Switch Folding Bike Design Is The Best Collapsible Bike I've Seen

At last week's International Design Awards, Victorian student Robert Dumaresq walked away with the James Dyson award for his Switch folding bike design. And it is awesome.Unlike the Strida 5.0 Bike that we looked at last year, the Switch is a full sized bike that collapses in one fluid motion, without the need for locks or releases.

As part of his prize, Robert won $4000 to put towards development of the Switch bike, as well as an all expenses paid trip to Dyson's R&D centre in the UK. I can only hope that he manages to get this thing into production pronto - I know a lot of commuters who would love to own a full-sized folding bike that doesn't have the same sort of compromises as other folding bike designs.

AUSTRALIAN DESIGN AWARD - JAMES DYSON AWARD Victorian student rides away with top prize

Emerging Victorian designer, Robert Dumaresq, has been chosen by a panel of Australian design experts as this year's most inspiring industrial design student talent.

Robert, from Monash University, has taken Gold in the 2009 Australian Design Award-James Dyson Award with his Switch Commuter Bike, a high performance folding bike specifically designed for easy handling in crowded environments by folding to the footprint of just one wheel.

The Australian Design Award-James Dyson Award was announced at Standards Australia's Australian International Design Awards held in Melbourne on Friday 29th May. The program recognises and promotes design excellence and innovation in Australia.

About Switch Commuter Bike

The concept of the Switch Commuter Bike was born when this student designer felt the impact of a call by the Victorian Transport Minister for an end to bikes on public transport. His own reaction, echoed strongly in an outpouring of public opinion, led to the subsequent change of heart by the Government and inspired the idea that bikes could be better designed to help alleviate over-crowding on public transport.

Switch was developed to address the market need for a fully-functional bicycle that was also able to meet commuter needs by quickly and easily folding down for compact storage on transport, within the office, other work environments or at home.

As the environmental impact of transport methods becomes increasingly top-of-mind; Australia is experiencing a surge in people cycling beyond simply a leisure activity. It is a low-cost, non-polluting form of transport that has the added benefit of keeping the cyclist physically active.

When asked about the difference between Switch and other commuter bikes available currently, Robert states: "The design innovation is Switch's ability to fold in one smooth motion - making it one of the fastest folding bikes available. It doesn't rely on any structural locking mechanism to fold, as the weight of the rider keeps the frame open and rigid. A spring loaded ball bearing stops the rear section of the frame from unfolding prematurely when manoeuvring and handling."

He also points out the fact that many bike riders aren't interested in conventional commuter bikes, because they look like 'commuter bikes'; whereas Switch looks like a 'real' bike but with all the commuter bike benefits.

Judges were impressed with the research, clever-thinking and ease of the design, with comments including:

'It's so easy to fold it up, and a great idea to get more people utilising this mode of transport to and from work.'

Robert wins a cash prize of $4,000 toward the development of his project, and also an all expenses paid trip to the United Kingdom to visit the Dyson Research Design and Development Centre, home of inventor and engineer James Dyson.

Other prizes awarded:

The Silver prize was awarded to Jason Lam from the University of New South Wales for SOLAQUA - a water disinfection unit designed for third-world communities that utilises ultra-violet and infra-red rays from the sun to eliminate pathogens. A sari cloth filtration system, black backing material to absorb and distribute heat more effectively, and innovative configuration make this a viable option for increasing access to safe drinking water in these communities.

The Bronze prize was awarded to Lachlan Meeks from the University of Technology Sydney for TrackSense; a new and innovative portable device designed to detect vibrations from oncoming trains. The device is able to more effectively alert workmen on the track well in advance of existing methods, therefore reducing the risk of injuries on the job.

A Highly Commended prize was awarded to Daniel Molloy, from Monash University, Melbourne for Boomer Mobility Aid; a mobility aid that has been designed in response to Australia's ageing population. It includes a stair-safe mechanism and ergonomic seating, in an aesthetically appealing, rather than utilitarian, hospital form.

[Design Awards]



    When he's about to board the train the front wheel is missing.


    Excellent - good luck with getting it into production.

    I got a full sized Montague folding bike 5 years ago and use it most days in NYC. It uses standard parts and takes potholes and knocks well, it is looking pretty battered now (essential here to avoid theft). www.montagueco.com

    Since the Montague started this trend several other full sized folding bikes have appeared. I'll probably stick with my Montague, but there are now more to choose from. I'm tempted by Dahon Cadenza, which looks like a regular bike, but folds in half with 2 secret hinges which are operated by a key. It is still bigger than my Montague when folded as its handlebars stick out. www.dahon.com Pacific IF Bikes have several models from the expensive designer bike IF Mode, to regular looking IF Urban, which also seems to roll along on its wheels when folded www.pacific-cycles.com

    I am sure this trend will continue as most people prefer full sized wheels. Small wheels, well ... who says size doesn't matter !

      Funny you mention IF Bikes. I saw them in Taipei and I could have sworn they look just like this Dyson-awarded bike.....

    Exactly.... talk about dodge marketing

      If people would care to even briefly compare how the Switch, iF and Montague bikes fold before implying that the Switch is a rip-off then frankly they wouldn't sound so silly.

      Did this guy invent folding bikes? - of course not. Did he come up with an apparently new way of doing so? - quite possibly. Is it the best way? - hard to tell at this stage.

      But from looking at the Awards site I think it's fair to conclude that the criteria for the awards wasn't ready-to-go-to-market.

      Well spotted to the commentator who noted the front wheel was missing in part of the video - I missed that myself. It would be interesting to know what problems existed that meant they took the front wheel off for the video, and b) were these problems addressed with the latest iteration of the design?

      And It would be nice to see a video featuring the carbon fibre version that appeared in the publicity photos being folded (is it a working prototype, or just a fairly good looking show-only creation?).

    I wouldn't trust it in the least bit. Any bike the relies on my body weight to not crumple up scares the hell out of me. What happens if you hit a pothole or for some reason a wheel leaves the ground and your weight is no longer holding the frame in place?

    You are correct, he faked the train part - that bike has only one wheel. A full-size folding unicycle! If people are looking for a good quality full size folder, try Montague or Swissbike. I have a Montague MX and use it to get to work. I put it in the car trunk for the first part of my commute, then park and ride the rest of the way. When it's raining or I'm late, I just drive all the way. It's great. They have two (or more?) web sites at www.montaguebikes.com and www.swissbike.com. You can also take these bikes on the train - and with two wheels - although I find combining driving and riding is easier for me.

      Why did he feel it necessary to fake getting the bike onto the train? Obviously, the wheels do not line up exactly parallel so was the bike prone to falling sideways?

      If this folding bike goes to production, some changes would be needed but it's very interesting nonetheless, especially if it were produced out of carbon fiber. Man would that be light. Meanwhile, I'll stick with my IF MODE.


      Comments about Montague are intriguing and certainly question whether the judges did their homework or just fell for "beauty".

      I also just found the (finally) Aussie supplier at http://www.montaguebikes.com.au so I'm going to look into the Paratrooper - it is very very nice.

      I wish Gizmodo would write something about those.


    Err...check out above bike by Mark Sanders, creator of the Strida. This is his new design called IFMode.

    OMG - Montague are having a sale. Apparently this NEEEEVER happens and they only have a few models of each left. Thought I'd let the rest of you know if you were really interested!
    Have a peek at http://www.montaguebikes.com.au

    Hi there,
    We’ve noticed this product concept from the 2009 Australian Design Award-James Dyson Award has caught your interest and we wanted to say thank you for the write up.
    Just to give you a quick update, this project is now one of thirteen Australian product concepts that have made it through into the global James Dyson Award- a competition that spans 21 countries to identify the best young inventors from around the world. From now through till the 20th July 2009, your readers can vote for this project or another entry in the James Dyson Award on www.jamesdysonaward.org. FYI- From each country, the project which receives the most votes will get an automatic entry as a shortlist and the chance to win the grand prize of £10,000 for themselves and another £10,000 for their university!

    It's a nice design but I reckon it's a bit of a stretch to claim that it will satisfy the railway authorities. The Brompton is the benchmark for that and this one doesn't even come close. For one thing, it's still huge after it's folded. Nor can it sit unobtrusively in a space no bigger than a large briefcase. It can't even sit on its own without being held or leant against something. The fold around the bottom bracket looks suspiciously like the Brompton fold. That's integral to the Brompton patent. Even the Brompton's nearest competitor, the Birdy, doesn't use that fold simply because it's patented by Brompton. As for the earlier comment about small wheels, don't knock them till you've tried them. The Moulton is the best example of why they are superior in so many ways. Even the dorky Brompton demonstrates the advantages in its exceptional low speed handling.

    The Switch does seem like a good response to the needs of some bike riders but I think if it's to go to market there are lots of issues to be addressed.

    http://www.foldingbikecenter.com is a place for people who are looking for folding bikes. This store holds variety of foldable bikes that are quality centered and fulfills the customer’s needs and requirements.

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