Carbon Fiber

Sled Tech. Stealth X from Snolo.

With Kansas City getting ready for its first major snowfall of the season, I thought I would do a little research on the advances made in sled technology. The last time I looked into sled tech was 3 years ago. Since then, some folks down in New Zealand have created a carbon fiber stealth sled; the Stealth X, by Snolo Sleds.

This high performance carbon fiber sled can hit speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, and can be maneuvered with precision under a variety of snowy and icy conditions. The carbon fiber construction is extremely light and strong. The design allows it to be carried like a backpack, which allows any back country explorer to have a little sledding fun on their deep country trek.

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None of this sled tech comes cheap though. Stealth X will set you back $2500.00 plus shipping, so you better really be into sledding if you’re thinking about pulling the trigger on this one.

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Wednesday Lust. The Rizoma 77|11 Metropolitan Bike.

Almost two centuries after it’s invention, the humble bicycle continues remain true to it’s roots while technologically advancing in design and materials. The 77|011 Metropolitan Bike from Rizoma is perfect example of this. It is a single speed fixed gear bike made from carbon fiber and billet aluminum construction. The materials used in the bike construction aid in keeping the bike light weight, and making sure the frame is extremely strong. The bike has softer lines with a slightly curved top, seat, and head tubes, and the attention to design detail is out standing. Simple clean lines combined with elegant geometry in the handlebar, crank, and seat assembly really make this bike stand out.

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A Little Carbon Fiber Leverage Please.

You never know when you are going to need a bottle opener. The thing is though, I’m not much of a Swiss Army knife or church key on my keyring kind of guy. I am however a beer in a bottle after mowing the lawn kind of guy. So what I need is a bottle opener that would say, fit in my wallet.

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Leverage is a credit card sized bottle opener that takes full advantage of the fact that carbon fiber is stronger than steel. This allows Leverage to be an incredibly thin .059mm and weigh in at .3oz. This alone would allow me to keep it in my wallet for those times when you need a bottle opener and don’t want to run back to the kitchen.

This simple, clean, well designed bottle opener is functional, and quite frankly looks like something Batman would use. Batman and probably Burt Rutan as well.

Welcome to the Jungle, With Carbon Fiber Cellos.

Here is a great way to start off your Friday morning. Here we have Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser playing their arrangement of Welcome To The Jungle by Guns N’ Roses on carbon fiber cellos. There is a sort of man in the street viral quality to the way this is shot, but the editing and the camera work definitely let you know that this is a music video that was planned and executed by professionals. Slash should call these guys and do a remix of this, because it is a pretty amazing cover of the original.

Peter Dudas, Hybrid City Bicycle.

If I could get a bike like this, I would ride to work every day. This concept is just stunning. Italian Designer Peter Dudas, has come up with a minimalist elegant bicycle concept, the “Hybrid City”.

Made from carbon fiber, aluminum, and nivachrom, the bike has a low weight threshold while achieving maximum durability. The design is a minimalistic play on a typical city commuter bicycle. The lines of the bike are simple and dynamic while the overall design is an exotic concept that looks fast even while standing still. The shape is an extreme, going against the grain of classic bike iconography.

Dudas Hybrid City bike removes the chain, and replaces it with a direct transmission with a gears hidden in the frame for a clean, sporty design. The wheels are hub-less and connected to to the transmission with a system of gear wheels. All the cables for the breaks and shifter are hidden in the frame to streamline the look further. The saddle and handlebar assembly are made from aluminum, and coated with carbon fiber.

According to Dudas, “The model is considered a premium city bike for commuting and inner city touring. The design provides a platform for an extensive rider base, while maintaining extreme styling and innovation.”

Design Friday, A Look Back to the Future From 1999

Newson's 1999 concept car for Ford. The 021C

For design Friday, I wanted to take a step back. Ten years to be exact, and look at Marc Newson’s design for the Ford C21 concept car. Earlier this week my friend and fellow designer Jeff Chenault, sent me a link about this car, and I have to say I had totally forgotten about it. But in today’s climate, the automobile would probably have some success for Ford.

Back in 1999, then ford’s head of design, J.Mays decided to get a designer from outside of Ford to work on a concept car. His choice was Marc Newson who had been designing furniture and products but never worked on automotive design before.

Here is a little background on how the C21 came to be born. Ford’s Global Design and Chief Creative Officer, J. Mays, decided to hire a designer from outside the automotive field in order to break free from conventional automotive design thinking. His choice was Marc Newson, an emerging prolific industrial designer who had worked in aircraft design, product design, furniture design, jewelry, and clothing. J. Mays brief was simple. I want you to create a simple and affordable urban vehicle, which would be eco-friendly.

Newson got to work, creating a vehicle that appears both modern and retro in styling. The cabin has an open feel with its vertical slim pillars and large surrounding glass. The floor is completely flat that gently curves to meet the  vertical surfaces. Newson worked with Italian furniture manufacturer B+B Italia to produce the seats.  The entire dash panel can be moved vertically (along with the steering wheel) to adjust for different drivers. The interior is finished in a combination of orange PMS 021C, Newson’s favorite color, silver and white. Every element, from the specially woven carpet to the analogue instruments made by the Ikepod Watch Company, were designed by Newson.

The car featured unique thinking for the automotive world. The doors open out from opposing hinges, (suicide doors) for easy entrance and egress. The front seats swivel to help with entering and exiting the vehicle. The trunk opens like a dresser drawer pulling out from under the lid. Once again designed to create easier access to interior spaces.

The carbon fiber exterior features simple shapes and clean lines with no superflous decoration at all. The door handles are simple aluminum buttons surrounded by a translucent plastic ring which is illuminated when the remote central locking is activated.

The car is like a glasshouse, open light and airy with thin pillars flowing  around the clam-shell door frames to ensure the widest possible apertures. The front and rear views of the Ford 021C are dominated by single light lenses and a wrap around bumper.

Designed to specifically appeal to a consumer base of 21 and younger drivers, the car played to the fact that these consumers are highly brand literate, extremely technologically aware, and want quality products which express their individuality.

“The Ford 021C is an honest, simple, engaging car, and these are values which resonate with this important group of emerging automotive consumers,” said Ford’s Vice-President of Design, J Mays.

Mays went on to say, “The project has helped change the way Ford designs new vehicles. As car designers we tend to approach everything from an automotive perspective. The Ford 021C treats the car as a cultural icon. We have created a distinct point of view with this car and if you don’t get it, don’t worry – you’re probably not meant to.”

This kind of thinking was a radical departure for an industry that while shaping many aspects of the design world, has since the 1970’s produced more and more product that is for lack of a better word generic. All you have to do is look at the majority of cars on the road today. Many are slight variations of a competitors product, with conservative styling choices. The design philosophy behind the 021C set a foundation for new generation of Ford vehicles and was designed to appeal to a new generation of consumers in the 21st century.

“Ask children to draw a car and they’ll draw something like this, so in many ways the 021C is a familiar and comfortable object,” Newson said. “But it doesn’t use many typical automotive design cues, and while it does incorporate some interesting technology, it’s not technology used simply for the sake of it.”