“Training without intelligence is useless. Be smart and train with the minimum necessary to perform as much as possible”
By Miguel Ángel Rabanal
- read the original review in Spanish
Also check Miguel's other blogs Intelligent Running
& Deporte Inteligente
Miguel is an expert on all sports related subjects; he’s been coaching for the last 20 years and is an accomplished athlete, nutritionist and journalist. His work is dedicated to intelligent training, he builds numerous training programs and has also published an intelligent training manual called “Entrenate A Ti Mismo” or “Enter Yourself”
Halfbike: pedal, run and skate at the same time
As a bicycle lover, this unique foldable vehicle with one front wheel and two rear ones immediately caught my attention. But I was even more surprised when I got the chance to try it myself. I can assure you that the more you ride the more hooked on it you get and you really feel the mixture between riding a bike, skiing, running and skating.
The Halfbike is handmade in Bulgaria by a start up called Kolelinia. Its creators Martin Angelov and Mihail Klenov wanted to create a completely new urban vehicle, the rider pedals in a standing position and the experience is unique and incomparable to other sports.
The evolution of the Halfbike has been gradual - from the first prototype made in 2010 to the latest version released in 2015 for all passionate about sports, urban mobility and different sensations to enjoy.
It is worth noting that the project gathered 2500 supporters, raising almost one million dollars, the initial objective was 20 times lower.
I really wanted to try this vehicle for I was captivated by its story and originality. That’s why I decided to tell you about my experience with the Halfbike.
A small box arrived from Bulgaria about 5 days after placing the order.
As soon as I unpacked it, I noticed that it was almost fully assembled. I just had to finish the build by attaching the handlebar and the rear wheels to the frame, the front wheel has been already mounted.
The assembly was simple and I was guided perfectly by the instruction manual that came in the box. I had my Halfbike ready in about 30 min.
I was quite impatient to start to ride but I quickly realized that it has nothing in common with a conventional bike. The way you balance on the Halfbike is totally different and each try resulted in a fall to the side. I was not used to the special balance that was required in order to start moving as it was totally different to everything else I have tried so far plus the handlebar didn’t turn! It felt like learning to ride a bicycle again. With the Halfbike not everything is what it seems to be and with each try it was tilting to the side, so I started feeling a little helpless. But then, just after a few minutes I started getting the hang of it.
I found out that the best way to get familiar with the Halfbike is to start using it as if it was a scooter. I placed one foot on the pedal and pushed with the other one. I also tried to get used to the special balance /it has little in common with balancing on a conventional bike/ in a static position.
When I overcame the initial phase it was time to do some more pedaling and see how it felt to ride on longer distances. It is important to note that when force is applied on the pedal one has to shift the body weight in the opposite direction. Also, keep in mind that the body should be in the upright position as if you’re standing straight.
Around the third day it is a good time to start taking into account the turns, knowing that it is the truck and the rear side of the Halfbike that controls them. Going from side to side will determine the turns, very similar to skating and skiing. This body movement goes with a slight leaning of the handlebar towards the side you want to turn to. Do not make any sudden gestures because you might lose your balance and have to step to the side.
Although learning how to ride might seem complicated, it is in fact very simple and the more good sense of balance and coordination and core strength one has, the faster he/she will learn. Jumping to overcome curbs or other obstacles is possible too and not difficult at all.
It took me about 7 runs of about 30-40 minutes each to master the Halfbike. Afterwards, I was able to go through the city, dodging cars and pedestrians with total precision and pedaling without holding that much to the handlebar, for I realized it’s the body that controls the Halfbike.
I encouraged my friends and family to try it, but they saw that they cannot control it from the get-go. That’s why I advised them to try to find their balance without moving first.
Three errors when handling the Halfbike:
1. Tilting the handlebar too much:
If you tilt the handlebar without it being followed by your body, you will lose balance quickly
2. Crouching too much:
Lowering the center of gravity has the disadvantage of adding unnecessary tension when pedaling should be fluid, upright and natural.
3. Leaning too far forward:
This destabilizes the center of gravity and overloads the lower back and the arms.
Center of gravity
Even though it can give you the feeling that you can fall forward, this can never happen as the center of gravity of the rider is well behind the front wheel.
Uses as a training tool
Riding a Halfbike is a great way to get fit without realizing it. Below I will give you a summary of five benefits that I have found. You can use the Halfbike:
1. As a warm-up prior to other activities:
After 5-10 minutes of pedaling on the Halfbike the body warms up enough to do other activities. I have tried it before my weightlifting sessions, running and playing tennis and I found out that it’s not only the body that warms up but also the corporal proprioception is increased, which in turn favors any after activities and trainings.
2. As a very effective muscle workout with great activation of the core area:
The Halfbike allows for an almost complete body workout, it doesn’t only focus on the leg muscles but also implies a constant activation of the torso area. This makes it an ideal tool to keep our abs, obliques and transverse abdominis fit.
3. As an aerobic exercise:
The movement involves more or less constant pedaling, which activates our cardiovascular system in the same way as when we run or ride a bike. In terms of intensity it would be somewhere in between.
4. To prevent injuries:
When riding a conventional bike the posture of the back is not natural and thus there is risk of dorsal kyphosis or hunchback. However, the posture on the Halfbike is upright and does not alter any of the normal curvatures of the back - this prevents and improves back injuries. Also, the impact on the joints is lower and they do not overload like they would during running. So when it comes to injuries, mind that riding a Halfbike can be an ideal contraption to use while recovering.
5. As a means to activate the metabolism and burn calories:
In addition to the muscle work that also involves a high energy expenditure, the Halfbike allows you to instantly burn high number of calories, due to the increased heart rate. Below I have calculated my specific caloric expenditure when involved with different activities. /79 kg and 1.85 m/
1 hour sitting ....................................... 60 Kcal.
1 hour of walking at 3 km/h ................. 150 Kcal.
1 hour of walking at 6 km/h ................. 300 Kcal.
1 hour of running to 10 km/h ............... 600 Kcal.
1 hour of running at 15 km/h ……........... 900 Kcal.
1 hour of bike at 24 km/h .................... 550 Kcal.
1 hour of bike at 32 km/h .................... 730 Kcal.
1 hour of HALFBIKE at 14 km/h ...... 670 Kcal.
1 hour of HALFBIKE at 20 km/h ...... 850 Kcal.
Use as a means of transportation
The Halfbike is not only a gadget full of great sensations to enjoy with each push of the pedal but an efficient means of transportation. It is extremely compact and you can take it on trains and elevators and even store it in the office.
At first glance it reminds me of a Segway with pedals.
But it really is a simplified bike for everyday life and with it you can go 4 times faster than walking. I rode it both on the road and the sidewalk, reaching speeds of 25 km/h on flat ground. It truly becomes an extension to one’s body to move around with.
Just loosen the lower knobs and in less than 10 seconds the Halfbike is fully folded.
This allows for easy and comfortable transportation in trains, elevators plus you can store it at home or in the office without taking too much space.
Materials and construction details
The handlebar is very narrow - it houses the brake and gear levers and the grips.
It is anchored to a wooden structure that lacks a turning system, this allows for some flexibility and cushioning.
It has a movement system similar to that of a conventional bike, but the movement comes from the large front wheel. In addition, there is an internal gear hub with 3 gears, making the Halfbike suitable for riding on moderate slopes too.
The pedals are a wider platform for better support while riding the Halfbike.
The rear wheels are pneumatic and cushion any type of irregularity in the terrain. They are anchored to a rear rotating system with springs that adapts to the swings of the body and the leaning of the handlebar.
The frame is made of aluminum that gives a lot of lightness to the construction.
The overall weight is extremely light which gives you an absolute control over the bike.
Design and aesthetics
The Halfbike does not go unnoticed wherever you go because of its daring aesthetic and minimalist design. It gives you a new way to move around and to enjoy the outdoor.
Simplicity of materials, small size & low weight, fast folding, ideal for short trips, brakes included, 3 gears, versatility, complete muscle workout, upright posture, fast learning, fun, nothing harmful, absorbs vibrations from the ground, unbeatable finish, very resistant, simple maintenance, 2 year warranty and beautiful aesthetics.
The speed is somewhat lower than on a conventional bicycle
To whom I would recommend it:
* To everyone, regardless of their athleticism;
* To athletes who practice cyclic sports such as triathlon, cycling, skating and running;
* To those interested in maintaining an adequate level of strength and endurance in a fun way and in a very short amount of time
* To people looking for an urban transportation system that doesn’t take much space
* To those who want to burn a lot of calories and tone up the abdomen
* To those who seek to improve their proprioception and body balance
* To people who want to prevent and treat sport injuries due to impact and overload
Simplicity and originality full of great sensations is how you can summarize my experience with the Halfbike, so I encourage you to try it yourself.