Visit Amsterdam, or any city or town in the cycling mad country of the Netherlands, and one of the first things you will notice is the profusion of bikes. They are everywhere and everyone—regardless of age—is riding one of the upright, bombproof, quintessential European city bikes that all seem to sport baskets, racks and a nice loud bell.
Detroit-based designer Eric Strebe used the Amsterdam city bike as his inspiration for his newest creation, an all-electric three-wheeled trike called the Willow.
Strebe sees the Willow as a do-everything, multipurpose run-about that’s perfectly at home in a tightly-packed city with a maze of narrow streets and a lack of parking. Since owning a car in the heart of Amsterdam can be more trouble than its worth, Strebe sees the Willow not as an alternative to the car, but as an alternative to the bike—emissionless, quick, easy-to-drive and easy to park.
What really sets the Willow apart from some other city-specific electric scooters and bikes are the wild materials Strebe used in its construction. The trike is made from laminated and sealed wood creating a sturdy cost-effective frame featuring a front hubless wheel basket and recycled airless tires. Storage baskets in the front and rear are made of native European willow using local flexible manufacturing. Strebe says he took great care to use local, sustainable materials such as wood, metal and natural fibers while virgin plastics were avoided at all cost. Only the wheels are made from recycled rubber.
Aside from its gorgeous, handcrafted look, the Willow features seating for two and a scooter-like front frame an steering controls. The bike features dual electric motors and independent rear suspension for comfort and stable handling. The Willow also boasts a smart phone app to manage your charging voltage and navigation during driving.
While there are no plans in the works to manufacture Strebe’s concept, he has entered it in the Shell Game Changer contest. “I just did not want to use any plastic, so I tried to use sustainable materials,” Strebe wrote on the Game Changer website. “The wood and metal and natural fiber make so much sense on so many levels, they are just a bit different than what we are used to, our planet is fragile and we need to do a better job and think a bit more long term than always near term/ profit first or we are doomed.”