The Bike Design Project is a competition geared towards encouraging development of bicycles oriented at building the movement away from cars and towards biking as transportation.
There are five teams, from five different cities, building bikes for this contest. The EVO - by HUGE Design + 4130 Cycle Works in San Francisco got my vote.
All of the concepts are at least somewhat interesting, and some have some neat features - integrated blinkers and lighting, a collapsible carrying rack that slides in and out of the top tube, USB charging hooked up to an internal battery built into the bike.
But it seems to me that those neat features are also a problem.
This project appears to be oriented around developing bikes that will be useful, utilitarian transportation. In that respect, In a lot of ways a good urban bike, I suppose, would be like a well designed economy car - flexible, efficient, and durable. The original Mini and the Honda Civic, and the current Honda Fit, might be examples of this.
A USB port might ring the "cool" bell for a proposal in current day, but it's time limited in its utility. What happens when we stop using USB as a charging standard?
The life span of a good bicycle is measured in decades. My regular ride is over 20 years old, and still going strong, and I routinely see bikes of a similar vintage and older. Things like USB ports, as well as proprietary lighting designs of various sorts, will likely sit non-functional on the bike in years down the road.
Which is why I like the Evo.
The Evo is built around a modular attachment system - that's the reason for the tall sections at the front and rear of the frame points. The concept is simple - an "urban" bike needs to be able to do multiple things across the course of a day or a week, and one set of fixed items will not do the job, so the bike needs to be be able to change quickly. They show a variety of attachments for it, and since the attachments are not a part of the bike itself, there is room for growth and change based upon future need. If an attachment item breaks it won't have an impact on the utility of the bike itself the way built-in items will. In addition, the owner can purchase only the components he or she needs, and not be stuck with unwanted items - no small kids in your family? No child seat.
Further, the mounting point itself looks to be fairly straightforward, suggesting that multiple vendors could design attachments for it, opening the door for a variety of specialized items.
If I lived in an urban setting and relied on a bicycle for daily transportation I could absolutely see a bike like this meeting my needs for a long time.