Bicycle Design part 1:

Bicycle Design and Component (non)standardisation:

Where are we going... where have we been???

Where are we going... where have we been???

This is part of a series of weekly blogs about bicycle design.  This will be on route to explaining why and approach that I took when I designed the Ram / Swan Frame for the Pinion gearbox.  I will take you on the journey of bicycles that have influenced me and then why I took the less conventional path;  I will answer those questions and let you glimpse into my design mind...  I hope you enjoy the journey...

I love bicycles, the simple joy that the freedom can give you.  Bicycles can be a simple pleasure to include in your life.  I also love design, engineering, materials and the processes behind each good design practice.  The bicycle is something that will always keep evolving in design.  It is one of the the most complex products to design and one that designers will jump at if given a chance.  Big name designers like Ross Lovegrove, Marc Newson and Ron Arad have all had a go at designing their version of the "perfect" bicycle.  This is the journey to mine.

Frame details and component fit:

For a frame design to be successful it needs to be both, structurally functional and aesthetically appealing. On top of this the bicycle designer also needs to choose the correct standard or non-standard frame componentry.  As cyclists we all are working towards the same thing, a better product.  However the Bicycle industry has standards that present a minefield for both the customer and frame manufacturers.   Bottom Brackets, Headsets, Seatposts and Axles, not to mention disc brake mounts and wheel sizes.  Things can change on the componentry level, this intern drives the frame changes in the market.    

Lightening bolt or Eureka Moments:

There needs to be a combination of factors for all of the above to work.  Items generally stay the same until there is a climate for innovation, driving a shift in public acceptance. Design sometimes gets a bolt of lightening, but ideas need to be sanity checked, prototyped and tested.  This design will then get picked through by manufacturing designers and engineers before it is made and marketed to the industry and public.
Sometimes ideas are not innovative enough, so marketing get involved to promote the idea.   
I am being a bit harsh on marketing departments, but a new paint colour for each years model, was a consumer model that the car industry dropped in the 1960's

To simplify things we have to ask ourselves: 

1/ Is there a need for this product (or innovation)?
2/ Have I been sold an "idea" that I might "want" this product? (You have been  marketed).

Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to document the component changes that the bicycle industry has seen and try to convince you that it has changed for the "better" or that this is a "what where we thinking" moment....

Steven OlsenComment