As a student, Rik Maes built the bicycle of the future

(23-04-2021) As a big cycling fan, he was able to build the bicycle of the future for Germany's largest bicycle manufacturer. The perfect ending to his studies in industrial design at the UGent Campus Kortrijk.

Having the opportunity during your education to immediately apply what you have learned to your great passion: it happened to Rik Maes. As a big cycling fan, he was able to build the bicycle of the future for Germany's largest bicycle manufacturer. The perfect ending to his studies in industrial design at the UGent Campus Kortrijk.

"When I attended the Info Day at Campus Kortrijk years ago, I saw students who were doing their master's thesis at renowned bicycle manufacturers. I realised right then that I wanted to do the same. After a long search, many unanswered e-mails and negative responses, I came into contact with Derby Cycle, the largest bicycle manufacturer in Germany. It was a dream come true.

A bike with all possible gadgets

Rik finally got to work at Kalkhoff, one of Derby Cycle's brands. "It was a fantastic experience. I was allowed to apply everything I had learned during my studies. My task was to streamline the design language - the external features of their models - and make it understandable for the entire team. We are still developing the tools for this," he proudly says. There was also a fun extra to working out those tools. "Building the bike of the future, to see whether the tools we developed can also be applied to a real product. The result is a concept bike that charges wirelessly and has hidden removable batteries, a super-quiet drive, a suspension that adjusts to your weight ..."

The idea is not just on paper or in a 3D model on the computer. Rik got the chance to 3D print the bike in real life: "You can't ride it, but we allowed dealers to give their reactions to the technologies we incorporated in the bike. Which do they prefer, and which do they find less important? The results of the survey are only now coming in and we are processing them." So the dream continues, as Rik got a permanent job with the company and now lives in Germany.

Studying in Kortrijk

"I lived in Westerlo, so going to study in Kortrijk was not an easy choice. Certainly not because I hesitated between studying close to home or industrial sciences in Kortrijk. Because I wanted to graduate as an industrial engineer, I chose Kortrijk anyway, because in Antwerp the training is not that practice-oriented. In Kortrijk, you get the chance to make, draw and build things yourself. The workshops have laser cutters and CNC machines. That is really nice. That was the deciding factor for me."

"Kortrijk may not be a big city, but you really get around as a student. It may be smaller than Ghent or Brussels, but if you want to, there is certainly enough to do here (laughs)."