E-bike character embodied by distinctive design

E-bike character embodied by distinctive design

Where cars have been status symbols ever since they were invented, bicycles were mostly seen as a practical and economical way to get around. Together with the expansion of the electric bike market this is starting to change. Cyclists add more value to the aesthetics of a bicycles' design and see their vehicle as a way to express their identity.

Drivers increasingly identify with the light electric vehicle (LEV) they’re riding. Using a LEV – whether it’s a bicycle, moped, cargo bike or scooter, is no longer just a functional means of transportation. For a growing number of people, it’s a way of life: young urban parents on cargo bikes or commuters on a high-speed bike being some examples.

This trend is fed by the worldwide emergence of new players and business models in the field of micro mobility and companies that promote themselves as a lifestyle brand. They anticipate their customers desire to identify with their vehicle, making the aesthetics of a vehicle more and more important for the distinctive character of a brand.

Stepping away from the 'form follows function' principle

Of course, there has always been a certain interest in aesthetics in the design of bicycles, but the available construction techniques did not allow much room for creativity and experimentation. The construction was limited to the moulding of tubes in a geometrically and ergonomically correct way. Therefore bicycle design leaned towards the ‘form follows function’ principle. An industrial design style in which functionality is dominant over aesthetics. For a long time this practical but slightly plain style was generally accepted by the market.

For a growing number of people, it’s a way of life: young urban parents on cargo bikes”

Nowadays a bicycle doesn’t have to exist out of thin steel tubes, with a relatively small diameter, brazed together with lugs. New production techniques and materials make it possible to be more creative with the design. The introduction of aluminium frames made it more common to use larger frame tube diameters, which increased with the launch of composite frames. The integration of components such as the battery, controller and cabling enlarged the frame tube even more. Gradually it became accepted to use more volume in bicycle frames, making it possible to create unique and aesthetically pleasing designs.

New production and material trends

A more recent trend in bicycle frame production is the use of precision casting techniques, which brings even more volume and – more importantly- freedom of form into the design. This lost-wax production method has been used in the car industry for years. The technique is suitable for the construction of precision parts that need to endure a lot of force. This technique is now embraced by the bicycle market and used by multiple brands.

Another development that ameliorates the aesthetics and distinctive character of LEVs is the use of larger body panels and surfaces. This is seen in closed and semi-closed vehicles, such as electric tricycles, quadricycles, and cargo bikes. With these products it’s not the frame, but the exterior. With cargo bikes, for example, this trend is visible by the use of the well-known EPP foam boxes and the form freedom in which they are designed.

New opportunities come with new challenges

The emergence and acceptance of new materials and technologies enables designers to step away from the ‘form follows function’ principle. Production methods such as aluminium hydroforming, carbon frames and 3D printing give the bicycle industry the opportunity to experiment with forms, patterns and lines over the surfaces.

Within the automotive industry, this way of designing is referred to as ‘surface entertainment’ and it offers designers an almost unlimited freedom in their outlines. It also offers a new challenge: when used in moderation surface entertainment enhances the aesthetic appeal of a vehicle, but when it’s exaggerated it can become a turnoff. The correct use of these new designing possibilities is a refined play in knowing what to add and what to leave out.

Distinctive and aesthetically balanced design

Let’s bring e-mobility to a higher level”

VROEGH Design, a design agency from the Netherlands, can help with these challenges. They are specialised in the development of LEV’s and can assist both existing brands and promising startups with the development of their products. Besides their e-bike and cargo bike expertise they use designing methods, materials, and production techniques from the automotive industry for the development of e-bikes and cargo bikes. This results in vehicle designs that are distinctive and aesthetically balanced.

The independent design agency works as an external R&D department and takes care of the activities related to engineering and innovation. Since the agency is completely specialised in Light Electric Vehicles, it has all the expert knowledge to develop and integrate the mechanic, aesthetic, and digital experience of a vehicle.

Exciting times for e-mobility

The trend of cyclists identifying with their vehicle, limitless designing possibilities and a worldwide interest in bicycles bring great opportunities for mobility brands. The growing demand for aesthetically appealing and balanced design combined with the development of new techniques and materials, makes the e-mobility market such an interesting place to operate.

Not only is there an increasing interest in e-bikes and cargo bikes, all sorts of e-mobility products are in demand. Electrical mopeds, last mile solutions and high-speed bikes all respond to the idea of mobility as a lifestyle. VROEGH Design welcomes these events with great enthusiasm. Let’s bring e-mobility to a higher level, making an e-bike the status symbol of the 21st century!

This article was sponsored by VROEGH Design. 

Turkish manufacturer expands its facility for battery and motor production

Turkish manufacturer expands its facility for battery and motor production

Due to the embargoes applied to China, European bicycle manufacturers turning to the domestic market for e-bike production might likely direct their attention to Turkey.

Naqeeb Isthiark: "We strongly believe in artisan craftsmanship; our 600-plus skilled associates add value to the process with unique, innovative solutions.”

Asiabike: pioneer in e-bike manufacturing in Sri-Lanka

Asiabike is the first company in Sri Lanka to set up a manufacturing plant exclusively to produce e-bikes to international standards. Strategic alliances with industry giants such as LG, Samsung, and Panasonic, along with European-standard approved Chinese battery cells, have made this locally owned organization an important e-bike supplier to foreign markets, especially the European Union and the United Kingdom.

BESV celebrates the journey so far at Eurobike 2024

BESV celebrates the journey so far at Eurobike 2024

Ten years may not seem very long in the bicycle industry but in many ways, BESV began long before 2014. The premium e-bike brand was started by the CEO of the Darfon Group, sharing in its legacy of eco-friendly electronics design.

Machontrol: streamlining bike assembly

Machontrol: streamlining bike assembly

In the ever-evolving landscape of bicycle manufacturing, the introduction of new materials heralds a profound paradigm shift. From the use of carbon fiber to the exploration of eco-friendly alternatives, the industry is undergoing a renaissance driven by innovation and sustainability. However, the successful adaptation to these materials requires more than just ingenuity; it demands designing advanced machinery specifically tailored to handle these novel materials while prioritising ecological sustainability.