Whippet Bicycle - designing a new folding bicycle
I've been a little quiet here on Design Hunter lately. If you follow me on social media you might already have seen why.... here's what's been keeping me busy for the past couple of months.
I've been working on the styling, photography and launch of a new folding bicycle designed by my husband Graham. It's been a long journey. Anyone who has ever launched a new product or design business will know that it can be hugely satisfying creatively, but there are often long hours to be worked, personal sacrifices to be made and obstacles to overcome. A folding bicycle is a complex product which poses many different technical challenges. Graham worked through several different prototypes and lots of refinements, test riding the bicycle for hundreds of miles before arriving at the finished design, and so we are thrilled to finally be able to unveil it.
Graham has always been passionate about cycling. He's also always excelled at combining the creative with the practical. When he left school he worked as a technical engineering apprentice before studying design at art school and then completing a masters in Industrial Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. He's worked for many years as both a professional product designer and a design lecturer and his approach to design has always been one of asking "why?" and then counter offering "but why not like this instead?" So it was no surprise to me that when he decided to design a folding bicycle he would opt to do things a little differently. He began with the question "does a folding bicycle actually need to fold, or might there perhaps be another way?"
Designed and handbuilt at our studio and workshop in Warwickshire, Whippet Bicycle takes a completely new approach to 'folding' - the design is based on in-line retraction rather than traditional hinged folding mechanisms. Essentially a classic diamond frame it utilises twin oval tube arrangements to deliver a comfortable ride as well as a clever new retracting solution. There's a demo of how this works here.
The bicycle reduces to less than 30% of its original volume, and its slim profile means that it can be easily stored in a small space, or even mounted on the wall when not in use, so it's ideal for city dwellers or anyone for whom space and security is a priority.
Our focus wasn't on achieving the most compact fold or designing a multimodal commuting machine - for us it was always about creating a really nice bicycle to ride, both around town and further afield, and providing a convenient storage solution for urban living.
The bicycle is designed be rolled along on its rear wheel when folded, using a unique wheel along handle integrated at just the right balance point. Because it's slim and evenly balanced it's easy to wheel along in an upright mode. It can also be lifted over obstacles or up and down steps, using the folded down steerer tube as a handle.
We launched the design at Bespoked, the UK handbuilt bicycle show in Bristol earlier this month and the response was amazing - we even picked up a Technical Excellence Award. I'm so proud of Graham who has worked incredibly hard to make it happen, and I loved working on the styling and photography. A big thank you to our amazing models Bhav, Daisy and Lily.
We'll be taking pre-orders later in the year, so sign up to our mailing list here if you want to stay up to date with news and developments or are interested in ordering a Whippet Bicycle.