Monday, April 22, 2013

Cool New City Bike Design

At first glance, you might think "pretty bike". But check out the photos below; This sleek new city bike called the Kinn Cascade Flyer is loaded with city-friendly and family-friendly standard features.
The Cascade Flyer has the possibility to please a lot of different bike culture sub-groups - it's pared-down enough for minimalist city cyclists, eye-catching enough to spark interest amongst mainstream cyclists like me, and imbued with some nifty features that make it a great family bike-mobile.

Kinn designer Alistair Williamson was a novice at bike design when he started putting together prototypes of the Kinn Cascade Flyer back in 2010. He had a very specific need he wanted met when crafting the bike: a longtail bike that would be short enough to fit on the bus and make the curve when carried up stairs. He calls that a 'midtail' - a tern coined by cycle truck designer Joseph Ahearne.

Through the long design process, Williamson managed to make a bike that has a handful of really nifty features for family riders.
The first thing you'll notice about the Kinn Flyer is that it feels like a normal-length bike. Actually, the frame has been extended by just six inches, with the back wheel pulled back and an extra-long (21 inch) back rack above that back wheel. Many cargo and/or longtail bikes are 12 to 18 inches longer than standard bikes.

Williamson wanted the extra length so that he could safely and easily put his grandkids on the back of the bike, either in a Yepp child seat, or sitting on the back rack's smooth wooden plank seat (which easily and quickly detaches to accommodate the Yepp). The short handlebars for the back rider are a sweet addition, but Williamson assured me that the back of the bike can easily also carry an adult.
(Also note the secret toolkit storage area underneath the back rack wooden panel...accessible by key)

Other standout features of the Kinn are its nifty back panels and foot rests. The lightweight panels function both as great skirt guards and as a wonderful way to keep little feet from drifting in between the spokes. Williamson said he did research watching biking families get on and off their bikes in front of local Portland grocery stores, and he realized that a great family bike would have a fantastically rugged and steady kick-stand and a way for larger kids to easily climb onto the bike, as well as protection for children's feet from getting caught in spokes on take-off. And in spite of the foot rests, the bike can still easily manage standard panniers.
One of the Cascade Flyer's really great secret features is the ability to turn the front wheel all the way inward. That might not seem important at first glance, but it allows the Flyer to be positioned on bus bike racks, a big plus for weary bike moms and really anyone pushing to have their bikes do part of the duty of lengthier cross-city trips.

It also isn't cheap: entry level Flyers start at around $2,000. But Williamson has worked hard to make the bike as locally produced as possible (frames will be fabricated in Portland) as well as to make it meet the needs of family cyclists. Kinn plans to run a Kickstarter campaign soon to help finance a production run of the Flyers.


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