The BriefBike concept is an e-bike that’s as easy indoors as a roller-case, with room for whatever you need to carry, and it flicks open instantly, ready to ride with a reassuring ‘clunk’’. It will eliminate concerns over storage and theft, which are major concerns for people who would like to cycle more. Innovate UK has awarded additional funds to accelerate the development of this game-changing urban mobility solution.
New forms of transport are urgently needed. Automotive electrification cannot achieve climate objectives without more cycling (Select Committee for Transport). Although cycling has a vital role in decarbonization, its impact on public health produces more immediate economic benefits. Assuming our customers make at least one additional trip a week by bike, an initial production run of 5,000 bikes would reduce CO2 emissions by 500 tonnes, a societal benefit of £172,000. The activity-related health benefits associated with this would lead to savings in healthcare and productivity with a value of £3.8m. Insufficient safe infrastructure is the greatest barrier to transport cycling. Our novel e-bike addresses the other significant barriers – issues with storage and theft, cargo and child carrying, public transport integration, and movement through buildings.
The cycle industry is booming. Even before the pandemic, major European markets have seen annual growth of 25% to 35%, driven in part by the emergence of e-bikes. The coronavirus has led to even greater demand for cycle transport. Most bikes purchased in Europe are manufactured domestically and production has been ramping up to meet demand. Portugal’s exports increased 400% to 2 million bikes in 2019. The UK has been slow to establish itself in this growing market, currently producing less than 0.5% of Europe’s 20 million bikes. It is hoped that the consumer appeal and easy manufacturability of the BriefBike will provide a much needed boost to UK manufacturing.
This funding will help our team of design and manufacturing experts to create a series of mock-ups and working bikes. At the same time, we will be working with a wide range of potential users to ensure the bike will be a desirable and practical form of transport in many situations. Initially members of the user groups will be asked to complete simple questions and take part in online focus groups. They will then be invited to test mock-ups and prototypes at various locations, to provide feedback. At the end of the project, we’ll have a patented design that we know works and that people love. BriefBike will make it much more practical and appealing to travel by bike.
We want to change transport behaviour: Reducing climate change and respiratory disease; helping people get active; and making our cities socially connected places where we move past each other at a human level. Electric cars alone can’t solve these problems. We need to find more efficient and healthy ways to move around our cities. We believe that our BriefBike is the answer – an e-bike you can conveniently keep with you, ready to ride whenever you feel like it.
Innovate UK is a non-departmental body, funded by the UK Government to drive productivity and economic growth. The Smart Grant award will provide £138,000 in Government funding to support development activities at partners Muelaner Engineering Ltd and the University of Bath. The work will be carried out over an 18 month period starting in November 2020. If you’d like to join the user group to help shape the design of the BriefBike please fill out the initial questionnaire and indicate you are available for product testing.