I came across these two fascinating takes on traditional machinery a week or so ago (from the excellent blog Laughing Squid) and thought I'd - what's the word... reblog(?) them to my readers here, so much did they tickle my fancy. They are not related to each other in any way, so no bicycle-powered player-piano I'm afraid (although I still maintain this would be a good idea and formally lay claim to it) but I decided in that I'd get one good post out of the pair of them rather than two lesser posts.
First up is the player-piano. Stanley. I like the sound of him already. Literally. Stanley isn't just any old player-piano, though. Thanks to a "creative agency" (whatever that is) and the wonders of modern technology, Stanley has been retro-fitted with a computer and associated electrickery which allows it to... play any song, requested by anyone, via Twitter (I knew there'd be a use found for Twitter one of these days - lo and behold a piano-player remote control). Of course to get the full effect one really needs to be at Stanley's location in Seattle but still, it's a clever little bit of retro-technology fun for a Sunday I thought.
The bicycle of the title is a far more serious, practical proposition that deserves to do well. The Faraday Porteur may at first glance look like a reasonably ordinary bicycle but upon closer inspection it reveals itself to be anything but. For one thing it is electrically-assisted but, unlike current electric bicycles with their thick heavy battery packs bolted onto the diagonal down tube, the Faraday's state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries are integrated into the standard-sized double top tubes. This makes it light enough to carry and less ungainly to look at, while still providing up to 15 miles of assisted travel. It has a few other deft little touches too, like the integrated LED lamps and - on this Porteur model - a handlebar-mounted rack capable of carrying up to 30lbs.
Forgive me if I sound like an advertisement for that is not my intention (although if they want to send me one over for evaluation I won't say no!) but the Faraday appears to me to be possibly the best execution of an electric bike I've seen so far - and by Jove do I like the look of it! Wonderful vintage touches abound, from the basket-holder at the front through the wooden mudguards to the beautiful leather on the handlebars, top tubes and saddle.
Both of these machines are yet more sterling examples of tried and tested technology updated for the 21st century but where Stanley is no more than an amusing - albeit appealingly clever - oddity the Faraday has true potential, successfully and completely merging the best of past and future. I hear good things about Kickstarter and in fact I see that the company has already raised more than the $100,000 it needs to begin the first production run. I wish them every success and would love to see more stylish Faradays not just in America but all over the world. Good luck, chaps, and well done!