To many people a bike is a utilitarian device. It is something that takes the rider from one place to another. For others the bike is a training tool, a race machine and respected for its craftsmanship. Then there are those such as Paolo De Giusti, an Italian art director and designer, who see the bicycle as a work of art.
De Giusti may not have looked to reinvent the wheel, but this Italian designer did recreate what a bicycle can look like with the XXXVI DG – a Roman sounding name that is actually denotes the 36-inch wheel size.
As he noted on his website, the XXXVI DG features two wheels, two pedals and one seat. That might be where the traditional ends and the inspirational begins as the frames takes its shape away from the expected geometry and instead features asymmetric aesthetics.
Asymmetry on wheels
“I love all the bicycles, I have some old Bianchi bicycles, cruisers, BMX and mountain bikes, but of course my passion is for the last category,” De Giusiti told BikeRadar. “I was looking for some information about the new trend, the mountain bike with the 29-inch wheels - more common in USA than Europe - trying to understand what was the technical reason of this choice. These wheels give a more comfortable, stable and faster ride.”
From there he started to consider that a cruiser with an even larger wheel diameter could also be a good idea.
He said this size wheel has a heritage that goes to the first bicycles – the velocipede – where the size provided greater stability. Powered by this research he set out to consider a new bicycle design, and it also coincided with the fact that last October in Italy more bicycles were sold than cars. Part of that trend was due to the economic crisis that Italy was facing, but De Giusiti thinks there is more to it, and saw the possibility to create something special.
“There is no reason to have a car, while the disadvantages of a bike are minimal in comparison to the simplicity and affordability,” he added. “The developed markets are not looking for bike of poor quality or anonymous, people will choose the bike as choosing a pair of shoes, comfortable but stylish.”
The XXXVI DG features a titanium frame with aluminum components. It offers a 1140mm wheelbase, with carbon fiber rims and 200mm aluminum hubs.
What is most unique of course is the frame design, which conjures references of an M.C. Escher painting, but the bike’s designer said this wasn’t intentional.
“I don’t like too much decorations or direct reference to ‘external’ sources of inspiration,” he said. “The final aesthetics derives from the function, the designer has to find the way to harmonize the technical limits with his personal touch, and this touch is always different, a mix of inspiration, suggestion, technical stuff, dreams and memories.”
“The seat tube is to the side of the rear wheels, it's true, and the main reason is technical: to keep the bike shorter, with this wheel it is a problem. All the frame is built around this technical solution; the top tube, the seat stays and the chain stays look like one piece,” De Giusiti. “This is to make the structure clean, but also because the reflection of light on this long shining surface is beautiful.”
From a structural point of view, the diamond frame is still respected, while the traditional triangles are closed. That said, De Giusiti does see shortcoming in his design.
“Of course the structure is not solid as a standard diamond frame, which is almost perfect,” he stressed. “But we have to consider that the XXXVI is a cruiser, not a downhill bike.”