Andrea Mocellin's design folds up to take up 60 percent less space.
Designers have been making folding bikes for years, but a limitation has always been the wheel; that's why my beloved Strida has 16" wheels but most regular bikes have 26" wheels.
Now designer Andrea Mocellin has invented a folding wheel, the Revolve. It takes up 60 percent less space and "when folded it allows the user to easily store it at home, in a backpack, in a trolley, in a trunk or even in the overhead baggage hold on an airplane." Carleton Reid of BikeBiz writes:
Mocellin has a masters degree in vehicle design from London's Royal College of Art and believes his wheel could be used for a new generation of folding bikes, as well as the same technology being used for wheelchairs and even drones.
My first question is: who needs this? Mocellin claims that "large wheels are required in all man powered transportation for performance and efficiency. By not having a large wheel to store, Revolve is solving problems for millions of travelers and adventurers."
But is that really true? Do large wheels deliver better performance and efficiency? Owners of Moulton bikes might argue the point, as would riders of high-performance folding bikes like Bromptons. Moulton even claims that small wheels are better: "Their lower moment of inertia allows faster acceleration and more responsive steering."
I admit that I prefer my 26" wheeled conventional bike on longer rides to my 16" wheeled Strida, but that probably has more to do with the gears than anything else. There are a lot of people who claim that small wheels are problematic, but this posting on bike forum does a pretty good job of demolishing the myths.
It is also only one part of a bike. As Carlton Reid notes,
For cycle manufacturers there are obvious design hurdles to overcome – such as how a rear wheel, with its cassette and chain, could also be folded – but it's fair to say that Mocellin has, if not reinvented the wheel, then certainly massively modified it.
While it might not fill a great need in bikes, it could fill a huge role in wheelchairs, as shown in Mocellin's photos. I pushed my mom around for a few years and found that there were two choices on wheelchairs: tiny wheels, little more than casters, that were horrible to push on anything but smooth floors, and big wheels in chairs that were heavy, hard to fold, and barely fit in cars even when folded. Wheels on wheelchairs don't have to be connected to chains and gears either. In this use it would be brilliant.
But on bikes? I am not so sure.