Designing in 12 Dimensions by Alan Scholz
Welcome to the ‘Designing in 12 Dimensions’ blog series
By Alan Scholz : Designer and Co-founder of Bike Friday, Burley Design
Edited by Hanna Scholz : Bike Friday President and daughter
I have written this series about cycling, cyclists, and thoughts motivated by my 50 years of cycling and meeting cyclists of all stripes. I want to share what I have learned, found and created in hopes it helps inspire you in your life.
This blog series focus is also on designing new bikes & new systems at Bike Friday. Written with a maker & pantologist’s perspective, and as an introvert with the bicycle as my muse. I discuss design & materials, human scale, health/fitness/diet, work physiology, riding skills, safety, living as cyborgs, designing in my head, family & community, 60+ years of dramatic changes & potential healthy life styles as a world citizen. And the lessons of kindness. Always remembering a thank you to all kindnesses.
This jumble of topics has come to interrelate as a bicycle shaped reality for me. I want to share the latest research results I find, for a better life for the individual and potentially for all of us. There is a huge bunch of really exciting stuff happening/exploding in the world today. Its Not at all just the seeming disasters in the news.
After writing a bit again, the realization came to me that I have a lot to comment on and share with you. I hope you enjoy and it adds some light to your day. Thanks for the opportunity to share my experience, passion and thoughts!
Not Science fiction
’12 Dimensions’ may sound like advanced physics, super-string or M-theory but I assure you it is not! It is very much about you, cycling, about life and bicycles. At Bike Friday we love bicycles, cycling and cyclists! The supreme elegance of the bicycle cries out to be explored.
Three Dimensional Bicycles
In the beginning, & I don’t mean the Big Bang, but in the 70s, my brother Hanz and I started to think about bikes having multiple dimensions. (ok in1970 Hanz was 10 and I was 20 but formative years for us both) The seed for Bike Friday was planted. This is when trains would no longer take an un-boxed bike. And forget flying. I (& the other Great Plains Bike Club members of Fargo ND) liked to take the train with our bikes to the Twinn Cities for cycling events and races. Without the train option Minneapolis & St Paul, the hub of cycling in our neck of the woods, became harder to reach. We began to dream of high performance folding bikes and their potential to add back the dimension of traveling easily with our bikes.
Fast forward to 1992 April 1st (yes 500 years exactly after Columbus’ difficult travel across “the big pond” to the New World, (or was that Loo Flirpa from Scandinavia?) It was no Joke and about time! Bike Friday was started. From that time BF’s have been consistently conceived as an evolution of the bicycle. Travel challenged bicycles, although one of the worlds greatest inventions, are fairly one dimensional. Designed to excel for one use and one sized rider. Like a Camel or Giraffe, elegant in adaption in their natural setting (straight out of the garage), not so much in others (flying!, need a roof rack & an automobile to go on that trip?). (Elephant in the room?) Bike Friday exists to be more convenient & capable of more. Only recently has it become clear to me how much we’ve added to the original 3 dimensions of the original Bike Friday Travel System. Great fit (made to order), foldable (easy to store & carry), packable (carry on & check on to public & commercial travel options), & most important still – extremely ridable (not to lose a 100 years of performance design just to make them foldable.). OK I guess the original BFs were at least 4 Dimensional! Then Dimension 5 was users involvement with the design of their bike to uniquely fit them, and then sharing their experiences with other cyclists!
With the ‘electric enhancement program’ & a new bike I am working on, I realized that having at least 12 possible dimensions is noteworthy!
Here is a list of the possible dimensions in your Bike Friday design.
- Touring Bike (The first 3D Bike Fridays. Built to fit, travel, ride and store. Performance that Packs.)
- Road Bike (Sport)(with folding & other extra features. Designed/built to ride & be easy to travel by all means)
- City Bike (w/ folding, carrying & other useful features for a bicycle life style. Still built to ride & be easy to transport)
- Extra Lite Cargo Bike (one designed especially for mom, passengers, loads, and the rest of the family)
- Travel Bike (Suitcase-able! In most formats, plus the supper handy BF Travel Trailer & your accessories.) Bike Fridays, since the original seed of vision, have always been planed as systems. One dimensional standard bicycles require you to work out your own system. I support anyone doing that. But travel systems have a lot of demands and planning for the Bike Friday Travel Systems smooths out a lot of roughness and saves money, time, and hassle when traveling. The new ‘Bike Friday Electric-Enhanced Travel Systems’ are an especially focused example of that.
- Expedition Touring bike (or work horse family touring bike) coming is a Gravel Bike (or an especially cushy touring bike. This would be the new ’12th Dimension Friday’)
- Fully Adjustable bike tech (riders age 8 to a young 90 & 4ft tall to 6ft+) Began as SRTS class training bike.
- Guest Bike (this bike could replace a garage full of extra bikes & fit most any guest you might have). What are rental bikes for if not for the rental companies guests and clients?
- Bike Club Bike (Better an uber Rental bike) from an old British cycling magazine comic of, ‘the bike the club gets together to argue about who gets to use the bike!‘
- Electric Enhanced Bike Fridays (actually 10 more dimensions folded into this one as there are different optimized versions for the first 9 dimensions. Some that travel easily, conveniently, and legally. Yep that means more than 12 dimensions but who is counting anymore!)
- This one I think of as the MacGyver Dimension. What you might call the Dimension of Potential. It is like a Swiss army knife but way more. The Potential Dimension is made possible by the “Bike Friday mass customization rapid Production system!” A great system borrowed from ‘Toyota Production System‘ for you to get what you want, when you want it. For instance we build for the Little People of America. Who else does that? Adding potential for riders from the 5th to the 95th percentile. (This is called “the long tail”) Standard mass produced bikes by necessity are for the center of the bell curve. Approximately 30th to maybe the 70th percentile for size with a few if any color choices. Are you mid bell curve? Do you think mass produced bikes have your specific wants and needs in mind?
- One more important dimension that all Bike Friday owners have come to be part of. And it originally just sort of happened! This is the Belonging Dimension. Community. Bike Friday ownership has become a very inclusive world wide if non-official Community. Ask long time Bike Friday owners who have traveled ‘what is the best dimension.’ I have heard from many Bike Friday owners that they really like belonging to a world wide group of recognizable friendly bike travelers and having friends at the factory.
- Stock ownership – a New dimension just in the last 6 months!
When a bike offers this much already some folks expect it to do everything. Unfortunately not possible even at infinite cost. (not even the ‘Friday 14th Dimension’ that I am currently working on. It does more than any bike I have ever heard of but it doesn’t fold!)
A bike does not need to be good at everything. But it does need to be good at what you need it to be good for! Those specific dimensions are what make your Bike Friday a fine travel companion. It is a high standard we hold for them being the namesake bike of Robinson Caruso’s ‘Man Friday’. Our one big goal is for your multidimensional bike to be your ‘Bike Friday’.
Note: There are clearly more than 12 dimensions of potential to think of when designing the perfect 2 wheel companion. But it could be enough for what you need. Thanks for taking part. Your interest and feedback are essential. We are all in it together. Keep sharing your ideas for dimensions with us!
Best in Cycling –
PS – Having a Philosophy has always been an important place to start for me when designing, so I leave you with one that always gave me a chuckle. In the subtle deep words of Red Green, “ If women don’t find you handsome they should at least find you handy”.