Our Urban & Their Urban: Bike Design Competition Reveals Cultural Differences

Our urban is different from their urban.

What happens when you ask bike designers from San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and New York to make the “ultimate urban utility bike”? You see the hallmarks of Left Coast creativity and realize that our urban is different from their urban. Observe.

Chicago

Why it’s so Chicago: “A nearly indestructible belt drive able to withstand…the harshest winters.” Brrr. Time for an espresso beer sausage?

New York

Why it’s so New York: “We’re not trying to redefine what a bike is. Through this whole design process we wanted to maintain the hundred, two-hundred years of history behind what people have developed the bike into.” Makes sense. If you wanted to redefine things, you’d live on the Left Coast.

Interesting: Both the Chicago and NY designs are all-black.

Unlike Chicago and New York, Left Coast cities collide with wild spaces in beautiful, rugged parks. Since our urban is different from their urban, so is our idea of an urban utility bike.

San Francisco

Why it’s so San Francisco: Riders are referred to in software lingo as “users” and the frame is a “modular accessory platform” that scales to fit your individual needs. It has 3D printed steel lugs and distressed wood accents.

Portland

Why it’s so Portland: Respect the craft! Made from 3D printed titanium (one-upping SF on the materials front) this bike comes with a location-aware connected app (one-upping SF on the app front) giving you the kind of turn-by-turn navigation you’ve come to expect from a car (up yours, cars!). “Inspired by the raw beauty and innovative spirit of this place.” Also: “Biologic Dynamo self-charging electronic front hub.” Solid, PDX.

Seattle

Why it’s so Seattle: A unique fender prevents rain-soaked streets from spraying your backside. Like the city itself, the whole design is technologically advanced, but still human—a bike that’s for everyone.

Who Won?

Seattle. The design team at Teague + Sizemore struck the sweet spot between can and should. In their own words:

The Denny bike is about returning the rider (and ourselves) to those early days of carefree riding, when cycling was just about ‘get up and go’ freedom—the reason we all fell in love with bikes in the first place.

It’s inspiration? The diverse community and unpredictability of our home, Seattle. From the auto-shifting electric assist, smart reactive lighting, integrated locking and the redefining of the fender, we’ve created the purist biking experience possible for Seattle riders. Now you don’t have to worry about the hills, rain or an impromptu farmer’s market trip.

Ultimately, the Denny bike was born from a simple premise, ‘an everyday bike that removes the barriers to becoming an everyday rider’.

All in – Just Ride

Wait a minute—we have a late entry!

Oakland

Why it’s so Oakland: Boots Riley prevents the streets from spraying your backside. It’s physically liberating. Put a Joker in the spokes and you gotta rhythm that’ll move some folks. Note: Neither the bike nor the people are disposable.

On a related note, check out Cycles of Change, an organization that works “to improve the health and sustainability of our neighborhoods by increasing the use of bicycles as transportation, connecting youth with the extraordinary living systems of our local area, and building a diverse community of visionary young leaders.” They’re truly bringing us “the ultimate urban utility bike.”

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