In 2014, the internet was abuzz about a handful of creative, forward-thinking and sometimes very strange bicycle designs from five U.S. cities all competing for the Oregon Manifest Bike Design Project. The prize: Fuji Bikes would put the winning design into production. That’s a big prize.
With an automatic-shifting, belt-driven, e-assisted, brush-fendered concept, Seattle’s DENNY bike — by design firm Teague and Taylor Sizemore — won by popular vote. Take that, Portland!
Sure, the handlebar lock and turn signals were a little strange. And the brush fenders, well, I’m not so sure about those. But the video for it was very cool, and I’m a sucker for a sleek front rack and integrated, automatic lights (I wish this were standard for city bikes). So the surprising number of online fans waited eagerly for it to go into production in 2015.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how many people emailed, tweeted and facebooked me about this bike.
Well, after a year of delays, Teague and Sizemore announced this morning that Fuji will not be producing the DENNY after all.
“We have recently come to realize that the production of this bike would be extremely hindered by regulations, available technology, and beyond the grasp of our manufacturing resources,” Sizemore wrote on Instagram. “Long story short, the Denny wouldn’t be the Denny any more.”
This comes as a huge bummer to the team, who say they were willing to compromise on many elements in order to get it to market. But after two years of work, Fuji apparently doesn’t see the coin in producing such an unusual bike. From Teague:
It’s with heavy hearts we announce that the DENNY bike will not be moving into production.
In 2014 TEAGUE took on a challenge to design and build the bike of the future. The DENNY bike went on to win the Oregon Manifest Bike Design Project, and the ultimate prize: a production run sponsored by Fuji Bikes.
Fans from more than 150 countries across the globe cast their vote for DENNY. After winning, the most important thing to us was collaborating to produce the bike that you voted for—a bike for the people, voted on by the people.
The DENNY bike won the Bike Design Project because it offered the very features that avid and would-be bicycle users want that the cycling industry doesn’t currently provide. Throughout the process we were prepared to compromise on features, so long as the production bike remained true to the spirit of the original DENNY concept. Unfortunately, because some of the DENNY features were so innovative and pushed what is possible to produce today on so many levels, manufacturing restrictions have made mass production, at this time, impossible.
We, along with our partners—Fuji and Oregon Manifest—put our heart and soul into this project. After two years of development, to say we’re disappointed would be an understatement. We also know this is a huge disappointment for DENNY fans, and for that we’re sincerely sorry.
Challenging the status quo is the only way to spark change—it’s our hope is that the legacy of DENNY will carry forward in future products that make cycling an easier choice for potential riders.
Which parts would be “extremely hindered by regulations”? Was it the turn signals? Or perhaps they didn’t want to deal with the various e-assist rules in different places.
The turn signals would certainly be a legal issue in the U.S., don’t know of any state that allows lighted turn signals instead of hand signals for a bicycle, or brake lights instead of a hand signal for stopping. (Even if they could get electric signals approved, I suspect the design would have to change dramatically, they’re too close together — motorcycle turn signals have minimum spacing specs so that drivers can see which side is blinking; too close to the center line and it’s ambiguous as well as being lost in the glare of the headlight.)
Suspect the headlight also wouldn’t pass muster in some European markets where bicycle headlights have standards.
I can’t imagine turn signals being contentious since, as far as I know, there aren’t any regulations for them. In Seattle, you are not required to use hand signals so even that would not be a contention. Overall, I think having turn signals would be a safety enhancement and welcomed by most people.
Once turn signals exist for bicycles, I can imagine the need for regulation. Until then, it’s a free for all.
Seattle code requires hand signals for all turns unless both hands are required to control the bicycle. (Not much enforcement, of course, but they’re not optional, legally speaking.)
SMC 11.44.140 – Hand signals.
A. All required hand signals shall be given in the following manner:
1. Left turn: left hand and arm extended horizontally beyond the side of the bicycle;
2. Right turn: left hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the bicycle, or right hand and arm extended horizontally to the right side of the bicycle;
3. Stop or decrease speed: left hand and arm extended downward beyond the side of the bicycle.
B. Such hand signal shall be given continuously during the last one hundred feet (100′) traveled by the bicycle before initiation of a turn, unless during the last one hundred feet (100′) both hands are needed to control or operate the bicycle.
Washington State is unusually specific in bicycle lighting regulations by U.S. standards — bicycles are subject to RCW 46.37.280, which prohibits any flashing lights except those specifically authorized by law. Bicycles are authorized to have flashing LED tail lights, and any slow-moving vehicle is allowed to use synchonized amber 4-way hazard lights, but nothing authorizes bicycles to use flashing turn signals.
Again, not that I’d expect any enforcement, any more than there’s enforcement today against flashing headlights. But while individual users might be willing to go forward on an assumption of lax enforcement, a manufacturer might be more reluctant to launch a product that breaks the law.
The way the Seattle and state law is written allows any kind of lighting except those specifically prohibited. Unless there’s an ordinance (and there isn’t) stating no lighting is allowed except as specified in xyz, by default everything is allowed.
No manufacturer should have any fear of repercussions unless they suspect that a new law will be written.
As for hand signals, you have the details in your quote: “unless both hands are needed to control or operate the bicycle”. That effectively makes it *impossible* to enforce.
The “handlebar lock” might have been difficult to design safely in a way that didn’t cost too much.
Also I know there were several wireless elements to it and unless 100% of that gear is off the shelf you need to go through FCC testing that it meets standards. I have had more than one Kicstarter I backed fail because of this. I now work with some of the wirless testing teams at Microsoft and it sounds like a horrible mess of crazy that changes from country to country to county.
Fortunately, there’s a great ebike out there that did go into production — https://www.faradaybikes.com/shop/
This is exactly why they created indiegogo, kickstarter, gofundme, etc.
But also, the design elements can a should be incorporated into the overall electric bike market which is growing by leaps right now.
Fenders were always a little gimmicky. But the lights, the belt drive, pedal assist, easy on/off battery, and handlebar are all awesome.
The only thing I liked about the Denny was the frame shape and nifty paint job. So much was unappealing to me.
If I had one I’d want to change so much on it (fenders, handlebars…) that I might as well just get a different bike.
So, are the Denny team allowed to have it produced by someone else or does Fuji just shelve it and disallow that?
I live in Romania. I like this bike and I want to buy it. I am sure that I am not only client interested in this bike.
When will be produced? :(