Getting around our cities is frustrating
As cities across Europe become ever more crowded, congested and polluted, more and more of us are looking for alternative ways to get around. Having worked and lived in big global cities like London and Beijing, the team at Hinton Bikes [Edit: now Flit] couldn’t agree more.
We cycle every day as a quick and satisfying way to get around, and to see our cities from street level. But advances in battery and motor technology are making it possible to think beyond the conventional bicycle. By adding a motor that boosts the pedal power of the rider, ebikes are giving cyclists more options and attracting new people to cycling as a way to get where they’re going. At Hinton Bikes we are building what we think is the ultimate lightweight folding ebike that not only gives you a boost when you pedal, but that also folds down small enough to be carried or stored anywhere. We believe that this will not only give people a new way to get around their cities, but will also help to make our communities more liveable by taking cars off the road.
First though, let us say that we don’t want to be misleading here: improving public transport, electrifying larger vehicles that remain necessary, and a slew of other measures will all play big parts in making our communities more liveable. But, as many have already found, bicycles are difficult to beat for independence, speed and wellbeing in cities and beyond. For many more, they remain an unexplored opportunity that a lightweight folding ebike could help to make a reality.
How can ebikes help?
We’re often asked if riding an ebike isn’t just lazy, but we couldn’t disagree more. We wanted to build an ebike the moment we test rode one, not because we don’t like pedalling, but because speeding around on a bike that makes you feel like an Olympic athlete is just plain fun. Once we realised that this would also mean that we could cycle around town without ever having to worry about being sweaty and dishevelled again, we knew that this was a great idea. Victoria Pendleton, one of the UK’s most successful Olympic cyclists and certainly not a lazy pedaller, is so convinced of the benefits of ebikes that she launched her own range in 2016.
As great as it is to have more control over how you ride, having an ebike that is light and compact enough to carry around is also a huge advantage for taking it on public transport during longer trips, and for making it easier to take inside for safekeeping and charging.
As those who follow ebikes already know, a number of folding ebikes already claim to do this. But we do not feel that any of them have quite cracked the problem. Many, at over 20kg, are simply too heavy to be practical. Those that do get the weight down tend to charge a lot for shedding a few kilos. Nor are they all true folders: most have relatively simple folds like collapsible handlebars or a hinge to fold the frame in half. This leaves the folded ebike about the size and weight of an airline check-in bag, not something that would be practical to take out and deal with every day.
What are we doing about it?
Our aim when starting this project was to build an ebike that was more like the size and weight of an airline carry-on bag. In other words, something that could be taken on the train between cities, ridden home from the station, carried up a few flights of stairs and then tucked away in a cupboard for safekeeping, all while smoothing out the ride by boosting the effort that you put in.
If we can build a bike that gets more people cycling then we can contribute in a small way to making cities more liveable and our customers healthier. That’s what motivates us as a team.
We can’t wait to share the bike with you. Watch this space!
[Edit: Hinton Bikes was renamed Flit in October 2018 – links have been redirected to the new website: dev.flit.bike]