World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes

This guest blog post is by Greg Beach, who earlier this week reported on the official announcement of the World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Bicycle. Two months ago, DesignBoom reported on this design, however, it was not officially announced until this week that Pragma’s ALPHA hydrogen-powered bicycles have been manufactured and are set to become commercially available in the near future. It will be very interesting to see what impacts and reaction this new announcement will have on cycling communities and city bike share initiatives. NG.


World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes

Pragma Industries just became the first company to launch a hydrogen-powered bicycle for commercial and municipal purposes. Based in Biarritz, France, the company has already secured 60 orders for the hydrogen bikes from French municipalities such as Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery and Bayonne.

While the bikes are currently too expensive for the commercial market, costs are expected to eventually drop from 7,500 euros to 5,000 euros, and charging stations cost about 30,000 euros.

World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes - Bicycles Create Change.com 22nd Jan 2018

While Pragma is not the only company interested in hydrogen-powered bicycles, they have taken production of such vehicles the farthest — so far.

“Many others have made hydrogen bike prototypes, but we are the first to move to series production,” Pragma founder and chief executive Pierre Forte told Reuters.

Pragma’s Alpha bike is able to travel a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a two-liter (0.5 gallon) tank of hydrogen.

Although the range is similar to that of a typical electric bike, the recharge time is significantly reduced from hours for a traditional e-bike to merely minutes for the Alpha hydrogen-powered bike.

World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes - Bicycles Create Change.com 22nd Jan 2018

Pragma offers two types of recharging stations: one that uses hydrolysis of water to generate hydrogen fuel on-site, and another, more affordable station that relies on tanks of already prepared hydrogen fuel.

Due to the high cost, Pragma is currently marketing its bikes to larger commercial and municipal operations such as bike-rental operators, delivery companies, and municipal or corporate bicycle fleets.

After producing 100 such bikes last year, Pragma hopes to sell 150 this year to organizations in places such as Norway, the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany.

In addition to developing a bike that is capable of turning water into fuel without the need of a charging station, the company plans to massively expand into the retail market within the next few years.

World first announced this week: Hydrogen-powered Bikes - Bicycles Create Change.com 22nd Jan 2018

 


This news was reported world-wide through the major news outlets, so unsurprisingly, most of the reporting on this innovation appears to be based on the same publicity brief with articles repeating pretty much the same info. However, there were a few articles that supplied a little more detail about the bike, how it looks and it’s specifications (like this Reuters article).  

Images and original article published in Inhabitat 17/1/2018.

Vycle – Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th

 

There are some super creative professionals out there producing innovative solutions to urban issues using bicycles as the foundation for inspiration and design.

One example I have previously posted, is the incredible and now readily available Invisible Bike Helmet which is the brainchild of two Swedish Industrial Designers, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin.

Another is the Vycle, which was first designed by Elena Larriba.

Vycle is touted as being a human-powered vertical transport solution to address increasing urbanisation.

What is Vycle– Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower?

Elena Larriba is a qualified architect (MArch) and an Imperial College and the Royal College of Art (MSc & MA) alumni.

Her work is concerned with responding to increasing urbanisation and migration.

Most densely populated urban environments and cities utilise vertical spaces. Therefore innovate methods for vertical transportation are being investigated – and harnessing the functionality of cycling is Elena’s answer!

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

Elena’s website explains that her design is inspired by bicycles, in that “Vycle is a system powered by continuous cyclical movement. Its benefits are twofold: firstly, it will give stakeholders a more efficient and sustainable option to ascend, and secondly, variable energy selection will be able to cater to people of varied ages and abilities, whilst creating a personalised experience”.

The two choices of moving about between building levels: elevators or stairs – and both have some serious drawbacks. Elevators require a lot of energy and encourage laziness, whereas stairs encourage physical activity, but that for some, this can be onerous or too strenuous.

In a nutshell, Elena believes “that stairs require a lot of effort for a person to go up whereas lifts are 100% powered and that this carves out an area of opportunity that sits between the two.”

Comparatively, using Vylce appears to alleviate these concerns by being compact and space efficient, easy to physically propel, as well as removing any reliance or use of precious energy and thus is incredibly environmentally sound – go bicycles!

Concept Development

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

The Vylce is currently only a working prototype. Further testing is required to take this product to market and comply with regulation level safety measures for implementation.

How does it work?

The Vycle team explain that this device operates by allowing “people to cycle up in an effortless and enjoyable way. The system is balanced with counterweights leaving the user body as the only weight to overcome. Using a gearing system similar to how bikes work, the user can decide how much effort they want to put to ascend or descent”.

You can see how Vcyle works in action in the video below.

Here is a possible future that Elena hopes to provide – pretty inspiring stuff!

Vycle - Urban Vertical Movement via Pedalpower. Bicycles Create Change.com 7th Dec, 2018

 

I love the visionary and inventive ways bicycles are being utilised, modified and adapted to help provide productive and resourceful solutions to growing social, environmental and technological issues.

I can’t wait to see more ways where bicycles are being used to create a more positive future for all.

Images and video courtesy of ycle.co.uk

Invisible Bicycle Helmet

There are a number of things I love about this innovation – the invisible bike helmet.

Yes, it is primarily about bikes and most certainly about creating positive and safe biking change.

However, it is a reinvention of the normal and breaking many (social and technical) barriers. Here are some reasons why this innovation is so special:

  • it is NOT from an English-speaking country (and not presented in English – how refreshing!)
  • it took the two inventors sooo long to get the research right (seven years!!)
  • their overall commitment, passion and teamwork is inspiring
  • and most importantly … the creators are two Swedish female Industrial Designers leading the (male dominated) field …. and kicking ass!!

How the hell…

I like the revolutionary and stylish innovation they have come up with.

It directly responds to current changes in urban biking as well as being understated and no fuss (the model only comes in black  – how Swedish chic!).

I’m still in awe of the engineering behind how it is deployed and works and I think the concept is magnificent.

The speed and responsiveness of the sensors and algorithms they have used are quite remarkable.

In Australia?

It is tempting to look into the legality of using one of these helmets in Australia.

I know you have to have a registered Australian Safety Approved helmet here. But let’s face it, in some respects Australia can be so far behind the times and considering this is a recognised international safety and protection device…. the larrikin bugger in me would love to use it and see what happens!

The company who is producing it Hovding, have them currently retailing for €299. They are up to their second model already and have won an European Patent Office Award (2016) patent. Models can come with stylish personalised covers. Sign me up!!

“Cars are so yesterday, bikes are the future.”

 

Bicycle Pram Sidecar (1951)

Thanks to MK for sending this 1-minute video to me.  It is a quick glimpse showing an ingenious British bicycle pram sidecar design from 1951.

I find this design actually very functional in practice as the pram has no further attachments needed and can be very quickly and effectively attached to a bike. Although the hazards of: car doors opening, getting around pedestrians, turning, safety and navigating shared pathways (let alone roads) these days would definitely be more of an issue than in 1951!!

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the design and ease of this sidecar in principle, although the design may not be as popular (or legal?) now due to safety reasons. Nowadays, this sidecar would probably be seen as risky, especially as most current designs now have the child/ren in front or behind the rider. (*All the better to see you with!*) It would also be interesting to see how this 1951 design might be used or changed due to contemporary bike lane (width) laws in Australia – or if that would even factor into the equation.

Given that these days, more and more young kids are being transported by bikes, I’ve noticed three main designs being used (not in order of popularity) –

1) a box attachment that is part of the actual bike design – like a Christiana bicycle.

2) a separate (bob) trailer attachment where there is room for one, two (or more? and dogs?) kids to sit which is pulled along behind the bike.

3) a seat attachment is usually in front (sometimes behind the rider) where the youngster is seated close to the rider.

 

 

I have been flabbergasted by the design and features of mobile child transportation. Consider the prevalence of bike prams and bugaboos, which can range widely from (not very modest these days) to soupped up mobile mountains of robust kids-and-crap-uber-transportation costing anything up to $1800  (or more) with which parents can comfortably complete a Parkrun. If this original Bicycle Pram Sidecar design was still legal, safe and available, I wonder how many families would use the bicycle pram sidecar given the logic and functionality of this sidecar device.