Lunar Vela takes “dumb” to new orbits

The designers at Lunar have made some competent designs over the years, but for some unfathomable reason it appears that their design sensibilities were overwhelmed with some desire to create meaningless modern art instead of something useful, the result of which is the Vela. What is the Vela? Here’s a photo from their official press kit.

Give up? It’s an exercise bike, of course! You should have known better. It’s entirely possible you were shut down by the thought of having to mentally list all the ways this light-weight eccentricity is flawesome.

The Premise
Here’s the challenge they took on according to the mission statement on their website:

Today‘s home training gear is designed for a professional studio environment – a habitat very different from our homes. With little adaptation of the design expression and experience, a scenario unpleasant for users has become the norm. We wanted to translate the training experience to fit the home.

We picked up the challenge to transform perceptions of sculptural training equipment specifically designed of cycle training at home by creating a new category for new progressive living environments.

I don’t think people aren’t using biking exercise equipment at home because they’re ugly or in any way shape or form unsuited for the home environment; people largely don’t exercise because they don’t want to. Or you could say that they’re lazy. The population of customers who need to shed a few pounds with some rigorous aerobic activity are not being stopped dead in their tracks because that new indoor bike they were considering doesn’t match their drapes.

A Light Show
The Vela bike seems to feature some sort of laser light show to give the rider a visual indicator of progress. You can watch the video here to shed some “light” on how it looks, but bon chance if you want to know how it works.

Since the media kit goes into little detail [read: no details] about how these lights would work, the generous assumption is that the bike emits the light itself and doesn’t require being seated on a $100,000 LCD or OLED network embedded into your floor specifically made for your Vela.

If the lights came from the bike, you have to ask… where? While there are some pretty small projectors out there, they’re no where to be found on the bike. Having minimalistic design is fine, but there needs to be space for real equipment. Modern solutions can’t ever assume magical future tech; for better or for worse, Lunar doesn’t even bother going down that path. They simply never explain how the lights work.

That’s not the only thing the Vela doesn’t explain. In fact the whole design is so confusing that Lunar should have called the whole thing the “Inexplicable” machine and passed it off as a hoax.

For an object that’s purported to be a beautiful solution to gym bikes ill-suited for the home environment, the laser light show would require a serious amount of open space. Hopefully it’s not meant to tell you anything very important, since its readability would vary wildly depending on the surface it’s reflecting off.

And where are the controls? Modern aerobic exercise equipment tend to have a plethora of options and indicators to give trainees both customization capabilities and feedback. Although it’s possible a majority of that information is superfluous to good exercise, there’s not even distance rode display.

Making something beautiful but useless should be relegated to art
But that has no place in design. The seat doesn’t appear to be adjustable. Perhaps the cables holding that disk in the middle are. Presumably that disk spins like a bicycle crank, but you’d be lucky to get it to work at all considering that it neither has pedals [edit—It actually does have pedals, from what I can see in this pic. They are Crank Brothers Egg Beaters clipless pedals. -Carl] or anything strong to keep it in place. Whoever at Lunar thought a few thin cables would be enough to keep that thing in place for aerobic activity must be out of his or her mind. Even if the disk was meant to simulate the back and forth swing of a cyclist on a real bicycle, it would need to be more more stable. Even the performers in Circe du Soleil couldn’t use this thing.

Offensively pointless exercise in bad design
We should count our collective blessings this thing doesn’t charge via USB. This thing might look like a work of art, but it doesn’t function like a real design. It’s plain to see the only real constraint to this project was the mission to make something resembling an abstract of an exercise bike. Ultimately Lunar managed to deliver on the form of an art piece [though that’s debatable] and arguably nothing else. It might be a good idea to think of new ways to encourage people to exercise at home, or create exercise equipment that fits better within a home setting, but the Lunar Vela is not an example of those ideas.

VIA Lunar Europe