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The Airnimal folding bike suitcase that becomes a bike trailer


April 18, 2009

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April 19, 2009 There are more than 130 folding bike manufacturers and all of them produce bicycles designed as supplementary transport – designed to be carried in a vehicle for last mile transport, or on a train, plane, boat or bus as ground transport on arrival. Accordingly, most come with their own carry bag, but the latest prototype concept from Airnimal promises a new level of functionality. The concept involves the hard carry case doubling as a bike trailer with a significant carrying capacity. It's a perfect solution for the traveller … almost. We'd like to see another suitcase which clips onto the trailer so you can carry your other stuff.

The bike pictured in the concept drawings is an Airnimal Chameleon, one of the most competitive folding bikes available – the ultimate version of the Chameleon, the Ultima, has been ridden to placings at international level in open bike racing and triathlon competition – no other folding bike can claim such a competitive pedigree. The Chameleon is an extremely high quality machine.

It's probably time to take stock of the folding bicycle carry case concept and consider the role of the folding bicycle and how the Airnimal concept might function. Most folder bikes are used as transport for one person and have very little consideration for luggage – luggage racks can be purchased as accessories for the more complete, more expensive solutions. The Airnimal concept is one of the best we've seen. It offers protection enough for the bike to be packed as airline luggage, but neglects the obvious need for another suitcase for all the other things you'll need when you're travelling.

We're really keen to see the prototype become reality, because we believe that it will kick off a whole new level of human-powered two-wheel travelling.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Bike Friday folders have had this feature for several years now. It uses an existing samsonite (large) suitcase. The bike is fits inside the suitcase when folded. Wheels, axle and hitchbar attach to the suitcase to convert it to a trailer. Although the suitcase is technically oversized for airline luggage, many users have been able to take it onboard without paying any extra charge. More info at this link: http://www.bikefriday.com/newtravelsystem

Nick Hein Morgantown, WV

Nickolas Hein

Yes, I'm puzzled by this article considering that I've owned a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket folding bike and their tow-behind trailer/suitcase since 1994. The bike and trailer components all fit into the suitcase for taking aboard a plane.

And the author's request for an additional suitcase seems misplaced. When the suitcase is on the trailer frame it is empty and therefore suited for carrying your choice of carryon bag with all your normal travel gear. On arrival at the airport you remove the carryon bag, pack the bike and trailer components inside the suitcase, and check it while taking the carryon bag with your other stuff on the plane with you.

BTW, the suitcase that came with my Bike Friday is not oversized. But as Nick noted, they have now gone to a slightly larger version of Samsonite bag - presumably for easier packing.

Peter Rathmann
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