This was the second time I’d seen a Nanoo folding bicycle in Florence, Italy–or anywhere else for that matter.
The first was in the bike shop down the street and around the corner from my base of operations at the Hotel Adler. And while I don’t remember the name of the bike shop, I do remember the gelato stand was closer to the hotel while the wine shop was closer to the bike shop.
If that helps.
I believe the Nanoo’s wheels are about 12 inches in diameter. They make the 16-inch wheels on my Bike Friday tikit look positively elephantine…
and that’s before you scope out the six-inch wheels of the Sinclair A-Bike in an adjoining room of the shop. I didn’t ask, but I assume the Sinclair is stocked primarily to make it easier to sell the Nanoo. (In a 2008 review of the Sinclair, A to B magazine reported, “Cornering on the A-Bike has to be a measured affair. Unless you sit well forward there’s little weight on the [front] tyre.”)
Not a lot of information on the Nanoo out in Internet land, mostly videos. However, the videos do a good job of showing the fold, which transforms the bicycle from a mostly horizontal quadrilateral (left, above) to a slightly shorter vertical arrangement.
Folded, the Nanoo has a greatly reduced wheelbase, but the rest of the package still extends up to your waist. So, if you saw 12-inch wheels and thought to yourself, hmm, it must fold down to nearly nothing, uh, no.
No it doesn’t.
But it does look like it would be easy to fit into a small closet, or to bring onto public transit if you’re straphanging with one hand and holding the bike in front of you with the other.
It doesn’t appear to be impossible to ride, either.
Here’s a more recent review of the Nanoo, from a rider in Singapore. “But… if you are any taller than 172cm (5’7”) I would not recommend as the handling is getting tougher.”
Interesting – I see all kinds of possibilities except speed, but then we’re always dealing with trade-offs aren’t we?
I think that’s why I like folders. It’s interesting to see how makers manage the trade offs–and what they optimize: folding, riding or, in the case of the Sinclair, credulity.