Einstein came up with the theory of relativity while riding his bike, and the writer Iris Murdoch wrote this of the humble two-wheeler: 'The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man; other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish' (The Red and the Green, 1965). I'm not sure I entirely agree with what she's saying, but the bicycle is very civilized. And here are some great modern takes on it.
Pictured top is Jano, a wooden bike designed by Roland Kaufmann at GP DesignPartners. Realizing that wood is tougher than most composites available on the market, and more able to absorb shocks and noise, he created this 'dual' bike out of plywood – intended for practical use and occasional bursts of fitness. A concept, as far as we know, but a beautiful one.
Next up is the Tensegrity bike (above and second from top). The brainchild of Ionut Predescu, it's an ultra-lightweight bike held together by the tension of cables. (Tensegrity is a term coined by Buckminster Fuller for artist Kenneth Snelson's designs, which featured rods and cables held together by tension.)
And finally, the bamboo bike. This curious creature was created by Calfee Design, and is available for purchase. The idea behind using bamboo is that it looks natural, is (like the wooden bike) vibration absorbent, and it boasts a very small carbon footprint (at the production stage and ever after). Calfee are also working to bring the bamboo bike to Third World countries like Ghana. The idea being that, for nations dependent on bikes for transport, bamboo is plentiful, strong and sustainable. I suspect that Ms Murdoch would approve. RM