Technology

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New London startup are out to create the world's lightest folding bike

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Biking is officially cool again. Probably more due to the 2012 olympics and our growing concern with the environment and our individual health than Boris Johnson and his (admittedly rather successful) London bike share scheme, cycling to work has actually become a viable option of late for thousands of commuters across the country, especially in London. It's still not half as convenient as conventional public transportation though, so to capitalise on our newfound national love of two-wheeled transportation, and our everlasting love of convenience, London startup the Hummingbird Bike Company has designed a folding carbon-fibre bike that weighs just 6.5 kilograms.

London startup the Hummingbird Bike Company has designed a folding carbon-fibre bike that weighs just 6.5 kilograms

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The company claims that the stylish cycle is the world's lightest folding bike, weighing in at three kilograms less than its competitors, reportedly the equivalent of four pineapples, and less than the average watermelon. The vehicle frame comprises a single arched bar made of carbon fibre, selected for its lightweight qualities. The material is stronger than steel and absorbs vibrations, which makes for a smoother ride. The back wheel and handlebars of the bike fold under the frame, and the seat post can be lowered for carrying. The Hummingbird's mechanism also removes the possibility of the chain loosening, a recurring issue with similar folding bikes.

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The bike was created to decrease pollution by creating a mode of transport that can be seen as an accessory. Like a really cool umbrella. The Hummingbird will manufactured and assembled in Britain to the highest standard, using a range of leading technologies from rapid prototyping using 3D printers to automotive industry CAM machines. The bike will also be quality tested under the ISO 4210 test, which is the general recognised safety standard for all modern bicycles.

The Hummingbird Bike

The bike's designer, Peter Craciun, designed the first Hummingbird after becoming frustrated with the lack of affordable options for bikes that can be folded down to fit into elevators, or be easily carried upstairs. As a product design student and a bike fanatic, Craciun has always had a passion for taking things apart, understanding how they work and improving them. Many folding bikes on the market are expensive, not that light and not even that compact, so he reasoned that if he could design a bike that solved most of these issues, it would bring innovation into a market that isn’t that innovative.

The bike's designer Peter Craciun, designed the first Hummingbird after becoming frustrated with the lack of affordable options for foldable bikes

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Craciun said of his creation: “There are quite a lot of designs that fold the wheel under the frame, but they all are offset either in front of behind the crankset. The Hummingbird has the pivot concentric to the crankset, thus the distance between the crankset and the wheel is always the same. This means that the chain is in tension throughout the fold. With this system not only do we remove unnecessary weight, we also make the bike more user friendly and safe. I've always been obsessed with lightweight bikes, so I instantly knew I wanted to build the lightest folding bike out there. Folding bikes on the market are also pretty complicated in the design, so when they are folded, they look like a mess. I wanted to do something simple, different and bold.”

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The company was founded by Craciun and his marketing partner Ligia Stan, alongside UNIT9 founder Piero Frescobaldi and Outsider.tv founder Robert Campbell. The team is currently seeking £50,000 on Kickstarter to put the Hummingbird into production, and at the time of writing (November 17) has already achieved half of its goal. The bike will be available in red, yellow black and raw carbon fibre editions, and in single or five speed versions. If the Kickstart is successful, it's expected to ship in August 2016.

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