A bicycle that can change its shape

When you buy a car the first step is to decide what type it should be. Do you need a city hopper, a comfortable long-distance limousine, or a rock-climbing SUV? Many people have a pretty good idea about what type of car they require. But isn’t it a pity in a way that once you’ve got your SUV it’s goodbye to fast acceleration, agility, and easy handling. Wouldn’t it be great to buy a car but instead of getting one type of vehicle, you would get many types incorporated into one? Your car would need to be able to change its design, its shape. While this seems to be a pretty mad idea, soon there could be bicycles that are able to do exactly that.

Three different bicycles in one

In 2005, two universities in Helsinki sought to develop a bicycle that can be transformed. Under the project name bipro, students and professors started to get to work and soon came up with a suitable design: a bicycle consisting of movable frames connected by joints.[1] Thereby, when adjusting the driving position the bicycle could be transformed from a city bicycle to a long-distance cruiser. The city bicycle features an upright position to enable a good view over city traffic. In total, the bicycle can be transformed into three different driving positions: upright position, comfortable cruising, and lay back recumbent. Comfortable cruising, seemingly a transient between upright and recumbent, appears slightly useless. Comfortable cruising is suitable for long distances, however, only if the terrain is even and not mountainous. For hills and mountains, the bipro must be put back into its upright position. So what is comfortable cruising really useful for? We fail answer this question at the moment.

More projects to come

More questions arise when looking at the whole project. The idea is marvellous – a bicycle for all places and conditions. But on what grounds did the project leaders choose these three cycling positions? After all you only seem to really need two types: one that allows speedy cycling and quick manoeuvrability; and one for mountain biking or cross-country. Therefore, others should start investing time and thought into this idea. Wouldn’t it be great to really only require one bicycle? People already love their bicycle so imagine you can ride the one you use in the city for your mountain bike tour during the weekend as well – people would get an even bigger attachment to their two-wheeler. The bipro project as it is now, however, should look at its idea from a slightly different angle.

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