a new commuting experience

The Ghisallo — a folding, electric bike that improves the multi modal commuting experience for safety and fashion-conscious individuals living in European cities

In this project, a team of our Global Program students unpacked the challenges of commuting in busy European cities.

Students from Porto Design Factory and Design Factory Melbourne came together on this project, working closely with industry experts from Berg and Sonae. Their extensive research and testing led to a proof of concept design for a new bicycle. This design resulted in two European patent applications, and opened a new market for Berg and Sonae.


Industrial Design Swinburne University

Electronic Engineering
Swinburne University

Communication Design Swinburne University

Multimedia Design
Porto Design Factory

Industrial Engineering
Porto Design Factory

Industrial Design
Porto Design Factory

Berg & Sonae

Berg Cycles, founded in Portugal in 2002 and a subsidiary of Sonae, has comfort, versatility, contemporary design, and smart technology at the core its brand. Berg wants more people to discover the explorer in themselves through cycling and is committed to continually improving their users’ experience across all interactions with the brand.

Sonae is one of Portugal’s largest employers, with roughly 40,000 staff across 60 countries. Sonae’s core business is retail, across food, sports, fashion, and electronics. Sonae has a strong CSR program, aiming to improve the communities in which it operates, and focusing on sustainable development.

As part of Sonae’s internationally recognized continuous improvement program, they engaged Porto Design Factory and Design Factory Melbourne to explore ways to improve the experience of commuters in European cities.

Final Prototype


Road congestion is a growing problem in European cities and public transport does not meet the needs of every commuter. Cycling is a great alternative to the two, but it comes with inherent and perceived risks and inconveniences, which deter people from getting on the bike.

After extensive need finding research, the team identified women between the ages of 24–40 as a key demographic who saw too many obstacles that deterred them from taking up cycling as a method for commuting to work or social events. These included perceived fitness levels, perspiration, clothing, storage, and balance. These needs formed the core of the product that the team developed.


The proof of concept prototype is the Ghisallo cycle—a uniquely designed bike which addresses the emotional and functional needs of the user. It makes riding to work an enjoyable, comfortable and safe experience.

The new bicycle design targets the needs of women living in European cities. The Ghisallo addresses the functional and emotional needs of the consumer by: creating a safer riding experience with its self-balancing 3 wheel design, being compact and storable thanks to its unique folding mechanism, reducing fitness barriers through the inclusion of an electric motor, and allowing unlimited clothing choices thanks to the low swept frame.

In turn, this brings immense value to the Berg and Sonae by activating a new market with a targeted product. The unique 3-wheel suspension system and low swept frame has resulted in two European patent applications.