A new British folding bike design has won the approval of judges at the International Bicycle Design Awards in Taiwan. The Ultimate Urban Utility (U3) bike tied fourth out of a total of 863 entries in the global competition, organised by the Cycling and Health Technology Center and held in Taipei, earning designer Heath Reed an excellence award.
The bike in the photograph above is a scale model. Reed, principal industrial designer on Sheffield Hallam University's Design Futures research group, told BikeRadar the next step is to produce a full size prototype. His team are trying to get support to make it happen and hope to have a rideable model in the next few months.
Reed was inspired to design the U3 by the theft of his own bike. "I'm a product designer, not necessarily a cyclist," he said. "But the bars and barriers that stop me cycling more could be solved by this design and that's a motivation for me. I had my bike stolen from outside work, simply because I wasn't able to bring it inside. There wasn't the security, so I didn't re-engage with it. If I could have folded it up easily it wouldn't have been stolen. I'm sure there are lots of people who could relate to this, so I really think a design like this could open up the market."
He added: "I set myself the challenge of designing a tough, rugged, large-wheeled folding bike, with all the benefits and accessibility of a normal bicycle, while being quick and easy to fold, to a compact size. The design process led to a new solution to an already heavily explored issue – that of having large wheels on a folding bicycle. The modular design means the bike is cheap and can be easily repaired and upgraded, which gives the product a long lifespan."