Technology

Why walk on water when you can cycle?

© RedShark Bikes
Written by Joe Svetlik
He’s designed supercars and concept motorbikes, but this man’s latest creation is a bike you can ride on water.
Good things can come from the direst of circumstances. Just ask Josep Rubau, the CEO of RedShark Bikes. After falling off his bike while practising downhill cycling in the Pyrenees, the Spanish-born designer was laid up for a period of recovery.
“It was a really bad fall,” he tells us at his HQ in Roses, on the Costa Brava, about a two-hour drive from Barcelona. “I broke my elbow. I couldn’t get on my bike again for a whole year.”
This prompted Rabau to think about how to strip the danger out of cycling. “I became more conscious of my body,” he says, “and how I could still cycle but with less risk.”
A closeup of the RedShark Bike
RedShark Bikes handlebars
His solution? A pedal-powered trimaran – essentially a bicycle you ride on water. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a bike capable of riding the waves – that honour goes to the Manta5 Hydrofoil XE-1 bike, but the ability to cross water using only pedal power never fails to impress. It works just like a bike – you pedal to go forward, turn left to go left and right to go right. To brake, you pedal backwards. And that’s all there is to it.
“It’s very easy to learn, and that’s intentional,” Rubau says. “If you can ride a bike, you can ride a RedShark Bike.” In fact, it’s even easier, because balance is taken out of the equation.
RedShark Bikes come in three models. The Sport model is aimed at people wanting to train for fitness, but who want a different view than their usual road routes or the exercise bike in the gym. The Adventure model is for those looking to explore and discover the coastline; it’s made of harder-wearing material and has a range of accessories “so you can sleep under the stars”, Rubau says. Then there’s the Fun model. As the name suggests, this is aimed at those wanting a more social experience, maybe going out as a family or with friends.
They come at a price. The Fun model costs €4,995 ($5,812 US), the Adventure is €6,995 ($8,139 US) and the Sport €9,995 ($11,630 US). So a RedShark Bike is a premium piece of kit.
A shot of the RedShark Bike’s pedals
Just like a normal bike...
It’s been in the works a long time; Rubau’s accident was six years ago, and he estimates he’s been working on RedShark for about five years. “It’s a long time, but I’m a perfectionist,” he says. “To me, it’s important to make sure every detail is just right.”
It shows – every aspect of the bikes have been designed with military-style precision. The Fun and Adventure models are made from high-density polyethylene, while the Sport is made of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre to help make it speedier. The Adventure model’s accessories include frame-mounted packs and a watertight bin for taking extra kit out into the wilderness. Its hulls are also protected with thicker plastic.
You can customise them too. You can upgrade either the Fun or Adventure models to carbon fibre, for a quicker ride.
Each model has a retractable rudder, a drive shaft that’s resistant to salt water, and stainless steel nuts and bolts. They fold down to fit on a standard bike rack, so transporting them won’t be an issue. Plus they have a small set of wheels built into the main hull for rolling them from your car to the water’s edge.
A side view of the RedShark Bike
The side of the RedShark Bike
This attention to detail has stood Rubau in good stead throughout his career. He got his Masters from the Royal College of Art in London, before working at Volkswagen’s Advanced Design Studio in Germany. While there, he came up with a new design for the iconic VW Beetle. His other work includes the Miura (a concept super bike from the turn of the century), and the AD Tramantana (a custom-built supercar that looks like a Formula One racer). So it’s safe to say he knows his stuff.
His design team are similarly well-versed. Some of them have worked on yachts that have sailed in the America’s Cup, while others have a background in motorbikes. Which is a great mix when you’re working on a seafaring bike.
RedShark Bikes has also been a homecoming for Rubau. It’s based in the same town he grew up in, which means he’s able to spend more time with his family. He describes them as one of his passions, alongside designing and bikes, of course. With a product like this, we’d say it’s a triumphant return.