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.