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“Eff You See Eye”

The idea-smothering power of the humble box is well known. Hurtful slurs involving boxes are freely bandied about—think outside it, that car is boxy, you’re such a square. Robert Egger doesn’t like boxes. He doesn’t like creativity being confined by them. When it comes to professional racing bicycles, we all know that box is lovingly constructed with regimented precision by the UCI. But what about bikes for the rest of us? Egger believes it should be less about what’s allowed and more about what if?

As with many of Robert’s more conceptual side-projects, this Very Special Thing is not the answer to a question, it’s a question in itself. What if there was no box? What if there was no need for the ticky-tacky? Would all bikes look the same?

Meet Eff You See Eye, affectionately written fUCI—an appetizer for what could be.


Background & Inspiration

ARTICLE 1.3.005
“If at the start of a competition or stage the commissaires’ panel considers that a rider arrives with a technical innovation or an equipment not yet accepted by the UCI, it shall refuse to permit the rider to start with such an innovation.” – Excerpt, UCI Technical Regulations

When it comes to design, Specialized’s Creative Director, Robert Egger, don’t gotta-lotta time for rules imposed by others. He believes that like lions on the savannah, designers should be free to wander the glorious ‘what if’ landscape, joyfully unfettered by limits imposed on imagination. With fUCI—a cheekily named concept bike with nothing but curious intentions—he let his own sketching hand roam free, ignoring the basics of the UCI’s technical regulations to imagine one potential evolution of a bicycle. No rules. No restrictions. Just a teaser for the future.

It’s somewhat blasphemous to say this while walking the halls of Specialized, but race bikes aren’t everything. But just because you don’t race the Tour de France, doesn’t mean you don’t want to ride something that’ll blow your hair back, and there’s certainly no need to comply with regulations to get that speed you’re looking for.

“The UCI really caters to a very small population,” says Egger, during a chat in the recently re-designed ‘concept gallery’ at Specialized HQ, “but there’s so many other people out there who couldn’t care less about the UCI. They don’t follow the racing and they don’t even know all the limitations that are put on bikes for the UCI riders. So, my feeling was let’s design a bike for someone who really just wants to go fast on a road bike.


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“I didn’t look at every UCI limitation per se,” he says. “I just started with the fact that I’m not going to be limited by wheel size, I’m not going to be limited by tubing diameter or tubing shape, I’m not going to be limited by aerodynamic advantage, and I’m not going to be limited by, you know, not being able to have a cargo area where I can carry stuff. So really, there were no rules.

“Going from working with a lot of rules to no rules is really intoxicating. No one can tell me what to do. For me personally, it’s actually why I do a lot of these bikes. Because I can just do whatever the fuck I want, right? It’s important to be given that freedom to do whatever you want, where no one can say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that!’ We need that as creative people—to do things that are innately ours and innately different than what the confinements tell us to do.”

He pauses and looks over at the bike. For the next twenty minutes, he walks us through the various features of the bike, from obvious UCI technical rule infringements, to more subtle explorations of what could be done with bicycles in the future.

“It’s kind of everything anti-UCI. Basically a ‘hey, here’s a totally different way of doing things. It doesn’t fit into your box, but the people who would appreciate this bike aren’t concerned with that box.’ The whole thing was really just an exercise in working outside of the UCI box.”


RULE BREAKER, FAST MAKER

33.3. The perfect speed for a record. Photo by: Carson Blume

ARTICLE 1.3.006
“The bicycle is a vehicle with two wheels of equal diameter. The front wheel shall be steerable; the rear wheel shall be driven through a system comprising pedals and a chain.” – Excerpt, UCI Technical Regulations

One of the first things you notice when you see the bike from a distance is the obnoxiously large rear wheel. Big, brassy, bold and flashy. Whatever the race–downhill, BMX, track–the UCI requires the front and the back wheel be the same size, yet the rear wheel on fUCI is so obviously not the same as the front. So, why, Robert? The answer has two parts.

“It’s a 33.3 inch wheel,” Egger explains. “And it’s a flywheel. Now, we all know that once you get a flywheel up to speed it’s very efficient, but getting it up to speed can be pretty tough. The bigger the wheel, the harder it is to get moving, right?” We pause for a small lesson on wheel size. “For example, BMX bikes have 20-inch wheels, not only because they’re maneuverable but they accelerate really fast, which is what you want for a race like that. Anyway, the idea behind this,” he points to the bottom of the bike and continues.

“This is an e-bike. It has a motor here, in the bottom bracket. So just like when you ride the Turbo and you put your foot on the pedal and it lurches forward, the same thing here. This little motor will get the flywheel up to speed so when you’re stopped at a stop sign, or when you’re starting out of your garage in the morning, this’ll be that burst of power to get the flywheel up and running.”


TRIANGLES ARE FOR SQUARES

ARTICLE 1.3.020
“For road competitions other than time trials and for cyclo-cross competitions, the frame of the bicycle shall be of a traditional pattern, i.e. built around a main triangle.”

“These elements, including the bottom bracket shell, shall fit within a template of the
«triangular form» defined in article 1.3.020.” – Excerpt, UCI Technical Regulations

triangle shape

The shape of the bike is something that definitely bucks against the two-triangle design most common to UCI-friendly bicycles. It swoops and arcs, a look made all the more dramatic thanks to the splash of bright orange that accentuates design lines and makes the bike more visible.

“The line of the bike has a little bit of an anatomical, human type feel to it,” says Robert, indicating specific regions of the bike that mimic the shape of a body. Once he’s planted that idea in your brain, you can’t help but make out the form of a person crouching, ready to spring in the frame.

“If you look here, at the back,” he says, pointing to the seat stays. “These are like your knees, right? And we’d get some compliance out of those small seat stays. Because you still want a bike that rides really soft. You’re going to get some suspension out of this. I don’t know how much but I think there’s something there where we would get a really comfortable riding bike.”

The door is magnetically latched. Just put your finger in there and it’ll snap out. Photo by: Carson Blume

“And it’s also got a lot of stuff a car has. I mean it’s got a trunk right?” At this point, he flips the little door out of the bee-tail rear, behind the saddle. “You can put your windbreaker in there, or food, or your wallet. You know, all those things that a car has. Spare tire, tubes, all that stuff. And see all these holes? Those are brake lights that go through there.”

It’s well-known that Robert Egger is a huge motorcycle fan, so to hear a guy so enamored with bikes talk about cars for a change is surprising. But the topic of cars—of innovations made in the auto industry—flow in and out of the conversation. It’s a theme he returns to when talking about how technology could be integrated with bicycle design.


PRESS ALL THE RIGHT BUTTONS

The smart bike of the future could integrate your smart phone. Photo by: Carson Blume

ARTICLE 1.3.010
“The bicycle shall be propelled solely, through a chainset, by the legs (inferior muscular chain) moving in a circular movement, without electric or other assistance. […] The addition of mechanical or electrical systems that serve to assist the rider is prohibited.” – Excerpt, UCI Technical Regulations

A ‘smart’ bike that’s both energy efficient and tech savvy? It’s not a new idea, but Egger believes we need to be thinking about it more, not just in how bikes are powered but how they function.

fUCI has a lithium battery that you can remove if necessary by pressing the silver button, but as Egger explains “There’s probably no need to take it off if you have a docking station like this.” He talks us through the silver stand the bike is currently mounted on. On a mount coming off the stand, a solar panel mount sits, which could be used to charge the bike and take fUCI off the grid.

“Think about it: you do your ride, you come home, you set it in there and it would start automatically charging. That’d be cool.”

There are endless ways to incorporate some of the technologies we see in modern vehicles into the bike. In this instance, a rider’s smart phone could control much of the data and functional aspects of the bike’s operation.

“The idea would be that your smart phone runs the whole bike. Everything from disabling it if you want to lock it up, to being able to program in your ride route, or suggest alternative routes if you’re trying to get to a specific place. It knows when it gets dark and turns the lights on, lets you know when tire pressure is low, or senses a car getting too close to you and warns you. It’s infinite how many things digitally and electronically we could do with a bike like this. It’s like, you could program this bike and say, ‘I wanna burn this many calories’ or ‘I wanna produce this many watts.’ Well, that could tell the motor only to work so hard, so that you’re producing on average 200 watts for the whole ride.”

And for Robert Egger, that’s it’s all about—possibilities.

“Like I said before: I want to tell the story of ‘what if?’ What could be? This is a bike all about what could be, not what it necessarily is right now, but what bikes could be. We should embrace cars,” he says. “Let’s not hate on cars, let’s embrace the technology they have and where it makes sense, infuse that with bicycles.”


Head turner

It’s totally UCI illegal to put anything on your bike that’ll help you cut through the wind. Photo by: Carson Blume

ARTICLE 1.3.024
“Any device, added or blended into the structure, that is destined to decrease, or which has the effect of decreasing, resistance to air penetration or artificially to accelerate propulsion, such as a protective screen, fuselage form fairing or the like, shall be prohibited.” – Excerpt, UCI Technical Regulations

This one is self-explanatory—it’s got a faring so, UCI denied!

But on the subject of the faring, from the front the bike looks sleek, fast, and definitely catches eyeballs. Its high visibility is magnified due to the choice of a bold orange, with hits of that color also accentuating some of the faceting on the bike. The faring and the wheel in particular, but also on the underside of the tail. No doubt, this bike is made to be seen out on the road.

“Yeah, the visibility aspect is important. You get that orange from the front, you get quite a bit of orange from the back, quite a bit of orange from the side, and you’re going to see motion in that single orange spoke as the wheel spins.”

The movement of this orange spoke should really catch the eye. Photo by: Carson Blume

Not that the fUCI needs bright colors to draw attention to it. As with all of Robert’s Very Special Things, the very look of it waves a ‘yoohoo!’ hand in your face.

“With all these bikes I do, a certain part of it is selfish act of just designing, right? But at the end of the day, I’m trying to make something that people just completely lust after and go ‘oh, shit, I’m going to sell this and this and this to get this bike.’ That’s our job as designers—to create products people feel they can’t live without.

“We need to make people look great in our products, whether it’s a shoe, glove, bike or a helmet. Not only look great when they’re on their bikes, but to feel great and to have a great ride. And you know the saying of if you look good, you feel good, right? There’s a lot to that. I’ve always thought eyewear does a great job of that. Eyewear can make someone look beautiful, or make someone look devious, or make someone look intimidating. So, I wanted this bike to make someone look like they wanted to go fast.”


Special Thing Rap Sheet

NAME: “fUCI”

CREATOR: Robert Egger

WHAT IS IT? Concept Flywheel e-bicycle

FRAME: Custom

WHEELSET: Custom

TIME TO COMPLETE: “Probably 6 months on and off.
I made a little quarter scale model to start, and that got me thinking about how to make a full-sized one. And it’s always good to have that little scale model because you can see what’s working on what’s not working. So once I got the scale model done I immediately started to work on the full sized bike. And this one actually took longer than normal. I never work on these bikes full time, because I have a day job , so I kinda try to fit things in when I can, but it probably took about six months.

fuci
Photo by: Dan Escobar

95 thoughts on ““Eff You See Eye”

  1. Bravo Robert,you are doing yourself , SBC and the true concept of Industrial Design proud.
    I’m pleased to have worked with you.
    Regards,
    gt

    1. Well, this is very embarassing. For you, I think: because all mr. Egger explain is the entire explanation that Mr. Mainardi given at XV IBDC Award on Taipei show when he won first prize with Aria.
      See on google “Aria bike” and let show about the original project. I think this idea of Mr. Egger is only an ugly copy of the original design concept.
      If you don’t trust me, see mr. Mainardi web site: http://www.mainardidesign.com on the portfolio section.

      1. This is a totally original Specialized design, the website you linked is a false advertising website and the bike you referenced as the “aria bike” is not even similar to this frame design, in fact it is even more rudimentary. That bike is designed for aerodynamics and this bike is designed as an extremely aerodynamic smart bike that has the potential to grow. So, no, in fact I don’t trust and next time, find an actual website.

    2. That is the best looking bike I have ever seen. I don’t know allot about bikes, don’t ride much ether but I would love to hang that one the wall it’s so sexy!

  2. So, it’s a knock of a Chinese knockoff of an Italian 125cc motorcycle that’s a replica of a 250cc racing motorcycle. Even the “frame” is more motorcycle than bicycle.

    And the TT inspired seating position will not endure Mr/Mrs Average to it.

    It’s not an e-bike. At most it’s a ludicrously expensive e-motorbike with some bicycle cues and steering geometry.

    PS. The pedal position would only be realistically usable if you went full superman and that can only be done on the confines of a track where sudden direction changes and stopping would not be required.

    PPS. This is not an attack, This is just my observation.

    1. Also Thunderbird 2 wouldn’t generate enough lift to get off the ground, ET is extremely unlikely to be an airbreathing organism, someone would have totally already found the cave in the Goonies and the cripple is Keyser Soze.

      Sorry for the interruption, I’m sure you’ve got a long afternoon of stealing sweets from children to undertake!

    2. The pedal position is quite normal ~ you seem to be looking at the full size version and assuming that the hardware around the back wheel are pedals, but if you spent a little time looking before you typed, you’d see that the pedal position is quite normal.

      Its not my cup of tea … because I don’t want a drop bar bike. But I’d like to see a recumbent with similar lines … and a similar fairing.

    3. Hey man! don’t be a hater,
      Why don’t you build your own bike and post it so we can all criticize it and make hater comments .
      Bike looks freaking awesome! and he is innovating the way bikes are since the 1800’s. So Get started! build your own damn bike so we can hate it and put envy poisonous comments, if you don’t have anything nice to say keep quiet

  3. Cycling is interesting , beautiful design definitely good . I’m sorry for the middle finger that is out of place , tacky .

    1. I don’t think you get, the middle finger is a poke at the UCI cycling league and all their outrageous regulations, it’s well in place sir.

  4. Way cool. I wish the article would of told us some of the specifications like weight, height & length & what materials you used, carbon fiber ? I really like the flow of the bike, looks comfortable. I hope to see this available soon, i think your idears are great !

    1. The materials used were cardboard and Bondo. Most of Robert’s designs are just that – designs. Not meant for actual use and more often than not – not ridable.

  5. Awesome design and outside the box thinking. I would love to see a full production concept on something like this, even though it isn’t very practical, I would definitely ride the heck out of it for fun!

    1. Hans, you’re being far too polite! FUCI is YOURS and Egger is an egomaniac douche for not giving proper credit to the original. FUCI idea. The “bike” is kinda cool and shows some of Roberts true creativity…but for Fucks sake man….get a clue and give some credit where due, you didn’t come up with it you just STOLE it because it suited your needs.

  6. the bike has a nice flow & I really like the aero treatment at the front. Not to sure about the large rear wheel – I think the same effect could have been pulled off using a 700 wheel. I would have liked to have seen the top of the rear wheel faired. So – how does it ride..

  7. Love the fresh approach to the design and general F-U to the UCI. That said:
    1) The larger rear wheel isn’t exactly new. Moser used one on one of his hour record bikes. Forget the exact diameter but it was greater than 700c
    2) Water bottles go where?
    3) Unless there’s some sort of break away feature that front end is pretty dangerous looking. What happens when a twig gets kicked up between that nosecone/fender and the tire?

  8. Beautiful, I would buy one just to hang on my wall. but I’d take it down to ride and visit art shows. Great Job, let me know when I can place an order.

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  10. I don’t race anymore so I don’t care about the about uci rules governing bicycle construction/dimensions ext so I would love to ride a bike that can go faster, looks better (my opinion). I believe there would be a huge market for bicycles like this. I can only hope that a manufacturers get the hint. I want one!

    1. Hi Rob. Nice bike. I lost your contact info years ago. Could you please email me at speedbikeris@gmail or find me on FB. Thanks.
      Thom Ollinger
      (Friend of your brother Joe)

  11. Beautiful.
    Many of the same questions/observations, especially the lack of clearance for debris in the wheels, adjustments, etc. But the big questions are the specs. So:
    How much would this weigh with and without motor and battery (3 weights)?
    How many “starts” would you get out of a charge (city riding) and compare that to how long would hill assist/starting help work for rural, club rides?
    What would the anticipated (human) energy savings be on a typical ride due to motor assist and flywheel effect?
    But what a great exercise, very nice.

  12. Place this prototype in a wind tunnel and let us know the wind resistance of the bike with and without the fairing. There might be a market for retrofitting more conventional road bikes with such a fairing.

  13. If you want a bike that goes even faster (has better aerodynamics), that you can purchase today, look here: http://schlitter.bike

    When you take away the equipment specific rules, recumbents hold nearly ALL the human powered speed and distance records.

    1. Hi 253LUIGI, thanks for the link.

      Indeed, recumbents hold many records, but there’s such a variety of configurations (2, 3 wheels, faired, unfaired, different geometries etc) that only have somewhat of a recumbent position in common that it can be difficult to compare apples to apples.
      On the other hand, comparing the pros and cons of a UCI compliant road bike and those of this freer twist on a road bike is a lot easier.

      What Robert Egger is doing here is an exploration of the aerodynamic and stylistic opportunities that may exist when freeing oneself of UCI rules that concern the frame’s design.

      He did keep the traditional (upright / heads first) body position, which accounts for most of the aerodynamic drag. It’s a perfect concept exercise – familiar (traditional position) and explorative (frame aerodynamics and style), just like most concept car have a familiar number of wheels, dimensions and driver position but explore new style and aerodynamics.
      In other words, it’s a bike as you know it (with a familiar position) but with a different twist.

      Recumbent bikes in general are difficult to “get” for most people because they are such a departure from the norm both in terms of position and frame design. Some are record-beating fast in perfect conditions (but not very good at anything else) such as Battle Mountain streamliners and some have no speed pretensions but are great to sit on comfortably and have a wonderful time on the bike path (many trikes fit that description).

      We find that being fast just for the heck of it doesn’t always fit the reasons why many people cycle. Sure, road cyclists want to be fast – but only immediately compared to their cycling companions, not compared to any bicycle out there in theory. Being fast on the flats and downhills is a great thrill, but might get a bit boring when one finds out that they end up riding alone most of the time…

      If there’s one thing our Schlitter Encore excels at, it’s keeping road cyclists rolling, especially those that experience discomforts as a result injury or aging, without requiring them to give up the experience and riding partners that they’ve always expected from a road bike.

      It cohabitates very well with fellow road cyclists especially as the height allows actual conversation and since it won’t be left behind in climbs.
      Is it fast? Very much so, but in a way that creates a great experience to share with buddies on road bikes.

      Julien Mauroy
      Product Manager, Co-Founder
      Schlitter Bikes
      http://www.schlitter.bike

  14. Last time I shopped for a good bike, which was 15 years ago, Specialized didn’t make anything in my size. I’m still not sure why they even have “boys vs girls” lines. It’s a bike, you don’t operate it with your genitals. I have the disposable income to buy a few more bikes, but nothing really excites me. A bike is a bike is a bike, and miniscule changes in paint colors don’t really matter. I’d love to test some of the new stuff above, but I’m really short, so no one bothers to make something like that for me until the actual retail market has matured.

    1. Check our KindHuman Bikes. They have some really interesting new stuff in the pipe line. I believe the geo on their new Kampionne model has a super low seat tube. I spoke with Adam, the co-founder, and one of the major goals with the new model was to broaden it’s fit potential. Check them out!

  15. If you’re not going to build/sell it can you release the design files? I’d love somebody to sell and or print this bike.

    My $0.02, thanks.

  16. I come for a hot rodder background, NO RULES !!!!. Beautiful bike, you have a start at a better, faster bike, well done keep going !!!! Experts in the 60’s said that dragsters would max out at about 8 sec and 200 mph, they were wrong. With more stream lining I bet your bike will do 100 mph!

    1. no technical upgrades. Air deflectors already exist but are not used. I think the bigger rear wheel will cause wrist injuries, and the beautiful white / orange look will not last dust and dirty rain.
      Different or new doesnt mean better. It is just a shiny new object with no innovation, like a new iPhone or so (only the first was really an innovation).

      If you want Something really new and innovating, ask an engineer or an innovator, not a designer.

      1. thinking outside of the box doesnt mean doing what reglementations dont want you to do, it means rethinking the concept.
        For example in a bike you have a large amount of muscle power (but not physical power wich is a different concept) losts in the transmissions, as only the tangential part of the strength will produce torque.
        You also have huge lost in aerodynamics at higher speeds. A little deflector is not enough.
        Big wheels are better for stability and confort, but less efficient for acceleration, cost and weight. Maybe a Wheel with changing carachteristics during a race would be a great improvment.
        etc…

  17. Thanks for sharing a educative thoughts of recumbent bike that have more beneficial site for the worker of exercise. This article is very important and helpful.

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