Co.Design

An Electric Bike That Hauls Cargo, And Doesn't Look Like A Dork Mobile

The electronics for the “Faraday,” created with master framebuilders at Rock Lobster, disappear seamlessly into the bike’s design.

In terms of two-wheeled transportation, the e-bike has a reputation only slightly less lame than the three-wheeled motorcycle. But that didn’t stop IDEO and Paul Sadoff--well, it almost stopped Sadoff, who was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of designing an electric bike--from incorporating an electric motor in their design for the Portland-based non-profit Oregon Manifest, which, every two years, hosts a competition that challenges some of the world’s top design firms to build “the ultimate utility bike.” This year, IDEO and Sadoff, the master framebuilder and cofounder of Santa Cruz-based Rock Lobster, designed an e-bike that comes equipped with a major surprise: It looks like a “real” bike, hiding its electric motor in a small lime-green compartment underneath the seat.

Named for the 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, who helped pave the way for electric motors, the Faraday uses an integrated electric hub motor, lithium-ion battery pack, and custom computer for seamless electric assistance when you want to use it. It was designed especially for carrying small cargo up and down the hilly roads in San Francsico and features a quick-release front rack mechanism that allows riders to rapidly add, remove, or exchange various cargo-carrying accessories. The bike also uses smaller 26-inch wheels that, while not as fast as a 700cc wheel, are more versatile.

The bike also includes some cool touches like handmade, full coverage wooden fenders and customized leather chainstay protector and chain link cutouts in the chain guard that line up with the actual link plates on the chain. And even the logo adds a touch of humor: The tail of the y ends in the shape of a plug.

More information about the bike here.

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10 Comments

  • Tkennedy

    Anyone that states the electric motor is the green thing under the seat needs to write about something else

  • Casey Mahoney Brad P

    I have several electric bikes.I love them but battery power gets drained.this one looks very awesome!

    Casey Mahoney Brad P

  • Dugger14

    Yes, the big front hub is the motor. The satchel hanging from the top tube holds the LIon battery (probably 2 hrs max). The large rear hub and two cables running to the back suggest a 7+ speed gearing. Really nice!

  • MichaelADeBose

    The styling is very nice. What's it ride like and how much does that ride change once you add something to haul? I like the look of the handle bars. Are they as functional?

  • Dave

    Looks like a really small electric-assist motor; would be curious as to how much assist it actually provides.  Many e-bike manufacturers are now offering 1KW motors (the largest allowed under current road licensing laws) that provide a REAL assist - especially in a hilly area like San Francisco.

    Battery pack also looks really small; would be curious as to projected range given the heavy-duty frame construction (added to whatever the rider and cargo weighs).  Bottom line - even with regenerative braking, you can't get something for nothing.  Either you are going to do mostly all the work pedalling or you will need a large motor/battery pack.

  • Martin Roberts

    The motor is not under the back seat it is in the front wheel.  The batteries must be hidden in the frame and the electronics is in the green box.