Folding Bike News
A-bike Redux - Electric Version
The original A-bike was invented by Sir Clive Sinclair in the United Kingdom and introduced to the market in 2006. It was a very compact folder that weighed only 5.5 kg (12 lbs). Due to its small 6" wheels, it had a fairly rough ride on uneven terrain. A version with a bit larger 8" wheels, the A-bike City, was introduced later in an attempt to overcome the ride quality issue. Fast forward to today and a Kickstarter campaign has been launched to bring an electric version of the A-bike to market in the fall of 2015. It will feature a detachable lithium battery and a brushless DC motor that is said to give a 15 mile (25 km) range and a top speed of 12.5mph (20km/h). Touted as the "the world's lightest and most compact electric folding bike" it weighs 26lbs (12kg) and has a folded dimension of 8.3" x 15.8" x 27.6" (21cm x 40cm x 70cm). Retail pricing of the A-bike Electric is projected to be £699 / $1089.
Target & Sports Authority to Carry Folding Bikes
Target and Sports Authority have entered into a retailing agreement with Durban Bikes, a Brazilian company, to sell their folding bikes. Target will carry Durban Bikes full line with prices ranging from $249.99 to $499.99 and will feature them with sale pricing during National Bike Month in May. Sports Authority will carry a more limited range of models in select stores across the U.S.
Helix - New Crowd Funded Folding Bike
Helix, a Canadian bicycle start-up based in Toronto has designed a new titanium folding bike with a novel fold. Starting with a design premise that it should fold down to the most compact size possible (essentially the size of its wheels) it does achieve a fairly compact fold size of just 23"x25"x9". This is with 24" wheels which are larger than most compact folding bikes. For comparison, a Brompton, widely considered to be one of the most compact folders, folds down to 23"x21.5"x10.6" but is uses 16" wheels, considerably smaller than those on the Helix.
As one would expect, the use of titanium does result in a fairly lightweight bike - 21 lbs or 9.5 kg. The bike has a 9-speed gear train, disc brakes, and employs a patent pending locking mechanism with a secondary safety. Due to the fact that the fold isn't in the main frame, this should allow for a more solid feel to the ride. Helix will be coming to Kickstarter soon with an opportunity to order at a price starting at $1199 USD.
Montague Announces ALPHA Folding Bike
Montague is adding to its line of full-size folding bikes with the ALPHA model that was announced at Interbike 2014. The ALPHA features a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub along with a Gates CDX CenterTrack belt drive, 700c wheels with 38mm tires, and Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes. MSRP is listed at $1,750.00.
Dahon Announcements - Eurobike 2014
Dahon made quite a few product announcements to coincide with Eurobike 2014. New for the 2015 product line will be the Clinch (shown above), the Qix, the EEZZ 3-speed, the Ciao Electric, and at long last, the Curl. The Curl has been in development for several years and has been available in China but it will finally get wider distribution. The Curl is Dahon's answer to the Brompton as they are very similar in the way they fold and in the compactness of the fold. A video of these new bikes follow below. Also announced was the doubling in size of manufacturing facilities in China, due to a growth rate of 15-20% per year over the last five years, and the entrance into the traditional full-size bicycle market which will include "Ford" branded bikes through a partnership with the Ford Motor Company.
Graziella Celebrates 50 Years
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of one of the most iconic folding bikes ever made, Graziella has produced a special edition version with a 24-carat gold plated frame and walnut burl powder-coated varnish trim. Conceived by noted Italian designer Rinaldo Donzelli and introduced in 1964, the Graziella became synonymous with folding bikes since it was the first one most people had ever seen before and they were exported to dozens of countries. Many are still ridden to this day. Brigitte Bardot helped bring notoriety to the bike by starring in an advertising campaign proclaiming Graziella, "The Rolls Royce of Brigitte Bardot". Salvador Dali was known to ride a Graziella as well. The bike's simple U-shaped design inspired many other copycat folding bikes that proliferated in the 1970's. While the special edition is not for sale, an updated homage to the original can be purchased for 699.00€. One of the new models is named the "Brigitte" another the "Salvador" in honor of these two famous folding cyclists who helped popularize the original Graziella.
Bike Intermodal Announces Folding Bike Prototype
Bike Intermodal, a European Union funded project to study the multi-modal integration of cycling mobility, has developed a new folding bike prototype that weighs as little as 7.5kg (16.5lbs) and folds down to a size of 50 cm x 40 cm x 15 cm. The bicycle is designed with a pre-stressed frame that opens and closes like an aircraft landing gear made of die cast aluminum or magnesium and sailing-grade cables. The bike is also designed to accomodate an electric assist motor. More »
IFMove Nominated by the Design Museum
The IFMove folding bike from Pacific Cycles was nominated as the Design of the Year in the transport category by the Design Museum in London. A previous Red Dot Award winner, the IFMove has 20" wheels, disc brakes, 9-speeds, weighs 11.8kg (26lbs) and retails for $1930.00.
Bike Friday Launches Bike Builder
Bike Friday has launched a Bike Builder to help its customers design and order a customized folding bike that best fits their needs. The on-line configurator, still in beta, can be found here.
The Most Compact Folding Bike?
FUBi, a Finnish company, has designed what it claims to be the world's most compact, full-sized foldable bicycle. This was achieved by having the bike's tube frame components all fold as parallel to each other as possible. With the design finished, FUBi has launched an Indiegogo campaign to put the bike into production in both aluminum and titanium.
The Kwiggle Bike, seen below, claims (unverified) to currently be the world's most compact small-wheeled folding bike.
Return of the MicroBike?
Innovations are exactly what the word says, new things and functions. Often this creates a problem for the inventor with the ambition to become an entrepreneur. It is not unusual that it may take many years or even decades for others to adopt, especially if the innovation seeks to alter the behavior of the customer.
Now the inventors behind the MicroBike, invented 1986, feel that the timing may be good for its revival. Between 1987 and 1993, they manufactured and sold some 16,000 MicroBikes in Europe, USA, Japan and other markets. The reason for contemplating a revival is that they are getting more and more contacts from people still using their MicroBike and those people meet other people that also want to buy one.
The special thing with the MicroBike is that it was invented and designed exclusively to optimize a person's transport with buses, trams and the subway. This takes special considerations which resulted in an unconventional design to allow extremely quick folding and unfolding and to allow the user to sit in a seat with the bike. It is also quite effective for use with trains and cars.
For those interested in seeing a revival of the MicroBike, pay a visit to www.microbike.se and let them know that you want one.
New French Folder
The French bicycle company B'TWIN recently introduced a new folding bike called the Tilt. The Tilt features an innovative patented folding mechanism, in-frame headlight and a belt drive. As can be seen in the video above, the bike folds very quickly and they tout it as "the one second bike". The Tilt comes in 3 models and 8 colors ranging in price from 399.95 € to 699.95 €.
Montague Introduces Frame Program
Starting in 2013, Montague will begin selling framesets along with the rest of their full-size folding bike product line. Three different frame styles will be offered: two pavement-style frames, one with horizontal dropouts and one with vertical dropouts, and one mountain bike frame. This move will be a boon to those that want to pick and choose their own components to create their perfect folding bike. More info can be found here.
Tern - The New Folder On The Block
Tern, a new folding bike brand that was introduced to the public a few months ago at an unveiling event in Taipei, has begun shipping bikes. The Tern product line consists of 22 models of folding bicycles ranging in price from US$400 to US$3,500. The company's top-end offering, the Verge X20 seen below, is built for speed and weighs in at just a tick over 20 lbs.
Tern was founded by a mother and son team, Florence and Joshua Hon, as in the wife and son of Dahon founder Dr. David Hon. According to Joshua Hon, Dahon's former Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dahon has been having trouble with quality control so he decided to venture out on his own. Quite a few Dahon personnel also exited the company with him and are now at Tern. Now rather than speculate on what looks to be a family feud, we'll wait for all the juicy details to fully trickle out as to what exactly transpired before just guessing. What is known is that Dahon has sued Tern in the U.S. District Court of California in an effort to get them shut down. With Tern's deep product line-up aimed at almost every offering in the Dahon folding bike line, they could take a real bite out of Dahon's dominant folding bike market share if sales go well.
Another intriguing tidbit to add to this story is that Tern has apparently acquired the rights to the Bickerton name, remember the Bickerton Portable folding bike? Mark Bickerton, son of the inventor of the Bickerton, had been a Dahon dealer for many years but he recently discontinued this relationship and is now the UK agent for Tern. For the past few months, the Bickerton Portables website has been teasing us with partial photos of new bikes bearing the Bickerton name. Could this mean a launch of a new Bickerton folding bike built by Tern is in the offing? Drop us a note if you have any information.
Dahon Curl Introduced
While there was no formal introduction, the Dahon Curl (top), which was shown as a prototype (bottom) a couple years back at the Taipei Cycle Show, has appeared on Dahon's Chinese website recently. The design is quite reminiscent of the Brompton in the compact way it folds. Dahon claims a 20% reduction in folding size over their other folders. No word yet on pricing or availability, especially outside China.
Harry Montague, folding bike innovator, dies at 77
Harry Montague, an architect and co-founder of Montague Bikes died Feb. 2 of lymphoma at the age of 77. Harry designed his first full-size folding bike in the early 80's. Being a large man, he found the existing smaller folding bike designs too small for his liking. After being turned down by many bicycle manufacturers to make his bike, he and his son David started a business in 1987 to produce his bikes.
In 1997, the Montague business received a two-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Defense Department wanted the company to develop a rugged, heavy-duty mountain bike suitable for paratroopers. The bike had to be tough enough to handle terrain anywhere in the world and also be able to fit into parachute rigging. The result was the TENS, or Tactical Electric No Signature mountain bike. It used an electric motor that allowed the bike to move silently and was undetectable to most radar systems. The Montagues also developed a version of the bike without the electric motor called the Paratrooper. Many of them have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1999, Montague decided to start selling a civilian version of the Paratrooper which is available to this day. Montague also sells a line of folding bikes under the SwissBike brand.