Prodrive (prodrive.com) is a British systems engineering company that we generally associate with the development of electrified powertrain systems, something that it has been pursuing since 2001.
In addition to which, it is involved in racing, having been involved with a number of OEM teams and taking six FIA World Rally titles, five FIA World Sportscar titles, five Le Mans titles, four British Touring Car titles and the Le Mans Series title. It is presently running racing programs for Aston Martin, MINI and VW.
What’s more (and perhaps having something to do with the foregoing), Prodrive also has a composites business and is a supplier to automotive, aerospace and marine.
So given all that, Prodrive has announced . . . “the world’s lightest folding bike.”
It is called the Hummingbird and it weighs 6.9 kg. Not, perhaps, surprisingly, the bike features a carbon fiber frame.
Apparently, Petre Craciun, a London-based designer and bicycle enthusiast came up with the initial design of the folding bike. He’d determined that then-existing folding bikes were too heavy.
Craciun explains, “Since buying my first BMX bike at the age of 14, I’ve become more and more obsessed with the idea of going everywhere freely. It was this desire to remove the restraints of other more cumbersome folding bikes that sparked the idea to design a transportable option.”
He took his design to Prodrive early in 2016, and the engineers there set about to develop the idea, utilizing extensive computer-aided engineering in order to optimize rigidity while reducing weight. And meeting ISO safety tests.
The Hummingbird frame is hand made at the Prodrive Composites facility in Milton Keynes and the full bike is hand assembled at Prodrive HQ in Banbury.
The bike comes in four colors or a clear-coat lacquer that allows the herringbone carbon fiber weave to be seen.
The standard setup is a single-speed, with a four-speed option.
And perhaps going back to the very start: they’re working on an electric boost, which they think will become available in 2018.
Have economies of scale come to the production of automotive parts with carbon fiber materials?
In 2008 BMW revealed a concept vehicle that was unusual in that the body panels weren’t made from steel, aluminum or composites but, rather, a fabric that was fitted over an underlying metal frame.
How carbon fiber is utilized is as different as the vehicles on which it is used. From full carbon tubs to partial panels to welded steel tube sandwich structures, the only limitation is imagination.