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Flit's folding ebike charged up for Cambridge success

From left at the first public testing day for the Flit 16 are Joe Sherwood, Dave Henderson, and Alex Murray. Picture: Keith Heppell
From left at the first public testing day for the Flit 16 are Joe Sherwood, Dave Henderson, and Alex Murray. Picture: Keith Heppell

The Flit 16 folding ebike was put before the public for the first time on Saturday.

Buyers, possible buyers and the curious went along to Allia’s Future Business Centre on King’s Hedges Road where two bikes were available to ride throughout the day.

Huge interest precedes the on-sale date later this month for the first Flit ebike, which was on display in its Cambridge Blue and charcoal grey incarnations. The commuter-oriented ebike – prices will be announced mid-month – was designed from scratch by Flit’s inventor Dave Henderson and boasts a fold-down time of 10 seconds, weight of just 14kg and a range of 25-30 miles on a single charge. It's impressive enough to have earned designer David Turpin the 2019 ACID Design & IP Champion award for his work on the project.

“In developing this ebike," said David, "we focused not only on reducing weight, having it fold down small, and making sure it rides well, but also on ensuring that it has a coherent design that anyone would be proud to own.”

And the looks, which generated a lot of praise from testers.

“People were particularly attracted to the look of the ebike," says managing director and co-founder Alex Murray, "both because of the colour and design, and because the built-in battery means that at first glance it doesn’t look electric.

“Test riders were also impressed by how well the ebike handles. There’s a preconception that most folding bikes ride poorly because of their smaller wheels, but it doesn’t need to be this way. By designing from scratch and fully integrating parts like the battery into the frame, we’ve also managed to reduce both the weight and the folded size of the ebike. Combined with the ability to roll it when folded, this was a major plus for lots of our test riders who often want to use or store it in places without a lot of space.”

The Flit 16 will initially be sold via a crowdfunding campaign before going retail next year.

“Our Kickstarter backers will be able to buy the Flit 16 at a 40 per cent discount compared to the full retail price when it launches to the rest of the public in 2020,” says Alex. “We are committed to building bikes that people find genuinely useful, so our Kickstarter backers will also be invited to join our founders’ club, allowing them to have a say in how we develop future ebikes that we have already started to design.”

Three colours will be available: the charcoal grey, smokey white and “a light blue that is a hat tip to our Cambridge origins”.

Accessories include mudguards, luggage and a travel bag. A three-year warranty on the frame and two-year warranty on the electrical system will be offered as standard.

The Flit 16 has been years in the making. Alex and Dave met in Beijing while studying, and the practicality of a folding ebike had its own logic.

“After living in big cities from London to Beijing, we were tired of traffic jams, overcrowded public transport, and polluted roads, so we developed a folding ebike that is designed to make getting around cities as flexible and free as possible,” Alex said.

Mike Scialom on the Flit 16 at the Future Business Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell
Mike Scialom on the Flit 16 at the Future Business Centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

The Flit 16 is around 6kg lighter than competitors, with Dave using his background as a Jaguar Land Rover engineer to design everything into the frame while ensuring that it keeps the stiffness and handling of a much bigger bike. Particularly neat is the way the battery has been designed into the bar, so you’d not even know it’s an electric bike on first sight. But the team - operational lead Joe Sherwood; technical lead and official inventor Dave Henderson, managing director Alex, design lead David Turpin and marketing lead Gemma Moses - is using the feedback from the day to improve the final production model.

"We had a number of comments that have helped us to improve the ebike as we move into manufacturing," concludes Alex. "For example, based on feedback and our own testing we will change the tyres in manufacturing to puncture resistant ones with lots of grip for reliable riding on potholed city roads, we will raise the handlebar height a few inches to ensure a more comfortable riding position, and we will swap the folding pedals for a more robust pair that can handle years of commuting."

Pricing and Kickstarter details to follow.

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