Fuseproject X SyCip Design
Meet the LOCAL, built by Fuseproject and SyCip Design
• Modular cargo platform.
• Roll-up-and-go integrated locking.
• High visibility tire
From the perspective of a longtime urban utility rider, I will admit that I was underwhelmed by the cargo capacity of the Fremont and Faraday. While the LOCAL had significant cargo capacity, it seems to be limited to slow speed, freight bike without the ability to lean into turns. It is a beautiful bike with fantastic attention to detail throughout. The choice of 11 speed Alfine may not prove to be low enough or robust enough for the types of loads it will see. Disk brakes were a smart and obvious choice, and I loved the integrated lock solution. Trikes have their place among utility bikes – in particular, large, heavy boxes carried at slow speeds. In the market, the sweet spot for urban utility is a combination of ride quality, cargo capacity and affordability. (We can obviously toss out affordability for the purposes of this competition.) When comparing these three bikes one realizes that we are looking at apples and oranges. In the end, I love that each of the teams took on a different design perspective and moved forward our appreciation and understanding of the hidden utility genius of the simple pedal cycle.
The Fuseproject is a more sophisticated version of the cargo tricycles that once were popular in Paris, Mexico and many other places. Where those machines used a standard bicycle and replaced the front fork with a big cargo basket that had two wheels attached, the Fuseproject steers each wheel individually, like those of a car. With its bright colors and unusual design, the Fuseproject is ideal for extroverted riders. Many of its design details make it stand out from a crowd.
The large platform enables riders to carry large and heavy loads. In fact, for the first (downhill) part of the field trials, the Fuseproject carried a passenger on the front platform. Like the other two “design” bikes, the Fuseproject is a fully equipped machine that could be put into service right away.
My favorite part of the design was the locking mechanism that was incorporated into the cargo platform. The rider simply pulls up to a signpost, opens the lock and closes it around the post. The steering components were well-made. The overall design was very attractive.
Negative points include lights that require batteries. The user must ensure that enough charge remains before using the Fuseproject at night. The field test showed that the steering geometry required the rider’s constant attention, but this might be expected on a prototype and probably can be improved. Obviously, the three-wheeled design makes the Fuseproject more cumbersome than a two-wheeled bicycle.
Overall, the Fuseproject provides an interesting solution for riders who need to carry large and/or very heavy loads. I don’t foresee every household owning one, but perhaps every block should have one in a cargobike sharing system.
As someone who appreciates the freedom, flexibility and handling of a traditional type of bicycle, this was the least appealing of the three bikes for me. From a utilitarian standpoint it is probably the most functional but it was too focused to be versatile. My first impression with this bike was “Sweet, internal geared hub, three disc brakes and a big low slung front rack… I can carry a ton of stuff on this bike“
However I think it is that focus that really limits this bike. The widely spaced front wheels mean this bike takes up some real estate on the road, and anything with three wheels is a challenge when evasive maneuvers are needed. Overall it is still a beautiful bike with smart component specification in the hydraulic disc brakes and internal gear hub drivetrain, and load carrying capabilities that would likely appeal to a lot of people.
With a lot of carrying capacity I really liked the feature of three powerful disc brakes to handle the stopping duties – a feature with an actual benefit, as I like to say. The integrated lock down low at the front was also a nice solution to quickly securing the bike. Finally, I liked the added visibility of the bright, integrated lights and the orange left front tire ! but I felt the front light should have been much higher on the bike… it is at best a fog lamp down low where it is mounted.
The FUSEPROJECT / SYCIP bike is a great grocery getter, quick trip to the garden supply store, carry all the supplies to the block party kind of bike, but in terms of a true utility bike I was left trying to think of ways it could be used.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: I applaud the experiment, and I want to borrow it for the weekend, but considering my charge here, I just can’t get past the odd number of wheels. It’s a tricycle, albeit reversed, like that cool little Morgan three-wheeler that Peter Sellers drives in The Party. I love the front rack and integrated U-lock, and the steering gear is impressive if considerably complex, but… it’s a tricycle. And I say that merely to distinguish it from a bicycle, not to denigrate it as some children’s toy. Because, make no mistake, this is a grown-up’s toy.
ALIGNMENT WITH CRITERIA: Those three wheels—o.k. or not? Lacks integrated headlight, as far as I can tell. Front fenders offer little coverage. Otherwise ticks the list.
HIGHLIGHTS: 1. Allow me to remove my judicial vestments and I’ll tell you. There’s plenty of room for this creation in the world. Tricycles are great work cycles and (bonus) aren’t so susceptible to falling over. 2. I can imagine throwing some huge tires on this baby and plying a beach, maybe with a keg up front. Or hauling grub to a farmers’ market. 3. C’mon, who doesn’t love one Day-Glo orange tire on the traffic side, like some crazy snaggletooth forever stained by Cheetos?
WEAKNESSES: The front tires rub against the rack during turns. Steering gear is complicated and therefore has lots of places to fail or get out of whack. I’m no engineer, but the frame design appears to create a number of stress risers; for greater strength, and to eliminate these, I would add a diagonal down tube across the main quadrangle.
SUMMATION: Three wheels, third place—for me, at least. But I wouldn’t kick it out of the garage. It’s a fun, and funny, bike. It’s actually kind of awesome, don’t you think?
Meet the Team
Fuseproject explores the intersection of sustainability and forward-thinking design with award-winning and category-leading results. Fuseproject’s many products and experiences include a partnership with Jawbone, the leading edge headset company; GE’s electric vehicle charger WattStation; the Clever Little Bag, a sustainable shoe packaging solution for sportswear giant PUMA; and the affordable eco-dematerialized SAYL chair for Herman Miller.
Fuseproject has a unique process of symbiotic design development: Brand and messaging, product and packaging, website and media campaign, production processes and material selection are all essential elements that are given careful consideration. Whether working with large corporate clients, fledgling start-ups, or visionary non-profit organizations, fuseproject uses this holistic approach to set new standards through design, bringing awe, delight, and, most importantly, a positive and lasting impact to people’s lives.
Jeremy SyCip has been designing and building custom bicycle frames and components for nearly two decades. Based in Santa Rosa, CA, SyCip’s wide product offering includes steel, titanium, aluminum and carbon road, mountain, cross, track, single speed, full suspension and town bikes. Over the years Jeremy has received numerous industry awards for quality craftsmanship and innovative solutions. His resume includes building show bikes to feature new component groups for Shimano, cargo delivery bicycles for artisan sausage and gelato makers, and a wide assortment of bicycles for the average cyclist. The Javaboy, SyCip’s original town bike, was one of the first custom lightweight European style commuter bicycles offered in the US.