Although the technology is not exactly new, I still find the look of a spokeless/hubless bike wheel somewhat spell-binding. When combined with a frame design that wouldn't look out of place on the pages of a Marvel comic strip, the effect seems positively extra-terrestrial. Such is the case with the INgSOC concept from Edward Kim and Benny Cemoli, a very strange-looking human/electric two-wheeler design sporting sharp lines and some dangerous-looking edges.
The popular and trusted diamond frame design has served bicycles and riders well for more than a hundred years. Nevertheless, designers regularly attempt to break away from this successful shaping - examples of such diversions include Raleigh's iconic Chopper from the 1970s, the strangely pleasing arc frame of the PiCycle, the frankly odd RoundTail and the design that combines classic (if all-but-abandoned) styling with modern technology, the YikeBike.
The INgSOC bike's frame looks like a bony alien finger pointing the way forward. Behind the seat is a removable battery pack, with a battery charge level indicator on the handle. This is the power source for the bike's electric motor underneath. The rider could choose to zip through traffic powered solely by the motor, or ensure a smooth pedal action by getting some assistance from the motor, or pedal only for those occasions when the battery runs dry or the cyclist feels like keeping fit. While in pedal-only mode, some of the energy generated by the rider would be directed to the battery pack to charge it.
The designers see frame strength being supplied by lightweight carbon fiber reinforced polymer that's been specially cured to improve core strength. Kim and Cemoli say that INgSOC offers the flexible handling and comfort qualities offered by more traditional bikes while also benefiting from the aerodynamics of triathlon designs.
There's a smartphone dock on the hump of the upper part of the frame to keep the rider in touch with the world while on the move or perhaps act as a GPS or wireless performance monitor. Lighting is included in the design, with direction indicators built-in.
Although still a concept at the moment, the designers are currently looking into taking the INgSOC rendering to the prototyping stage with the help of Steven Mora from Digital Fabrications Laboratory at the University of New Mexico. Progress updates will appear on the design blog.