Denmark consistently appears in the top three of the annual World Happiness Report (along with Finland and Sweden), so it's fair to say we can learn something from them. And Benjamin Hubert’s creative agency Layer has done just that, with its concept for a new type of e-bike.
Its name, Pendler, comes from the Danish word for 'commuting', and that's no accident. Denmark is one of the most cycle-friendly countries in the world, where an astonishing 90% of Danes own a bike. And the Pendler design aims to broaden the appeal of cycling and bring forward a future in which two-wheeled commuting becomes commonplace worldwide.
In short, their clear focus with Pendler is making urban travel easier and more appealing for a broader range of people. So how does the design aim to bring that about?
Pendler combines the power of an e-bike, via 45Nm rear hub motor and a removable 250Wh battery, with the appeal of traditional cycling, through a compact, traditional-looking design that celebrates natural materials and a crafted aesthetic.
But its design, based on a symmetrical, U-shaped frame, isn't just about visual appeal. The lack of a top tube has a practical purpose, too, allowing riders to 'step through' the frame regardless of what they are wearing. This would make the bike inclusive for a wider demographic of people with varying ranges of mobility. The saddle and handlebar height can also be adjusted for a more comfortable ride.
Meanwhile, the compact wheelbase and relatively small (20-inch wheels), folding pedals and 90-degree turning make for easier storage and travel on public transport, as well as the smaller apartments and shared houses of the inner city. Pendler comes with several modular, detachable accessories that enable users to carry shopping and luggage, as well as a phone dock that offers safe and easy access to devices while riding.
In short, this e-bike takes fewer cues from sports and mountain biking and more from everyday needs and experiences. For example, the front and rear basket attachments feature a timber base with a wire surround and integrated adjustable straps that keep luggage or shopping in place. When not in use, these baskets can simply be hung up on storage hooks in the home for a more streamlined ride.
The design concept addresses safety concerns, too. Integrated indicator lights on the handlebars and rear and front of the frame, powered by the built-in battery, help cyclists communicate with other traffic without having to take their hands off the bike. Given the number of accidents between cyclists and other road users, especially in busy inner-city areas, this is a great idea we'd love to see put into practice.
Overall, Pendler offers a brand-new vision for e-bikes that we'd love manufacturers to take note of. Obviously, it's one thing to come up with a concept, quite another to put it into practice, especially at a price that's going to be affordable to everyday people. But this is a fantastic start nonetheless and really does address some pain points that cyclists experience, some might say unnecessarily.
As Layer founder Benjamin Hubert puts it: "We believe easy, everyday travel should be for everybody – and our aim with Pendler was to envisage a safer, more convenient and effortless mode of personal transport to enable independence for commuting in the city. The result is an intelligently designed e-bike that is inclusive, easy to store in compact urban spaces, and balances high performance with a desirable, crafted aesthetic."
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