Kia's designer Peter Schreyer, who was headhunted from Audi, is responsible for the South Korean automaker's latest pair of vehicles. The two-wheelers, while seemingly not suitable, are a sign of the company's beginnings, however, as Kia started producing steel tubing and other parts for bicycles back in 1944.
The K Velo series of bicycles is kicked off by the utilitarian City version and the more "performance-oriented" Speed model. Both use aluminum for the frame materials and ride on smallish 20-inch wheels. In comparison, traditional, adult-sized mountain bikes ride on 26-inch wheels, with 29-inch becoming ever more popular as well. The City has 11 gears in a hub system (modern mountain bikes have at least 24, with 27 common as well) along with a cargo basket and fenders for use in rainy weather. The Speed is lighter and does without the basket, which sports a design that mimics Kia's tiger-nosed radiator grille. It also appears to have no gears, being fixed drive.
Schreyer worked with Korean bicycle manufacturer Samchully on the bikes over the course of 13 months.
The project is meant to try to appeal to urbanites to take a bicycle on short trips rather than a car in order to help ease congestion and protect the environment.
The bikes can be purchased only in Korea at this time, with prices set at the equivalent of about $1,400 for the City and $1,000 for the Speed. The company also offers less expensive folding bikes in the Soul series.