A bike that shifts gears using your mind…ludicrous, right? Think again. Toyota Prius Projects teamed up with Boston-based Parlee Cycles to do a 10-week build and actually created a concept bike that shifts gears at only the thought. Parlee Cycles’ involvement is part of a series of design and technology projects from Toyota that are supposed to help extend the Prius brand to other realms besides hybrid cars.
Drawing on the Prius’ performance and drivability, Parlee created “an aero road bike” that they called “PXP.” The foundation for the PXP was to include features from a time-trial bike with that of a road bike so that the end result would be designed for both performance and distance. To provide it with such aerodynamic ability, carbon fiber was used to minimize weight even though it’s not the most environmentally conscious material on Earth. But Parlee still practiced conservation (something that Prius stands for) by reusing all the scraps that weren’t used. Parlee then added a seat that was fitted with a wireless transmitter that would allow rider to shift the bike’s gears using a smartphone.
Once the bike’s frame was made and the seat’s transmitter worked properly, the team enlisted DeepLocal to help with the advanced technology part. They came up with a “neuron helmet” that uses electrodes to pick up neuro-electrical activity, which then signals an electronic gear shifter that’s mounted under the bike seat to switch gears at only the mere thought of having them switched. But, of course, it’s not something that will happen on the first time. With training, the person riding the PXP bike can learn to properly shift up or down with just the thought. But what the bike doesn’t go into is what happens when outside factors start to impact the user and their thoughts, so there’s a lot that still needs to be developed and addressed to really achieve a mind-reading bike.
For the 10th week of the project, the group tested their final product, which successfully worked. While they achieved their initial goal, the bike is far from being mass produced for consumers, with no plans on releasing anything like it in the near future. But you never know with technology these days!
Toyota also involved John Watson, of renowned cycling blog of ProllyisnotProbably, to cover the build on his site. Read about each week on ProllyisnotProbably.com! All photos by John Watson.