The minimalistic machine, essentially a hybrid of a tri-wheeled scooter and a rolling, miniature elliptical machine, sprang from the brainpans of Bulgaria natives Martin Angelov and Mihail Klenov. The two architects are among a vanguard of young entrepreneurs intent on reshaping personal urban transport.
“It’s fun to ride, provides great exercise and is very light and compact” Angelov says. “It fits in most places that would be too tight for a regular bike, like a car trunk or an elevator. You can also take it aboard public transportation, which allows for a faster commute.”
The Halfbike weighs a mere 19lbs and measures 47in tall by 16in wide by 40in long; when folded, the height and length shift to 24in and 42in, respectively. The frame is made of hand-welded, laser-cut aluminium, and the “handlebar” is fashioned from durable impregnated plywood.
Angelov says the Halfbike best accommodates people between 5ft 2in and 6ft 4in, weighing no more than 230lbs. The bike comes in three different sizes and features just one gear, though three-speed models should be available soon, he notes.
Until multigear models come online, the Halfbike is best-suited toward gentle slopes. Steep hills? Not so much, Angelov concedes. A grip near the top of the central handlebar operates a brake system integrated inside the rear truck, or axle, much in the same way a traditional V-brake works on a bicycle.
Made by MBS Mountainboards, that rear truck assembly is essential to the Halfbike experience. It allows a rider to lean into turns, with the front wheel canting inward while the two rear wheels remain upright for stability. “It’s the same principle used on skateboards,” Angelov says.
He and Klenov own Kolelinia, a mishmash word that in Bulgarian would roughly translate to “line of bike”. Based jointly in Bulgaria and Tucson, Arizona, Kolelinia is an incubator for new ideas in urban mobility, with the Halfbike leading the way.
“The inspiration came from a bike-design competition that I took part in several years ago,” Angelov explains. “I love optimising things to an extreme. We spent quite a lot of time prototyping, making a total of four or five completely different frame types. After trying more than a few handlebar designs, we finally had a Halfbike.”
After raising nearly $82,000 via crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Kolelinia is producing the first batch of Halfbikes, with the initial builds priced at $999 apiece. Angelov plans to expand production after the first few units are shipped and customers have provided feedback.
“Our main target is active people who are curious about exploring new modes of transportation and having fun in the same time,” Angelov says. An enjoyable, low-impact, eco-friendly way to get around? As the bicycle first proved over 100 years ago, that kind of multitasking can be catching.