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ThinBike: full-sized foldable bike folds flat in small space

There are foldable bikes that bend in half, hinge around triangles, disassemble for a suitcase or even fold into an upside down umbrella, but designer/entrepreneur Graham Hill (founder of treehugger.com) wanted something simpler and more elegant.

Beginning with a high performing (i.e. light) full-sized urban bike, Hill worked with cycling manufacturer Schindelhauer to create the ThinBike: a bicycle that is fast on city streets, but tucks neatly out of the way in his small apartment. It’s all part of his LifeEdited project where he’s exploring ways to live with less in less space.

Instead of looking for a new way to swivel, hinge or fold a bike into a more compact package, Hill and the Schindelhauer designers focused on flattening the bike, but leaving it vertically full-sized.

They added a Speedlifter Twist to the handlebars to allow them to spin 90 degrees, eliminating the extra width on the top of the bike. Down below, they replaced the pedals with MKS folding pedals. The result: a bicycle that snaps and clicks flat within 5 seconds for passing through subway turnstyles, walking down city sidewalks or climbing the stairs of Hill’s 6 floor walkup.

To create a bike clean enough for apartment living (and commuting), the designers swapped a chain for an oil-free Gates Carbon Drive belt.  Unlike a traditional metal chain, the belt doesn’t requite greasy lubrication which is ideal for not just leaving your bike as a prop on your apartment wall (as Graham does), but for urban commutes and subway rides.

In this video, Hill hikes up to his walkup apartment with bike in tow and shows us how it folds from 21 to 6 inches in seconds to nearly melt into his apartment wall.