Bicycles haven’t changed much in the past 100 years. Technology has improved, and the materials that are used in building these little machines have evolved a lot, but the basic design has been the same. If you thought that bicycle was pretty much of a solved issue, think again!
Here comes the Fliz bicycle. People at Fliz have put their innovation at work, and they’ve come up with a bicycle that is truly elegant. The basic idea remains the same. It has 2 wheels which you would expect a bicycle to have, but what it doesn’t have is the pedal. The idea is to have the user suspended from the frame above and run. Yes, instead of pedaling, the bike actually requires you to run! It’s the same concept as the car in the Flinstones.
Jokes aside, Fliz is derived from the German word “flitzen” – meaning to whiz or dash or just speeding. The design dates back to days before the current bicycle design was universally adopted. The design is based on “Laufmaschine” (or hobby-horse) that was invented by Baron Karl Drais back in 1817. Laufmaschine is basically a human-powered vehicle that was the first means of transport to make use of the two wheeler principle. Similar to Laufmaschine, the Fliz bike has no pedals and instead solely relies on rider’s legs. The rider is essentially walking, running, but travelling faster than normal walkers. The designers of Fliz say that their machine is a “comfortable, ergonomic ride between running and biking.”
Riding the Fliz would be a hectic task in uphill situation, so it’s sure a no go if you live in a hilly region, though it would be bliss to ride downhill, and yeah, it does have brakes. Unlike Drais’ system where the rider sits on the frame, in Fliz, the rider is hung from the frame.
Rider’s position is similar to that seen on Dr Carsten Mehring’s StreetFlyer. StreetFlyer is basically a human-powered three wheeler which suspends the rider from a curved frame. The main idea behind the concept is deliver a sensation of flying without getting air sick. You have to run like you would do with the Fliz, and once enough momentum is generated, the user can lift his legs, and voila! he’s flying at a cruising altitude of just a few feet. Similar to StreetFlyer, once the rider senses that enough momentum is generated, the rider can place his/her feet on the treads located near the rear wheel.
The rider is always bent forward, with hands resting on the handlebars. The frame splits into two parts in such a way that the rider can place his/her head between the gap. That frame is light weight, thanks to the lightweight materials used in its construction – glass and carbon fiber laminate. The frame is designed for people with height of six feet. The support belt is custom-built for each user and fastens using a five point fastener which allows easy release.
The design has already received a lot of negative criticism, but it should be noted that this bicycle isn’t designed to replace the conventional bicycle. It must be seen as an alternative to bicycle and yet another option for people to get around in urban places. It’s an evolution of Laufmaschine. One safety concern is that rider’s head is wedged between the frame, so that can pose a problem in case of crash.
Below is a video which shows Fliz in action. In the video, you can see how the rider runs in order to build up momentum before placing feet on the treads located near the rear wheel.
It may be helpful for people who are lazy to walk with their bodies unsupported or for older generation who need a walker to move around. Nevertheless, the design is appreciable, though I don’t think this will ever make it to mass production. The bike is currently running for regional James Dyson Award in Germany. Convey your thoughts on the design in the comment section below.