Friday, October 2, 2015

Flipping the Bird: fUCI Concept Bike

What would a fast road bike look like if it weren't for those wet-blanket retrogrouches at the UCI constantly stifling innovation?

Robert Egger, Creative Director at Specialized, thinks he has the answer to that question in the form of his fUCI concept bike. In case folks don't get the significance of the bike's name, the "f" stands for F#@K the UCI. The name is probably the most subtle thing about the bike. In a number of ways, the bike represents all kinds of design ideas that would never make it through the UCI rulebook.

Take a look (all images from Specialized):

Nothing's classier than a double-bird salute.
The motorcycle-inspired fairing, different-sized wheels, and electric motor are some of the major points on the bike that raise a symbolic middle finger to professional cycling's governing body. Egger points out (correctly) that most bicyclists don't race, and for that reason, the UCI only represents a small portion of the bicycling world. He designed the fUCI concept bike for people who are only interested in going fast, regulations be damned.

It's the "crotch rocket" of bicycles.
The oversized rear wheel (33.3 inches - as it says on the side of the deep-profile rim) is supposed to act like a "flywheel" and help preserve the bike's momentum. Getting that oversized tri-spoke wheel spinning would take a fair amount of extra effort, though - so that's where the electric motor comes in. Hidden in the bottom bracket, with the battery stored in the wheel-hugging lower fairing, the motor is supposed to act like "turbo boost" so that riders "don't need to endure tough energy-intensive starts." Just let the motor do the work.

As for me, I still balk at adding electric motors to bicycles. Sure, the bike may be fast -- but it's not all that impressive when you get that speed with a motor. In this case, the bike reminds me more of a motorcycle than a bicycle. Or at the very least, an electric moped. In fact, why not just go all the way and ditch the crank? Just put on some foot pegs and call it a motorcycle.

Can't have a modern bike without a smartphone dock. Of course, when the next incarnation of your iPhone completely changes the size, shape, and connection ports (again), it probably won't fit anymore. By then it will be time for another new bike.
What everyone wants on a bike: A magnetically latched compartment. I can hear that thing (and all of its contents) rattling away already.
The full-size model -- and another bird salute from Egger. Nice. . . 
Yeah - it's just a concept -- and as such, doesn't have a lot of practicality for actual riding (storage compartment or not). And it's true that if someone doesn't race, then why worry about what the UCI says? But then again, bike companies have always been free to offer whatever technology they want to regular consumers. There really is no limit on what companies like Specialized can offer to the non-racer, which makes the defiant F.U. attitude of the fUCI concept a little puzzling. As it is, there's nothing to prevent them from putting their electric moped into production.

Go ahead, Specialized. Make the bike. Go-fast poseurs will probably love it.

People like me will still think of it as kind of a crude joke, but maybe those bird salutes are meant for us, too.


  1. Why in the world is the upper fairing turning with the wheel? No Garmin mount...., silly. I say build them a niche endurance race series of prototypes.

  2. Same juvenile mentality that gave us the thong sock fiasco. Maybe they've already bought ads in Maxim and Wired. Outside the echo chamber, it's as exciting as junior high.

  3. Maybe the real purpose in building and marketing such a bike is to show that fools can indeed be parted with their money.

  4. Just a bit of language fun.

    1. Word "bicycle" was meant for naming vehicle that moves by pushing pedals, each pedal stroke = one cycle.
    2. Thus "unicycle" is still a "bicycle", but just with one wheel. "Trike" is a "bicycle" too.
    3. "Motorcycle" rightly names a vehicle with two or four-stroke motor, even if it doesn't have a crank. First motorcycles were actually bicycles with cranks and motor.
    4. As electric engine doesn't have a cycle as such, we'll continue to call electric motorcycle... a "motorcycle" (historical mind inetria). Do you remember that pompous electric Harley Davidson concept?
    5. Electric bicycle has cranks and electric motor, so even if the engine engages when you're pushing the pedals, it's half the "motorcycle" thing, half the "bicycle". When the battery discharges, this hybrid vehicle becomes a "bicycle".

    Whatever the confusion anyone may get from the term, it's not as valuable as riding the "bicycle" without all these ride-helping features. For me, "bicycle" stands for human power. I can easily get why there's a wide market for electric bicycles: hauling, commuting on the bike to work, for disabled ones, etc. But let's stop call it a "bicycle" once for a while. Those, whom I've seen on such a thing, didn't bother to push the pedals, so they're constantly losing the benefits in health provided by masochistic nature of cycling. And I don't like being energy-dependent other than on my breakfast.

    Human's portrait from Wall-E motion picture becomes real.

    P.S. Thanks to mr. Eggers, there appears another marketing niche for people with unlimited pockets... even if he haven't layed anything new to the table:

    I bet: in two or three years we'll see such bikes by all major MFGs on the market.

  5. When i see what he do when not shackled by uci rules....i am happy for these rules to exist because that bike is really, really ugly.