Banbury, Oxfordshire - This, says the maker, is the world’s lightest folding bicycle. And given that the maker is Prodrive, better known for building highly successful race and rally cars, that’s no idle claim.

Prodrive’s first bicycle has been in development for more than 18 months; it weighs just 6.9 kg - about 3kg or a third less than any other folding bike on the market - and it has a unique three-step mechanism, that takes about five seconds flat from rolling to folded, making it the world’s ‘fastest’ folding bike as well.

The Hummingbird was conceived by London-based designer Petre Craciun, who’s also a keen cyclist. Craciun wanted a folding bicycle, but found that all the ones on the market were heavy and clumsy - so he designed his own.

What’s special about it is the way the triangulated rear fork is locked at the top but pivots around the crankpin, which allows the bicycle to fold almost in half without disturbing the chain tensioner or gear settings.

The rest of it, a collapsing and folding seat pillar and a steering stem that rotates through 90 degrees as it folds, is more conventional, although still a fascinating exercise in four-dimensional geometry*.

Computer aided analysis

Once he’d got it all figured out, he approached Dave Richards at Prodrive at the beginning of 2016, to refine the design, using computer aided design and analysis to make it as rigid as possible with the minimum of weight (the same as it does when developing a race or rally car), optimise its ride and handling, and create the carbon-fibre frame that makes it so distinctive.

The frames are hand-made - in your choice of four colours or a clear-lacquer finish - and individually numbered, by Prodrive Composites in Milton Keynes, and each bike is hand-built, with your speed of single or four-speed gearing, in the Prodrive race shop in Banbury, with prices starting at an eye-watering £3495 (R58 750).

And that’s just the beginning: Prodrive is working on an electric boosted option, which is undergoing evaluation now and should be available in 2018.

IOL Motoring
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