Despite the meteoric rise of bike infrastructure and bike culture in the United States, still less than 1% of Americans actually bike to work. As designers look at various ways to make bike commuting a little easier–from lights that can’t be stolen to inflatable helmets–a group of students in a Georgia Tech class are considering the challenge of storage.
It’s easy to throw a bag in the back of a car, but a little more cumbersome to lug things around on a bike. A backpack might not be your bag of choice, or might be uncomfortable with a computer or reams of paperwork inside. Your regular bag might not fit in a pannier. So, they thought, what if a bike had a trunk of its own?
Over the course of a semester in a studio bike design class, David Hotard, Matthew Campbell and Edwin Collier created the Transport Bike, which replaces the spokes on a front wheel with a small storage compartment that can fit a bag and a few other belongings. The wheel’s hubless design keeps the space motionless, so your laptop won’t be spinning in circles as you ride.
It’s also intended to look a little better than the typical commuter bike. “In the prototype, we aimed to illustrate the idea that a commuter bike may not necessarily have to look like a loaded-down mule, but rather a speedy bike with the bags tucked away,” Hotard explains. “The design was driven by a focus on serious cyclists who wanted to maintain their road bike geometry on a commuter bike, feel fast, and avoid the appearance of extra baggage.”
Though the students designed an entire bike, the next iteration will be a fork and wheel that could attach to someone’s existing ride. There are several challenges to address, like rethinking the trunk’s material and shape so the bike is easier to steer and making it simpler to fix a flat tire. The designers are also considering adding several other features: the trunk could include lighting, storage for locks or flat kits, and the trunk itself could have a lock.
With a limited budget during the class, the students haven’t yet built a prototype they can test. The current model, pictured in the photos above, is built from plywood and isn’t rideable. But Hotard hopes to continue developing the design after he graduates in December.
“I love a design that challenges the way we approach a problem or function,” Hotard says. “Transport does this and now I’d like to make it work.”