How To Inspire Everyday Cycling

How can bikes be designed to encourage everyday people to enjoy life on two wheels? INDUSTRY, a Portland-based design studio, investigates.

We've partnered with Oregon Manifest's The Bike Design Challenge, a competition to create the ultimate urban utility bike. Over the next few months, we'll be publishing the diaries of five design teams to give you a behind-the-scenes look at their creative processes. Here's the first installment from Portland-based INDUSTRY.—Eds

INDUSTRY is an innovation accelerator based in Portland, Oregon. Our focus is to identify new opportunities and define what’s next. As one of five participants in The Bike Design Project, we set out with the vision of inspiring everyday people to cycle. Our focus has been placed on the experience a bike can deliver, rather than simply seeing the bike as a stand-alone object.

In terms of approach, we first took a look at what motivates a person to cycle. For example, everyone loves the freedom of two wheels and the joy of self-propelled movement. However, today there are many barriers, stigmas, and complexities that prevent people from cycling. In parallel, we dissected the DNA of a bike with our bike-building partner Ti Cycles, who have been crafting cycles for nearly 30 years.

Following this collaborative process of immersion and understanding, we quickly stripped down the idea of a bike to its essence, to reimagine the opportunity. At INDUSTRY, in order to design a meaningful product experience, we believe it is important to look at both functional and emotional benefits. We also believe that the core of any product experience is connecting people, design, and story.

For The Bike Design Project, our motivation is to solve for:

  • Performance- crafted features, relevant materials, and amazing functionality
  • Style - fitting into people’s lives seamlessly without complexity or barriers
  • Essence - removing what is not necessary and amplifying what is

During the first month of this project, we’ve been gathering inspiration and assessing materials and methods. We’ve collaborated with Ti Cycles in benchmarking the cycling landscape. Most importantly, we’ve begun concepting and prototyping. Design is not a linear process. We must stress test ideas through rapid ideation and iterative prototyping. For our next move, we plan to ramp up phase 2 and get into integrating holistic bike concepts.

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1 Comments

  • Martina Schrenke Fahrner

    If form follows function and you are targeting an urban ridership, I hope product testing with an urban demographic is part of your development plan.

    Anne-Marij Berensen from Gazelle pointed out at last year's National Bike Summit that most urban riders are no longer entering cycling over cycle sports, but through a life style choice of using cars less. That changes the design parameters: functionality and convenience becomes more important, compatibility to other products (panniers, kid seats, trailers) becomes important.... But yes, it still needs to appealing and come in at least 5 sizes and 8 colors.

    I wish you good luck and will follow your project with great interest!