Published on August 14th, 2019 | by Nicolas Zart0
CleanTechnica Exclusive: How An Ex-Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Engineer Simplified Folding Electric Bicycles
August 14th, 2019 by Nicolas Zart
I recently had an interesting exchange with Alex Murray, who rethought how to fold electric bicycles (e-bikes) and launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Alex explained why the thorny folding systems have pros and cons, and how ultimately none of them hit the spot very well.
How Alex Murray Neatly Redesigned The Way An E-Bike Should Fold
The starting point was designing a simple mechanism fold with electronics concealed and free of hinges. The concept evolved into an offset headset and a folding fork hinge, which was prototyped with plastic 3D-printed parts to test the feel and ride. After only a few modifications, they had a great folding system.
Designer, David Turpin, sketched shapes based around the circular top tube and new folding mechanism. Once finalized, the first rideable prototype was made with CNC and 3D-printed parts. Fine-tuning the geometry and further improvements later, that came to 3 years and the FLIT-16 made its way to Kickstarter.
With a small initial launch in Cambridge, England, where a few dozen backers came on board, the final launch on July 30th meant the FLIT-16 was sold out within 1 minute. It reached the initial fundraising target of £25,000 within 5 minutes. And all of the early bird e-bikes were sold out just 24 hrs later.
Why The Flit-16 Is Good News For The Folding E-Bike Market
It’s true that bike folding systems are not the friendliest, in general. Although Gocycle has greatly improved its folding system, there can always be improvements. Europe, where the folding e-bike market is particularly strong, has people living closer to work.
Alex says the biggest challenge for e-bike makers is to get people to test them. Once they do, they love it. Shared e-bikes are crucial for spreading the word: “We’ve seen growing support and excitement for the FLIT-16. After receiving positive feedback from 100’s of test riders and experts, we’re excited to launch it on July 30th.”
Finally, Dave Henderson, Technical Lead at FLIT, added: “Our vision was to make an electric folding bike that feels great to ride, whilst keeping the convenience of a compact commuter bike. Using my background as an automotive engineer, I focused on the e-bike’s geometry to give a comfortable and responsive ride, perfect for city journeys.”
How The FLIT-16 Comes Together
The FLIT-16 uses a 250 Wh lithium-ion LG battery pack for a 30 mile (50 km) range. Weighing in at only 14 kg (almost 31 lb), the folding mechanism works in 10 seconds and the FKIT-14 can be rolled on its rear wheel.
FLIT won multiple grants from the likes of the Design Council, the University of Cambridge, and the Department for Transport for its design innovations. The FLIT-16 recently won the ACID Design & IP Champion award. It was selected as a Eurobike Startup Award finalist.
The introductory Kickstarter price is £1,250 and will increase £1,000 more on September 7, 2019.
CleanTechnica’s take on the latest folding e-bike from FLIT, the FLIT-16? Bring it on! Continued innovations and raising efficiencies to improve EVs is always welcome here. The FLIT-16 e-bike folding system looks like a great long-term idea.