The daily commute just got a whole lot lighter with the launch of The Hummingbird. The bike is the lightest foldable bike on the market. We caught up with the team behind it as the launch their Kickstarter.
Tell us the idea in 140 characters or less
A bike – foldable, carbon fibre, super lightweight. The Hummingbird weighs as much as 2 cats, 3 MacBooks or 4 pineapples. That’s 6.5 kg.
Where did the insight for the concept come from?
I was looking to buy a folding bike that was lightweight and somewhat affordable. The lightest one I could find was around 10kg and really expensive, I found a couple of others, but they were either really expensive or really heavy. That made me think – there’s a gap in the market and no one is doing anything to fill it. I saw this opportunity as a personal challenge and, as I was studying design at the time, took it on as my final project.
What have been the biggest challenges throughout the project?
Obviously, the first thing that I found complicated was getting at that design stage when I knew I could stop sketching and start prototyping. TheHummingbird went through a lot of iterations and it was hard putting the pencil down and thinking – “OK, this is it, this is what I should build”. But I think by far the most complicated part of this whole process was setting up a business. We’re very design-oriented and read a lot on this topic, but we’ve never actually built a business. There’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of money-conversations and excel files that didn’t let us sleep at night over the past few months. It was hard thinking as an entrepreneur, rather than as a designer.
What have you learnt throughout this project?
The Hummingbird has taught me so much, starting from how to think in business terms, how to “get s**t done”, as one would say, and most importantly, how to channel my free time and creativity into doing something other than wasting time. Having a full-time job and a project this size on the side doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time, but the time I have left I spend reading about design. It’s refreshing – the only thing I needed to do was to actually produce something from my passion. Now the TV is kind of dusty, haven’t watched anything in a while – but I love it. So the thing I’m most grateful for with the Hummingbird is teaching me how to channel my thoughts into something productive, useful and most of all, fun.
Have you seen any other interesting examples of innovation within the bicycle space?
I recently visited the Design Museum’s Cycle Revolution exhibition. The show is a great summary of the innovative technologies as well as the people and athletes who drove that innovation. Sir Chris Hoy has been closely involved in the design process of the olympic track bikes which helped England win Gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. One design that sticks to mind is the Lotus 108. It was and still is a revolutionary frame, with an advanced aerofoil cross-section using a carbon composite monocoque. It was originally designed by Mike Burrows, acquired by Lotus and ridden by Chris Boardman who won UK a gold medal in 1992. Seeing this bike in the Design Museum last week gave me plenty of inspiration for a couple of months!
What do you think the future of city commuting looks like?
Coming from a city where bike lanes are pretty rare, London was a pleasant change. Although I think it can be a lot better. For example, Ciclovía is a weekly, city-wide, car-free day in Bogotá that puts 76 miles of roads off-limits to cars, every Sunday. I think that’s fantastic – I don’t even think we need cars in a busy city. I find that I get from A to B faster than any car or public transportation could and you actually enjoy it – no one there to breathe down your neck, it’s pure freedom. So in an ideal world, city commuting would replace city cars. We would have public transportation and bikes – good for the environment and good for your soul. But it’s a long journey to that point.
What else is making you think ‘F**k that’s good!’ at the moment?
There’s a Kickstarter project that comes to mind – Kano. It’s a computer that you build yourself, a coding kit for all ages. It looks like a toy, but it enables you to learn how to code and make your own games from a young age. It’s something I would have loved as a kid. There’s also the Floating Record, another successful Kickstarter, a high-performance turntable that plays your records vertically through built-in, dynamic, full-range stereo speakers. It looks beautiful and its simplicity won me over. Apart from that, there are loads of products out there that make me wish I had come up with the idea first, from phone-charging lamps, standing desks to hoverboards.
What are the most interesting things happening in city you live in right now?
We made a habit out of going to Critical Masses – where we connect with different cyclists, every last Friday of the month. Also, we’re hitting every design exhibition we can find, we just went to Cycle Revolution @ the Design Museum and saw the third Brompton ever made – very inspiring. London is full of life and there’s always cool stuff happening, it’s not hard to find something to do every evening!
What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
I think the best advice I have received is to be true to yourself and to correlate your expectations with reality. Be curious, passionate and ask the hard questions.
You can pre-order you Hummingbird bike on the Kickstarter HERE now.
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