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. 


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raising fundamental questions about the nature of the bike as design

I think I just got Bullshit Poisoning.

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

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.

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

By mrcreosote (not verified) on 27 Jun 2009 #permalink

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.)

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

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.

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.

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

By Bayesian Bouff… (not verified) on 28 Jun 2009 #permalink

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.

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. :)

I think John's comment sums it up best:

"Just because it's useless doesn't mean it's art."