IDEO x Rock Lobster Oregon Manifest Faraday: a French porteur with a little lightning up its butt

A few of my colleagues at IDEO spent the summer collaborating with Rock Lobster to build our vision of what the utility bike of the future should be.  This was done as part of the Oregon Manifest.  What they created, in my humble opinion, is simply magical… and it goes by the name of Faraday:


Don't you just want to jump on it and ride away?

It's an electric bike.  There's a motor mounted in the front hub, super high-tech batteries are mounted inside the top tubes, and it's all controlled via a small throttle control.  How does it feel to ride?  Beautiful.  We engineered proprietary firmware and software which seamlessly integrates the push from the motor with the push you're getting from your feet.

If you're interested in voting for the best in show, you can do so here (and I wouldn't mind if you voted for Faraday!).

Here's what the judges had to say:

There is something profoundly elegant about this bike. I experienced it as a flawless design execution. While the idea of a front rack is not novel, the modular plug-in platform is brilliant. The prototyping and thought that went into deciding upon a frame geometry that would work well with front cargo appears to be accurate from my own experience. Having spent a bit of time working on improvements to existing electric assist integrations, I have great respect for the innovations and design execution for this facet to the bike. I have no doubt that the work that went into the design and fabrication of the electric side alone was easily equal to the rest of the bike.  — Ross Evans

Contrasting with the other entries, the Faraday is a bicycle with two wheels, and it may be the better for it. It is an attractive machine that strikes a good balance between striking looks and understated aesthetics. Off all three entrants, this one probably is the most useful to most riders, as it’s easy to ride, easy to park, and easy to store at home. — Jan Heine

This bike struck a chord with me almost immediately, my first thoughts were that this is a very well thought out bike and it is definitely my favorite of the three. Visually I love the traditional lines and the striking integrated racking system actually added to the appeal. Again we have the right type of drivetrain and braking systems, and the very smart addition of electric assist! What got me most though is what’s missing… a big, ugly, heavy battery that seems to be on every other electric assisted bike I’ve seen. Other savvy well thought out features continued to impress upon closer inspection. I really felt the data collection sensors to help determine just how much help you get from the motor was a very cool touch. — Jeff Menown

My top pick of the three—and not just because it’s the sexiest and most conceptually successful. For me, the most important criteria are that the bike be practical, versatile, elegant, thoughtful, well-engineered, and, most important, a dynamic, real-world performance vehicle. And the Faraday is all of these things, despite its being one of those newfangled e-bikes, which run counter to my Puritanical belief that a bicycle’s engine is by definition its human. Otherwise, it’s a motorcycle, right? Well, dammit, this isn’t a motorcycle. It’s a brilliant update of the French porteur with a little lightning up its butt, and I love it. And a long-distance high five to those Californians for the clever name and great logo. — Jeremy Spencer

As I write this, I have to admit that my eyes are welling up a bit with tears, so proud am I of the amazing IDEO and Rock Lobster folks who cranked on this project.  What you see here is the result of many late nights and long weekends; since I live near our office, over the past few months I popped by most weekends and looked in the window of our shop and they were always there.  I have a bunch of innovation principles listed along the right side of this blog.  But words are wind, and it just so damn affirming and inspiring to see people really live them and go beyond them.

Awesome work, guys.  Go Faraday!

1 thought on “IDEO x Rock Lobster Oregon Manifest Faraday: a French porteur with a little lightning up its butt

  1. I think more inspirational than the bike (which is brilliant, by the way, just eccentric enough to be appealing to a knuckle-dragging gearhead such as myself), is what it represents – a group of dedicated people working together to create something new realizing the sense of accomplishment.
    Kudos to you all. It’s beautiful.

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