What has three wheels, one brake, no steering, and a Kickstarter page? (Ed. note: this is a terrible riddle.) The answer: the Halfbike!
The Halfbike is a project from Kolelinia Labs, founded by Mihail Klenov and Martin Angelov*, in Tucson, Arizona. It is an unholy chimaera of other wheeled modes of transport: It has three wheels like a tricycle but no seat. It has a single post with a brake on it like a scooter, but it’s operated with bike-like pedals rather than by kick-pushing your way along the ground. It’s steered solely by leaning from side to side–there’s no handlebar setup–like a skateboard but has three wheels instead of four.
You pump the pedals to keep moving forward, but since there’s no seat, it’s almost a running motion. In fact, it might be most similar to the elliptical bike, which combines running and cycling. The Halfbike has a single speed, though it’s not a fixed-gear, enabling you to coast now and then. And you’ll want to: “Riding it isn’t hard,” Klenov told us in an email, “but a little coasting every now and then gives a welcome rest to the thighs.” The single post has no handlebar but a single bike-type grip brake. You hold onto it with both hands, like a baseball bat, and shift your weight from side to side to steer. Klenov tells us it feels almost like gliding, or running across a surface with much less friction than usual.
The design, much smaller and lighter than a bicycle, is designed to be mobile when you’re not riding it, for carrying into buildings or public transport. “We see it as something that can be used for commuting as well as recreation,” Klenov says, “but most of the times it combines them nicely.”
Given the small wheel-to-gear ratio and not-so-aerodynamic posture, the Halfbike is not nearly as efficient at turning leg power into speed as a bicycle. Klenov says it’s best on flat surfaces. “When it comes to going uphill it’s alright, if it is a gentle slope, but if it gets steeper, you may have to walk the Halfbike,” he says.
Placed on Kickstarter only a few days ago, the Halfbike is already at more than $25,000 in its fundraising campaign (its goal is $80,000). The bike will sell for $900 if and when it’s released, so it may not be half the price of a bike, but it is something pretty new and eye-catching.
*A previous version of this article did not include Angelov, one of the co-founders of the company.