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Denny: The Ultimate Urban Utility Bike

Denny Bike

Imagine a stylish yet sturdy bicycle which allows you to store all your stuff while riding, a handlebar that doubles as a lock and a removable, rechargeable electric motor that can give you a much-needed boost on those steep city hills.

Not only that; imagine a bike that has automatic gear-shifting, an in-built light system complete with brake lights and indicators, and headlights that automatically switch on when it gets dark.

The super bike of the future has landed, in the form of ‘Denny’ - the winning bike at the Oregon Manifest Bike Design Project Competition. The contest pitted five teams (each a collaboration between a bike company and a design firm) from across the United States, against each other in the creation of the “ultimate urban utility bike."

The winning project was collaboration between Seattle frame builders Sizemore Bicycles and Teague, a product design company whose portfolio includes the Polaroid camera, UPS truck, Pringles canister and the Xbox.

According to the project’s website, the teams were “competing to concept, create and champion their unique vision of tomorrow’s bicycle for the everyday rider. The results will redefine the category and have the potential to reshape urban mobility itself." The winner was determined by popular vote.

Rather than including a holster for a typical U-lock, the Denny takes it up a notch. Teague and Sizemore invented a set of handlebars that can be pulled apart and used to secure the bike, instead of a separate lock.

“Locking a bike seems to be an eternal challenge for designers: Where does the lock live, how big is it, can it secure the wheel to the frame, how much weight does it add, how theft proof is it, how do you carry it?" says Teague project leader Oliver Mueller. “I think what we like about our solution is that it’s fully integrated into the frame so you never have to think about it."

Beyond mimicking the functionality of a traditional U-lock, the design acts as a visual deterrent, leading potential thieves to wonder where the handle bar is.

Teague and Sizemore also radically changed the traditional ‘mud guard’. Unlike traditional designs which prevent water and dirt from appearing on rider’s back by placing a lid over the wheel, Denny uses and arcing rubber brush to flick the water off as the wheel spins, an elegant and efficient engineering choice.

Teague, best known for designing jumbo jets, brought with it the knowledge of advanced technologies like electronic assist motors and smart battery management tools. As a result, Denny has a motor that automatically kicks in on hills or other times when the rider needs a little boost. A battery is hidden in the frame to power the assist and directional lights and can be recharged when the rider reaches their destination.

Beyond these eye-catching technical innovations, Denny is chock-a-block full of careful considerations inspired by Sizemore’s years spent fabricating bikes: an automatic gearbox makes climbing hills close to effortless; the storage rack is kept closer to the ground to lower the bike’s centre of gravity and the rack is also integrated into the frame, meaning it doesn't swing with the front wheel thus making spills less likely. The step over height is also lower than other bikes, allowing an easier dismount for those riding in skirts. 

What's more, a carbon fibre belt is in place of the traditional chain, meaning you won’t be left in a greasy mess.

Having won the competition, the bike will be produced by Fuji Bikes and pricing/availability information will be available starting in the spring of 2015.

Denny Bike

(Written by Rachael Fletcher)