Progressive design, why don’t we like it!



Why does this picture disturb me so much….?

What is it that makes me think it’s odd and unattractive?
Is it because of its size and shape or is it because i think it looks out of place on a bicycle?

Why are we content to look at bicycles with blinkers on, sheltered from the ever innovating world and never expecting (or demanding) any stylistic or technological improvements?
If Ford still made cars looking like an Escort they would be out of business, they designed the Sierra which divided opinions with its looks but literally changed the shape of all cars to come.


Why is it that we have such a fixed view of bicycles that this light looks alien to us? Are we demonstrating an objective critique of design or an irrational bias against innovative bicycle design?

Comments and debate invited!

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7 thoughts on “Progressive design, why don’t we like it!

  1. I’d be more worried about spares and parts. If the lamp fails, do you need new forks?

    There is a concept in architecture, I forget its name, about the rate of change. The rule is : never embed a fast moving layer (artwork, plates, TV) into a slow-changing layer (walls). Otherwise you end up spending way over the odds reworking the slow stuff at a higher rate than needed, or have old stuff stuck in the walls (think of all those airports all done up in 1970s decor, even today).

    This may be a deliberate attempt by the bike company to introduce a faster rate of obsolescence into consumer goods (this is one of the key drivers for digital TVs after all; embedding things like free-DTV and now satellite DTV into what would otherwise just be a monitor reduces its lifespan). Or it’s a misguided attempt to be helpful.

    • I take your point about inbuilt obsolescence but that’s part of everything we buy, its for the consumer to decide what is a viable option for him or her.
      I am intrigued as to why it might be misguided to have low maintenance, easy to use, fixed dynamo powered front headlamp designed integrally into a city bike?.
      They cannot be stolen, light is always available, never left at home, easy to keep clean and unlikely to get knocked off in daily use.
      If everyone was worried about progress we would still be making frames out of wood and propelling our bicycles by ‘running’ astride our hobby horses.
      I would take the alternate view that it is surprising that lights like this are not fitted more often by manufacturers, There could be a slightly different but equally cynical view to yours that ‘they’ like everyone to buy a light separately to a bike so that every time, you lose, drop and break or have your lights stolen you have to visit your LBS to buy a new one!
      If there was money to be made from built in obsolescence in bicycle design why do we not see it more often, how many bikes can you name that have built in lamps?

  2. I personally think it is ugly looking, but as long as it works and the breakables are easily replaceable with non-proprietary parts it isn’t a bad idea.

    • I didn’t like it at first, but once you get used to it it makes perfect sence, and looks better with time, but thats what got me thinking about why i didn’t like it, its seems that there is so little that is new out there…everyone harks back to retroland….I like a bit of progressive thinking in a mainstream bike even if it takes abit of getting used too..
      Thanks for the comments, very interesting.

      • P.s. i think you would have a hard time breaking it….its really solid….and all enclosed….the shape is slippery too….things bounce off….

  3. Is this the new Gazelle design? One thing I hate about my bike (a Gazelle Bloom) is that although all the individual bits are beautifully designed and work well, the overall is an ugly beast. Conversely, I find Pashleys overall are beautiful bikes, but some of the details look a bit primitive and clunky. As for the lamp above it reminds me of K9 from Doctor Who ie a 1970s view of what the future would look like!

  4. Its a modern lamp thats for sure….Its on the front of the Orange extra a great modern bike, it jars the eyes for a bit but if you want a smooth capable bike to ride and never have to touch mechanically then its modern touches work really well. As far as i am aware it has not spoken to me in K9 ‘affirmative’ fashion yet!!

    As for the bloom, its a bike built for a purpose and whilst that should not disqualify style and pizzaz the dutch are surrounded by bikes, so what they are used to and what they like will be different from our own tastes. Its a bit of form follows function i think with the bloom.

    funny that you mention pashley, not often their name crops up where progressive design is being mentioned. It would be great if they did try to address the ‘problem’ of carrying multiple kids on bikes.

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