Sculpture in motion: Biomega AMS

Design Within Reach sent us their Biomega AMS 8-Speed Bicycle a couple weeks ago and we’ve been admiring, questioning, and discussing it ever since. The bike features a shaft drive, Nexus hub, powdercoat finish, is built to just get around town, and is featured in this week’s Huggacast.

A few pedals on the shaft drive and you’ll understand that it is just for around town and that’s ok, because it does have substance to all that style. When we first unpacked it, one of the remarks was, “damn! does it come with a matching dish set, towels, and shower curtain?” It looks that nice and very designer with the powder coat finish, badges, and internal cables. The most striking visual is the cardanic shaft drive and I think the designer, Skibsted, concieved the entire bike from that drivetrain.

The bike itself is the award-winning Copenhagen, imported exclusively by DWR. It’s a museum-quality bike. Speaking about the bike, Skibsted said,

The bicycle is designed for “urban mobility,” with the intent of “making towns and cities lovelier, beautiful and cleaner places to be.” Beyond creating an object of beauty, “We want to spread the love we put into our bikes to the people who ride them. We believe that a kind of osmosis from the bike to the rider takes places, spreading our feel for quality and originality.”

An Urban Bike

Check the Huggacast video for our riding observations and our photostream for photos. The shaft drive is a love it or hate it thing (see an animation here). We appreciated the functionality of it and nearly immediately discovered the downside. Zero maintenance, looks cool – great – but massive friction, speed limitations, and a gear range that, hobbled by frictional losses, isn’t going to get you up any hill. I also could not go fast on this bike. That’s not the point, but I did try, and the bike just doesn’t go.

Ugly Bettie meets Sexy Biomega

Since I’ve been putting big miles on Bettie lately, and it also encourages the slower approach, I found myself comparing the two rides. Where Bettie isn’t the sexiest bike ever, it’s very functional. From taking the kids to soccer, delivering the goods, a date night, or just riding around, Bettie will get it done.

The Biomega is good at what it does, with some puzzling omissions:

  • No water bottle cages – every bike should have a bottle cage, hipsters need to hydrate as well
  • Better bring tire sealant – you’re not changing a rear flat with this bike. The rear wheel is bolted on, and the stock tires are ~32c’s, with not a lot of room for fatter rubber
  • At this price point and spec, a front generator hub with lights would’ve been nice

I think the owner of this bike will ride it on campus, bike paths, and from the condo to the office, and that’s great. As we first posted, we’re good with bikes as designer items, why not? As we learned with Bettie, going slow, chilling and enjoying the ride is a relief from a hectic commute or road rides.

The Biomega AMS is available online from Design Within Reach and their local studios. You’ll need to find a mechanic or bike shop to assemble it for you. The one we rode is on display now at their Seattle Studio.

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maybe we should add a disclaimer “color coordinated attire optional”

ha, it all went together quite well.

I’m writing to comment on your review of the Biomega AMS, most specifically the link to the Dynamic Bicycle shaft drive animation contained therein. I work at Dynamic Bicycles, and have spent a lot of time riding, building and selling our brand of chainless (shaft driven) bicycles. We’re not happy about the fact that you are posting a link to our website in a paragraph that describes the shortcomings of another brand’s bicycle. By doing so, you are painting all shaft driven bicycles with a broad brush and potentially giving customers the impression that Dynamic Bicycles share the same flaws as the Biomega in your test. I can attest to the fact that our shaft drive system is not burdened by massive friction, our bikes can be ridden at speeds comparable to chain driven comfort and hybrid bicycles, and our gear ranges (particularly our 8 speed models) are adequate to allow riders to climb hills with ease, depending on their fitness levels, of course. We would welcome the chance to have you test one of our Dynamic chainless bicycles, and in the interim would appreciate it if you removed the link to our shaft animation from your review of the Biomega. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about our product.
Best regards,
Norm Krisher, Marketing Manager: Dynamic Bicycles.

Thanks for expressing your concerns—does the Biomega use your system or another?

Biomega/Decra bicycles use a completely different shaft drive than Dynamic. Our shaft has inherently less drag and is significantly lighter in weight. Dynamic bicycles can run as light as 27 pounds for a rigid fork hybrid model.

Thanks Norm, what shaft does it use?

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