Folded up, a new electric bike is small enough to fit inside a large backpack. At 26 pounds, it’s also one of the lightest e-bikes in the world (another new design, if produced, would be a pound lighter even though it has a full-size frame).
The tiny size is designed for commuters who need something that can squeeze on the subway or under a desk. “It’s the perfect ingredient for mixed-mode transportation,” says Alex Kalogroulis, product designer of the A-Bike Electric. “Bike-train-bike would be a typical new commuter scenario.”
The folding frame was actually designed a decade ago. Now, as e-bikes proliferate, the engineers decided to redesign an electric version that took advantage of the original bike’s small dimensions. “Folding e-bikes typically weigh in excess of 40 pounds,” says Kalogroulis. “As the original A-Bike weighed less than 13 pounds, there was a strong reason to add a lightweight electric system and offer a unique combination of a lightweight electric and compact folding bike.”
Though the original non-electric folding bike is still for sale, the new version is designed for commuters who don’t want to necessarily tackle hills in a business suit. The battery pops out to recharge in a couple of hours, and the motor helps push riders along at sedate 12 miles per hour. If you want more exercise, you can ride without the motor running.
“[It] will break down the barrier of cycling being ‘hard work’ and encourage commuters to take the step to get on a bike and improve their fitness at the same time,” says Kalogroulis.
Will people want an admittedly strange-looking bike, with tiny wheels? The A-Bike passed its Kickstarter fundraising goal within a couple of days. The company believes that as more commuters see the bike in real life, more will be tempted to try it.
“Seeing other people using folding electric bikes introduces potential users to the idea,” Kalogroulis says. “In cities such as London there has been a growing number of people using folding bikes on the trains and tube. We think that this has a lot to do with the impact of seeing a fellow commuter unfold a bike and zip off to work whilst you walk or wait for a bus.”