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Fliz bike combines walking, cycling, and nostalgia

By

August 28, 2012

Even in a still picture, the scooting motion required to ride the Fliz is apparent

Even in a still picture, the scooting motion required to ride the Fliz is apparent

Image Gallery (6 images)

Bicycles haven't really changed much in over 100 years. Of course the materials used, technologies employed, and safety equipment utilized have all improved a great deal, but two wheels, one of which is linked to pedals by a chain, is still the basic layout. The old adage of "don't fix what isn't broken" applies here in no uncertain terms, but that doesn't mean engineers and designers can't toy with the idea of changing things up a little. The Fliz changes things up a lot ... not necessarily for the better, but it's a fun concept regardless.

The Fliz (which refers to the German word "flitzen" – meaning to whiz or dash) harks back to the days before the bicycle design we know and love was almost universally settled upon. It has more in common with the Laufmaschine (or hobby-horse) invented by Baron Karl Drais in 1817. Like the Laufmaschine, the Fliz has no pedals, instead relying on a scooting motion made by the rider. You're essentially pacing (half-walking, half-running) but traveling faster and further than you would normally, thanks to the presence of two wheels.

The Fliz being ridden by someone clearly practised in the art

Where the Fliz differs greatly from Drais' invention, which was truly innovative at the time it was realized, is that rather than sit on the frame, the rider hangs from it in a harness system – which we've seen before with the StreetFlyer. They're bent forward at all times, with their hands resting on the handlebars and their head sitting through the front of the frame. That frame is made from a glass and carbon fiber laminate and designed for people around 1.85 meters (six feet) in height. The belt is custom-built for each user and allows for a fast and easy release thanks to the five-point fastener.

The video at the end of this article shows how the Fliz is operated, with the rider running to build up momentum before placing his or her feet on the treads located near the back wheel. The designers of the Fliz claim it provides a "comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking." The unique frame is designed to relieve pressure on the crotch, while the harness is designed to distribute the rider's weight evenly.

Without being visually shown, it isn't immediately obvious how one would ride the Fliz

The Fliz has already come in for criticism from certain quarters, but it should be noted that this hasn't been designed to replace the bicycle, bur rather as another option for those seeking to get around in urban environments. The designers began by looking at the Laufmaschine and thinking about how they could remove what they saw as any negative aspects to the design. The Fliz is the result, and could be useful for those unable to ride a conventional bicycle for whatever reason.

There are some obvious question marks, such as the inability to traverse steep hills, and safety concerns associated with the rider's head being essentially wedged inside the frame. Despite these issues, the Fliz is in the running for a regional James Dyson Award in Germany. Fred Flintstone is sure to approve.

Source: James Dyson Award via EcoChunk

About the Author
Dave Parrack Dave is a technology journalist with a ravenous appetite for gadgets, gizmos, and gubbins. He's based in the U.K., and from his center of operations writes about all facets of modern and future technology. He has learned more in his five years writing for the Web than he did in 11 years at school, and with none of the boring subjects thrown in to the mix.   All articles by Dave Parrack
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43 Comments

This thing seems, to me, to miss the point between walking and cycling..

bas
28th August, 2012 @ 10:48 am PDT

More like a combination bicycle and birth control device.

Jon A.
28th August, 2012 @ 10:57 am PDT

It clearly is not fast enough to escape the people rolling around on the ground laughing at you while riding/running in this goofy looking contraption.

I could see some rehab uses for it possibly but even then, there are better tools already available.

Maybe if the person has some super gnarly hemorrhoids?

fenriq
28th August, 2012 @ 01:45 pm PDT

Utterly ridiculous and impractical. I could not help but notice that the video never showed young hipsterdude going UPHILL.

Chuck Anziulewicz
28th August, 2012 @ 01:55 pm PDT

Ba-ha-ha, swing...and a miss!

Yes when I am panting what is really want is to be hanging from straps by my ribs

Ozuzi
28th August, 2012 @ 02:58 pm PDT

Looks like a broken neck waiting to happen...

John Ullom
28th August, 2012 @ 03:33 pm PDT

It looks like an eugenics experiment to me. Killing the people stupid enough to ride it regularly.

Slowburn
28th August, 2012 @ 06:16 pm PDT

I'm surprised at such a negative reaction!

I'd prefer this over a skate-board any day - looks like a fun way to go for a gentle run without putting too much strain on the knees.

but each to his own ...

Lawrence Smallman
28th August, 2012 @ 10:40 pm PDT

I am not sure what problem or challenge this device solves or addresses.

Alan Belardinelli
29th August, 2012 @ 04:13 am PDT

Oh my ! I don't want to be the one who'll rescue him when he'll be crashed. All the parts my be broken. Especially the neck!

Ariel Dahan
29th August, 2012 @ 06:12 am PDT

You could achieve the same effect by lowering the saddle on an ordinary bike, or ride a kid's bike. This does look dangerous if you fall over. You are strapped in. As far as crotch comfort goes, saddles need to be re-designed.

windykites1
29th August, 2012 @ 07:41 am PDT

I think that the cornering dynamics are a bit squewd.This might explain the rider's meandering path, which means that traffic is best avoided.

Mel Tisdale
29th August, 2012 @ 08:48 am PDT

It does look like a variation of the Hobby Horse - a 200 year old concept which was the precursor to the modern bicycle.

Pedals, chains and gears have been invented since then. I'll keep my Shimano 27-speed thanks!

PeetEngineer
29th August, 2012 @ 09:24 am PDT

Guide on how to convert a standard bike into a fliz bike: Remove the Chain.

Christian Raul Sampedro
29th August, 2012 @ 09:25 am PDT

Looks very therapeutic. I have back and knee problems so I can't walk for exercise. I hate swimming in pools, and a regular bike is hard on my knees. Why not the Fliz? I could "walk" 20-30 minutes a day. Good cardio, fresh air, and and endless source of conversation. Love it.

And, really, why is everybody hatin' on this thing? It's not a bike; it's an inverted scooter. Keep your bike if you love it, but don't hate the helicopter because it isn't a bike; don't hate on the Fliz because it's not a bike.

Facebook User
29th August, 2012 @ 09:40 am PDT

Also, it could be a great assist for serious marathon training, allowing them to build cardio (going uphill, anyone?) while saving their joints. Obviously, it wouldn't replace all training runs, but could develop serious aerobic capacity and muscle strength.

Facebook User
29th August, 2012 @ 09:43 am PDT

I agree that it is more of an inverted scooter than a bike. The way your legs have to pass on each side of the wheel seems like it is an accident waiting to happen though which would prevent it from being used by the disabled.

Daishi
29th August, 2012 @ 10:18 am PDT

I agree with Molly, way too much hating going on here.

It's really a subsitute for skateboards than bikes.

I too have back/disc problems and hanging from a bike instead of sitting on it would enable me to ride much farther.

jerryd
29th August, 2012 @ 10:23 am PDT

Looks painful and pointless. Also looks like a "futuristic" device from some ridiculous sci-fi movie that people will laugh about the minute they lay eyes on it.

Kristopher Spencer
29th August, 2012 @ 10:28 am PDT

I'd rather not attach straps to my crotch and hang from them. The rider in these pictures and video looks uncomfortable for this very reason. Cutting off the flow of blood through my things and hips would not make for a good experience of getting what little exercise this torture device would grant me.

Gene Jordan
29th August, 2012 @ 10:33 am PDT

Before the pedals and chains there were bicycle like devices that one sat on and paddled with the feet to go along. It was a bit faster and easier than walking. But the first of these units did not have steering. You lined the contraption up and let it fly. Downhill might have been pretty nice if you somehow could stop or slow down as they also had no fancy items like brakes but with good fortune you could go downhill and coast to the top of the next hill.

A man had to be brave back then. A bit of insanity might have also served one well.

Jim Sadler
29th August, 2012 @ 11:16 am PDT

This is the most inefficient design imaginable. The user's diaphragm is restricted by the straps and the user's weight and breathing is an important design consideration. Modern bicycles are designed to allow maximum expansion of the user's lungs and diaphragm with minimal muscle effort.

Odd that more than 150 years after the first walkers with wheels appears someone uses modern engineering technology to produce an inferior solution. There is a lesson to be learned.

Calson
29th August, 2012 @ 11:22 am PDT

Almost perfect! Just lower the bar, say to crotch height so you could step over it. Perhaps a seat could be added and crank and chain to propel the rear wheel. You'd have to engineer that part, I suppose but there's a lot of talent out there so I think we could do it. You could use those crotch biting straps to hold a duffle bag on your back.

Guy Macher
29th August, 2012 @ 12:04 pm PDT

Well, the center of gravity is a little high, and the rider can't stand up, and disconnecting might take a bit of work. Maybe a more scooter-like frame that supports a hammock-kind of thing (or a plastic shell) to support the torso would have been a better option. That way it is easy to mount, easy to stand up in, and would still take the strain off the joints whilst not pinching the jewels.

Bruce H. Anderson
29th August, 2012 @ 01:43 pm PDT

To all those who think that hanging by your crotch and sternum while having your butt bump up against the frame is a solution to back problems might want to try hanging in a climbing harness with a chest strap.

You end up relying much more on your lower back muscles to alleviate the difficulty in breathing caused by the sternum strap.

Those with back issues should look for a recumbant bike instead.

As for the "hating", no one would question a much deserved bashing if the invention had square wheels. As it stands the degree of impracticality of the current invention is just as much an exercise in uselessness.

It's to big to be carried onto public transportation (unlike a scooter). It can't go up hill efficiently (unlike a bike). You would even find it hard to carry it up/down any stairs as the frame center is at about shoulder height. It has no choice of mechanical advantage (unlike geared bikes). It will be much more uncomfortable than sitting on a bike (think crotch chaffing and circulation cutoff). You can't breath due to the sternum strap. You can't jump off in an emergency. You can't control your weight distribution either fore-aft or side-to-side. You can't perform high speed turns in wet weather because your center of mass is not over the tires. You can't stop quickly because you can't move your weight back over the rear tire. You've got a huge blind spots on both side of your head. You can't rotate your head around to see behind you for traffic. You'd have to tuck your legs in the whole time while coasting for long durations. At high speed, you will likely pole vault (or break a leg) if you accidentally dropped a foot to the pavement. You've got part of the frame right next to your ears (that's gonna hurt when the bike falls over). Due to the cantilevered design, you'd need either to use expensive composites, or make the bike weigh a ton.

sk8dad
29th August, 2012 @ 02:10 pm PDT

Will never catch on. Back to the drawing board

David Brown
29th August, 2012 @ 04:52 pm PDT

it would be quite unstable cornering I think, since you're not actually properly coupled to the thing, you're swinging around messing with the dynamics.

Adrien
29th August, 2012 @ 05:49 pm PDT

Sk8dad, You are correct! hanging from straps can kill you in a short amount of time! It is a problem for us hunters, as a fall arrest harness is necessary for safety, but too long (a few minutes) hanging in one can cause you to die from loss of circulation.

The design of this thing is nuts! Your back will hurt, your neck will hurt from being held up to see, (I know, I have neck and back pain already.) the bars beside your head would likely block side vision and break your neck in a side impact. the thing looks unstable, (the rider was wobbling all over the place) and it will depress you breathing. It might as well have square wheels too. I see no possibility of use except as a novelty.

kellory
29th August, 2012 @ 07:06 pm PDT

Fantastic invention!!!!

Put it center stage at the next comedy festival, everyone will pop there poop'a valve's with laughter; And we all know, laughter is the second best form of exercise (wink).

As for comfort, in regard to hanging in a harness and back/neck issues. This contraption would cause more pain/discomfort than a regular bike. I sold all my harnesses, ropes and bikes. With two level neck fusion, single level lower back, can honestly say that the harnesses hurt and restricted breathing/circulation more than the bike did any day.

Hanging by the ankles and using your arms to propel would be more comfortable and heck, probably more practical too.

ELM
29th August, 2012 @ 11:36 pm PDT

It doesn't pass my design standards! It doesn't feature the Superman suit!

Nitrozzy Seven
30th August, 2012 @ 09:13 am PDT

"the Fliz is in the running for a regional James Dyson Award" I think the Darwin awards would be more appropriate.

Jon Smith
30th August, 2012 @ 01:30 pm PDT

This thing is ridiculous, period

Tom Phoghat Sobieski
31st August, 2012 @ 05:06 pm PDT

Anyone like Molly Eichar or jerryd who has back problems should try a recumbent bicycle instead of this contraption. A recumbent can cure a host of ills including pain in the back, neck, wrists and crotch. Not that it's perfect, but for all but racers, a recumbent's advantages outweigh its disadvantages.

As for Molly's knee problem complaints, a properly adjusted bicycle is the most knee-friendly exercise there is, as long as you use an appropriately low gear and a high cadence over 80rpm, rather than mashing with high force on high gearing at low rpm. Quite a few runners who have blown out their knees over too many miles have successfully switched to bicycling.

Gadgeteer
1st September, 2012 @ 10:36 am PDT

Hey Gizmag, it's September 1st not April 1st.

AnOld BlackMarble
1st September, 2012 @ 12:17 pm PDT

It appears their goal was to come up with something "different", not necessarily "better". They may have succeeded.

Frank Lee
1st September, 2012 @ 03:39 pm PDT

Looks like a bike that was designed by Quasimodo.

waldoor
1st September, 2012 @ 11:40 pm PDT

Why not just reintroduce a modern hobby horse. Look, the neck is wedged between solid frame, the people are crazy. This could be used for rehabilitation in hospital.

Dawar Saify
2nd September, 2012 @ 02:07 pm PDT

Does it come with a cervical collar? :)

Don Montalvo, TX

donmontalvo
12th September, 2012 @ 08:13 pm PDT

I'll say this, you'll pull a lot of chicks cruising the boulevards in that hot ship. Not.

Richard Smith
30th September, 2012 @ 07:54 am PDT

With the extreme amount of discomfort I endure from lower body osteoarthritis, I have found it to be more tollerable astride a bicycle saddle even knowing I'd be walking the major hills under duress. I just want to take the weight off my hips and knees It appears I could perform better as a marionette, suspended by an articurlated framework, and control my own steering and what looks like superbe speed control or braking.. I WANT THIS, INEED THIS , HELP ME OUT. You designed this for me not even knowing the intensity of this request. I am in the N E PA area and have 40 hears and 3 generations of professional bicycle experience. I am not a cultural E-media effecianato. Holy crap I want to be swinging to my local grocery store on the next wave of personal transportation like ASAP. KMASSEMBLY@AOL.COM. price is not an object.

Facebook User
4th October, 2012 @ 09:17 pm PDT

i think the concept is interesting. by hanging or in it supporting your weight while you intermittently run. i'd like to see one with power assist.

frogola
17th October, 2012 @ 09:41 pm PDT

Fred Flintstone would love to have that bike but where do you rest your legs when you ride down a steep hill and gravity takes over? Do you just get in a cannonball position and hope the light doesn't turn red at the bottom of the hill or what?

miked826
21st December, 2012 @ 02:19 am PST

Like some of the other commenters here I have some knee and low back issues that limit greatly the amount of exercise I can get using a regular bike. Issues that completely preclude covering any real distances even at a quick walk. This bike looks to me as though it would allow me to more or less jog, but with the ability to minimize the g-forces through my low back. By adjusting the fit of the harness one should be able to set the impact of each foot fall to anywhere between Zero and 100% of natural running. I actually fooled around at one point with prototyping a device to suit my needs and was ending up with something a good deal more cumbersome. Believe me when I say that there are many, many folks out there would would love to be able to jog again and this thing looks like it could do the job. A few modifications might help too. Like an electric assist for hills.

Tim OBrien
2nd June, 2013 @ 03:51 pm PDT
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