What if Apple designed a bicycle?

ixi ipod

The new iPhone is launched next week. It will be dripping with goodies such as GPS, 3G and a higher-res camera. All well and good but it’s just an iPod/pda/media-player/phone/camera/sex-toy combo, it won’t set the world on fire (can you tell I want one?). But what if the design prowess of Apple was turned on the bicycle?


In this BikeBiz article on James Thomas of the BicycleDesign blog, I threw in the Ive-on-a-bike question.

He answered:

“I am sure an iBike would look nice, but then I would be stuck buying expensive proprietary Apple chain lube and tyre air!

I would love to see Jonathan Ive’s take on the bicycle. I think Biomega is one company that has successfully used designers from outside the bike industry to create products that can potentially appeal to non-cyclists. Most of the people who work in the bicycle industry, designers included, are in the industry because they really love bikes. Familiarity with the product is a good thing, but if you want to reach new markets, a different way of thinking may be required and sometimes a designer from a totally different industry can provide a fresh perspective.”

Apple isn’t about to design a bicycle any time soon. Anyway, according to Delta’s Errol Drew, the iXi bike is the “iPod of the bike world.”

But there are other Apple linkages to our favourite form of transport. For instance, the [Apple] Macintosh was originally going to be called the Bicycle, and if Steve Jobs hadn’t crashed his Schwinn Stingray he may never have joined the brainiacs club that gave him wings…

One of these links is true, the other is a fanboy’s dream.

Top marks if you knew that it’s the former that’s OSX and the latter that’s Vista.


Apple history site Forklore.org is run by Andy Hertzfeld, one of the Apple techies that helped develop the Macintosh.

Here’s him describing how ‘Macintosh’ was preferred to ‘Bicycle’.

“Jef Raskin [father of the Macintosh] chose the name ‘Macintosh’, after his favorite kind of apple, so when Jef was forced to go on an extended leave of absence in February 1981, Steve Jobs and Rod Holt decided to change the name of the project, partially to distance it from Jef.

“Apple had recently taken out a two page ad in Scientific American, featuring quotes from Steve Jobs about the wonders of personal computers. The ad explained how humans were not as fast runners as many other species, but a human on a bicycle beat them all.

“Personal computers were ‘bicycles for the mind.'”

“A month or so after Jef’s departure, Rod Holt announced to the small design team that the new code name for the project was ‘Bicycle’, and that we should change all references to ‘Macintosh’ to ‘Bicycle’.

“Rod’s edict was never obeyed. Somehow, Macintosh just seemed right. It was already ingrained with the team, and the “Bicycle” name seemed forced and inappropriate, so no one but Rod ever called it “Bicycle”. For a few weeks, Rod would reprimand anyone who called it “Macintosh” in his presence, but the new name never acquired any momentum.”

The other – and spurious – Apple link to cycling was created by Dan Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs. Here’s the interview I conducted with him a fortnight ago. He’s funny in the flesh, too. There’s an audio podcast of our conversation on iTunes.

During his talk to techies at the Thinking Digital conference he read out part of his EJ Thribb-style In Memoriam obit-poem to Evel Knievel in which it was revealed Steve Jobs had a previously unknown junior penchant for stunt cycling:

Because you inspired people.
Including me. One time,
when I was thirteen, I built
a ramp on my street
& put on a cape
& a football helmet
& tried to jump a Schwinn Stingray
over three kindergarten kids.
Each kid lay on the pavement
holding a pair of enormous torches —
rolled-up newspapers doused in gasoline.
Flames leapt eight feet into the air.
Soon after this
as a condition of my parole
I joined my school’s electronics club.
The rest, as they say,
is history.