Is That a Tennis Racquet or Your Bike? FUBi’s Ultra Compact Full Size Folding Bike

Fubi Folding Bike Folded

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.

Fubi Wheels

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.

Fubi Folding Bike Flat Derailleur

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.

fubi folding bike storage

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.

Fubi Road Bike

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.

Comments

Mindless - 10/14/13 - 12:42pm

Solution looking for a problem. Plenty of perfectly functioning 20″ wheeled folders.

Michael - 10/14/13 - 1:32pm

@Mindless: I tend to agree. The moment you involve tools and bolts to fasten everything together is the moment you loose many of the conveniences of a folding bike.

yogibimbi - 10/14/13 - 2:02pm

Does any of those perfectly functioning 20″ wheelers also weigh in at less than 10 kg (preferably less than 9) and handle like a biggie, including speed? The only offering that comes to my mind would be Oribike’s two carbon models, and they have a very strange handle bar / front arrangement.

Wojtek G - 10/14/13 - 2:51pm

What’s the friggin’ point of making a folding bike that uses 28 inch wheels, which you still have to carry somehow? Useless and pointless. And that derailer system is just terrible – I don’t even want to hear it work.

Sorry guys, not this time.

Bill - 10/14/13 - 2:58pm

I really want to say something nice, because I’m all for innovation, so uhm, it’s cool that they’re trying to make a folder with legit size wheels.

That said, there are several obvious problems with this design. First, the reason folder wheels are so small is that uh, the wheels are the biggest part of the bike. Nice that it fits in a tennis bag, but those 700c wheels need to go somewhere. Second, that rear shifting mech is going to get bound up. It’s much too sharp an angle for the chain to take so close to the chainrings, and would need a great deal more chain tension to make the shifting work in the rear well at all. Third, that rear derailluer mechanism is going to be loud and wear out quickly I think. Look at your average front mech which uses a plate-based shifting system after a year of decent use. there’s a reason why rear mechs are more or less chain touch free. Imagine the typical wear on a front mech times the number of times you usually shift a rear mech. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s also not wise to trivialize high-normal vs. low-normal. These things work in much different ways.

An idea for the rear mech might be to allow for instead a different FRONT mech, perhaps with a user-actuated safety release that actually moves the chain to a position even further inside than where a front ring would normally be. That would more or less allow the rear mech to line up at full spring tension, out of the way for storage. It would also if done right allow for off the shelf shifters and derailluers to be used, allowing for simple replacement in damage and well understood mechanics for adjustment/repairs.

And finally, you can’t show it being assembled without a very large wrench. That’s a big failure for the folding bike crowd. the tube shapes + collapsing method look feasible, but it’s got to be no tools if you want it to really sell.

Sevo - 10/14/13 - 3:04pm

Mindless-Those 20″ wheel folders are awful. Go ride one.

Trick truly is full size wheels and compact as possible. I’ve owned and traveled with a Ritchey Breakaway single speed for going on 6 years now. Love it….except for packing, traveling with, and reassembly.

Taking the bike out to build it up will always be a bit tedious and a pain….that’s just the nature of it and don’t see that changing. But to a degree, it’s always worth it.

Packing on the other hand sucks. Years of doing it, it never goes as smoothly as planned. I’m typically also always in a rush towards the end of my trips as well. So….I really appreciate the simplicity of this design as well as it’s size. Brilliant. Does it have some kinks to work out? Yeah but for a first try he’s nailed a lot of key issues. I want to try one and I’d help him for free to get one.

Sevo - 10/14/13 - 3:10pm

Also….why have to carry the wheels separately? Well if any of you spent a chunk of time traveling with a bike meant for planes (as well as trains) you’d get it. But hey, most on here are Americans so let me explain.

Planes:
Max bag size. Ritchey bags actually are a hair big. If the ticket person pulls out a tape measure, hello $75 up fee.

Bike fee: Technically even if you have a bike in a case under the max bag size, if it’s a bike they still can hit you for $150. I almost did once. I know others who have.

This design keeps things separate. Been my long time thought that would be the best way to approach this.

Trains:
Small spaces. Cramped. All trains are different storage wise. Smaller footprint of this design solves many issues.

JasonK - 10/14/13 - 3:23pm

Sevo, I also have a Ritchey Breakaway–a road bike. I bought an S&S box (which they are happy to sell separately). It fits the whole bike and is hard-sided while still being within the max bag size. But I agree with you that packing sucks. I usually put the bars/stem/levers in my second checked bag; I’ve also successfully put that assembly in a carryon. This buys me a lot of room in the S&S box, making packing less finicky. I understand Rolf wheels (with paired spokes) also make packing easier.

Using the S&S box, I’ve never been hit with an oversize fee (or even had anyone measure) and no one has ever asked me if I had a bike in there.

I agree that the derailleur design on this Fubi is pretty hinky, though it may well work better than we’d expect. I could see this working really well for a singlespeed or fixed-gear travel bike. I suspect the wacky derailleur design is throwing people off of the better thought-out aspects of this design. But as to whether it’s worthwhile, I don’t know–we’ll have to wait and see.

Guy - 10/14/13 - 3:57pm

Yep, I’m still really happy with my Brompton. Small fold w/ wheels, no tools, a respectable ride quality for the wheel size (42.25 inch wheelbase and about an inch of rear travel) and gate check? Check. Seven days in London with a front bag and backpack and no problems made for one great trip. Nothing wrong with the breakaway bikes, but the disassembly/reassembly time on either side is the rub. If you have the time, they’re great. This FUBI bike is fairly clever, but there’s a lot of improvement to be done here. Good luck though.

Mindless - 10/14/13 - 4:15pm

@Sevo: Those 20″ wheels are not half as awful as this attempt at a derailleur.

Rustydog - 10/14/13 - 4:54pm

I think its cool. No getting around the wheel size if you want a decent rolling/handling bike.
This guy needs to get together with the Dyson guy.

Ajax - 10/14/13 - 5:17pm

I don’t agree with the comment above about this thing being a solution to a nonexistent problem. I actually think it’s very cool looking. I don’t get what people are getting all worked up about. It’s a neat product, not for everybody. I would buy one if it was cheaper.

MaLóL - 10/14/13 - 6:37pm

Obviously, it’s clearly bringing more problems this idea.

-Completely unique shifting system.
-Unique wheels. forget about using your own wheels or any hub.
-Heavy.
-Expensive.
-It require tools.
-Front and rear wheel interchangeable is breaking an invention of Cino Cinelli. If they didn’t pay for the license to use it, it’s illegal. Andif the Cinelli system is not patented, is very low to use it without mentioning them.

greg - 10/14/13 - 9:37pm

@MaLoL,
Cinelli had that in the 60s, im sure any patent they may have had expired.

regarding the rear derailleur,
a plate style shifting mechanism would work fine down there. it would not wear like a typical front derailleur, as the bottom run of chain is only tensioned by the pulley assembly. a typical front derailleur has to fight the tension applied by my massive quads.
as for the derailleur’s appearance, i really, really hope the one pictured is more of a proof-of-concept and not the final product.

mick - 10/14/13 - 9:57pm

*spoiler* I didnt read Gregs comment before I typed this, smart guy beat me to it*** I dont think it is fair to compare the amount of wear exhibited on a front derailleur as a reason to dislike the rear derailleurs’ rather primitive design. A rear derailleur uses pulley’s it needs to handler chain tension as well as fine gear ratio adjustment. A front derailleur is responsible for a very large leap in gear ratio. The chain climbs to a much higher gear on the front derailleur. It therefore experiences a much more demanding task. With the chain tensioner at the chainring, the rear derailleur simply has less to do. It is relieved of the task of chain tension. The derailleur idea seems at least feasible. It appears that the large bolts for assemble might be similarly sized so you can probably only have to worry about 2 tools. Its just a cool idea. Im not a hater. Everything is proprietary these days. Who cares?

GG - 10/15/13 - 12:54pm

“Front and rear wheel interchangeable is breaking an invention of Cino Cinelli. If they didn’t pay for the license to use it, it’s illegal. Andif the Cinelli system is not patented, is very low to use it without mentioning them.”

@Malol, you really should leave the legal analysis for the attorneys. There could be plenty of things about this design that differentiate it from Cinelli’s. It may even improve on it (*gasp* innovation!)

smapdi - 10/15/13 - 1:50pm

@Sevo & JasonK,
I have a Co-Motion with S&S couplers. When it’s packed in its case with a bit of gear, it’s usually pushing the 62″ & 50 lbs limit for standard checked baggage. One way to avoid the pesky airline agent is to use curbside check-in. A $5 tip guarantees no tape measure or scale.

Chris L - 10/15/13 - 11:56pm

Those wheels definitely were inspired by the Cinelli Bivalent (a great concept BTW – I used to own a set of wheels built with them). The derailleur is also riffing off of old ideas used by the likes of Nivex and Cyclo. It’s potentially an interesting design though it seems be aiming for a VERY niche audience. For commuters and quick collapsing, small wheeled bike will be better. For travelers a more conventional breakdown bike will likely perform better while still meeting airline/rail size limits. This design seems to have the small size of a commuter bike but with the longer assembly time of a traveler bike. Problem is it doesn’t appear to have the same performance as a S&S or BreakAway bike.

FUBi - 10/16/13 - 5:50am

Hi,

Im one from the FUBi team and I can see you all dont know how FUBi is really working.

1. derailleur: Our derailleur work really well it may look to simple to belive that but we have tested it alot and from our experice it work better than a “normal” shifting system.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExmabGiU6n4

2. The folding of FUBi: FUBi has 2 ways of folding one faster and one compact. The compact you can use when you need it to be really smal for storage or long distance transportaion.
The faster you can fit 2 FUBis in a smart car so is not that a benefit from a non folding full size bike?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycSfd6Eunnc

3. The prize: Its not much for a titanium bike and this is even foldable in 2 ways.
4. Yes Fubi need tools rigth now but we will in the next production models have it so the fast way is with out tools.

5. About the cinelli: FUBi uses a totally diffrent system we have the bearings in the frame. and the hubs are no moving parts in.
@Greg and @MaLol you should take a more look on things before posting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZRRWcswY3g

pepe - 10/16/13 - 3:03pm

NO chance of doing the wheels work like an umbrella for folding?

Erik - 10/16/13 - 4:00pm

This is pretty innovative. Great to see something different. At first I was skeptical, but looking at the additional videos I see a bike that can be assembled in 2 minutes and has a working derailleur, which seem to be everyone’s concerns.

The only real question that I have is how does it ride? All those connections might make it sloppy. Also, it’s kind of a shame that the titanium won’t be used to it’s fullest potential (better stiffness or suppleness in different parts) again due to all those separate pieces and connections. But I understand the benefit of keeping it around normal road bike weight.

FUBi - 10/17/13 - 5:25am

@pepe no the wheel are not folded. Yet:)
@Erik this rides really good if check this to videos, there are no folding bike that rides as good as FUBi.

Downhill rideing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCYYg2SAqns

A road bike cyclist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI10mh5aSTM

Bultaco Metrella - 10/17/13 - 8:03am

This is a terrific piece of design. I own a Birdy folding bike and while it is great fun to ride, it took me some time to get used to not seeing a wheel in front of me. I will probable never get used to the different feel of a small wheel bicycle, I do prefer the way a large wheel bike can coast and yes I own a couple of big wheel bikes. However, if I lived in London and had to commute by the Tube, I’d ride a Brompton. Al the best with your project, i will follow it with interest.

Fubi or not Fubi? - 12/16/13 - 5:42pm

After the original campaign folded (excuse the pun), they have now re-launched on indiegogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fubi-world-s-most-compact-bike/x/4051704

This time, it’s an aluminium version at a lower price (although the titanium option remains) and they also offer a single speed version, that gets rid of the crazy derailleur. While that’s an improvement in my book, I don’t know if they can keep the same frame geometry – the steel Fubi looks quite sleek, and the same would be true for a titanium version, but can this be done with aluminium tubing? As far as I can see, all the pictures show steel (or carbon) frames.

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