A bicycle is widely considered to be the most efficient form of human-powered transportation in existence. Indeed, studies have shown that a bicycle drive train is able to transmit up to 98.6% of the rider’s energy output directly to the back wheel. Compare that to an average car, which only converts 14 to 30 percent of the total energy in gasoline into motion; the rest is essentially lost as heat.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the basic design of today’s bicycles has been around for well over a century. In a world of constant innovation, it’s striking that no major bicycle design changes have occurred for so long.
Could this possibly be caused by a lack of design ingenuity? Enter the Velocipedia by the Italian/American designer Gianluca Gimini. Over the course of six years, Gimini asked various people to draw a picture of a men’s bicycle purely from memory. He discovered that most people could get it roughly correct, yet also not-quite-right at the same time.
He then took his favorite drawings and used them as blueprints to create actual physical versions of these funky bicycle designs, several of which are pictured below. As Gimini puts it, “A single designer could not invent so many new bike designs in 100 lifetimes and this is why I look at this collection in such awe.”
Is there a prototype of some future high-tech bicycle design in the mix? It’s impossible to say, of course, but this fascinating, crowd-sourced approach to innovation certainly opens new doors of possibilities.