The role of an industrial designer is often overlooked, also in the world of biking. The real magic about urban cycling is that you can turn what for many people is just a necessary evil, commuting, into a highlight of the day. Norwegian industrial designer Torgny Fjeldskaar from Larvik has revolutionized the image of this modern vehicle. He has designed the most iconic bikes of the past two decades.
Norwegian industrial designer Torgny Fjeldskaar was the lead designer at the Swiss bike producer BMC for five years and among his brilliant designs are the Roadmachine, the original Cannondale SystemSix and the Teammachine.
First time I heard about Torgny Fjeldskaar was back in the early 2000s, when I read a report from one of the world’s biggest bike shows, Eurobike. He was showcasing a cutting-edge concept bike for the US bike company Cannondale. In a press-release from the exhibition, his bike was described as ‘a radical geometry-shifting machine that could morph from a flat-out-time-trail machine into a more upright comfortable one’. It was space-age stuff.
In 2022, the Italian bicycle company Colnago hired Torgny Fjeldskaar to design a brand-new race bike that the UAE Team Emirates would have at their disposal. It was designed for Pogačar to use in his bid to win a third Tour. However, fans of classic Colnagos might have thought that Fjeldskaar’s signature angular design features were a little alien.
Today, bikes aren’t just great to ride, but also look great and set the pulse racing. With carbon fiber and the latest engineering advancements allowing for increasingly complex bikes, the role of the industrial designer is more influential than ever.
Torgny got his first bike at the age of five and it has been his main mode of transport ever since. For many years he was a paper delivery boy so he got used to riding in all sorts of Norwegian weather early on.
“You basically get as wet as in the UK but quite a bit colder!” he once said in an interview. At the age of 10 he got his first road bike, and as a teenager he got into the then big, new trend of mountain biking and later-on some gravel touring. “We didn’t know it was called gravel at the time,” he laughs. Torgny has always loved the design simplicity of bicycles and conversely the changes that mountain bikes brought.
Related: Mountain Biking in Norway
Torgny Fjeldskaar studied mechanical engineering in Trondheim, Norway followed by a masters in transport vehicle design in Barcelona for two years. His first job after graduating was in automotive design at Mazda’s European Design Centre in Frankfurt, a place he really enjoyed working and he says he learned a lot from helpful colleagues.
“As for longevity and trends, my hope is that we get to a situation where large bike manufacturers start picking up more of the current zeitgeist and continue to put more focus towards developing products that won’t get obsolete that fast,” Torgny says.
Norwegian Industrial Designer Has Designed the Most Iconic Bikes of the Past Two Decades, written by Tor Kjolberg.
Feature image (on top): The press release image from 2014.