In 10 seconds, a bike called the Kwiggle can be folded down to the size of a carry-on suitcase–small enough to squeeze under a chair at a restaurant, easily bring on a subway or into an office, or throw in the trunk of a car.
“There are a lot of situations in everyday life when the folding size of usual folding bikes is too big,” says engineer Karsten Bettin, who has been developing the bike for the last seven years.
Unlike a typical bike, the Kwiggle puts riders in a position that’s almost fully upright; Bettin says it feels like a combination of walking and biking. The tiny seat is meant to just be leaned on. Because you don’t hunch over the handlebars, it’s intended to be more comfortable to ride than a regular bike. Bettin also thinks it looks better than a standard folding bike.
“Riding a folding bicycle often is a compromise,” he says. “The riding posture is more squeezed and looks less elegant [than] normal bicycles. A lot of people don’t like this.”
Though the Kwiggle’s design looks a little fragile, with the seat connected to the handlebars, the startup claims the frame is strong enough to support someone up to about 200 pounds. Despite the small wheels, it also moves quickly; it’s possible to ride at about 14 miles an hour.
As cities grow more crowded–with a projected urban population of more than 6 billion 25 years from now–Bettin thinks that folding bikes can help solve urban mobility problems that will inevitably get worse.
“We will need new transportation solutions,” he says. “Imagine car sharing, driverless transportation, long-distance services, public transportation, carpools. All these services need an efficient personal last mile and a device as small as possible.”