[interview] the project story
The CLUG™ Bike Rack is the tiny clip that works with your floor to turn anywhere you can think of into a place where your bike can live. Whether you need a way to store your bike in your apartment or you simply want to unclutter your spare room from the half-dozen bikes currently piled on top of each other, CLUG is the simple little clip that brings order to your bike(s).
CLUG fits perfectly into an environment that is limited on space but high on design. Its size makes it virtually disappear once it’s installed (because it’s small, not because it’s magic). All you need to do is lift your front wheel off the ground, and pop it into place. Gravity does the rest. CLUG doesn’t scratch your rims or force you to lift your bike awkwardly off the ground. It is simple, stylish, and it works.
Designed in the rain in Vancouver, B.C., our local urban cyclists have a penchant for design tempered by a modest budget. Existing bike storage solutions typically solve one of these needs, but not both - you get a cheap solution that is ugly, or an expensive solution that is sexy. The combination of the familiar daily commute to work on a bike with high real estate prices and rampant bike theft leaves people needing a way to keep their bike indoors.
The catalyst for change came in the form of a small office that started to gather a pile of bikes in the corner every day the team showed up for work. We had a tiny office that needed a bike solution that saved our studio from the wear and tear of bikes getting tossed against the wall. The combination of having ceilings too high to hang our bikes and being designers that needed a solution that matched our aesthetic requirements drove us away from the cheap hook solution. While we loved many of the artisan solutions, they cost more than our budget would bear. Hence, CLUG was born.
The predominant modality of the in-home bike storage market is centered around the prospect of lifting your bike up off the ground and hanging it from the wall or ceiling. Presuming physics can’t be defied, the mechanism for hanging a bike must be strong enough to handle the weight of a bike - any bike.
CLUG approaches the problem by eliminating the need (and the requirements of physics) of hanging the bike by bearing the majority of the bike’s weight on the ground. This frees up CLUG from the extra bulk needed to defy the pull of gravity and gives it its tiny profile. The added benefit of this solution is that it also opens up the market much wider by allowing children and elderly an option of bike storage that was otherwise closed off to them due to the difficulty of hoisting a bike over their heads.
CLUG is a novel solution that addresses a problem - it is not a solution for all bike storage problems.
The idea of hugging a bike tire with an ugly piece of plastic came easily enough. What came next was months of iteration, tuning, and testing the design to accommodate the wildly varying sizes of bike tires on the market. It is safe to say that there are hundreds of variations of tire widths from dozens of manufacturers.
While our 3D printer made development easier, it didn’t come without its own set of challenges. The PLA material used by our Makerbot does not have material properties similar to those of the production material, polycarbonate (PC). There were several iterations of prototypes that were focused solely on the task of building the proper geometry in the product so the PLA would mimic that of PC. This is all done in the context that we believe good design wins in the end. Ensuring that this all functions within the right aesthetic made it all the more challenging.
CLUG has been designed to consider all aspects of the product's lifecycle from manufacturing and shipment to its durability over the coming years. It is extremely small and can be shipped in a bulk in a package about the size of a shoe box, thus reducing its carbon footprint in both product material, packaging, and shipping. We have tested the product in ongoing usage testing which has proven that the product can be used daily for over 5 years and it will still continue to work as designed. Once CLUG has kicked the bucket, it can be sent back to headquarters for re-cycling.
This award celebrates creative and innovative design for either a component or overall product. Consideration given to aspects that relate to human usage, aesthetics, selection of components and materials, and the resolution of assembly, manufacturing and the overall function.