Not a whole lot has changed since the development of the bicycle around two centuries ago. Near the end of the 19th century we moved away from those bicycles with the absurdly large front wheel and that seemed to be enough.

Sure there have been massive strides in performance technology and certain novel variations such as the recumbent and tandem bikes, but the fundamentals were pretty much kept intact. Now, a Japanese group has come up with a revolutionary redesign of the bicycle which they hope brings joy to riders and all who are around them. Unfortunately many who saw the commercial for it felt the opposite.

The Walking Bicycle Club (WBC) is basically what the name implies. It’s a bicycle (or tricycle rather) that you move by pumping your legs straight up and down in a movement kind of like walking. It also has an electric motor which assists when going up hills.

The makers say their goal was to create an experience that combines the simple pleasure of taking a walking with the convenient speed of riding a bike. They say that the WBC can reach speeds comparable to a regular bike. Just by looking at it, it seems this device may be considerably safer than a regular bike too. Since you’re in an upright position it could be easy to jump out of the way of possible trouble.

On the other hand, the WBC doesn’t require a license like normal bicycles in Japan do, but it’s designed to the same specifications for use on the streets.

This all sounds like an intriguing idea at least worth checking out, but online reaction to the invention was not kind with comments such as:

“Don’t people ride a bike because they don’t want to walk? This is absurd.”

“The video is really tranquil and stylish but she looks incredibly goofy riding that thing. The whole thing together is kind of surreal.”

“It seems like it can run as well as a regular road bike. And you can probably ride it onto an elevator. A new way to annoy people?”

“If I parked that with the other bicycles it’d probably get stolen soon.”

“It looks like one of those things you ride at an amusement park. Kids would probably like it.”

“It’s interesting, but I don’t want to stand out.”

“It’s no good for long distances since you can’t sit down, and for short distances you might as well walk.”

“It’s like a piece of gym equipment.”

It’s possible the flood of negative Nancies came as a result of the promotional video which is a minute and a half of nothing in particular happening until the final ten seconds where you actually see the woman ride the thing. Several comments slammed the video specifically calling it “annoying.” It also aroused suspicion in the minds of viewers using the logic that if they don’t show it working, it probably doesn’t work very well.

However, among these complaints were some reminding everyone to keep an open mind and even a few who said they’d get one if the price is right. That price is expected to be 290,000 yen (US$2,800), which means the WBC would have to be one hell of a ride for that to be right.

But it looks like we’ll all just have to wait until July when the first WBC showroom opens in the Omotesando area of Tokyo. There they will offer test rides and take pre-orders for the October 2014 launch. Hopefully a new commercial will come before then too.

Source: Walking Bicycle Club via Hachima Kiko (Japanese)