Fabian Breës's profile

PLKN - A Modular eBike

Industrial Design
P E L I K A N 

Bikes are the greatest transportation invention since the wheel itself. They fascinate me more than any other mode of transport. It's just baffling that humans have succesfully created a type of mobility that is faster, and lighter than running, that is surpringly pure and simple in construction, and that runs without the help of any external power source or special infrastructure. Furthermore it is inexpensive, versatile, and healthy. Because of this purity that classic bikes posess, it took me a while to get used to the thought of an electric bicycle. That sentiment was not helped by the fact that many of the first generation eBikes were merely regular bike frames with  battery packs slapped onto the luggage carrier. Some clunky flange held a mid drive motor in place and you had yourself an eBike. It took a few years and a few daring manufacturers before eBikes came into their own. The market began to spawn models of unique shapes and sizes, with beautifully integrated electrical drivetrains. Today the movement seems to curve backwards. As technology grows smaller and smaller, it seems that eBikes are trying very hard to hide the fact that they are electric. New and clever ways are devised to integrate batteries and motors into the tubing, making the e-bike seem like a regular bicycle.

The aim of this project is not to criticize that movement, but I had to explore the exact opposite direction. eBikes are their own vehicle category. They might as well look unique. That sentiment was the basis for this project: a unique bicycle with a sculpted body somewhere between motorcycle and bicycle. Instead of hiding all electronic elements I wanted to use the battery and the motor as visual centerpieces for the bike.

D E S I G N   P H I L O S O P H Y

I wanted to create a bike with a body. Not just a couple of tubes dressed in a few hip colours, but an actual body with actual design in it... and then add a few hip colours. I gave myself the freedom to shape its components to my liking and not bother with production costs. I decided to make the more prominent parts of the design in the early phases: An elegant, visible motor and a large battery pack that makes up most of the bodywork. The setup was clear from the start: a dynamic flowing line right from the headtube into the muscular chain stays. No seat stays, no downtube. A design made up from hard, pure lines.

When I began sketching, my personal vision was to design the iPod of eBikes: A bulky block with minimal design features and a bright colour palette. It didn't really work the way I intended, and I got bored of it awfully fast.

IMAGE 1 Some of those old 2015 sketches

L O N G - H A U L   B A T T E R Y

It makes little sense to carry around spare batteries in your backpack while riding. Then came a better idea: the Long-Haul Battery!

Rather then chaining the same battery pack several times to extend your range, The bike supports two types of batteries: A smaller, elegant pack for commuters and urban cyclists, and a large, rugged battery for the long-distance travelers and speed junkies.

Explorations on the bike with the long-haul battery pack equipped.

S P E E D E L E C   D R I V E   W H E E L

Well I had given the battery so much attention: I could not just ignore the hub motor at this point. The decision came to me the moment I started work on it: "I have two batteries. Guess I'll have two hub motors as well."

The bike works by means of a exchangeable Drive Wheel. The standard rear wheel includes a hub motor with a 25km/h top speed. The wheel can be taken off entirely and replaced with the Speedelec Drive Wheel. This wheel includes a heavier hub drive, as well as an internal battery pack to compensate for the extra  power requirements.


I needed a name for this product. After a bit of thinking I came up with 'PELIKAN'. The fact that the bodywork could expand -like a pelican's beak- to hold extra battery range motivated the name choice and also they’re fun animals. I discovered later that there are other bicycle products with similar names, including the Dutch brand 'PELIKAAN', but since this is a purely fictional, non-commercial project I didn't bother too much. Should PELIKAAN-employees come across this however: Like what you see? Don't forget to give me a call!

G E N E R A L   O V E R V I E W


U R B A N   E X P L O R E R   S E R I E S
City-proof versions of the bike

Even though I liked the original design of the bike with its flashy colours and agressive shapes, it would require a different paintscheme if it was to be used in a city setting. These urban versions of the bike gave me the welcome opportunity to explore a more peaceful colour palette. In total three colour options were conceived: Jet Black, Serious Cyan and Beautiful Beige. Seat material and hand grips can be customized in grey felt, or brown leather. Which option do you like best?

T R A I L B L A Z E R   E D I T I O N

Having done all that, I just got curious if it would be possible to convert the design to a mountain bike without too much trouble. The idea is that you could easily swap out the rear triangle with a mountainbike suspension, and wheels to go with it. More coming soon!

T H A N K   Y O U !

Oh, and I'm starting an Instagram page for my design work!

PLKN - A Modular eBike


Project Made For

PLKN - A Modular eBike

This is a conceptual study of what could constitute a modular eBike. It consists of interchangeable building blocks to fit the needs of various t Read More