Dominic Hargreaves, a 24-year-old Royal College of Art design graduate, believes he has reinvented the folding bike.
His contraption, catchily named the Contortionist, features a full-sized (if unusually shaped) aluminium frame with chunky mountain bike wheels, but collapses down into a tiny bundle which can then be pulled along rather than carried.
How does it work? The best way to understand it is to watch this video, which shows the bike in motion and then being folded (or "rolled", as he calls it) using an ingenious system of locking joints.
You'll notice two very distinctive things about the bike. First, the front and back wheels are fixed to the frame on only one side each (something unusual but not unknown in cycling) and are slightly offset from each other rather than being in line, something Hargreaves insists makes no difference to the ride.
Also, there's the small matter of no chain. While Hargreaves says it would be easy to use a chain or belt drive, his prototype was designed to feature an internal hydraulic system which uses oil pumped through tubes in the frame to power the back wheel. This is a new one on me, but apparently it's an idea which has been around for a while.
Hargreaves is bullish about the capabilities of his creation, perhaps understandably given that he has been shortlisted for a design prize and is in talks with several companies about a possible production model. He claims the bike is far better to ride than conventional, smaller-wheeled folding bikes. You can even take it off road, he insists.
There is, of course, only one way to test this – try the bike out. Unfortunately, the prototype Hargreaves showed me yesterday afternoon was a bit battered after spending two weeks being poked and prodded – and in one case, he says, dropped from head height – at his MA show. This has slightly bent the frame (which is far softer than a production one would be) and left a couple of vital pins missing. Additionally, it is not fitted with the hydraulic drivetrain.
Debate rages over the merits of folding bikes in general. While some dismiss them as jumped-up toys, proponents insist they can be just as fast – and just as much fun – as any commuting machine. They can certainly compete with other bikes on steep prices.
So, folding fans, would you be tempted by the Contortionist? Or is it seeking to solve a problem which was never there in the first place?