Occam Cycle: The Simplest Folding Bike for Everyday Riding
Occam Cycle: The Simplest Folding Bike for Everyday Riding
A new concept in folding bikes that offers comfort and affordability, yet does not compromise quality and convenience.
A new concept in folding bikes that offers comfort and affordability, yet does not compromise quality and convenience. Read more
About this project
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Introducing the Occam Cycle...
Guided by Occams’s Razor, we engineered a folding bicycle which aims to solve the "last mile problem", the Occam Cycle. As urban populations continue to rise, more and more people are commuting using multiple modes of transportation. With increasingly congested commutes, people everywhere have time consuming walks between trains, buses, and their final destinations. The Occam Cycle was designed with this in mind, and aims to provide users a commute-friendly vehicle that is as easy to ride as a traditional bicycle, efficient enough to get from your front door to the bus stop, train station and final destination, yet compact and lightweight enough to be able to take on trips involving multiple forms of transportation. This is something that current folding bicycles on the market have aimed to offer consumers, but have consistently fallen short due to complexity, bulk, and cost.
Engineered from the ground up to meet the demands of today's commute, the Occam Cycle gives you the convenience you've always wanted in a folding bike but never really got. Plus, it's a ton of fun for the casual zip around town!
Riding the Occam Cycle
The Occam Cycle was designed to be accessible both in terms of price and learning curve. Riding the Occam Cycle is a lot like riding a regular bicycle, with the most common comment we hear from first time users being "You need to use your arms a little more than on a regular bike." This small difference only takes a moment to adapt to, and bicycle riders of all experience levels should have no problem hopping on the Occam Cycle and getting on their way.
But, don't just take our word for it:
The Occam Cycle's streamlined design affords users the convenience of owning a bicycle, but eliminates the hassles of bringing a traditional bicycle along to the bus, train, work, etc. The benefits don't stop there! You can give that bike lock to your friend, because you will not be leaving the Occam Cycle chained up outside at work or at home. The Occam Cycle's lightweight and compact design allows it to be brought with its owner wherever they go.
How the Occam Cycle works - One Fold
The folding mechanism, key to the seamless experience the Occam Cycle offers, has been refined over multiple iterations of the bike. The latest evolution of the folding mechanism unlocks the Occam Cycle's convenience with a single operation that takes the bike from folded to "riding ready" in less than 5 seconds.
We studied existing folding bikes extensively and determined that more folds can be detrimental to the user experience. Complex and time consuming mechanisms cause riders to leave folding bikes in the unfolded, "riding ready", position all the time. Our goal was to minimize the effort of going between folded and "riding ready". In an effort to meet this goal the decision to remove the seat from the bike occurred early in the development process as we discovered that eliminating the seat greatly simplified the frame design, and reduced the required number of folds and weight of the bike. As designed, the Occam Cycle can quickly be stowed in a small apartment or dorm room, and allows a commuter to hop off a bus or train and seamlessly ride on their way. Removing the seat and simplifying the frame was key to an effective one-fold solution.
Every feature of the Occam cycle was considered, engineered, tested and refined to provide the most enjoyable riding experience in light of our decision to eliminate the seat.
Cyclists know that on a traditional bike it can be tiring to ride exclusively standing up. However, with the Occam Cycle's optimized posture we found that most fatigue resulted from using small pedals. As expected, further testing showed larger pedals distributed weight throughout the rider's feet and resulted in a tremendous improvement in rider comfort. We have coordinated with our manufacturer to provide large platform pedals as standard on all Occam Cycles.
We hope that through our stretch goals you can help us go to the next level and help us provide custom pedals as shown in our campaign video on all Occam Cycles. The existing pair was created with our 3D printer, but to create production pedals we will need to cover expensive tooling costs for injection molding to make them a reality for every Occam cycle. Please help us achieve our stretch goal so we can make these awesome custom pedals a reality for all of our backers!
Safety is always paramount when out for a ride and something we kept in mind from day one when designing the Occam Cycle. Redundant front and rear brakes (standard on most bikes) are also included with the Occam cycle.
The Occam Cycle's debut is all about simplicity, so the bike will ship as a single speed machine. Avoiding a derailleur cuts costs, cleans up folding, and means less maintenance. By not including an internally geared hub we greatly save weight, and even these "maintenance free" solutions eventually need tune ups or start slipping gears.
To accommodate the 16" drive wheel a 52 tooth chaining and a 9 tooth rear cog are used to achieve a 291" rollout. All these numbers mean cadence is comfortably low even while riding quickly in the standing position.
As pictured, the Occam cycle will include a chain guard keeping your commuting clean. This keeps your pants out of the chain ring, and the natural carrying position protects your body and arms from grease and marks.
The Occam Cycle is a full body experience with the arms seeing greater engagement than on a traditional bike. The bullhorn handlebars are the perfect complement to this new style of riding.
By making the height of the handlebars adjustable the Occam Cycle is ready to accommodate riders of all heights. An individual owner will likely set their height and forget it, but if you are inclined to share it only takes a tool free flip of a quick release to adjust.
The Occam Cycle vs. the Competition
While there are other folding and standing bikes on the market, the Occam Cycle is designed to be the ideal combination of portability, performance, and ultimately convenience.
Other folding bikes can be cumbersome to manage, but the Occam Cycle's small size and 20lb weight (prototype weight) enables users to easily carry the Occam Cycle with them wherever they go. To put this into perspective, a gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds.
When it is time to ride, one quick fold gets you from the easy to carry position to riding ready. Please note that the folding mechanism has been further optimized since the making of the following video:
The footprint of the Occam Cycle, when folded, is compact enough to take on the train, fit under a desk at work, in the trunk of a car...the list goes on!
We have high hopes for this product, and no Kickstarter campaign of this size would be complete without some stretch goals! Help us make this better for everyone!
Stretch Goal #1 - Bike Lights
If the Occam Cycle campaign reaches $125k or more every Occam Cycle reward will come with two stretchy bike lights!
Stretch Goal #2 - Fenders
If the Occam Cycle campaign reaches $150k or more every Occam Cycle reward will come with a front and rear fender! Our fenders will be custom, and as such they will vary from those pictured.
Stretch Goal #3 - Colors
If the Occam Cycle campaign reaches $200k or more you will have the choice of 5 colors for your frame and handlebars!
Stretch Goal #4 - Custom Pedals
If the Occam Cycle campaign reaches $300k or more your Occam Cycle will come with custom molded extra large pedals, designed specifically for improving pedal grip and reducing rider fatigue!
Getting to the Occam Cycle
We have been developing the Occam Cycle for three years. Beginning in the fall of 2011, we started prototyping and experimenting with some basic configurations for the Occam Cycle. Initial calculations, supported by a strong background in high performance bicycle design, drove us to our first ride-able prototype which we lovingly called "Double Trouble."
We went through a number of iterations based off of the first prototype: test, plasma cut, weld, repeat. The number of modifications we were making necessitated the need for a second prototype which we lovingly called "Bumble Bee," which earned its name from its lovely yellow bar tape.
After much learning and having a lot of fun completing two prototypes the design work moved over to Computer Aided Design (CAD). With the newly defined geometry laid out as engineering drawings we were ready to start enlisting additional help.
At this point in the development, we took our design to a local bike manufacturer in Chicago: Levi Borreson of Legacy Frameworks.
Levi was a pleasure to work with, and helped bring our homemade prototypes to a more refined state. The end result of his efforts was our final prototype, which we lovingly called the "Levi-Cycle."
This is the prototype we used to film the video for Kickstarter and to kick-off our production prototypes with our manufacturer.
We spent months riding the Levi-Cycle prototype and refining details of the design in CAD to create engineering drawings we could use to start receiving quotes for manufacturing of the Occam Cycle. The results of these efforts are showcased in our latest manufacturing prototype which was produced during the spring of 2014. We have not stopped riding it since!
After three years of development, we feel the Occam Cycle has been engineered to a point where it's ready for launch. We need your help to bring the Occam Cycle from a production prototype to your hands.
Where the Occam Cycle is today
We have received our first production sample (pictured below, left) from our manufacturer overseas, and are currently in the process of refining the design even further given manufacturing constraints.
The production schedule below gives a sense of where we are in our timeline of product development.
As indicated in the above schedule, we are currently coordinating with our manufacturer to develoSecp a final "release for production and tooling" prototype which is coming along well. This schedule gives us ample time to complete testing that is currently underway on the prototype that was produced in spring of 2014, and incorporate any final design changes that are needed to ensure the best riding experience for our backers!
The Occam Cycle Team
Jim Gibson- Mechanical Design Engineer born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. With over 5 years of product design/development experience, Jim is well versed in the major steps of the product development process including ideation, engineering design, and strategic product delivery. Jim also works as a mechanical HVAC design engineer and project manager with a focus on high performance, energy efficient and sustainable building design.
Sean Hannon- Mechanical Engineer living in Chicago, Illinois. Avid cyclist and previous member of Rose-Hulman's national championship team in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Human Powered Vehicle Challenge. Looking forward to making an Occam my neighborhood cycle!
Chris Wlezien- Mechanical engineer and project manager by trade; Chris is a creative inventor always coming up with awesome solutions to design problems. Chris is currently the Chief Judge of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Human Powered Vehicle Challenge where he has traveled the world, to as far as India, conducting engineering bicycle development and racing competitions.
Risks and challenges
The core members of the Occam Cycle team are all experienced engineers, and they know what it takes to bring a product from idea to reality. We have consulted with many experts over the past 3 years in fields ranging from business to manufacturing. However, our expertise has taught us that challenges will continue to arise. As such, we are working out the following areas in parallel with the continued development of the Occam Cycle:
Interest in international shipping has come up quite a bit during the first two weeks of our campaign. Due to this interest, Chris, Sean and I have been hard at work trying to sort out the logistics of offering this to the Kickstarter community. After many emails and some late nights, I am proud to say we finally can make that happen. We have added two new pledge tiers to the Occam Cycle campaign. One is an International Pledge tier for $425* that will include international shipping to Canada and Mexico, the other is an International Pledge tier for $525* that will include international shipping everywhere else.
In an effort to be totally transparent in our campaign to bring the Occam Cycle to life, it is important to point out the implication of providing international shipping to those interested on Kickstarter. Shipping costs that are included in the international pledge tiers described above are pass through charges. Although these dollars help us get closer to our funding goal, we do not benefit from these funds because they are pass through charges which eventually end up going to the delivery company.
Regrettably and simply put, this difference in useable funds may necessitate the cancellation of the project depending on the success of the Kickstarter campaign from this point forward. If we do not achieve the level of funding above our $105,000 Kickstarter goal that is required for us to offset the “penalty” of the international shipping costs now included in our funding goal then we will have to cancel the project. As the campaign moves forward, Chris Sean and I will be able to better gauge the impact based on the number of international backers we have. We promise to be completely transparent with where we are throughout the campaign.
While we have a great set of colors picked out for our first production run, we are currently confirming the exact color capabilities of our manufacturer.
The prototype built locally by Legacy Frameworks is great, and collectively we have put several hundred miles on the bike without any hiccups. Additionally, we have spent several months developing relationships with overseas manufactures who specialize in bicycle production, and have begun testing on the "manufacturing ready" prototype we received in the spring of 2014. At this point, we are truly happy with the Occam Cycle, but will be making some final tweaks to ensure a top-notch product arrives on your doorstep. We feel that developing one more prototype during the campaign will help ensure this.
MINIMUM ORDER AND MANUFACTURING REQUIREMENTS
When selecting the right manufacturing partner we considered many critical points including things like production capabilities, lead time, location, cost, quality, and minimum order quantity. In order to meet all of our goals and deliver a high quality product at an affordable price we have to meet a minimum order quantity for the first production order of Occam Cycles. Rest assured that if we meet our Kickstarter goal we will meet this minimum order quantity.
FINAL ASSEMBLY & SHIPMENT
As we continue to optimize the Occam Cycle, we are also finalizing the logistics associated with getting the bike to your doorstep safely, on time, and ready to ride. There are multiple options we are currently vetting. Follow through on the logistic side of things is something we care about just as much as the bike itself!
We are no strangers to developing unique bicycles, and we understand that rider safety is paramount. During the development of the Occam Cycle we referenced specific safety standards (eCFR 1512 & ISO 4210) and met applicable standards to ensure Occam Cycle rider safety. Because of our commitment to safety, we plan on developing rider instructional videos as part of a successful campaign.
In an effort to keep the Occam Cycle a low cost, easy to use vehicle, we made the decision to make it single speed. Further, the gearing ratio has been optimized to ensure that rider cadence does not cause premature fatigue. Due to these reasons, we don’t recommend taking the Occam Cycle up steep hills. On the other hand, going down can be a blast!
The Occam Cycle is currently planned for production in China. The Occam Cycles will then be shipped to the United States for final assembly, our engineering team will perform quality checks, and then they will head for final distribution to our wonderful backers!
The Occam Cycle is not recommended for children. In prototype testing, riders varied in age from 18+ to 50+ years of age. Our oldest rider was a woman in her 60’s who had recently had a hip replacement (no…we are not kidding)!
We recommend using the Occam Cycle in dry road conditions. The Occam Cycle is not recommended for use in slippery conditions. Further, it is not recommended to use the Occam Cycle on gravel or rock bike paths. Please always use a helmet and other personal protective equipment when riding the Occam Cycle or any other bike.
The latest prototype weighs slightly less than 20 Lbs. We do not expect the final production Occam Cycle to vary significantly. To put this in perspective, and as we note in our campaign, a US gallon of milk is approximately 8.6 pounds.
We designed the Occam cycle to safely accommodate a rider of 240 pounds or less.
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