Designed for All: Modular Bicycle Frame

August saw the launch of Open Design Cape Town –  a citywide cross-disciplinary celebration and sharing of design and design-thinking. At the heart of the week long event was the Design for All exhibition, showcasing a collection of inspiring, socially relevant and locally designed projects, from lifesaving innovations to mobility solutions.

Over the next few weeks we will explore some of these world-changing Mobility designs that have the ability to change the way we move, work and play.

In the spirit of Design for All we kick off with what has to be one of the most exciting projects – the MODULAR BICYCLE FRAME. Designed by …XYZ this flexible non-motorised transport design can be easily and affordably modified by the user to meet specific needs; without requiring specialist skills or components.

The bicycle was developed as part of an Icsid-endorsed Interdesign workshop to explore mobility solutions for rural communities in South Africa; where there is limited access to public transport or motorized vehicles.


Targeted communities were consulted and included in the design process to ensure the design met their specific needs. Design criteria required that the bicycle be easy to build, maintain and repair in an isolated rural environment. Components were to be “off-the-shelf” – easy to access and assemble and the bicycle should not use gears.


XYZ Design’s solution is a modular bicycle that can be assembled in a variety of ways e.g. it can be a conventional two-wheeler, or it can turned into a tricycle, a tandem, or even two side-by-side bicycles with a materials-carrying platform bolted between them. Many of the materials are recycled and the bicycle can be built for both male and female cyclists.


The MODULAR BICYCLE has the potential to unlock economic development in rural areas where the lack of affordable, viable transport usually limits opportunities. The design itself offers opportunities for rural entrepreneurial development e.g. small businesses could be established around the assembly and stocking of bicycle components as well as bicycle repairs.


The MODULAR BICYCLE has been chosen for inclusion in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s 2011 “Design with the Other 90%: CITIES” exhibition series.





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