Folding bicycles have revolutionised the lives of thousands of city cyclists with their ability to be quickly collapsed, then stowed in cupboards, carried onto trains or parked unobtrusively in the workplace. London manufacturer Brompton is the best-known builder of such machines and produces over 45,000 annually. These include a £2,595 electric model developed in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering – an offshoot of Williams Formula One – which was launched in 2017 and went into full production earlier this year.
But the 16.6kg Brompton Electric already has some serious competition from another British manufacturer called Hummingbird. The Banbury-based company weighed into the folding bicycle arena three years ago with a 6.9kg non-electric model that’s claimed to be the lightest on the market, and has now created the world’s lightest electric fold-up.
Tipping the scales at just 10.3kg, the Hummingbird Electric (from £4,495) was designed in collaboration with leading motorsport engineering firm Prodrive. It features a one-piece carbon fibre frame and a 250-watt electric motor that, together with its rechargeable battery, is elegantly housed within the machine’s rear wheel hub – thus avoiding the need for a cumbersome external battery pack.
The battery takes three hours to fully recharge using a single pin socket in the rear wheel axle. The motor can sense when to provide electric assistance and is capable of powering the bike to a speed of 25km per hour over a range of 30 to 40km. To start it, the rider simply needs to pedal up to 8km per hour and then back-pedal for three revolutions.
Bluetooth connectivity makes it possible to control the power delivery and keep an eye on charge levels via an app, which also offers both a navigation system and an electronic security device that can lock the rear wheel if the bike is stolen. It is available in five standard colours (or a custom finish, price on request), and delivery time for this rechargeable rival is four to six weeks.