July 1, 2009
At last, a folding bike that is easy to operate and doesn’t look ridiculous.
American cities—with the possible exception of Portland, Oregon—don’t have much of a bicycle culture. A lack of infrastructure (few designated riding lanes or secure places to park) is surely to blame. But so is the nature of bikes themselves, which are difficult to maneuver from bus to subway to taxi. Folding models would seem to be the solution, except that they have traditionally had their own set of problems: they’re tricky to break down and too heavy to carry, and their toylike wheels look downright silly.
The British product designer Mark Sanders addressed most of those quibbles with 2007’s popular Strida, a triangular-shaped bike that collapses easily and is relatively lightweight. But he says that people still sniffed at its 16-inch wheels. “There’s nothing actually wrong with small-wheel bikes,” Sanders says. “But rather than try to convince people of that, I thought, It’s probably better to offer them something they want.” Hence the IF Mode, which he developed with Ryan Michael Carroll and Michael Lin, the chief design engineer and the general manager, respectively, at Pacific Cycles, based in Taiwan. “The concept was driven by thinking of full-size wheels with a handle to push them around, just like modern luggage,” he says. “Instead of looking at the bike and thinking of how to fold it, it began with the folded shape and thinking of how to turn it into a bike.” Here he and Carroll talk about the engineering of what Sanders calls a “personal transporter,” available in the United States through Areaware.
Click the images to read Lin and Carroll’s comments on the design of the IF Mode.