Engineers must love folding bicycles. There are so many different designs to pore over, and any cyclist can admit it’s fairly impressive to create a rideable bike that also compacts itself for storage or transport. With the Whippet, British engineer and product designer Graham Powell brings a very interesting patent-pending design to the table.
While it packs down into a slim shape for convenient storage against walls (or to be displayed on one) the Whippet employs a clever folding method that keeps all of the frame’s tubes solid from end-to-end. It’s more a matter of unlocking the main junctions and re-positioning the tubing, but the Whippet reduces it’s footprint to less than 30% of its unfolded self, at a width of just 7.5”. In April, the Whippet debuted at the Bespoked Bicycle show and garnered enough attention to take home a Technical Excellence award…
The Whippet’s folding pattern is described by the company as three stages: Tilting, Tucking and Tidying… however, each of those stages is comprised of several steps. Folding the Whippet isn’t rocket science, but it’s certainly not the simplest design out there. The folding method is basically made possible by the bike’s twin top and down tubes, plus its split seat mast.
First, riders loosen the top tube’s front lock (atop the head tube junction) and tilt the bars forward, pushing the front wheel backwards and between the frame’s down tubes. Next you open the rear lock on the top tubes and lower them until they rest against the down tubes. Then, the whole front end pivots upwards so the top and down tubes sit vertically against the seat mast(s), while the frame’s built in stand hits the ground below.
One unique thing is that at this point, you remove the seat and post and insert them into the Whippet’s steerer tube for storage- a special top cap on the fork pivots to the side to make way for the seat tube. The steerer tube then folds down to tuck the handlebars and seat beside the frame, and the pedals pop off.
Folding the Whippet requires no tools, and you can roll the bike on its rear wheel while it’s in compacted form. Folded up, the bike measures 35” tall, 37.5” long and 7.5” wide reducing the Whippet to less than 30% of its original volume.
The Whippet’s frame is made from high-grade chromoly, with custom Columbus oval tubing up front and Reynolds 631 tubes for the seat and chain stays. The twin-tube frame is designed to flex slightly to reduce road vibrations for improved rider comfort.
The bike rolls on 20” wheels, and the fork can fit tire widths up to 35mm while the rear triangle will accept even wider rubbers. The Whippet’s built-in stand features two feet that automatically flip up or down when they are weighted or lifted off the ground. The frame includes mounts for rear racks, and a magnetic mudguard easily mounts to the bottom of the down tubes to combat tire spray (a rear guard is apparently in the works too).
The Whippet’s unisex frame has a low step-over height and the bike’s adjustable seat and steerer tube should accommodate a wide range of riders standing from 5’ to 6’4”. A complete Whippet weighs in at 25.4lbs, but that build spec is not specified…
While the pricing, model lineup and exact build specs are not yet determined, the creators expect to sell a mid-range Whippet for about $3850 USD. Pre-orders will be taken later this year, so if you’re interested sign up to the mailing list for updates.