A cult favourite among both bicycle and design aficionados, Biomega’s sleek, swoon-worthy two-wheelers have always hit a sweet spot between style and functionality. It stands to reason then, that with the launch of the Danish company’s first e-bike, the Oko, founder and designer Jens Martin Skibsted is in bullish form. 'When it comes to private transport in city centres, cars as we know them don’t have a future,' he says. 'The industry will electrify them and shrink them amongst other things – bicycles will compete for that same space. Oko is a step in that direction'.
Upon seeing the Oko in the flesh, a compact 18.6kg of ultra-light carbonfibre in a svelte frame, it’s hard to disagree with him. Though the bike is a big evolutionary leap forward for the company – it is both its first electronic bike as well as its most expensive developmental project to date – the company’s underlying ethos of 'furniture for urban locomotion' is still evident in its cutting-edge use of technology and leading design courtesy of KiBiSi, the Copenhagen-based industrial design firm co-founded by designers Lars Larsen, Bjarke Ingels and Skibsted himself.
'This is by far the most ambitious urban mobility project Biomega has undertaken to date, eclipsing even the original Marc Newson bicycle,' Skibsted explains, referring to the original 1998 design that helped place the brand on the design community’s radar. 'This is truly an expression of [the company's] ethos, where cutting edge commuter technology meets high-level design'.
The technical spec is as noteworthy as the bike’s aesthetics – a front wheel-mounted electrical battery pack drives 250W through the Oko, via two modes for short commuter blasts or longer journeys where fuel conservation is a priority. Meanwhile, the rear wheel hub houses two-speed automatic or eight-speed Shimano Alfine gear options depending on the rider’s preference, with a set of Shimano hydraulic brakes providing reassuring stopping power. The project’s long genesis was in part due to the sourcing and creation of individual components – from the battery and unique carbon composite used for the frame down to the pedals – that give the bike its uniform appearance.
In the saddle, it feels incredibly light and agile to ride, slicing through Copenhagen’s narrow streets with ease. Crucially, the housing of the battery within the frame itself benefits the design from a visual perspective, but also contributes massively to the fine balance and ultra-responsive handling. On the city’s wider avenues, that extra power allows casual riders to surge through traffic – and even in a city this enamoured with its bikes, the Oko garners plenty of stares and turned heads.
Perhaps most tellingly, the bike doesn’t feel like the clunky sports-driven cycles typically associated with the genre, and its urban credentials help it stand out from similarly placed competition. Whether its creator’s vision will translate successfully outside of the cycling utopias of Northern Europe remains to be seen, but the Oko presents a compelling case for two-wheeled dominance and a glimpse of a sleeker, more sustainable future.
Biomega Oko, from €1999. For more information, visit Biomega’s website (opens in new tab)
Photography courtesy of Biomega
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