The position of bicycles as part of urban mobility is about to gain growth thanks to a € 1.58 million funding in a new folding bike prototype. The research project is called Bike Intermodal and part of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) bringing together partners from the private and public sector as well as research institutes.
Bike Intermodal developed a new folding bike prototype that weighs as little as 7.5 kg, folds into a 50cm x 40cm x 15cm box that can be easily stored, transported or simply put in a corner at a restaurant, bar or cinema.
Moving away from the bicycle supply-chain
“It is moving from the typical bicycle supply chain to one inspired by the automotive industry,” explains Alessandro Belli of Tecnologie Urbane. “We have reinforced the sturdiness of the bike by limiting the number of parts and using the most resistant yet lightest materials available such as magnesium. Each part is tested, traceable and can be recycled. Our process focuses on quality control, product lifecycle traceability and environmental consciousness.”
The pre-stressed frame opens and closes like an aircraft landing-gear made of die-cast aluminium or magnesium and sailing-grade cables. The start-up is also looking at the possibility of using graphene in the future to strengthen and lighten the frame even further. Project partner Maxon Motor developed a motor which does not add excessive weight. According to Maxon, the bike weighs almost half that of a comparable folding bike that is not power-assisted.
Alessandro Belli estimates that the bike could cost € 800 for a version without a motor and € 1,300 for the power-assisted model.
Prominent players in the automotive industry
Since completion of the project, the start-up has continued to optimise the design and production process of the bike and is now ready with a commercially-viable prototype. The company is in discussions with a number of venture capitalists as well as some prominent players in the automotive industry to take the prototype to market.
The partners of the Bike Intermodal research project are:
- The Italian Tecnologie Urbane, a firm focused on all aspects of urban design, from transportation to micro-urbanism, from communication to urban furnishing.
- The Italian Trilix, an automotive design and engineering firm.
- The Slovenian LPP and Italian AFAT, public transport providers.
- The Swiss Maxon Motors, the leading producer of high-precision micro drives and systems.
- The German Ticona, a leading producer of polymers for automotive, electrical and electronic industries.
- The University of Florence.
Source: Bike Europe