Feature: Innovative bikes in Geneva's latest exhibition of inventions

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A revolutionary joystick bike was amongst the 1,000 inventions from 45 different countries showcased at the 43rd International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva this week.

Inventor Yvan Forclaz believes his new bike model, which uses a laterally-placed joystick to steer, "is a worldwide revolution," as it may make handlebars on motorbikes, motor scooters and bicycles obsolete in the future.

The novelty factor is indeed tangible: Forclaz said that he was inspired by his passion for free flying and motor biking experience when conceiving the model.

The steering is done via mechanical connections which link the joystick to the front wheel.

This prototype, which combines both standard pedals and a rear-mounted 400 watt electric motor, can reach a speed of 60 km per hour.

Forclaz gave a demonstration which highlighted both the speed and manoeuvrability of the bike, whose user sits on a seat specially created to give an enhanced reclined riding position.

Combined with the joystick, this set-up not only increases the overall comfort but heightens the speed sensation. According to Forclaz, the driving experience of the bike was akin to "playing a computer game, giving the impression of flying."

He did warn however that "a little practice is needed to master the commands."

Patented since the end of 2014, this is the first time the joystick bike was presented to the public.

For inventors such as Forclaz, the exhibition, the most important of its kind in the world, presents an ideal forum to link up with possible investors, businesses and the general public.

Ergonomics and efficiency were in the minds of many this year, as IXOW, a specialised business seeking to simplify bicycle usage through a variety of products, gave Xinhua an insightful introduction to the innovative and user-friendly Synchrobox.

This invention, developed in cooperation with Franck Savard, enables users to change gears intuitively and spontaneously without worrying about crossing the chain, as one shifter simultaneously adjusts both derailleurs.

A few stalls across, Australian inventor Peter Bortolin presented a specialised kit to be attached to bicycles so as to exploit the rider's weight to generate up to 70 percent extra torque compared to conventional mechanisms.

Mechanics aside, cycling safety was also featured, with an ingenuous device put on show by a Spanish stall which enables car-drivers to pick up signals emitted by transmitters fitted on cyclists' handlebars.

Upon picking up the cyclist's radio frequency, from as far away as 300 metres depending on the topography of the area, the receivers placed inside cars will emit a flashing LED light as well as beeps to warn drivers of the presence of cyclists, thus avoiding potential accidents.

Comfort, efficiency, novelty and safety all seemed to be at the heart of the projects put forward by these bike stalls -- given the number of cyclists and two-wheel enthusiasts in the world, their presence is hardly surprising.

An 85-strong international jury of specialists will carefully evaluate each exhibited invention to decide which ones deserve the coveted prizes on offer.

According to President Jean-Luc Vincent, Founder of the Exhibition, some 60,000 visitors from five continents are expected to visit the event during the exhibition. Endtie

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