Saturday, 19 January 2013


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10 Wacky Kickstarter Bike 'Innovations' You May Never See
By A.K. Streeter,
Treehugger, 18 January 2013.

Bicycle innovations are booming - but even the best ideas can't always get Kickstarter funders to part with their cash. Take a look at these ideas and ask yourself - good, bad, or just weirdly conceived?

1. The Ones That Got Away

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Credit: Andrew Smith

Each of us will remember Kickstarter projects we instantly loved, and maybe even voted for with our dollars. But of course, not all good ideas get enough money to make their goal and thus, the Kickstarter cut.

That means there's now a backlog of bike innovations that will never see the light of day - at least, not with Kickstarter cash. Here's our round-up of some failed campaigns. Read on to discover what a Floaterhoist, a Unatandem, and a GLO rimSkin are - or are supposed to be.

Maybe you'll even receive a flashing Kickstarter inspiration of your own. (The photo above is a kinetic moving sculpture by Andrew Smith - the artist hoped to receive Kickstarter funding to do a new, similar piece.)

2. Floaterhoist Saves Space Giving Your Bike a Lift

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Credit: Floaterhoist

Andres Mountain designed a ceiling-mounted bicycle hoist capable of storing a bicycle in a horizontal orientation. Three independently controlled rope and pulley systems attach to three points on a bicycle’s frame. This makes it easier to pull your bike very close to the ceiling, for placement in tight spaces.

What's the advantage? Mountain was dissatisfied with the way current systems took up valuable garage or storage space, Mountain and industrial design partner Kevin Kimberley of DesignUp Inc. worked to make Floaterhoist work with all sizes of bikes of small to large bicycle frames. The three point, sling-like design conforms to the shape of the bicycle’s frame, distributing the load evenly, according to Mountain's campaign.

Perhaps Floaterhoist wasn't the most elegant name for this elegant design - Mountain's campaign came up short. However, Floaterhoist seems to love on - Mountain's web site is advertising the ceiling sling as available for $89.95.

3. Wingz Lightweight Back Rack Takes Heavy Loads

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Many messenger types want their rides to be as lightweight as possible and thus have traditionally eschewed the back or front bike racks that are so handy for commuter types that don't need to go particularly fast when carrying a load.

The Wingz rack attaches at the seat post, and has a unique clamp system that allows the arms of the rack to be adjusted to accommodate different sizes and shapes of loads on a bike.

Wingz is made from anodized aluminium and weighs 17.6 ounces - or just over a pound. Because the 'arms' of the rack can be moved and locked into place, those awkward boxes and strangely shaped loads that might slip and slide on a regular rack settle easily on Wingz. Cording running alongside the the arms can then be used to help secure the load.

Yet while Wingz is a unique design, evidently it's not revolutionary enough to get Kickstarter funding - so inventor Beda Pormentilla is stalled at the testing phase.

4. Unatandem - Two Seats and a Single Set of Handlebars

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Credit: Shawn Raymond

The Unatandem ("Oona-tandem") looks like a squashed together version of a regular tandem bike, and that's by design. Designer Shawn Raymond wanted to create a tandem that rides like a regular bike - to mimic that 'riding on the handlebars' feeling.

Instead of separate sets of handlebars, the Unatandem has just one set - one of the riders will not steer by only grip the inner portion of the bars. Raymond also pushed the smaller front wheel back in his design back as far as he could to make the bike nimble and responsive.

He has gone through 14 prototypes of Unatandem and is convinced his design offers easy riding for two riders, either two adults or an adult and a child.

His design didn't get funding, but Raymond hasn't yet given up on getting a Unatandem built.

And while the Unatandem is weird, the Bicymple is almost as strange, and it got plenty of funding.

5. RimSkins GLO Makes Wheels Continuously Illuminating

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Credit: rimSkins

Usually, reflective gears for bikes score high in cyclist interest, but the GLO rimSkins Kickstarter campaign wasn't able to muster the $4,000 developers Vicken & Shant Jabourian were trying to raise.

rimSkins are vinyl appliqu├ęs for bike wheels or wheels sets. Instead of being reflective - i.e. lighting up in the dark when light is applied, GLO rimSkins have a light source that allows their phosphorescent pigment to glow similarly to those neon green light sticks used at concerts.

But while concertgoers' light sticks fade out after a few hours, GLO RimSkins get continuously charged by small lights installed on the sides of the bikes wheels. While the cool factor is high for the GLO RimSkins, and cyclists generally love products to make them be better seen at night, the price for the product prize at $100 for a shipped set may have been too steep. 

Though the project was not funded, at the rimSKINS web site the GLO product is currently offered for $41.95.

6. Foot and Bike-Churned Ice Cream Still Tastes Good

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We've all seen images of the bicycle blender, and the Christmas-tree powered by peddlers - cute fads. But Edward Belden was interested in going a step further with bike power, by creating a sustainable business concept that used a bike to churn ice cream, and also deliver it to Los Angeles customers.

Belden already had a tricycle that did a great job at pedal-powered ice cream making, and he participated in LA ciclovia events to sell his ice cream. But Belden was dreaming of his own walk-in production and sales shop, and a bike that could handle major frozen dessert production.

Belden's first Kickstarter effort to get $15,000 of funding for his Peddler's Creamery fell flat, however. So he pursued a smaller goal - and two months later, was funded for $3,456. While his web site advertises bike-delivered ice cream pints, the store has not yet opened.

7. Hipster Tiny Skirt for Biking

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Credit: Nona Varnado

At first, a tiny wrap-around bicycle skirt called the Hipster seems like a frivolous idea. And Kickstarter patrons must have thought so, too, for they refused to fund Nona Varnado's campaign to raise $5,500 to fund the production of a bicycle clothing collection, 14 pieces in total.

Yet the Hipster might on second glance, resonate with dedicated city cyclists that like to ride in their regular clothes. With fashionable low-riding jeans and midriff tops, it isn't easy to keep a cyclist's mid-section warm without resorting to a jacket. The Hipster keeps the skin that always threatens to be exposed when a cyclist is pumping the pedals fashionably covered instead.

But alas, the Hipster isn't available - though a selection of summer cycle wear is at Varnado's web site.

8. Boovabox Covers Your DIY Milk Crate

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Credit: Boovabox

Sometimes the simplest ideas really are the most elegant. At one time another, almost every dedicate city cyclist has used a milk crate to cart around their stuff - easy to attach to a back rack, the milk crate is ubiquitous and multi-functional.

But milk crates have a drawback for year-round cycling - they are neither waterproof nor covered, so it's up to cyclists to keep their valuable items contained and free from wetness and road grit. That's where Boovabox would come in. Created either from vinyl or recycled billboards, Boovabox fits over the top of a milk crate providing a little extra padding (and design) to your back bike carrying device.

Alas, while designer Paul Davis got 54 backers for his Kickstarter request for $5,000 to buy and industrial sewing machine, the Boovabox campaign fell short of its goal.

Boovaboxes are being handmade, however, for $65 - $75.

9. Solarcycle USB Bike-based Solar Charger

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Credit: Isaac Porras

Isaac Porras realized in his transportation cycling that many things he wants to do on a bike need more than human power.

Using GPS navigation, stopping to take pictures, surfing the web, using apps, making phone calls, watching videos and listening to music quickly saps the power of a smart phone. So Porras thought about attaching a solar panel on a bicycle to charge a phone and any other USB-enabled device. Lightweight Solarcycle allows charging of any USB device directly from the sun and offers the cyclist multiple outlets to plug in devices.

Maybe Porras' idea was good, but asking his Kickstarter compatriots for $90,000 might have been overreaching, and the Solarcycle campaign wasn't successful.

While Porras is selling USB solar chargers at the Solarcycle web site, a specific solar charger bicycle rear rack and high capacity battery kit is not currently available.

10. Magically Morphing Multi-Use Bicycle Trailer

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Credit: Len Rubin

Portland inventor Leonard Rubin has long worked to extend the usefulness of bikes in meeting daily transportation needs.

He designed the trailer he calls “M.O.M.”™ (for “Multipurpose Overland Mover”™) to expand the size, shape, and weight of what can be moved by bike. Rubin proposed using "Trailer Plug-Ins™" to take a flatbed bike trailer and make it do a number of cargo tasks. Most important of all, Rubin wanted the M.O.M. to replace all the other cargo and kid-carrying trailers he owns.

Rubin's Kickstarter campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, drawing in not a quarter of the $35,053 for business start-up that Rubin was asking for. The M.O.M. is not currently available at the company's web site.

Top image: Left: RimSkins. Right: Wingz.

[Source: Treehugger. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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