BikeBorgs are a theoretical cycling subculture that combine aspects of cyberpunk and DIY hardware-hacking with individually modified bikes. Like The Borg of Star Trek fame, the BikeBorgs combine themselves with their machines, but these cyclists aim to explore the “possibilities and challenges of a bicycle-human hybrid,” rather than seeking to enslave mankind.
The idea of the BikeBorgs comes from a belief that in the future, fuel shortage and long-term financial instability will lead to a shift in personal transportation. In this future, bicycles are the main form of transport and due to the high cost of fuel, cars are a luxury for the super rich. Unfortunately for cyclists, environmental damage and pollution forces them to wear breathing masks and constantly monitor the world around them. That is why the suits of the BikeBorgs can not only be considered practical, but also aim to reflect the rider’s social status and personal expression.
The concept came from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design which theorized that mega-cities such as London and New York would inevitably be populated by millions of cyclists. These cyclists also form bike-focused subcultures and the BikeBorgs are just one example of this, albeit a group that infuse their clothing with a cyberpunk edge.
It is not just about clothing however. The BikeBorgs are also ‘physically’ connecting to their bike, allowing them to transfer data and energy between themselves and their transport. The whole partnership creates a self-sustaining system as the bike generates energy from the rider in the form of body heat and cycling power.
Implementing open-source hardware and software, the BikeBorg riders also adapt their bikes with a multitude of sensors and actuators to cater to a variety of needs. Among the theorized modifications include sensors that measure the level of pollutants that the individual has been exposed to or adding lights to enhance hand signals.
No matter what the future holds for cyclists, The Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design has at least given us some ideas.