Of the various cycling goodies that were on display last week at the 2011 International Taipei Bicycle Show, one that stood out for its ingenuity was the Amxma Simple One folding bike. Made by Taiwan's Long Antelope Enterprise Company, the Simple One is for the most part just like any other folding bicycle – what makes it special is the fact that when it's folded up, it can be wheeled into your local grocery store and used as a shopping cart.
The bike's dual nature is made possible by a bottom bracket-mounted caster wheel. When riding, this wheel flips up and out of the way, not hanging much lower than the bottom of the large chainring. When the bike is folded and used as a cart, the two main bicycle wheels are in front, side-by-side, while the caster wheel flips down and props it up from behind.
When in cart mode, an aligned two-part snap-fastening mechanism located on the front fork and rear chainstay keeps the two bicycle wheels from wandering apart. A unique "neutral gear" device on the chainring keeps the pedals from turning backwards as the rear wheel turns. The user pushes the bike/cart around the supermarket aisles via its handlebars, putting their groceries in its collapsible rear-rack-mounted basket (which is now in front of them).
Long Antelope suggests that the bike could also be used more like a shipping dolly, with the basket folded down and large objects such as boxes strapped to it.
Judging by some of the videos on the Amxma website, it looks like one would have to be a little careful when using the bicycle as a cart. The pedals and hinge stick out to the back right at shin level, requiring users to stand to one side when pushing it, or to lean in over top of it.
The Simple One has 20-inch wheels, an aluminum frame, and comes equipped with an 8- or 27-speed drivetrain (although some sources also list a 16-speed). A version with a custom basket for carrying small pets is in the works, as is an electric-assist model. There is currently no word on price or availability outside of China.