John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Toilet Tuesday checks in on the always-exciting Japanese bathroom scene.
Plumbing manufacturer Toto seems very concerned, judging from the disclaimer on its website, that people might think it's birthed the world's first poop-powered motorcycle. And such confusion is certainly possible, given that it's built a bike with a toilet bowl for a seat and is touring it around Japan.
But sadly for potential fans of the ultimate thrill – dropping a deuce while performing a 90-m.p.h. wheelie – the Toilet Bike Neo runs on biogas produced from cattle manure and household wastewater collected in Kobe and Hokkaido. Thus, it's a totally valid environmental effort and not something to be giggled over or subjected to demeaning headlines like "The Wild One Meets Number Two."
Toto spawned the Toilet Bike as a marketing tool for an earth-friendly plumbing campaign. The company hopes to reduce by half the CO2 emissions from its various fixtures by 2017, either by designing more efficient commodes or using a newfangled "photocatalyst paint" that scrubs air of nitrogen oxides. The motorcycle's seat is modeled on one of Toto's world-saving crappers, called the Neo Version 2, that includes 23 separate functions – seemingly everything you would need in a toilet unless you wanted to take it to the highway. That advanced feature was implemented with the help of three wheels and a 250cc engine, creating a stylish ride that dudes would definitely not want to ride cupcake on.
And why yes, the Toilet Bike does have its own theme song: