Go to the BMC Impec R&D Lab website, and find out more about the features, and some of the ideas behind the concept. Here's a quote:
|The integrated bar/stem has a "twin strut" design and a|
built-in computer. The seat post is also a twin strut design.
|Modular concept frame is supposed to mean lots of options and |
lots of little hiding places. Lots of loose parts and rattling, too.
Not only that, but there is no way that little built-in cubbies and such will take the place of typical add-on saddlebags, etc., should one actually need to "become a combined mobile service station and food truck, with an extra tire, tube, pump, and enough food to feed an army." And good luck attaching them to this thing. Ditto, should you decide that your "ride style, and your needs while out on the road" also include fenders.
Another thing that bothers me about this "modular concept" frame is how do all these removable pieces affect the strength of the frame structure? I'm no engineer, but it seems to me that having huge chunks of the frame be removable would affect the structural integrity of the rest of the frame.
Well, what about the super-trick single-sided fork and rear stay? Those are drool-worthy, aren't they? Wouldn't it be great to see those work their way onto production bikes? The ultimate advantage of those elements is improved aerodynamics, and little else. But don't think they are without drawbacks. Consider how much larger in cross-section that single-sided fork has to be in order to be strong enough and stiff enough to resist all the various forces placed on it -- forces from steering, from braking (especially with a disc brake on one side), and the impact forces from the road. Making it out of carbon fiber probably keeps the resulting weight at least reasonable, but imagine what the ride would be like? A good fork should have a certain amount of compliance to improve ride and handling, but a single-sided fork like this won't have it. Same goes for the huge mono-stay at the rear. Wheel removal would be easy, but if that thing has any compliance at all, it's likely to result in some very unsettling handling.
Somebody out there is bound to point out that there are a number of motorcycles available today that have these features and they work fine. Single-sided swing arms have become really popular on high-performance and racing motorcycles -- one of the main advantages being simpler wheel changes in racing (the fact that it's now on lots of cycles that will never see a racetrack is because of the "cool" factor). But the swing arms have to be many times larger, and in many cases heavier, than their dual-sided counterparts. Then again, when you've got 100 horsepower or more at your disposal, a few extra pounds don't make any difference at all. In order to make something like that on a bicycle light enough to satisfy the weight weenies, what compromises have to be made?
Then there's the "modular gear box" that at least for now is empty. The idea is to be able to put in an internal gearbox "which means less drag and a lot less maintenance" except there is no such product currently available, so it's a big "what-if." And while its likely that a hypothetical internal gearbox would require less maintenance (apart from adding oil, there probably would be little that one would be able to do), how do they know it would mean "less drag"? It's an undisputed fact that internal gear hubs have more drag than derailleur gears, so why would such an arrangement have less drag when mounted in a crank case? I guess if you're "what-iffing" and coming up with imaginary super-efficient gearboxes of the future, why stop there? Why not have it make ice-cream, too? The other hypothetical possibility is that one would be able to swap out their miracle hypothetical low-drag internal-gear crank case for an electric motor. Oh, the future is looking so bright. Now if I can only figure out why it is that bicycle designers are so intent to turn bicycles into motorcycles or cars. Is it because so many of the designers come from the automotive industry? (BMC's design director, Torgny Fjeldskaar, previously worked at BMW and Mazda) Or do they just not like bicycles that much?
What was that?! Disc brakes are problematic? They are not the perfect "no-downsides whatsoever" solution for braking (breaking??) that we are constantly expected to believe by the hype machine? What industry do these guys work for, anyhow? I'm absolutely shocked to see an admission that disc brakes can overheat. Then again, I don't think covering them with what amounts to a massive carbon fiber fairing with an air passage for cooling is likely to help as much as promised. Good thing I'm no engineer.
Okay -- I know I'm probably being overly critical of an unride-able concept machine that isn't even meant to represent real-world production bikes. But if the concept BSO is supposed to represent where people envision bicycle design to be heading, with ideas that might work their way into actual production, I can only say that I don't see it as the improvement some would have us believe. Once again, creating real improvements to the bicycle is a lot harder than people think.