Parlee Cycles is building a bike that encapsulates the forward-thinking design ideas of the Toyota Prius. Join us for updates from blogger John Watson of ProllyisnotProbably.com as he documents the process from day one.
There is a choice to be made every time something is built. It can either be done the way that is tried-and-true, or you can venture into the unknown in hopes of making that something better than it was before. This is the path taken by the Toyota Prius and its designers. Building upon the familiar foundations of a car, the Prius is an optimized version of something we were already familiar with. By blending cutting-edge technology with simple, sustainable materials, the Prius became a benchmark of efficiency, a testament to those who innovated and dared to make it so, and the cornerstone of a philosophy that is changing the way we drive today. Knowing that this philosophy isn’t only applicable to cars, Toyota and Saatchi LA set out on yet another venture into the unknown by asking: What if the Prius were a bicycle?
In search of an answer, Toyota and Saatchi enlisted the help of renowned bike builder Parlee Cycles and the masterminds of Deeplocal to build the Prius X Parlee (PXP) concept bicycle over the course of ten weeks. Imbued with the spirit of Prius, this aero-road bike is also a purpose-built machine that blends simplicity with the complex to become a better, more efficient version of something that already exists.
Each innovation, feature and process used in and on the PXP was inspired by the Prius and serves to make it more efficient while emphasizing ease of use. Its monocoque carbon-fiber frame keeps the PXP lightweight while increasing its durability and rideability. Its brakes were molded into the fork and bottom bracket to increase aerodynamics, along with countless other tweaks that were tested and validated in the wind tunnels at MIT. A built-in dock for a smartphone enables riders to view information about their speed, cadence and heart rate.
All of these features and more come together to produce a bike akin to the Prius. But to truly encapsulate what the Prius stands for, more forward thinking was applied. Designed by Deeplocal, a neurotransmitter-packed helmet and interface empowers the PXP’s rider to shift gears, as if by magic, just by thinking about it.
A successful result of a collaborative exploration, the PXP proves that there is always room for improvement. Like the car it was inspired by, it is able to go farther for longer and serves as a demonstration of what is possible when we look to the future and improve upon what we have already accomplished to get there.
Innovation. It defines what is possible, it is our potential, and it promises a better and brighter future. It’s what is changing the way we drive, and it’s what made the Toyota Prius what it is today. But striving to innovate more efficient and sustainable means of transportation is a goal that we believe should reach beyond the four-wheeled vessels we have become so accustomed to. So we asked ourselves:
What if the Prius were a bicycle?
Ten weeks later, the fruit of a collaborative build between Parlee Cycles and Deeplocal has answered our question. From the monocoque carbon-fiber frame to the first-ever brainwave operated shifter, the PXP concept bike is a purpose-built machine that blends simplicity with the complex to become a better, more efficient version of itself.
This project has been an incredible journey that leads into another. Imbued with the spirit of Prius, the PXP now has the potential to affect the future of cycling and will tour the country to demonstrate the power of asking: What if?
Imagine yourself shifting into a lower gear on your bike. Now imagine that imagining yourself shifting could actually shift your bike. Confused? Don’t be.
Since our last update, the engineering masterminds of Deeplocal have devised a system that lets riders shift the PXP’s gears without using a single one of their appendages. Imbued with the sort of forward thinking that went into the design of Prius, the system lets riders command an electronic shifter with their own brain waves captured by a helmet stuffed with neurotransmitters.
See how the PXP prototype gives you the power of pseudo-telekenesis at ProllyIsNotProbably.com
Learning through doing. That’s what we’ve been doing with the PXP. It’s fascinating to see how the early designs inform the final form that is quickly taking shape.
This week, John Prolly is releasing the first looks of the entire prototype in the wind tunnel and Parlee’s workshop. Now that it’s been measured for efficiency, the prototype will be reworked to make the final ride fantastically advanced, just as the Prius itself is in a constant state of rebirth, being molded, rethought, and revised over and over again, always striving to create the ideal car of the future.
See the PXP prototype in its full form for the first time at ProllyisnotProbably.com
This week is all about concept meeting reality. The team travels to Massachusetts to witness the PXP build at Parlee Cycles.
Throughout this project, it has been a priority to not simply build a “concept bike.” We wanted to push the boundaries of design and technology, but not to a point where they’re no longer applicable in the real world. The advancements made with the PXP are ahead of their time, but not fictional.
The 3rd Gen Prius grew in size from its predecessor but actually became more aerodynamic, and thus improved its MPG rating. In our pursuit to mirror those Prius design efficiencies, we’ve tested the PXP’s aerodynamic properties in a wind tunnel.
Looking for the most streamlined ride, the team takes notes of problem spots and optimizes the final product.
Read as John Watson visits the Parlee workshop and watches the aerodynamic test session at
Technology: It’s at the core of the Prius identity. This week, the team visits Pittsburgh’s Deeplocal to see how this reverence for technology is being translated to the PXP.
A shop visit reveals telling photos of what looks to be the next generation of bicycle drivetrain technology. One could draw connection to the innovation behind Hybrid Synergy Drive®, the revolutionary drivetrain technology Prius introduced over ten years ago. It was that kind of radical thinking that changed the way people drive cars and proved that there’s always a better way. We’re seeing that same philosophy emerge in the PXP.
Dig into this week’s post to see the beginnings of technological integration into the PXP at ProllyIsNotProbably.com
The build is upon us.
John Watson of ProllyIsNotProbably.com travels to Parlee’s workshop to see the bike mold, the laid carbon fiber and the frame beginning to take its final form.
This concept bike, now with official name of “PXP” is being crafted for a specific purpose. It’s constructed to embody the efficiency that defines the Prius. With its monocoque carbon-fiber body, the bike remains light and stiff while providing a comfortable ride. These are the defining characteristics of an efficient aero-road bike.
The bike shows the same minute eye for detail as the Prius. Constantly sculpting the design to maximize efficiency of the 2010 Prius added 10 centimeters to its length and a mere 2.5 centimeters to its width. This seemingly trivial revision actually reduced the car’s overall wind resistance and drag coefficient, adding more miles per gallon.
Stay tuned at ProllyIsNotProbably.com to see the many as-yet-unrevealed innovations to be added to this concept bike.
Carbon fiber has become one of the choice materials in bicycle design, but it wasn’t always that way. This week, John Watson visits the Parlee workshop, where Bob Parlee became one of the first builders to push boundaries with carbon bike frames.
The Prius was designed for maximum efficiency, creating a vehicle more aerodynamic than a Lamborghini. Those same forward-thinking ideas are manifesting themselves into the bike’s unique shape. But shape is not enough. In order to mirror that efficiency, carbon fiber is being used to minimize weight. While carbon fiber may not be the most recyclable material, the Prius high standards of conservation are being upheld: Parlee minimizes material waste by reusing their carbon-fiber scraps for everything from cable stays to harnesses.
Learn more about John’s shop visit and how this project bike is taking shape.
As we enter week three, Parlee begins to move from hypothetical sketches to shaping physical materials. John Watson is there to highlight the techniques Parlee employs to bring this concept bike to life. Get a candid look inside Parlee’s process as John documents the transformation of raw materials into this concept cycle.
The concept bike inspired by Prius is in full swing.
Parlee has been honing in on designs and materials that will ultimately define this bike. Drawing from the car’s performance and drivability, the team has arrived at what they call an “aero road bike.” It combines the aggressive geometry of a time-trial bicycle and the accessibility of a road bike that is designed for both performance and distance. Early sketches allude to a bold new look but also focus on the minute details that demonstrate the bike’s desire to perform at the top of its class.
John Watson dives into the build in this week’s blog post, colored with photos from the Parlee workshop.
We’ve called on one of the most respected names in cycling to help build a bicycle around Prius principles. Boston-based Parlee is applying their renowned craftsmanship and eye for design to the construction of this ultra-efficient bicycle. John Watson, of renowned cycling blog ProllyisnotProbably.com, will be covering the build on his site, reporting on progress as well as showcasing imagery from behind the scenes.
Check out John’s first blog entry to learn more about the project from his perspective and what you can plan on seeing down the road. We’ll be linking to his articles throughout the process, eventually revealing the final product here.