The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the central governing body for bicycle racing, in the entire world. Apart from issuing licenses and enforcing anti-doping rules, the UCI exercises substantial control over the design of racing bikes. Although aimed at preventing some racers from having unfair advantages, these rules end up limiting the scope of innovation and creativity, with regard to bicy cledesigns. For people who do not partake in competitive cycling, Robert Egger, the creative director of Specialized, has created a smart bicycle, called fUCI or “Eff You See Eye”. As the name quite artlessly suggests, the speed bike is everything that the UCI refuses to acknowledge.
One of the first rules that Egger broke, while designing fUCI, was the restriction about wheel size, which states that both front and back wheels should be of equal diameter. Big, bold and flashy, the 33.3-inch rear wheel acts as a flywheel, maintaining the bike’s speed more efficiently. Getting it to move, in the first place, can prove a bit challenging, which is why it comes with an electric motor, another UCI no-no, that provides the power needed to start the bicycle. Egger explained:
This is an e-bike. It has a motor here, in the bottom bracket. So just like when you ride the Turbo and you put your foot on the pedal and it lurches forward, the same thing here. This little motor will get the flywheel up to speed so when you’re stopped at a stop sign, or when you’re starting out of your garage in the morning, this’ll be that burst of power to get the flywheel up and running.
Situated inside the bottom bracket, the motor features a removable lithium battery, which can be charged with the help of a charging stand that comes along with the bike. A solar panel, mounted onto the stand, makes the set-up completely off-the-grid. For a more tech-savvy design, the developers included the option of remote control, via the rider’s smartphone. Placing the phone on the bike’s docking area activates the onboard sensors, which in turn allow the user to accomplish a host of tasks, such as disabling and locking the bicycle when parked, learning about the alternative routes to reach a specific place, acquiring traffic-related information, getting notified when tire pressure is low, programming the lights to automatically turn on after dark, and so on. Egger said:
Like I said before: I want to tell the story of ‘what if?’ What could be? This is a bike all about what could be, not what it necessarily is right now, but what bikes could be. We should embrace cars… let’s embrace the technology they have and where it makes sense, infuse that with bicycles.
The UCI doesn’t allow any sort of aerodynamic fairing that could decrease air resistance, for greater speeds and ease of movement. So, obviously, the fUCI has one, in the shape of a transparent windscreen similar to the kind used in motorcycles. Furthermore, it does not have the UCI-friendly two-triangle-design and instead, features a more unconventional, and dramatic, structure, emboldened with splashes of bright orange color. Speaking about his creation, Egger said:
The UCI really caters to a very small population, but there’s so many other people out there who couldn’t care less about the UCI. They don’t follow the racing and they don’t even know all the limitations that are put on bikes for the UCI riders. So, my feeling was let’s design a bike for someone who really just wants to go fast on a road bike.