January 22, 2008 Riding downhill is fun, riding uphill is not, and depending how mountainous the terrain you're tackling is, it can sometimes be easier to walk the uphill part. That's the starting point for this innovative folding bicycle design. The Bergmönch, which means "The Mountain Monk" and is a reference to the kneeling position you can adopt on the descent, is a pedal-less downhill bike (or should it be scooter) complete with hydraulic disc brakes and shock absorption front and rear that weighs only 9.5kg and folds into a backpack in around two minutes to provide walkers of an alpine bent with a fast, exhilarating ticket home... and one that's a lot easier on the knees.

The design uses a telescopic framework and removable steering wheel to achieve its compact folded form and has carrying capacity for 12 liters of cargo. In backpack mode it includes a net for helmet and the larger front wheel sits at the top to provide better weight distribution.

While we've previously encountered concepts based on the same bike-to-rucksack principle, the Bergmönch is the first we've seen get beyond the drawing board, and it's certainly the first that's so well set-up to tackle unforgiving descents. If pedals were added you'd also have a great urban commuting solution that could save you the hassle of wrestling your bike onto a train.

As an aside, there is another solution. On a summery day a few years back while enjoying a bite at the top of a Swiss mountain in preparation for what I knew would be a painful, knee destroying descent, I exchanged pleasantries with a gentleman (who believe it or not was a priest) carrying a good-sized back-pack. While I polished of the last of my cheese sandwich, my new acquaintance proceeded to pull out a para-sail before taking a running leap off the hillside and flying down the valley. I'll probably stick to the Bergmönch!

Noel McKeegan

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