Competition of 5 Cities Nationwide
“New York City is super dense,” said Mark Prommel, Partner and Director of the design firm Pensa, at his DUMBO office. “There are constant traffic constraints, but also an ebb and flow. We wanted to design a bike that accommodated a rider jockeying in this space, with a tight, simple, nimble ride.”
He was explaining his firm’s unveiling of Merge, a bicycle they created to compete with four other cities for the award of “ultimate urban bicycle.” Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle are simultaneously revealing their own designs, with inspiration gleaned from their distinct urban experiences (and needs). The public will then vote on which bike they find to be the most impressive.
After brainstorming sessions that included every wacky idea from a forward-propelled harpoon to storage space for a full pizza and six pack of beer, Pensa got practical. The result is a sleek, elegant design with features that are useful to employ without being overstated.
“We wanted you to have contraptions when you wanted them, but which could also be folded away,” Prommel said. “Things like baskets and storage can be cumbersome and affect the balance of gravity. But at other times, they’re useful.”
The result is a subtle reworking of the traditional bike frame to include collapsable contraptions: cargo storage and rain protection (for the rear wheel) sprout out when needed, but can just as easily be stored away. Up front, a phone or tablet device fits snug with the frame, where a USB port allows recharging, powered by the cyclist’s pedaling.
But the bicycle’s lighting system might be the most groundbreaking. Keeping with the subtle, “super minimal” theme, embedded lights in the front and back of the frame operate frontwards, backwards, and outwards (to prevent a side collision) with the rider again pedaling their operation (though a small built-in generator also helps when needed).
With a steel frame, carbon fork, classic proportions and modern functionality, Pensa (in collaboration with Horse Cycles) hopes to take first prize–but it needs fellow Brooklynites to vote for them to do so.
For more info and to vote, pleas see oregonmanifest.com/vote.