Vienna Design Week 2014: Bulgarian designer Valentin Vodev has launched a folding bike that can be wheeled when folded and uses a magnet to create the locking system that holds the frame together (+ slideshow).
Vodev had previously created a number of bicycle prototypes including a design that could change into a cargo trike and the Vienna Bike, an electrically assisted tricycle designed to ride "with the feeling of a two-wheeler" using an unusual steering and suspension system.
For his latest project, Vodev wanted to focus on creating a city bike for an active commuter.
"I quickly realised that the urban bike should also fold, otherwise you'll be limited in your mobility in the city," Vodev told Dezeen. "One should be able to have the freedom to choose between a bike and using the tramway or subway with the bike or even leaving the bike next to your door without it being in your way."
He initially made a prototype of the Vello for a trip to Cuba with two friends in 2009. Since then the geometry of the frame has changed significantly to produce a system that can be folded in seconds, with a magnet connecting the back wheel section to the main frame.
This magnet holds the frame secure when the bike is in use, and the connecting element also houses the bicycle's rear suspension element. The magnet allows the frame to be partially folded with one movement, or "a simple kick", flipping the back wheel to the front. The Vello can then be wheeled around, with the option to fully fold it for storage.
"I quickly realised that the standard folding system like all other folding bikes is not enough," said Vodev. "Because of that I developed my own system that uses a magnet so you don't need to bend or unscrew anything. And also the most important thing is that you fold the bike in one second and with one move."
Vodev says this system makes the bike more efficient than existing folding models, without compromising on its performance.
Different versions of the bike have different specifications, including one with a wide gear range that is unusual for folding bikes.
"I didn't want to compromise the performance of the bike for the sake of it being able to fold. Many folding bikes on the market are too complicated to fold, have limited gear range, cannot be rolled along when it's folded and a frame geometry that gives the rider the feeling of sitting on pudding when they ride it," he explained.
Two parallel bars on the thin Cr-Mo steel frame are designed to provide additional stability.
"Steel is more sturdy but at the same time shock absorbent than other materials, and because it is thinner it gives it a nice vintage feeling," said Vodev. "In that way the frame is lighter than if it were made out of aluminium."
Both the front and back lights are integrated into post clamps as a permanent part of the bike, with a bespoke design that is currently awaiting a patent. This is intended to help riders avoid forgetting their lights and protect against theft of detachable parts.
Each bicycle also comes with a unique ID code printed onto the frame underneath the final layers of varnish. These codes can be linked to an online profile on the Vello website.
"There are a lot of innovations in the bike for which I couldn't find any parts from the shelf, so I needed to make them myself," said Vodev. "I hope they will set new standards in the bike industry."
The standard model is the Vello Urbano, which comes with a front carrier attachment and built-in fenders. The Vello Rocky uses mountain bike components and trekking tyres, 10 different gear speeds and a straight handle bar, for negotiating rougher surfaces.
Finally the Vello Speedster is designed for riders who prefer a speedier commute, with narrow, high-pressure tyres and a facing-style drop handlebar, a Brooks leather saddle and leather bar tape, and also has 10 gear speeds.
Vodev and his business partners have now launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to self-produce the bicycles.
"The bike frames will be made in Europe by a producer we know and trust and the bike will be assembled by us," said Vodev. "I realised that setting up a business and manufacturing myself can be as exciting as designing."