Wacky races

Perhaps in a bid to stimulate lateral thinking, the judges in Taiwan's International Bicycle Design Competition have - again - awarded 'bicycle design of the year' to a device that could only loosely be described as a bicycle. At least kick-scooters didn't win this year...
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The International Bicycle Design Competition is sponsored by Taiwan's Department of Industrial Technology, Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C. and managed and produced by the Cycling & Health Tech Industry R&D Center.

It has been staged since 1996 and attracts 1000+ entries per year. If the shortlisted entries are anything to go by, many of the submitted designs would be better descibed as 'mobility machines' rather than 'bicycles'. But that, no doubt, is the point. With most bicycle production having shifted to China, the Taiwanese bicycle industry is now positioning itself as a focus for innovation rather than a locus of manufacturing.

"We hope that through the coming together of different design concepts and cultures, bicycle product design can be promoted worldwide," said a statement from the organisers of the International Bicycle Design Competition.

So, which of the contraptions above won top spot, pocketing £9000 at the award ceremony at the Taipei trade show? It was the Xiclet walking machine, designed by Marcelo Martinelli from Argentina.

Second prize went to the Ovasion from Malaysia. This - shock, horror - is a bicycle, but, in the fully-functioning prototype, has a rather crotch-unfriendly, curved top-tube.

Safety issues rarely appear to be considered by the designers. Brakes? Pah, who needs 'em? Saddles? For wimps. Need extra speed on your already dangerous scooter? Add some sails.

And what, exactly, is the In-Between? Is that a trailer-bike on the back? Are those inverted helmet-like things for carrying babies? Where do you sit?

Lots more wacky designs can be found on the competition's website at http://design.runride.com/

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