Looking a little like a reinvented unicycle with training wheels, the new Halfbike is a different take on urban commuting: It’s small enough to fit on a subway car or an elevator, and possibly even more fun to ride than a regular bicycle.
"I wanted to create a very compact and simple vehicle," says Martin Angelov, the designer of the bike and co-founder of Kolelinia, the company that’s crowdfunding the design now on Kickstarter. "I love to optimize things, so I made a concept with the standing position being a key part of it. It started as a hobby playing with some old bicycles and components I found in the attic."
Riding the Halfbike takes a little practice; though the pedals work essentially the same way as a regular bike, everything else is slightly different. "You turn just by leaning your body," Angelov explains. "Sometimes it feels a bit like skiing, especially when going downhill. It’s not hard to ride, but you’ll need some practice to gain confidence." If a rider loses balance, it’s easy to jump off and just start running.
Once someone masters riding it, the designers say the bike is both more fun and more comfortable than usual. "Imagine riding your bike standing, without being bent over the handlebars," Angelov says. "This position is innate for the body."
Despite the upright position, the Halfbike manages to avoid the dorkiness of something like the Segway, perhaps because of the way riders move. In the demo video, the designers show the tricycle easily jumping over skate ramps and down stairs, as well as down streets and trails.
The Halfbike will be manufactured at the startup's two locations—both in the U.S. and in Europe—and will ship locally to customers on both continents. "We believe in local manufacturing," Angelov says. "The design and manufacturing process is also very flexible—we do not rely on big factories but instead produce the frames and handlebars and the rest of the components are widely available bike parts."
If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the company hopes to begin shipping their first bikes this fall.