Urban Bicycle #3: Details, Materials & Manufacturing

(This is Part 3 of The Urban Cycling Project. Feel free to continue or start from Part 1.)

Reiterating the design concept, it is a bicycle stand for docking, maintenance, display and embodies the essence of time. I have been thinking how can I explain it in a shorter sentence. Or perhaps a name to sum it up. How about Clockwork Apparatus for Bikes?

I will begin with the final sketch that I think where the design should stop developing. Then, I will breakdown into each parts, expanding on the thought processes, details, materials and manufacturing.

Final 3D Sketch Clockwork Apparatus

Handle Crank

The handle is where the bicycle will be propped up. It started with rethinking the clamp seen on all commercially sold bike stand. Instead of winding bolt to tighten the clamp, the clamp can be the like of a peg thus promoting a fast and easy use. When considering about the strength of the clamp and the viability to compliment all diameters of bike frame, the belt idea came about. Corresponding to the time-based system, a leather belt seems to poetically emulating the belt of a watch. Scratching off the clamp, a hook is a practical solution, especially the handle will lower down when the bicycle is imposed on it.  A secondary hook saw its opportunity to have the other end of the handle purposeful for helmet or anything else. I would like to bring up my tutor, Mike Burns and 2 other mechanical engineering professors, Steve Poole and Glen Cooper for their valuable advice on the next development. To provide a better support, the width of the handle has to be wider or it requires to be at 2 support points. The single hook then forks into 2 smaller hooks with belt heads.

Estimated Cost of Manufacturing: £120

Stand Handle Idea Generation

Concept Form Development


Handle Belt Sketch



This the backbone. It has to be strong. It contains the heart for itself to work (the gears system) like a bicycle.  It hides the supports for the toolkit counter.  As the finishing for the stand will be color powder coated, I began to visualise how it can possibly be a visual communication to the users. Seemingly like a thermometer, the level of the toolkit counter will indicate the amount of rides and the urgency to clean or check your bike. Should it have subtle measurement lines? Or a color gradient, from blue to yellow to red? Or color rings at multiple levels? Rings to represent times of ride, maybe.

Confronted by the possible larger scale of the gears in respect to the diameter of the steel tube, the gears section of the tube is exposed with only steel rods skeleton to support. Baring the mechanism like a grandfather clock, the motion of gears can be appreciated as a plesaurable user experience. Apart from that, it is easier to access the gears when it comes to the time of service.

Estimated Material & Manufacturing Cost: £150

Stand & Gears Sketch


Clockwork Mechanism

In this project, the gears are the most challenging part for me as it is beyond my knowledge and understanding. Seriously, I almost failed in my Physics back in high school. This project could not have been possible without the help of 2 benevolent professors, Glen Cooper and Steve Poole. Initially, I was thinking of adopting the grandfather clock mechanism for the system to pull up the toolkit counter by a bit every time a bicycle is placed on the handle. After the consultation, it turns out that the grandfather clock mechanism does not apply to my motion to large displacement intent. And pawl ratchet system is what I should be looking into. Below are some sketches from the discussion. I find it amusing that eventhough I am designing a furniture, the mechanism used is related to the ratchet system of bicycles. How nice of a concept that they all tie back together. What excites me is the challenge of transforming a bicycle system into a clock system. The gears will be of CNC-milled polished finish brass to mirror the identity of a clockwork.

Estimated Material & Manufacturing Cost: £275

Gear Consultation Sketch


Weight Base

Rejecting the idea of a tripod or quadpod due to the poor area taken to weight ratio, a heavy base is considered to hold down all the dead load and the forces exerted during maintenance. A cone is decided for the form of the base as it provides more workspace at the top and better stability. Since the purpose of the furniture is to be part of the living space as well as displaying the bicycle, there shall be no need to keep away the stand or have it portable. A heavy block like a stone or marble will also add a sculptural, masculine  tone to the interior. Polished exposed aggregate is chosen for its strenght and aesthetic without steel rebar reinforcement in relative to the high maintenance marble. Perhaps marble can be a choice for high-end bespoke market.

Estimated Material & Manufacturing Cost: £50


Toolkit Counter

Taking advantage of the need for a tool tray during servicing, a counter with drawers for the essential maintenance tools becomes an extension from the tray. The drawers shall accommodate (1) 9/10mm Wrench with Peg Spanner and Crank Dust Cap Remover, (2) 8mm Allen Key with 1/2″ Drive Wrench, (3) Phillips 1 & 2, Torx and Flat Head Screwdriver, (4) Sealed Bottom Bracket Tool, (5) Cassette Locking Tool, (6) Y-Wrench with 2, 2.5 & 3mm Allen Keys, (7) Y-Wrench with 4, 5 & 6mm Allen Keys, (8) Y-Tool with Cotteriess Crank Tool, 6/8mm Allen Key and 1/2″ Drive, (9) 8, 9, 10 and 14mm Sockets, (10) Top Hat Tool for Crank Removal, (11) 13/15mm and 14/16mm Cone Spanners, (12) Chain Whip, (13) 10-15 Gauge Spoke Key, (14) 32/36mm Headset Spanner, (15) Extra Nuts and Bolts, (16) Chain Tool, (17) Tyre Levers, (18) 8/10mm and 14/15mm Open-Ended Spanners, (19) Puncture Repair Kit.

The design intention for tbe tray started with holding in the tools while keeping dust out. Eliminating corners is the straight-to-the-point answer. The corners are then streamlined to smooth curves, which means a piece of wood will have to be cnc-milled. If it is made of tiny granulates or plastic, it can be moulded. Injection moulded polypropylene can be lighter and a cheaper option. However, it does not provide a desirable finishing and may receive scratches easily. Furthermore by thinking of reducing the load to be taken by the gears, cork seems to be the best material here for its favourable properties. Taking the form of corrugated ripple, material can be reduced up to 45% yet retaining the strength. There is no corners; it holds small screws or nuts better and it is easier to pick up flat, bigger tools like spanner.

Estimated Material & Manufacturing Cost:  £4,410

Toolkit Counter Sketch


The counter will be supported by a dovetail support (top surface) and cylindrical support (bottom surface). These components will be CNC-milled brushed, anodised aluminium. Both supports are connected by screwing a steel tube into another. A metal hoop is on top of the dovetail support where a braided polyester rope will be knotted to pull the counter up.

Estimated Material & Manufacturing Cost: £200

Total Estimated Material & Manufacturing Cost: £5,205

Estimated Retail Price: £7,500

Estimated Product Weight: 750 kg

Part 4 will take you to the prototyping stage.


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