Bicycle / Design / Technology

Stringbike: The New Bike Generation

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A couple of days ago I wrote about UrbanLegend, a totally cool brand specialized in designing stylish and highly functional cycle wear clothing for urban cyclists. Today we will stay in bicycle circles and I am happy to introduce an innovation in bicycle technology: the Stringbike. As the brand name already suggests, it has something to do with strings instead of the chains that bicycles usually have, but let us have a closer look.

The story of Stringbike started with a group of friends regularly going on bike tours during university years in the early 90s, but loose or broken chains made tours end sooner than planned. Stringbike co-founder, Robert Kohlheb’s mission started to find a solution to this annoying situation and it ended up in a serious business years later. When I say serious business, I mean having built a marketable and patented product, won Schwinn-Csepel – one of the most traditional Hungarian bike manufacturers – to come on board, pitched the story and business case to private equity funds and convinced the decision makers of PortfoLion about the viability of the business to secure a solid financial backbone to this new company.

The result was unveiled in 2010 in Padua, Italy and since then the company grew into a promising business with a portfolio of different bikes, such as Ladies and Gents cross bikes, trekking bikes, e-bikes, and carbon road bike – that in my humble opinion looks extremely hot & sharp. “Stringbike is a revolutionary way of getting bikes into motion that completely replaces conventional chains, derailleurs, gear shift mechanisms and related parts. The heart and soul of the Stringbike uses a uniquely innovative technology: strong, durable and extremely flexible ropes with an appropriately drivetrain. Similar ropes are used in fitness rooms to lift weights and in heavy-duty sailing equipments. 

Stringbike has two identical but contrarily directed driving units on each side of the frame. The rotation of the pedals moves a swinging arm forward and backward around a shaft in the bottom of the frame. The forward moving arm pulls a string wound around a drum on the rear hub which makes the wheel to rotate. As the two sides move in mirror symmetry, there is always an arm that moves forward, thus the rear wheel is always driven. This way the driving shifts unnoticeably from the right to the left and vice versa.”

Personally, I have not ridden the Stringbike yet, but somehow it looks so effortlessly cool. Experts say that riding a Stringbike needs approx. 10-15% less energy than riding a regular bike and its fine gear shift mechanism makes upward biking much easier, too. But the design! Well, the design looks just breathtakingly beautiful: I am not going to far if I say, Stringbike could definitely be a show-stopper. To top this and to my own surprise – as I am not a very technical person – I caught myself replaying the short film several times that showcases how the pedal and string mechanism works. It is truly fascinating and looks a bit like a cheetah would move. I always admire innovators who are capable of developing new solutions that do not look techy but are technological masterworks. Stringbike is definitely one of them. Bravo!

Beside further developments, Stringbike management is now busy setting up its distribution network worldwide and their bikes are already available for purchase in several countries. In case of private or business related interest please visit their website or join their Facebook page for regular updates.

Source of images: courtesy of Stringbike.

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