Rethinking the folding bike

Friday 27 August 2010 19:52

Folding bikes aren't renowned for their beautiful design, with those tiny wheels and impossible-looking seats, but two new bikes from Japanese firms could be set to change all that.

Design commentators and bloggers have been raving about the collaboration between Wallpaper* magazine and Kinfolk, a firm that builds bikes to order in designs that are limited "only by the imagination."

Each frame is produced by hand in the Japanese city of Osaka, where their 71-year-old craftsman Shuichi Kusaka builds each on demand in a timeframe of four to six weeks.

Various levels of customization options for all of Kinfolk's models are available, although it gets more expensive - the base price of a custom frame is 135,000 yen (€1,257).

The first of the folding "concept" versions, which Wallpaper* commissioned Kinfolk to produce, costs from £2,450 (€2,977) and folds into a handmade Nivaldo de Lima leather bag, which will set buyers back a further £2,500 (€3,037).

Another version, which is designed by Shiko Matsuda from Japanese brand Level and folds into a Brooks briefcase, sells for £1,255 (€1,525).

Both bikes have already caused quite a stir, with Kinfolk's work already featured in Tokyo's Nike stadium and winning a Wallpaper* 2010 International Design Award.

Darius Chang of CNet tech blog Crave said, "I've always been amazed by foldable bicycles, but the Wallpaper limited-edition bikes really take the cake."

Tech blog Gizmodo posted that the bikes "finally make foldable bicycles worth a ride."

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