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The curious world of Robert Egger, Specialized’s most creative mind

Robert Egger takes Cyclist on a tour of the company’s wackiest concept bikes – plus one that could change the way we ride

Peter Stuart
31 Mar 2017

‘Come on, I’m going to show you the bike that’s going to save the world,’ Specialized’s creative director, Robert Egger, tells us excitedly, as he limps ahead on a recently injured hip. He takes us to a floor filled with various concept bikes of all shapes and sizes.

There are laid-back chopper bikes kitted out with fatbike wheels and disc brakes, super-fast racers with gigantic wheels, cafe-racer motorbikes with cranks in place of engines, bikes equipped with steering wheels and novelty bikes that could have come from The Flintstones.

Egger’s real interest, though, is the union of bikes and electricity. ‘I’m an e-bike master. I love e-bikes,’ says Egger.

‘I told Mike Sinyard one day that every bike will eventually be electrically powered. We may not like it as classic riders, but if we want to grow the bike industry we have to embrace it, and in a lot of ways e-bikes can save the planet.’

The trouble with e-bikes at the moment, Egger believes, is that they aren’t cool. ‘I think making bikes look awesome is number one for me. I mean, at the moment [on an e-bike] you look like an idiot.’

In terms of aesthetics, Egger has wasted no time testing the boundaries. ‘I love motorcycles. I get a lot of motivation from them, and I have bicycles that actually are half bicycle, half motorcycle,’ he says, bringing us to what looks like a MotoGP bike, but with a set of bicycle cranks.

‘I’ve done lots of bicycle-type e-bikes, but I’m working on one now that’s a goddamn motorcycle.

’This isn’t the only artefact here that looks nothing like a bicycle. ‘I love drag bikes – that’s a drag bicycle,’ he says, pointing to a bicycle with a long nose and enormous rear spoiler. ‘It’s the world’s fastest-looking bicycle, but it’s actually quite slow.’

He walks across the room, ‘I grew up on a dairy farm so there’s my cowboy bike,’ he stands in front of a fur-lined bike with shoulder-height handlebars.

‘This is the world’s comfiest saddle, it’s a horse saddle. Cancellara loved this bike when he was here – I think he stole one of the pedals,’ he says pointing to a single pedal-cum-horseshoe.

‘He wanted it because it gives you more horsepower.’

His bikes are far from novelty alone, and one bike here symbolises a vision of the future of cycling with incredible clarity. It catches Egger’s eye, and he make a dash toward it.

‘This is a bike I designed last year,’ he explains. ‘Well you know, the UCI – I’m not a big fan. So this bike is everything the UCI doesn’t want you to do – the ‘Eff You See Eye’ [fUCI].’

With a giant rear four-spoke wheel, an aero visor on the front, and a stark fluro orange colour scheme, it can’t be missed. ‘Everything is run from your phone,’ Egger explains.

‘This one is made of various plastics, fibreglass and carbon, but we actually made a functional wheel and it’s fast. It acts as a flywheel, the engine gets it up to speed and then the rider takes over. So it’s a very efficient use of energy. There’s actually a motor in it but I can’t say anything about it.’

‘But I was telling you about the bike that could save the planet,’ he says, directing us to the CUB – Cool Urban Bike.

‘Young people don’t want the burden of owning a car, plus you’re living in a place where there’s mass-transit. So instead of a car you can have a CUB.

'Basically you buy a chassis and you can customise it with all these different options – it could be fenders, a double saddle to take your kid to school, storage, various panniers and pods.

'There’s a motorcycle-style kickstand and a lock that pulls right out of the frame. If you had this bike in San Fransciso you wouldn’t need a car.'

Now that sounds practical, but why does Egger take the time to build all the other, off-the-wall bikes.

‘Why? Just to piss off and have fun.’

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