Islington designer creates folding bike weighing less than four pineapples
PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:21 30 November 2015
With rising transport costs, increasing numbers of people are choosing to cycle to work these days. But many are still put off by the risk of having their bike stolen, as well as the thought of lugging it on public transport for part of the journey.
The founders of Hummingbird, who live in Parkhurst Road, Holloway, believe they have found the solution - with the creation of an “ultra-light” folding bike.
Weighing in at 6.5kg, it’s about 3 kg lighter than its competitors and weighs less than four pineapples.
The bike was created by product designer Petre Craciun, 24, as part of his final project for his Modelmaking course at Bournemouth University.
His dream of creating an ultra-light folding bike dates back to when he was still living in his home town of Bucharest, Romania, a few years ago.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of cycling and passionate about bikes,” says Petre, who estimates he has owned between 150 and 200 bikes in his lifetime.
“I started buying broken bike parts, then fixing bikes up and selling them,” he explains. “Then I started making my bikes lighter and lighter, and in the end I managed to build a full-size six-gear bike weighing 5kg.”
Unfortunately, Petre’s girlfriend-turned-business partner Ligia Stan, 22, who lived on the fifth floor of an apartment building, was unable to share his enthusiasm for cycling.
“She was too small to carry a big bike up the stairs and it wouldn’t fit in the elevator,” he said. “So cycling just wasn’t an enjoyable experience for her.”
This gave him the idea of looking at the foldable bikes on offer and finding ways to improve them.
“I bought a Bickerton folding bike (now out of production), changed some of the parts and managed to bring the weight down to 8 kg. But the frame was made from aluminium which makes it very flexible, and Ligia just didn’t feel safe on it.”
So Petre set himself the challenge of creating a folding bike that was both light and sturdy - and eventually came up with the Hummingbird.
The light weight of the Hummingbird, he explains, is thanks to its carbon-fibre frame.
“Carbon fibre is an amazing material because it’s five times as strong and a third of the weight of steel,” he says. “Most professional bikes are made from carbon fibre, but there were no carbon-fibre folding bikes out there.”
His unique design also removes the possibility of the chain becoming loose - a common problem in folding bikes, according to Petre.
He only decided to turn the bike into a business venture after observing the reactions of colleagues, friends and people, who stopped him on the street to ask about his futuristic machine.
Hummingbird is currently hoping to raise £50,000 on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter by December 11. At the time of writing, the company has raised more than £41,000. Meanwhile, Petre, who has a full-time job as an architectural model maker, spends his evenings finalising the design, while Ligia handles the marketing and branding side of the company.
They aim to get the first bikes shipped to customers by summer 2016.
Eventually, the pair plan to turn Hummingbird into a full-time career.
“The response has been so enthusiastic and there are so many more things I want to make,” says Petre.
You can visit the Hummingbird Kickstarter page here.