I fall off bikes. And when I don't fall off, I get knocked off by large vehicles under the control of people talking on their cell phones. Such is the history of my attempt to balance on less than four wheels, to date, so I have mixed feelings about the idea of creating an entirely new class of two-wheeled transport for the modern age. The bike, after all, has been with us for more than a century and although I fall off them, the bicycle concept is well established as the most popular method of personal transport after the car. And in both motorized and pedalled forms, two wheeled transport in which both wheels are of equal size and the handlebars are at the front is the basis for many sports.
Enter the minifarthing, named for its similarity to the penny-farthing of old (a farthing being one quarter of a penny, or half a ha'penny). Except the handlebars are on the back, and you don't need a ladder to get on one.
The minifarthing is a concept, or class of vehicle, not the vehicle itself. More on that, in a moment. Apparently it is not, in legal terms, a bicycle or any other current mode of transport, making it legal not only where bikes currently can't go, but potentially where bikes aren't allowed to go, also. And having got to where the rider is going, part of the concept is that he or she is then able to fold up the vehicle, pop it into a shoulder bag and walk away.
The invention has initially been licensed to a new company, run by the inventor, called YikeBike (http://www.yikebike.com). The YikeBike is a high-end vehicle that will set you back more than two thousand pounds or the equivalent in Euros, and is, without much doubt, very cool indeed. So much so that it made Time Magazine's top 50 inventions of the year.
But it's the concept that will be licensed to other companies to develop and modify into their own vehicles, and then, if the idea catches on - a big, big "if" - we should eventually see both low- and medium- priced examples in the market.
That market at present excludes the USA, but could change any time that an American company comes forward to license the concept here. In motorized form, perhaps we'll be seeing Harleys looking like this one day. Oh, stop laughing. You never know.
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