The Corpus Callosum

Baubike: Adventures in Design

OK, folks, explain this to me.
 It is a bicycle.  Bicycles are cool.  But from the
looks of this thing, it seems as though it would be like riding an
anvil around town.  Sure, it’d be great if you got hit by a
Hummer.  The bike would be fine.

style="display: inline;">i-9da91e0090bfb4885f76e926b9244572-bike08.jpg

There are href="http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/6712/michael-ubbesen-jakobsen-baubike.html">more
photos at designbloom, and href="http://www.yatzer.com/1741_baubike_by_michael_ubbesen_jakobsen">Yatzer.
 One person href="http://www.thisnext.com/item/023FBE0D/09F57E93/The-Bau-Bike-A-Stunning-Two">comments:

The
BauBike is designed by Michael Ubbesen Jakobsen and available to order
directly from him in Denmark. It is so beautiful to look at, even just
leaning in a garage. I honestly haven’t ridden it so I can only remark
based on it’s stunning and unusual design. Check out the href="http://www.baubike.dk/">link to read
all about it and see many detailed photos along with the contact and
ordering info.

The maker says:

The
design follows a set of formal rules, limiting the geometry to straight
lines in a pattern of 60 and 90 degree angles in proportions following
the principle of the golden section.

OK, cool.  Everyone like the golden section (AKA  src="http://mathworld.wolfram.com/images/equations/GoldenRatio/Inline1.gif"
height="14" width="8">, AKA href="http://mathworld.wolfram.com/GoldenRatio.html">golden ratio,
1.61803399).  But I would trade that for a comfortable seat, and
handlebars that don’t destroy my tendons.  Regarding
functionality, the maker says:

By limiting the form with a fixed set of design rules and
stepping away from the traditional function-oriented approach to the
design process, this project transcends the border between design and
art, raising fundamental questions about the nature of the bike as
design and as a lifestyle accessory and introducing a much needed
playfulness on the bicycle scene.

Stepping away from the function-oriented approach?  OK, if you
have lots of money and your glutei maximi are made of href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-hardest-metal.htm">carbon
steel alloy #1090. 

Comments

  1. #1 Comrade PhysioProf
    June 27, 2009

    That thing is a fucking abomination. Didn’t this dumbfuck get the memo that Bauhaus as a design movement was a complete abject FAILURE?

  2. #2 steve s
    June 27, 2009

    raising fundamental questions about the nature of the bike as design

    I think I just got Bullshit Poisoning.

  3. #3 Connie
    June 27, 2009

    What a mess. Useless as a real bike. There’s a reason bikes have settled on the modern triangle frame. Maximum strength, minimal weight.

  4. #4 Finn
    June 27, 2009

    Bauhaus a failure? Then why has it influenced design for decades?

    Of course this Bauhaus bike is a complete abject failure. There’s an old saying that designer chairs are for looking at, not for sitting in. I guess the same applies to designer bikes.

  5. #5 mrcreosote
    June 27, 2009

    Can’t imagine it would be easy to ride either, with zero offset fork

  6. #6 travc
    June 28, 2009

    Maybe it is just the engineer in me, but I’ve always found that an elegant functional design is beautiful. This thing, not so much.

    Design constraints are not a bad thing per-se, but they should have a reason behind them. The standard modern bike design is very pretty and graceful to my mind… It approaches the minimal amount of material and joins, making it cheaper, stronger, and lighter. Those are much better constraints if the goal is something worthy of calling elegant.

    As for “art”. Please. This square bike is arguably art, but that does not make it good design. No reason in hell it should be more than a one-off piece. (It is also annoyingly referential, but most things called art these days are. Good art can stand on its own only referring to zeitgeist IMO.)

  7. #7 Matt
    June 28, 2009

    Well hey, at least it has a bunch of fancy Brooks components!

  8. #8 Comrade PhysioProf
    June 28, 2009

    Bauhaus a failure? Then why has it influenced design for decades?

    Because the disciplines of architecture and design are taking a really fucking long time to recover from Bauhaus poisoning.

  9. #9 John
    June 28, 2009

    If the welds don’t fail, you’ll spend five minutes trying to fight the steering geometry until the $4 chain breaks or the hardware store tire’s sidewall blows out or the seat (wrong clamp, folks) falls off. Just because it’s useless doesn’t mean it’s art.

  10. #10 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    June 28, 2009

    Echo #3 and #9. The lack of triangular reinforcement is going to put untenable stress on the corner joints.

  11. #11 Diggitt
    June 28, 2009

    Back in the 80s, the Economist ran an article about a designer who set out to design a bike that would NOT work. In a sense he was trying to learn what it is that makes a functioning bicycle.

    He went through dozens of permutations — building each one, and seeing that despite how bizarre it looked, it functioned okay. Well, in the 80s, “okay” meant something different from what it would mean today, but to the designer, “okay” meant it was rideable.

    IIRC, he had concluded that the three essential things contributing to rideability were the three two-way relationships among the two wheels and the seat. He finally did succeed in creating something impossible to ride. Unfortunately, I cannot find the story online because it was pre-internet.

  12. #12 Bardiac
    June 28, 2009

    Is it a fixie? Because if it’s not, the lack of brakes is going to mean that if the bike doesn’t break down first, stopping is going to be painful (especially if the top bar is a little high for the rider, which it looks to be unless the rider is going to try to ride with really bent legs!)

    Every time I look at my deraillers (especially the rear), I’m blown away by how amazing the design is: it keeps the chain under proper tension and shifts with ease and precision. That is design. :)

  13. #13 gzuckier
    June 29, 2009
  14. #14 Finn
    June 30, 2009

    I think John’s comment sums it up best:

    “Just because it’s useless doesn’t mean it’s art.”

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