Stack them on your walls, stash them in the halls, or finally put them into storage: when you live in a cramped space, it seems there is truly no ideal place to house your bikes. Enter the Tuck Bike, a foldable, full-sized cycle that can be comfortably kept under a desk, tossed in the trunk of any midsize car, or even kept in an NYC apartment. Touted as "the first folding bike with folding wheels," Tuck Bike is the creation of UK native Alex Animashaun, who studied sports engineering before working at Jaguar Land Rover, where he developed hybrid cars. Striking out on his own, Animashaun, an avid biker, believes a transformable, easy-to-transport cycle shouldn't compromise on rideability or design and has spent years testing out his model on the steep inclines and bustling streets of the Bay Area, his adopted home.
Tuck Bike, now funding on Kickstarter until Nov 30, offers three folding options: The Curtsy, ideal for narrow railroad apartments, The Quickie, which "folds up in a rush," and The Full Monty, which can contort to the size of a suitcase in less than two minutes thanks to wheels that fold into thirds and tuck into the frame, sans tools. With so many of us swapping public transportation for personalized mobility options, Tuck Bike offers an easy-to-use and even easier-to-store option.
It's all in the details
There's no such thing as an indestructible tire, but Animashaun is certainly working on it. Tuck Bike's unique tires are covered in puncture-proof rubber and made entirely from solid Gecko Rubber foam, a durable, shock-absorbing material composed of silicone foam. Supported by disc brakes, which are easier to maintain than rim brakes, wheels are able to split into three equal parts and be stacked like slices of pizza. Each tire has reinforced rims, held together with wedge clamps and able to fold and unfold without having to deflate or inflate. The best part is they can then be tucked within the frame, creating a compact, tote-able end result. Caster wheels enable you to roll the bike once folded with a series of snappy magnets holding the folded frame together.
A better bike is possible
Animashaun drew on his years of manufacturing and automotive engineering experience to create Tuck Bike, including his work on the Jaguar C-X75, which cinema buffs may remember from the James Bond movie Spectre. But it was a long road from idea to execution, with Animashaun building the first rideable folding wheel four years ago while living in Kenya. At the time, he led the design team behind Mobius Motors, a local startup car company. "I'd gone back to the UK to visit friends and family, and while in London, I saw all these little folding bikes with tiny, tiny wheels going around. I was like, 'Those bikes look ridiculous! What's going on there? There's got to be a better way to do that!'"
Sketching out a rough idea on the plane ride back, he realized you can essentially fold a bike's frame however you like, but only if you can bend the wheel. After returning, he worked with local welders on prototypes. "I was like, 'Oh! Wow! This is going to be easy. I'll have this done in no time!" he joked. "And then it absolutely was not. I just had to be very humble and just learn a huge amount about bicycles." He explains that this also required learning a fair amount about manufacturing processes, even visiting Taiwan and China to find a manufacturer able to bring his vision to life.
"People living in cities. Urban dwellers. They've got limited space, but they love riding bikes. And they'd never be seen dead riding a bike with small wheels," Animashaun explains, noting why wheel size (Tuck Bike has standard 28" wheels) was so crucial to his creative process and early models. He also notes that many may also want to Tuck Bike for last-minute adventuring or bringing their cycles on trains or subways before heading out into the great outdoors. Ultimately, it's about a fuss-free cycling experience for all, without the pretension or exorbitant price tags. "I'm all about functional commuting cycling, where you're wearing jeans, and you're cycling to the pub, or you're cycling around town. That's more my scene."
Inventing a Path Forward
"I always wanted to be an inventor. When I was a kid, I used to design James Bond's gadgets. Then, when I grew up, I realized you can't just apply for the job of an inventor. So I became a mechanical engineer." Engineering, he explains, is all about speeding things up with process efficiency, a form of magic in itself. He always dreamed he'd be able to use these skills to one day launch his own creation.
When Animashaun moved to the Bay Area three years ago to be closer to his American wife's family, he set out to find a job in the tech world. He quickly found it hard to break into the industry, despite his years of experience and impressive resume. He also realized that many were doubting his abilities and even ideas, slowly realizing racism may be to blame. After one too many discouraging interviews, a lightbulb went on. "You are not treating me right because I'm black, and this is messed up, so I was like, 'Right, screw this. I will make my own product! I'm going to be my own boss. I'm going to treat people right,'" he explains, noting that all of the indignities he experienced only fueled him. "I was like, 'I'm going to give this a go. I'm going to see if I can do this.' And now I've created a proper product and it's had 40 million plus views on the interwebs. And we're going to see if I can do this as a business."
"I boot-strapped my way along using a makerspace in Kenya, then, moving to the SF Bay Area, Techshop and the Crucible," he says of the bike's evolution. "I invented the Tuck Bike because I wanted a full-size bike that I could take anywhere. There are other folding bikes, but I wanted one that I actually wanted to ride. I feel like my whole career, each step, I've just gone one step closer to creating products. Now, I'm finally getting to create products from scratch. That's my story."