Bicycle built for two is the length of a bicycle built for one
By Ben Coxworth
July 17, 2012
Probably just about all of us “doubled” a passenger on our bike when we were kids, by having them sit in front of us on our handlebars. Of course, now that we’re older and wiser, we know how dangerous that was – not to mention illegal. Given that the kids of today are still open to taking passengers on their neighborhood cycling trips, however, California-based inventor Shawn Raymond has created a better way for them to do so. It’s called the Unatandem, and it’s a remarkably short tandem bicycle that is said to handle like a regular cruiser bike.
If you think the Unatandem looks like a two-seater BMX, that’s because it incorporates an oversized BMX steel frame and fork. This is matched up with beach cruiser handlebars, aluminum rims, spring saddles and caliper brakes.
The current version is the 14th prototype. In order to get the length down, Raymond moved the front wheel back – it’s back so far, in fact, that it comes between the front rider’s feet when they’re in the forward position. To keep those feet from connecting with the wheel when the bike takes corners, the cranks are angled outwards, drawing the front rider’s feet apart. This means that they’re pedaling in a somewhat splay-legged fashion, although according to Shawn, people riding the bike barely notice this. Hmm ...
The use of a small-diameter 16-inch front wheel also helps keep the splaying to a minimum.
Unlike a regular tandem, the Unatandem has just one set of handlebars. The rear rider reaches around the sides of the front rider in order to steer and brake with these, while the front rider rests their hands on the middle of them to keep their balance. Needless to say, it helps if the front rider is the shorter of the two – in fact, it looks like it would pretty much be a necessity.
Raymond is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, and plans on having the bicycle commercially produced by a manufacturer in China. Assuming he reaches his funding goal and all goes according to plan, he hopes to have them available to U.S. consumers by mid-December. A pledge of at least US$550 will get you one.
The Unatandem can be seen in action in the pitch video below.