Co.Design

Philippe Starck And Peugeot Create A Hybrid Bike-Scooter, For A Bike-Sharing Program

The hybrid design makes a lot of sense, but we wonder if having a name-brand designer simply invites thievery.

Following the wild success of custom-designed public bicycles in Paris and Copenhagen, Bordeaux will be the latest metropolis to unveil its very own city bike, by French design dynamo Philippe Starck. A twist: It’s a bike and a scooter rolled into one.

"It is from the analysis of the many responses of the citizens of Bordeaux--responses that are varied, constructive and intelligent--and the unique characteristics of Bordeaux that the novel idea of this new means of transportation began," Starck says in a press release (translated by Co.Design’s resident French expert, my mom). "This revolutionary ergonomic design seems to be a creative and correct response to new questions asked, in particular, about pedestrian areas."

The scooters are expected to be manufactured by Peugeot and will supplement an existing bike-sharing program in Bordeaux, which has made a point of promoting cycling. Thanks in part to efforts to limit car traffic and develop a tramway, the city has seen the number of cyclists triple in the past 15 years alone; today, more than 10% of residents commute by bike. Officials hope that a freshly designed PMV will strengthen that momentum.

Starck presented the concept, after input from the public, earlier this month. It’s only a preliminary design, so details are vague, but based on a rendering, it has big yellow wheels and standard pedals for when you want to ride it as you would any other bike. It also has a step-through frame and a platform for times when you want to zoom along, labor-free.

Starck gives the initiative some serious star power. In the design world, he is as famous for his flamboyant personality as for his flamboyant, if sometimes baffling, designs. (Of a non-functional, gold-plated lemon squeezer he created for Alessi years ago, he is rumored to have said, "It’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations.")

Bike-sharing programs have been tremendously popular in Europe and even here in North America. One drawback, though, is that they exclude residents with limited mobility (and those of us who are just mega lazy). A bike-scooter hybrid sounds like a good way to solve that problem.

I have a few doubts. For one, a swish scooter--by a celebrated designer, no less--is catnip for thieves, so this thing better have one hell of a locking mechanism. I also wonder how they’re going to make the frame and the motor light enough to where pedaling doesn’t feel like steering an ocean liner. Then there’s the question of Starck himself. Do you trust a guy who makes ornamental lemon squeezers to design something that, ya’ know, has to actually work? Here’s hoping the bike does more than start conversations.

[Image courtesy of Philippe Starck]

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4 Comments

  • Joel Blair

    Public bikes must be very robust which inevitably means a heavy bike. Exaserbating this by adding an electric engine may make the bike simply too heavy to comfortably pedal. I can't imagine it could be as light as a regular electric bike. However, considering Bordeaux already has a successful bike share program, this could be a great complement.

    (Also, a bike-scooter hybrid is called a Moped.)

  • Merlinhouse

    Have you even looked at the picture in the article? There is no motor, hence it's not a moped (that's what the "mo" bit in moped means). Its a bike-scooter.

  • Dave

    You're right about the weight - they're heavy (heavy tubes and batteries) and the gear ratio is usually very low to compensate. What bugs me about this whole thing is this representation that somehow this is a new or innovative idea.  The streets of China are swarming with bikes like that! I rode one almost identical to the above for two years in Shanghai (minus the delivery basket and yellow wheels, though other models offered both).

    They're fantastic vehicles and I wanted to export mine (Germany doesn't allow them without inspection certs), but I don't understand how anyone can claim that they are novel in any way, especially not in the ridiculously self-aggrandizing, pompous Starckian way.

    Sorry, don't mean to rant but that man has claimed ownership of so much of that he has no right to it gets right up my nose.

    (Mopeds run on gas - that's an e-bike)

  • Dave

    It looks an awful lot like a standard Chinese e-bike design that's been 'appropriated'.

    "It is from the analysis of the many responses of the citizens of
    Bordeaux--responses that are varied, constructive and intelligent--and
    the unique characteristics of Bordeaux that the novel idea of this new
    means of transportation began,"

    New means of transport? Hardly. The man obviously cannot see the world around the monumental mass of his own ego (and it appears to lack a battery, which is troublesome from a functional POV).