Could folding wheel solve commuters' conundrum?

By Rosee Woodland | Friday, February 1, 2008 12.00am

Folding bicycles are in the ascendant these days, but they’re not popular with all commuters.

The small wheels of traditional Bromptons and the like don’t deliver the speediest rides. And the chunkier mountain bike folders are a killer to lug around.

Now one UK designer thinks he’s found the solution – folding wheels.

Duncan Fitzsimmons, a keen mountain biker, came up with the idea when he tried to find a decent folder after moving to London.

All the usual options left him unimpressed, and inspired him to look for a better answer.

He’s now waiting for the patent to come through on the carbon fibre folding wheel he’s created to solve the age old folding issue of speed vs bulk.

Duncan, 25, from Portsmouth, is currently in talks with major manufacturers with the hope of bringing his idea to the mass market.

The wheel has already been chosen by the Royal College of Art, where Duncan studied Industrial Design Engineering, for the prestigious title of Selected Work, from its Class of 2007 show.

Speaking to BikeRadar.com, Duncan said: “When I graduated I got involved with an innovation incubation unit, who are helping me move onto the next stage.

“We are currently talking to bike and wheelchair manufacturers.

“The problem at the moment is that in order to get the weight down to a regular bike wheel weight, with the fact it’s got hinges and so on, it needs to be a carbon fibre wheel, which means that it’s quite expensive, so it’s a project that sets more challenges.

“They [bike manufacturers] think you’d have to design a new type of bike to go with it. At the moment I’m trying to find the right type of bike people to work with me.

“The aim is to try to get a really high end city bike or courier bike that can fold up into a package like a golf bag, which could go into an overhead rack on a train or go into a plane locker.”

Duncan has previously worked with Renault in Franceand with Nokia, on a project where a text message is sent using a finger writing letters in the air.

He funds his folding wheel obsession as a freelance industrial designer and you can have a look at some of his other unusual ideas at his website.

It also contains a film of the folding wheel in action.

(c) BikeRadar.com

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