by Jerry ElengicalJun 11, 2022
The beloved two-wheeled veteran, the bicycle, has avoided obsolescence by adapting to the needs and requirements of each era. As the importance of conscious and sustainable commuting rises, so does the demand for innovative and unique designs. Who doesn't like zipping through urbanscapes on a bicycle? Pendler, a compact urban e-bike concept by British industrial designer Benjamin Hubert's creative agency LAYER, seeks to improve the carbon footprint from commuting. Based in London, United Kingdom, the industrial design and product design agency creates a unique riding experience. The allure of traditional cycling joins forces with an e-cutting-edge bike's advantage to create a design that makes navigating dense urban jungles enjoyable. “We believe easy, everyday travel should be for everybody – and our aim with Pendler was to envisage a safer, more convenient and effortless mode of personal transport to enable independence for commuting in the city,” says Benjamin Hubert, Founder of LAYER.
The bicycle gets its name from the derivative of the Danish word pendler, which means commuter/ commuting. This is a deliberate reference to the fact that Denmark is considered to be one of the most bicycle-friendly nations in the world with nine out of ten Danes owning a bicycle. The component that stands out in the sleek silhouette is the bike’s symmetrical U-shaped frame. A refined aesthetic is a refreshing deviation from the hackneyed performance-centric expression that looms over most electric bike designs. The absence of a top tube only adds to the ease of handling the design, allowing one to step through without a hitch irrespective of what they are wearing. This seemingly simple intervention goes a long way in making the design accessible and inclusive for a larger demographic with diverse mobility ranges.
The conspicuously compact wheelbase and the modest 20-inch wheels introduce ease in storage and travel on public transport, addressing a predominant struggle. The concise design also proves advantageous in the city traffic that everyone dreads. The folding pedals and handles that turn 90 degrees underline a similar approach of design that bridges the extant gap between storage and compact spaces. Curbing the complications of urban commuting, every piece of the composition reiterates the pursuit of one core intent, convenience. “The result is an intelligently designed e-bike that is inclusive, easy to store in compact urban spaces, and balances high performance with a desirable, crafted aesthetic,” shares the British designer.
Practicality is the driving force behind Pendler's design. Detachable and modular accessories such as, the front and rear basket attachments featuring a timber base with wire enclosures help keep luggage safely strapped in place, on the irksome urban tracks. Furthermore, the phone dock establishes safe access to devices while commuting and in the recurrent need for navigation. The Pendler bike sources its power from a compact 45Nm rear hub motor that allows the frame to maintain its immaculate form. The motor functions in tandem with a detachable 250 Wh battery, making off-bike charging or sustainable replacement convenient. The handlebars regulate the speed that can go up to 25km per hour in accordance with the UK/EU speed guidelines. What makes Pendler an ideal ally for weekly commutes is the uncomplicated removal and charging of the battery, with a single charge capable of accomplishing a distance of 70 kilometres.
The bike’s frame is a composition of standard circular steel tubing with die-cast aluminium mounts for the baskets, which exhibit a fluid design. The timber details of the basket radiate warmth and give the bike a well-crafted look, while the leather completes the materials used for the saddle and handles. As part of the design strategy to enable users to communicate with adjacent traffic without taking their hands off the bike, integrated battery-powered indicator lights are located on the handlebars, as well as the rear and front of the bicycle’s frame. For cities like London, where cycling accidents are common, this addresses a bigger and more pressing concern.
Automobile design is seeing an upsurge in numbers every day. But even in a seemingly saturated market, LAYER’s Pendler carves out a niche owing to its crafted aesthetic that stands out amongst its competitors’ tech-driven and relatively bulky silhouettes. With a material palette that utilises natural materials like timber and a refined aesthetic that contradicts an overused design language, the e-bike design conjugates two divergent elements of the cycling world. Pairing high-performance technology with a finely sculpted design expression, Pendler envisions a new way of urban commuting that caters not only to a user’s performance requisites for optimum efficiency but also to their passion for an elevated lifestyle.