An inventor has designed a bicycle that he claims is “the world’s safest bicycle,” as Ben Coxworth reports for Gizmag. Named the Babel Bike, (pronounced “bay-bull”) it is semi-recumbent, and features a cage around the rider, Coxworth writes.
Inventor Crispin Sinclair writes on the bike’s IndieGoGo page that he came up with the idea for the Babel after a bicycle accident in which the driver of a van failed to check his mirrors and made a left turn without signaling, hitting Sinclair, who was on a bicycle. The bike was crushed, but Sinclair escaped with his life.
Overnight I came up with the idea of a safety cell for a bicycle. It would be similar to the roll cage that racing cars have, and for the first time ever on a bicycle you would be inside a safety cage and strapped in and wearing a seat belt — designed so you would be pushed away by a turning truck or bus — not crushed by it.
It took Sinclair’s Babel Bike Company three years to perfect the Babel hybrid, designing “hundreds” of prototypes, Sinclair writes. “The design team tried side bars, stabilizers, foot protectors, and many other weird ideas,” he says in an IndieGogo video (shown below). The team also considered various gear systems, motors, seats, and seat belt designs. They then tested the prototype “against a 38 tonne truck,” Sinclair writes. Among many other features, the finished product has a custom-made safety seat and steel foot protectors, which “double as a gold-standard lock,” Sinclair says in the video.
Sinclair is the son of Sir Clive Sinclair, inventor of the 1980s Sinclair ZX line of home computers, the Sinclair C5 electric vehicle, and the tiny folding A-Bike, Coxworth writes. Sir Clive Sinclair also invented a partly enclosed electric bike called the X-1, which did not reach production. Crispin Sinclair used the X-1 as a starting point for the Babel Bike, Coxworth writes.
The X-1 was an all-electric bike (with pedals provided only for emergency use), whereas the Babel Bike is designed to be pedaled, and offers electric assistance if the rider wants that, Crispin Sinclair told Gizmag, as Coxworth writes. The Babel Bike is available without the electric option if a rider wants to pedal only, Sinclair says in the video.
A Shimano 250-watt electric assist motor with a 50- to 80-mile range provides nonpedal power to the electric version of the Babel Bike, Sinclair writes. In accord with U.S. law, it will assist at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, he writes. (EU law has a limit of 15.5 mph, he notes.) U.S. and EU laws allow bicyclists to pedal faster, but do not allow electric motor assistance at higher speeds, Sinclair writes.
The electric Babel can be legally used by anyone age 14 and older in the United States and the European Union without a license, registration, or insurance, Sinclair says in the video. Making a pledge of £2,999 (about $4,430) in the IndieGoGo campaign will get you an electric model of the Babel Bike, as Coxworth notes. And a pledge of £1,999 ($2,950) will get you the non-electric model. The planned retail prices in the U.S. are $5,170 and $3,690, respectively, Coxworth writes.
Sinclair writes that his goal is to help put a million more bicyclists on the roads and thus take a million cars off the roads. Replacing the vehicles with Babel Bikes would reduce carbon emissions, NOx emissions, and fuel consumption, he writes. “Much more importantly,” Sinclair writes, more bicycles and fewer cars would save the lives of many people worldwide from cancer, bronchitis, and heart disease by reducing pollution. The Babel Bike would also reduce deaths and serious injuries from collisions and would boost the health of riders from the exercise alone, Sinclair writes.
Here is Sinclair talking about the Babel Bike: