What will a bicycle look like in 50 years?
I love playing the future game during our ideation sessions challenging status quo thinking and imagining what-if. The best way to put together a futuristic picture of a bike is to break it down into smaller parts. I have seen great new technologies that are a few years from market that will likely be the new norm and here is what we’ll see.
Carbon Frames fashioned by 3-D printers- Science exists today to print bicycle pedals using print materials resilient enough to withstand the weight of a person. 3D printers today are capable of printing carbon fiber materials and a bike frame is feasible. Carbon fiber costs will drop as automotive federal MPG requirements mature making carbon fiber abundant as steel. Buying your new road bike will be a simple file download onto your home printer and print your tailored bike matching your exact size.
Anti-lock breaks with automatic stopping sensors. Going over your handlebars will be an event of the past. Just like cars of today with stopping sensors, this technology will be on most bikes in the future. The basis of science for stopping is similar between bikes and cars. Bikes will automatically slow or stop using a parallel technology . Anti-lock bike breaks are being tested in the market today and will be standard equipment.
300-mile range e-bikes. A local Cleveland start-up incubator lives a company who developed an e-bike that can travel up to 200 miles using a portable hydrogen fuel cell. I love how they are thinking already proving it can be done. Elon Musk’s Tesla will probably beat them to the market punch with a small lithium ion battery fit for a bike. Hydrogen fuel cells are a bit challenging to ship so I’m betting on the lithium battery to be first to market. You can bank on this one to come true.
Direct drive bike. Chains falling off while switching gears will be an old school bikes 50 years from now. Direct drive will not only eliminate the issue, it also maximizes power transfer. Direct drive will remove the need for a chain or drive shaft aligning the rider optimally on the bike. Power transfer will be improved with direct drive appealing to the triathletes and road market with the lower body positioning. Direct drive will bring fitting challenges however likely helping prosthetic riders aligning their center of gravity above the center of power.
Saddles. No pain you say? Likely not, but seats with improved blood circulation will be more widely available maximizing riding enjoyment. Think of a seat where pressure maps look more dynamic than static. I never understood the mantra “you’ll get used to it”. I could get used to sleeping on a bed of nails too but see no reason for it. Bike seats will decrease in length and increase in width as dynamic positioning evolves.
Optional Equipment– Built in cell phone chargers. E-bike commuters will charge their phone on their prolonged battery life. Built in air bags– Bike helmets with built in airbags exists today. Airbag incorporated into the handlebars or bike frame will be likely in 2066. Hands free biking – Could happen…not sure why but it’s the same science in self-steering cars or gyroscopes in Segways and Hoverboards. Just plug in your destination on your phone and pedal away while the bike steers itself.