8/24/2009

Bike, Design bike, eco-friendly bike…

I finally found my Icon #075 Saturday. Yesterday, back from a 1-day trip, I was reading my mag in the train — globally this issue is very interesting, in particular SANAA's Sepentine Pavilion and of course François Roche and Warren Ellis's interview with Geoff Manaugh, Sam Jacob's article on this wonderful object, the 360° chair designed by brillant designer Kostantin Grcic (I don't really like using "brillant" to qualify a person, even though I truly consider him/her as such). My eyes were suddenly attracted by an article: Johanna Agerman's article. Johanna Agerman is Icon Magazine Deputy Editor. I won't discuss the article, because it is very interesting, I recommend its reading. I consequently have nothing to say or add on it. I was just interested in the phenomenon of bicycle, particularly these trendy well-designed bicycle. Let's start…

She starts as follows: "In the 1950s, Roland Barthes described the car as the 20th century's equivalent to the Gothic cathedral — a supreme creation consumed, at least in image, by a whole population. In the 21st century, the reputation of the car is much dented and the bicycle, in cities at least, is taking over as a status symbol." I was very proud in the train which is not adapted to welcome bicycle, especially mine, an object of desire. Even though we are shifting into a bicycle era, I notice that trains and stations, particularly in France, are not equipped for bicycle. I have to carry my bicycle to climb up and down stairs. If you know Dutch bicycle, you know how heavy it is. Furthermore, I am such a kind of straight homo urbanus, as one says: a straight punk (so I am), you can now say a straight homo urbanus: I don't drive a car, I do not have a driving license. I respect my environment. I love riding my bicycle because it is healthy, emission-free…, but my friends no longer tolerate my strictness (!!). Of course, I am carrying away…

Back to Johanna Agerman's article. "It is the ultimate guilt-free consumer product and the retailers are cashing in" —> Well, my retailer will confirm with happiness. "Manufacturers are falling over themselves to create exclusive editions with all the mod cons", Ah? (In French in the text), I said (in my head, of course, you will understand).

Then, because I didn't pay attention to the picture, when I suddenly look at the picture, I discovered: a beautiful British-made bicycle, the famous "gocycle".

It is an electric bike that can be adapted to an urban, daily use. Compared to my old Dutch bicycle, this gocycle avoids the Lance-Armstrongsian-way of riding a bicycle (rouler à la manière de Lance Armstrong), every day, of course, to go to work or, the week-end, to go to party (well, one must manage sweat. Imagine me riding my bike when it rains!!!). I've never ridden an electric bike because I love old-style one. I might be extreme: but I love riding fast, using my poor muscles, in spite of slope. My funniest experience is riding bicycle at Tôkyô (in spite of pollution, and people who look at me with curiosity due to the fact that I am a gaigokujin, say, a foreigner), in particular, traditional narrow streets. Needless to say how happy I am to ride in Tokyo streets.

Other particularity: this bike is nothing but an œuvre d'art, with beautiful lines, and compact.

The designer is an ex-car designer, a former MacLaren car, Richard Thorpe. I am not a specialist of design products, but just a fan, and if I had money, I would certainly collect design. According to Gocycle, this bike is "a revolutionary, lightweight electric two-wheeler designed to shake up the urban cycling industry with its sleek design and pioneering technology." Johanna Agerman adds that this bicycle parts "are concealed underneath a chunky white frame, injection-moulded in the light-weight magnesium alloy magflow", say, as these F1 cars, in a certain sense. I wish I have the opportunity to try this bicycle in order to see how it functions, to have a great urban experience with this bicycle. It could be interesting to compare conventional bicycle and this sleek designed-electric one. I would certainly agree (no: for sure) with Johanna Agerman that this bicycle misses, as she says, "one of the biggest benefits of cycling: fitness." For instance, according to Helen Pidd, a blogger and journalist of The Guardian, there is no dynamo type thing that will convert pedal power into electricity and charge the battery. So if you want to pedal as you usually do with a conventional bicycle, it seems not be handy.

But, afterall, these users, that I imagine as young-trendy-professional/fashioned gentlemen and ladies (ces jeunes très tendances), or, to sum up, iPhone generation (I am an iPhone user, a well, but…), do not care of this point. They will miss, with happiness, I am sure, Lance-Armstrongsian-way of riding bicycle, especially, when you're late, or else, you're afraid to miss your train. Accordingly, using an electric one will be the most appropriate. And you won't have to carry it to climb up and down stairs (!!! I can confess I am exhausted) because it is portable. But where can put my heavy bag with, inside, my Macbook Pro? no case to put my heavy bag...


My opinion, to conclude, will be: this beautiful bicycle, is very portable, compact, handy, but it is more an œuvre d'art "to-be-admired-in-my-living-room" than an urban bicycle for an daily use.

Source:

Agerman Johanna, "Gocycle", Icon Magazine #75, September 2009, p. 89.

Pidd Helen, "The gocycle electric bike makes going up the steepest hills an easy ride", The Guardian, posted: 18 June 2009.

Gocycle website

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