Do you want your next folding bike to ride like a full sized bike, or fold up as small as possible? That seems to be the choice many riders have when looking into bicycles that fold away to fit into smaller spaces, bags, and vehicles. Among a number of design exercises, there is a new folding bike on the block by way of Finland. It is capable of running full size wheels (more than one size), supposedly rides like a full size bike, and most importantly folds up small enough to fit in the bag for a tennis racquet.
Unfold the FUBi after the break.
The creation of Ulf Laxström, to this point FUBi (not to be confused with the Furby)has been limited to working prototypes crafted out of steel and carbon fiber. The design allows it to fold down extremely small, though the wheels are not included in the folded shape like most folding bikes.
But, due to the unique folding design of the FUBi, the wheels are flat compared to standard bicycle wheels for easy storage and transport. The wheels are also identical so there is no need to keep them straight.
This is possible because the gears are actually built onto the frame instead of the wheels. Once the wheel is bolted in place, the wheel and gears are somehow coupled together to provide the propulsion. This made the folding design easier to achieve, but it also created the need for a new derailleur. Enter the FUBi fast-shift derailleur which is built on a low-normal design. Ulf claims the fast-shift can move from the highest to lowest gear in less than a full crank rotation which makes it easy to ride in traffic. Due to the fact that the fast-shift has no spring loaded cage for chain tension the FUBi has a built in derailleur cage attached to the chainstay just behind the crank – which also aids in making it fold as easily as possible.
While the FUBi folds small enough for a tennis racquet bag, there are actually two methods of folding – fast and optimally compact. The fast method of folding is useful for quickly stuffing two bikes into, say a Smart car. Otherwise, the bike can fold small enough to fit in storage lockers, cabinets, under your bed, etc. Find a place to stash the wheels and you’re good to go.
Even though the final prototypes were all molded from carbon fiber and weighed about 10kg, Ulf has decided to produce the final bikes out of titanium with a target weight of 9.5kg. Launched today on Kickstarter, the FUBi will be offered in two sizes – one with a 700x23c wheel and tire, the other with a 650c wheel and tire. Complete bikes can be ordered as a kit that you have to assemble yourself (including the wheels) or as a pre-assembled bike. 50 Early bird kits will be available for around $1500 USD, with complete titanium bikes offered through the Kickstarter for around $2,240 USD.