Student reinvents the folding bicycle

Student reinvents the folding bicycle


A British student has designed a bicycle which can be folded completely into the space of the wheel's 66 cm circumference, media reports said Tuesday.

Dominic Hargreaves's design has put the young designer on the shortlisted for this year's James Dyson Award for innovation. The Contortionist, as the bicycle is called, may even earn Hargreave 10,000 pounds (16,920 U.S. dollars) and a lucrative manufacturing contract.

Competition founder James Dyson said, "The clever bit is how the front wheel can be rotated and repositioned so that the whole of the bikes' frame fits into its circumference." Dyson, best known as the inventor of the Duel Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, praised the innovation of Hargreave's design. "Dominic's bike is ingenious. Its effortless elasticity is mesmerising - the product of creative engineering."

Hargreave, 24, from Battersea in south London, said he wanted to create a decent folding bike after the one he was using collapsed. "I couldn't find a folding bicycle I liked," he said, "I wanted something that could take a bit of punishment and that you could have fun with, so I made one myself."

The aluminium construction of the bicycle makes it very light and there is no greasy chain adding to the overall aesthetic. "This version of the bike uses a hydraulic system instead of the traditional chain," Hargreaves, a Royal College of Art graduate, said. "I have developed alongside another version which incorporates a chain drive or belt drive, which also works when the bike is folded up. On this hydraulic bike works by oil being pumped inside tubes through the frame of the bike to power the back wheel. This means that the bike doesn't have the oil and grease that comes with chains."

His design has already drawn strong interest from three auto manufacturers in Germany, though he refuses to say who. "There's a danger of sounding pretentious, but I really wanted to design something that was not only practical but beautiful, that you'd desire," Hargreaves said. Despite the trickery, he believes a production model need cost no more than 400 pounds (677 dollars). "There's no reason why not. There's nothing on the bike that couldn't be mass produced in a bike factory."

Hargreaves has won other design competitions in the past. He was one of three winners in the IQ Design Challenge for his bicycle storage system in which bicycles are hoisted 2.5 meters above the street to deter thieves. That won him 5,500 pounds (9,300 dollars). His latest invention may win him a lot more. 

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