Alpha Bike

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Alpha: Possibly the Most High-Tech Bike Ever from Core77 on Vimeo.

While I’m not quite sure what problem University of Pennsylvania engineers were attempting to solve with their rapid-prototyped Alpha bike, I have to admit it caught my eye.  The student-designed and built bicycle, which pushes “the boundaries of integrated systems,” fully encases the drive train, a clutch for switching between fixed and freewheels, and a computer for tracking bike stats (e.g. speed, gear status).

As a cyclist, I don’t see a need for all the features of this bike.  However, parts of it seem like useful progressions.  Specifically, the onboard computer reminds me of the Copenhagen Wheel project that we showcased – a bicycle wheel with self-contained tracking capability that communicates with your mobile device and can store your cycling data.  This information, as I’ve noted before, would be extremely useful in aggregate if/when enough adopters are found.  The ability of cities to track cyclists’ use of the transportation network facilitates better identification of danger hotspots and better planning.

It seems we are a long way from this tracking because of individuals’ reluctance to open their data, however having the technological advances in place that allow for this tracking is a necessary first step, especially if manufacturers are already embracing the concept.

-Terra Curtis