UK-based startup, Hummingbird Bike Company, sought to simplify multi-modal transportation away from the heavy, inconvenient sized and uncomfortable norm. Their quest led them to design a more compact and robust, composites-intensive folding bike. Made primarily of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer composite (CFRP), the new Hummingbird Bike is currently said to be the world’s lightest folding bike at just 6.9kg.
Key design elements included the lightweight frame and a three-point folding pattern. Type and layup of the composite reinforcement were discussed at length between manufacturing and the structural analysis teams. They selected carbon fibre-reinforced epoxy prepreg from Microtex Composites (supplied in the UK by Total Composite Solutions), which is hand laid up and vacuum-bag/autoclave-cured on CFRP tools. Microtex X1 Matrix epoxy system was also chosen for its structural performance and visual clarity for the frame. Loose tool inserts are used to create all mating surfaces where seat/head and bottom bracket are inserted and bonded during assembly. Fully cured resin is rated for a continuous-use temperature of 80°C. The 2x2 twill-weave, bi-directional surface piles use 245g fabric while unidirectional backing plies are 660g and are also used as added reinforcements in high-stress areas. It takes about 18.5 hours to hand produce each bike.
On the back of this innovative design, Prodrive continue to specify Microtex in other related products such as motorsport parts. They have been “delighted with the cutting-edge advanced composites from Microtex, along with the great partnership approach offered by their UK partner, Total Composite Solutions”.