The much mooted IF Mode, a 26 inch folding bicycle, is almost available stateside. Finally. The bike has sprung from the fertile imagination of Mark Sanders, of MAS Design, who is also behind the Strida and X Bike.
The IF Mode, by Pacific Cycles, of Taiwan, has been a long time gestation and has gone through many variations to arrive at its final slick looking incarnation. (We previously covered it when it had the working name of Swivel Head.) As you can see above the IF Mode folds very tightly, achieving this compact size very swiftly, courtesy of a patented “3-dimensional 4-Bar linkage that automatically guides the wheels together.“ Although using very different technology, the IF (for Integrated Folding) Mode packs up, sans tools, with the same dazzling aplomb as the Bike Friday Tikit, but does so for a full 26 inch bicycle.
See the bike unfolded and a video of the folding process in the extended post.Not the lightest 26 inch folding bike out there at 14.7 kg (32 lbs), [the Montague Paratrooper manages 13.2kg (29 lbs)], the IF Mode nevertheless is very impressive in that it does not require detaching the front wheel. And it comes with its own handle, so it can wheeled discretely into buildings or aboard public transport.
The aluminium monocoque frame is complemented by single forks front and rear, that obviously help contribute to the very narrow profile of the folded bike. Pedals and handlebars also fold, the seat post telescopes into the down tube, and the chain is hidden away to stop greasing up dresses and pant legs. An internal rear gear hub also avoids the issues of maintenance and durability associated with a hanging derailleur.
Now $2,250 USD might be the sort of money handed over for a high performance mountain bike, but unfortunately we doubt it is a cost that will initially appeal to many city cycle commuters. And this seems to be key market for such a snappy bicycle. Though it could be justified as being only a tenth of the ticket price of a Prius or Insight, and saving on gym subscriptions.
Either way, it is pleasing to see more clever bicycle design coming onto the market. Others seem to think so too as the bike is filling up the mantleshelf with a sawg of awards: 2008 Eurobike Award, iF Product Design 2009 Gold Award, and Taiwan Excellence Silver Award.
The IF Mode is expected to be available from US distributor Areaware, by mid May 2009, although numbers are said to be limited. See link below for IF Mode distributors in other countries.
::Pacific Cycles IF Mode, via tipster, Graham H.
Photos: Pacific Cycles
UPDATE: Just after posting this we noticed another dealer, Ride This Bike offering the IF Mode, and suggesting a lighter weight ... and price.
UPDATE No.2: I missed the fact that Lloyd, one of our Strida riding writers had picked up on this previously. His post on the IF Mode also includes the full list of the bike's specifications.