, ‘will the bike become as smart as the smartphone?’ Automotive component suppliers are designing and providing full systems for bikes now. ABS brakes also have extended to the bike industry as new drive units propelling new e-bikes up to 30km/h in seconds. Crazed mountain bikers are powering uphill at the same rate they come down. E-bikes are calling on designers to seamlessly integrate the new electrical components and even re-design the seat ergonomics specific to the needs of this emergent industry. Other parallels with safety and automotive are on the horizon as the tech and industry trends change behavior in new ways.
From ‘brain protection’ to saving your skin, products are interwoven with light technologies, reflective materials and added connectivity for keeping your safer. One innovation catching our eye was VUI (voice-controlled interface) for controlling turn signals integrated on the back of your jersey. ‘Turn right’ you say, and the indicators share your intentions with your surroundings. Making the transition to a lifestyle of biking is supported by creating a lifestyle range of products from comfort with ventilation to style and status. Leading brands are embracing lifestyle and safety is a guiding principle.
Design is emotional: The shapes and details, obsessions with lightness, aerodynamic and craft. Ingenuity and knowledge driving the form, performance and beauty. Truly great design makes us fall in love with the objects, and creating these objects is a big part of why we love our craft. Mesmerizing new concepts were presented by Ceramicspeed’s chainless drive chain, Ceepo’s aero race bike, Ridley’s Noah fast, Parlee’s Chebacco, GoFlynn’s foldable Colnago’s detailing, Scott’s Addict, Pinarello’s Dogma, new entry Exept’s custom, De Rosa’s TT-03, Guerciotti’s Eureka Air… and many more beautiful showings this year.