In the last decade there has been a trend toward mountain bikes with larger wheels, these are known as 29ers as opposed to the standard 26" wheel of a let's say "ordinary" mountain bikes. Road bikes have not featured new tire sizes in a long time. Today's standard road bike wheel is a usually 26" or 27" (650c or 700c). The gas price crunch over the past 5 years has really re-kindled American's interest in bicycles, and I love the fact that designers are now taking some chances with new ideas and prototypes.
A great example of this trend comes from Grand Rapids, Michigan industrial design house JRuiter. Designer Joey Ruiter and staff have come up with a cool, minimalist design that incorporates many aspects of early and modern bikes. Behold! I give you the Inner City Bike 36er! Check this thing out, it is a direct drive road monster!
It looks a bit precarious, and those tires are really close together, but you've got to love the forward thinking design. I am also psyched that this came out of the state of Michigan, where so much engineering and manufacturing innovation has occurred in this country. When I look at this prototype, I see a nod to the basic black simplicity and function of Henry Ford's Model T. His famous quote from 1909 applies here, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so as long as it is black." Nice work Joey and company, I hope to see your design available in bike stores all over the country very soon!