The 10 most beautiful bikes of 2016


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BBC News : Beauty comes in many forms. Engineering and craftsmanship can be beautiful. So can user-friendliness, performance, even social significance — and, of course, forms and colours can be beautiful too. In this highly subjective annual list of the most noteworthy pedal-powered machinery, we strive to embrace the beautiful in whatever form it takes — from the dazzling neoclassical style of a child’s tricycle from Germany to the empowering capability of a pedal-driven wheelchair from Japan. These are the 10 most beautiful bicycles of 2016.

Ono Bikes Archont

The Archont by Ono Bikes
Price: $2,000-$10,500, depending on drivetrain (about £1,500-£7,900)

Archont by Ono Bikes looks like a Schwinn Stingray and aCalder Mobile had a romantic rendezvous, indulging in a bit of the old “French Curve.” At about 3m long, and about 3° Kelvin cool, each Archont is handcrafted and fitted to the rider. As a bicycle (or parade entry) it’s formidable, but with a battery tucked up into a faux-fuel tank and an electric motor, it’s a gorgeously quirky (and quick) daily commuter — assuming your commute is to a coffee shop by the beach in some quasi-utopian future. —David K Gibson

The Super 73 by Lithium Cycles

The Super 73 by Lithium Cycles
Price: €2,999 (about £2,300)

From a specifications standpoint, there isn’t much about the Super 73, from California-based cycle-maker Lithium, that braves new territory among electric bicycles. It features a stout 1,000-watt electric motor that’s good for a 27mph top speed and a removable lithium-ion battery pack that keeps things rolling for 20 miles on a charge — more if you help out with the pedals. But it’s the 73’s neo-minibike form that, for a child of the 1970s whose fondest desire in all the world was to own a Honda Z50 Mini Trail, elevates this new e-bike to bona fide object-of-lust status. With fat tyres and a chunky saddle, Lithium’s debut effort is simultaneously pugnacious and whimsical — exactly the virtues that made Honda’s minibike an icon. There’s even a bottle opener and a cup holder where a petrol-powered motorbike would keep its fuel tank. This Kickstarter success arrives in October. —Matthew Phenix


The Volata by Volata Cycles
Price: $3,499 (about £2,700)

Volata Cycles has created a versatile, road-oriented bike that brims with 21st Century technological delights: electronic shifting, GPS navigation, automatic lights, and a hassle-free belt drive transmission — plus a horn, for good measure. Designed for commuting and road-riding, the bike is also capable of venturing out on dirt roads thanks to wider-than-standard tires. A ride-tracking smartphone application connects you to your bike, and allows you to activate a GPS anti-theft system with motion detection. You can also remotely trigger the horn if you see a suspicious figure snooping around your bike. —Nick Legan

Rungu Electric Juggernaut

The Electric Juggernaut by Rungu
Price: $4,299 (about £3,300)

“Beastly” and “tricycle”: Two ostensibly conflicting concepts. But this electric, three-wheeled hulk that calls itself “the green alternative to the ATV” manages to marry the ride of choice for a kindergartener with that of a off-road adventurer. With a top speed of 20mph and a range of 20 miles on a charge — and a comic-book villain name — Rungu’s Electric Juggernaut uses its three wheels to trounce all terrain, from powdery ski slopes to rocky desert crags. Just keep reminding yourself from behind the handlebar: You’re not seeing double. —Bryan Lufkin

The Sladda by Ikea

The Sladda by Ikea
Price: $599 (about £450), without accessories and with an Ikea Family membership

Sladda, Ikea’s entry into the bicycle market, has all of the utilitarian style of a Malm bookcase. It is simple and practical, with a double-lacquered aluminum frame, in-hub shifting, a belt drive with a 10-year warranty, and included lights. Front and rear racks are available, as is a sturdy trailer that can haul more than 100 pounds of meatballs and flatpack barstools. Ikea designers came up with the idea for Sladda after watching its Copenhagen customers struggle to take packages home on bikes, and thought they’d create one that worked well for that purpose. It’s cheap, cleanly designed, and good enough — which makes it beautiful in our book. —David K Gibson

The G3 by GoCycle

The G3 by GoCycle
Price: $4,500-$4,900 (about £3,400-£3,700)

Folding e-bikes are nothing new, but the GoCycle is as elegant a solution as you’re likely to find until we get maglev hoverbikes. Technologically, it’s a 20mph electric bike with a 50-mile range (and the usual laws-of-physics caveats), but a pair of sturdy pedals and programmable riding modes can extend that significantly. But the real beauty is in what you can’t see; battery, cables, and chain are all secreted away in the magnesium frame, and a headlight and a multifunction dashboard are completely integrated into the handlebar. Assembly and adjustments are by quick-release levers and hex key, which hides beneath the seat. —David K Gibson

The Ready Made Road OG1 by Speedvagen

The Ready Made Road OG1 by Speedvagen
Price: $5,385 (about £4,100)

Vanilla Workshop and its sibling, racer-oriented brand Speedvagen, both have waiting lists that extend up to five years. But this year Speedvagen launched its Ready Made Road model, the OG1 — a minimalist street bike with lead times of only a couple weeks, so you can have a handmade bicycle faster than many off-the-rack bikes. It’s a blend of on-demand and artisanal: “As close to instant gratification as you can get with a handmade bike”, is how Speedvagen puts it. Offered in five stock sizes and with two matte colour options, a serious army green or a groovy lavender, the bikes offer a mix of Shimano and Mavic components and a painted-to-match stem. —Nick Legan

The Tribel Gran Tourismo by Smikeson

The Tribel Gran Tourismo by Smikeson
Price: €375-€595 (about £320-£500)

It was only a matter of time before German engineering took on the kiddie tricyle, and for the drooling set there is now the drool-worthy Smikeson Tribel. This two-in-front is dead-simple, with an aluminium or steel frame, and a front spoiler and pedals made of pear or beechwood. It steers just like a car, and a toothed belt drive inside the frame runs a fixed gear at a 2:1 ratio. Should a downhill prove too formidable for little feet, there’s also an elegant handbrake, for quick stoppage and/or MOMA-grade impalement. The Gran Tourismo package is so beautiful, it would be a shame to muss its angelic white tyres.—David K Gibson

Cogy Wheelchair

The Cogy Wheelchair by Tess Co
Price: ¥329,000-¥370,000 (about £2,500-£2,800)

Losing one’s ability to walk is devastating. That’s why Japanese company Tess Co decided to push the boundaries of the bicycle… with a pedal-powered wheelchair. For patients living with the effects of stroke, Parkinson’s, or paralysis in one leg, it takes only slightest movement from the upper legs to activate a spinal reflex, triggering the paralysed limb to start pedalling. (The chair’s slight recline helps promote this reflex.) Like a wheelchair, it’s usable on any public transport that’s wheelchair-friendly; unlike a bike, it can move backwards and in all directions using its hand control. —Bryan Lufkin

Podride by Mikael Kjellman

The PodRide by Mikael Kjellman
Price: $2,800, estimated (about £2,100)

The velomobile is one of those brilliant concepts that has never quite caught on. The first such machine, a French oddity called the Mochet Vélocar, arrived in 1931 as a more attainable alternative to a traditional petrol-powered automobile. It was cute and clever, but like the dozens of pedal-powered cars that would come and go in the decades that followed, it failed to change the world. But now we have the PodRide, and the velomobile is once again looking like an awfully bright idea. The brainchild of Swedish inventor Mikael Kjellman, this cheeky single-seater features a narrow, carlike body made of weatherproof fabric, with a wiper-equipped windscreen and a tiny trunk — as well as a trailer hitch that accepts a bike trailer for extra cargo space. A modest 250-watt electric motor augments leg power and enables a top speed of 15mph, with a 37-mile range between charges, and steering is accomplished by handbrake-like sticks to the left and right of the seat, each of which has grips for braking. More civilised than traditional bicycle and more manageable than even the smallest car, the PodRide may be the ideal runabout for close urban environments, resort communities and university campuses. After 85 years, the velomobile may at last be ready to go from novelty act to main event. —Matthew Phenix

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