Bike Intermodal: The World’s Smallest, and Most Impressive Folding Bike?
Imagine a folding bike that was so small and light weight that it became more of an accessory rather than a vehicle. That’s the folding bike that Bike Intermodal is designing which they claim will be the smallest and lightest folding bike ever – and by quite a margin. Thanks to a €1.58 million grant in research funding from the European Union, the team behind the Bike Intermodal research project is well on their way to succeeding in producing a folding bike that may way as little as 7.5kg (16.5 lbs) and folds up to the size of a brief case.
If that wasn’t enough, the project is also developing a pedelec or electric assist version with one of the most compact direct drive motors we’ve seen. And it will be fully recyclable…
More after the fold…
While weight is a big concern, the other major design feature of the Bike Intermodal is the volume of the bicycle – or how much space it occupies while folded. Cutting down on this volume makes it easier to transport, to store, and more importantly actually use. The key to the Bike Intermodal seems to lie in the pre-tensioned space frame design, sort of a Slingshot meets a Moulton type of aesthetic made from die cast aluminum, magnesium, and “sailing grade” cables. The finished product is estimated to have 5 times less compacted volume and 2-3 times less weight than other folding bicycles.
For reference, the front wheel shown above is a 16″ which should also mean the bicycle will handle better over bumps in the road. The rear which will house the electric motor looks to be about a 12″.
Perhaps even more impressive is that they plan to also offer an electric assisted version of the Bike Intermodal with an insanely small direct drive motor and battery unit. To be produced by Maxon Motor company, the drive is said to be a radically new direct drive motor housed in the rear wheel.
Bike Intermodal also hopes to offer an automatic opening and closing system – think convertible top or jet landing gear. Even if that never pans out, from the computer animation it looks like the Bike Intermodal should be very simple to fold up.
Just to prove it’s not all just pretty 3D renderings, the early Bike Intermodal prototypes are actually being ridden. Above, one of the earlier prototypes is taken for a cruise in Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
If all goes according to plan the Bike Intermodal will be lighter, more compact, easy to fold, and easy to ride so what’s next? Currently with a commercially viable prototype, Bike Intermodal is looking to take the folding bike into production. When that happens, they estimate the pricing could be as low as €800 for a non-motorized version, and €1,300 for the electric assist model. There is even the possibility of a fixed gear or single speed version for even less.