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Hummingbird review: The world's lightest carbon folding bike - Cyclist

Hummingbird review: The world’s lightest carbon folding bike – Cyclist

Launched in 2016, the Hummingbird is the brainchild of designer Petre Cranciun, who came up with it as a solution to the problem of other folding bikes being too heavy for his girlfriend to carry around.

The full carbon frame is built by Prodrive, better known for its work in motorsport building race cars for Aston Martin, Subaru and Volkswagen.

Each bike uses the same carbon-fibre manufacturing processes and is built by hand at Prodrive’s dedicated composites factory in Milton Keynes.

As well as featuring cutting-edge technology, it’s also a stunning thing to look at.

Buy the Hummingbird folding bike from Ubyk here

The frame

Looking at the beautiful flowing shape of the main carbon frame, we can’t help thinking back to the Lotus 108 ridden by Chris Boardman at the 1992 Olympics.

But it doesn’t just look good, it’s a top-grade piece of carbon fibre engineering, built by layering up pre-preg carbon sheets then fusing them together into a single piece using heat and pressure.

This makes it not just exceptionally light but also incredibly strong. The fork is carbon too, while the steerer column is in aluminium.

One of the more ingenious features of the frame design is the fact that the CNC-machined aluminium rear stays pivot around the bottom bracket, which means the distance from bottom bracket to rear hub stays constant even when the bike is folded.

This means there is no need for a chain tensioner, which not only keeps things as simple as possible, it avoids adding unnecessary extra weight.

If you need to adjust tension as the chain wears and stretches, simply slide the rear wheel axle in the track-style, rear-facing dropouts.

SEE RELATED: Best folding bikes for commuting

The fold

Hummingbird claims a folding time of five seconds, but we only managed 15-20 seconds. The rear stays are undone via a quick-release skewer which allows you to flip the rear wheel under the main frame.

Once the bars and seat are lowered, a catch on the end of the bars hooks onto the stays to keep it all locked together.

The pedals also have a quick-release mechanism so you can remove them and not have to worry about bashing your shins while carrying the bike.

Although the height and length of the folded package is larger than rivals like the Brompton S2L Superlight, it is noticeably narrower.

Coupled with the low weight of the bike, this makes it very easy to carry, and also allows you to slot it into the slimmest of gaps – between seats on trains, for example.

The front wheel can also be removed to make the folded package smaller still.

Groupset

The single-speed set-up means there’s not a lot to talk about in terms of groupset.

The single chainset is from Shimano’s Alfine range – designed for city bikes, it comes with a chainguard to save your trousers from oily stains.

A 48-tooth chainring and 13-tooth sprocket combine to give a good mid-range gear for all-round riding, though it does limit top speed somewhat.

Aest CNC brake levers are quality lightweight items, and combined with the Tektro dual-pivot callipers, and Jagwire stainless steel cables housed in low-friction outers provide plentiful stopping power.

Finishing kit

Seatpost and handlebars are bespoke carbon items. The curved shape of the handlebars allows for up to 50mm of vertical adjustment by rotating them in the stem clamp.

The saddle is rather firm with high-density padding, and carbon rails adding to the stiffness, but the flex in that long seatpost does help with comfort, so you shouldn’t suffer any problems on the short-ish rides the bike is intended for. The same goes for the basic foam handlebar grips.

Wheels

Like everything else on the bike, the wheels are Hummingbird’s own design using ultra-light alloy rims.

We can’t vouch for their long-term durability but they felt strong and stiff enough on our test rides to give us confidence that they’ve been built with care, and the high-quality sealed bearings should last well.

Instead of a screw-on freewheel, a single sprocket slides onto splines on the rear hub, with the mechanisms integrated into the hub itself, much like the cassette freehub on a multi-geared road bike.

Schwalbe Kojaks are the German firm’s high-performance tyre for small-wheeled bikes, making them a perfect choice for the Hummingbird.

They feel noticeably more supple and therefore faster (and comfier) than the comparable Durano tyres, though perhaps at the expense of slightly less puncture protection.

Click through to page two to read about our Hummingbird factory visit

On the road

Even if you don’t fall in love with the Hummingbird at first sight, you’ll probably be swayed when you pick it up – at just 7.24kg on the BikesEtc scales (just above the claimed 6.9kg), it’s comparable to pro-level racing bikes for svelteness.

It comes in four colour options – yellow, blue, black and burnt orange, as well as a naked carbon weave if you want to show off the frame material to its best.

Hopping on, that lightness translates into instant speed from the first pedal push.

That single-piece carbon main frame feels incredibly strong and stiff, while the CNC-machined solid aluminium struts that form the rear stays are rigid enough to ensure that all power inputs are transferred into forward motion with maximum efficiency.

With the low overall weight, it’s no surprise that the Hummingbird is sharp out of the blocks, and once up to speed holds its momentum with ease.

Being designed for riding around town and transporting on trains, the singlespeed set-up makes perfect sense – it means fewer moving parts to damage, clean or wear out.

On the downside, it limits your speed to ‘as fast as you can pedal’, and given that the bike’s eagerness to accelerate can goad you into taking on your fellow commuters in a spot of impromptu racing, it’s slightly frustrating to find yourself unable to spin fast enough to beat riders on multi-gear set-ups.

If that’s a real issue for you, the Hummingbird is also available with a four-speed internal hub gear, although this adds weight. On balance, we’ll stick with the singlespeed and work on our souplesse!

Handling

As well as a speed boost, the low weight and razor-sharp responsiveness make this super agile on city streets – and thus a lot of fun to ride.

Even if the top speed is limited, the bike’s dexterity makes up for it as you weave through traffic and wrench it around even the tightest corners, with the 520mm-wide handlebars giving plenty of leverage.

We did notice some give in the aluminium steerer column when giving it the beans, and while the oversized carbon seatpost is inherently stiff, its length does allow for some flex to absorb some of the bumps on rougher roads.

That stiff frame does instantly rewards your pedalling efforts though.

Ratings

Frame: Top-quality carbon ensures it’s light and stiff. 10/10
Components: A well-chosen mix that comes together perfectly. 7/10
Wheels: Bespoke alloy rims further help to keep the weight down. 8/10
The Ride: Sprightly and agile, with super-fast acceleration. 9/10

Verdict

The world’s lightest folding bike is well-engineered and undeniably good looking, and backs that up with great responsive performance. Expensive, though

Spec

Hummingbird
Frame Prodrive carbon single-piece frame, carbon fork, aluminium steerer, CNC aluminium rear stays
Brakes Tektro R539 dual-pivot long-drop callipers, Aest CNC ultralight brake levers
Pedals Vellgo quick-release
Chainset Shimano Alfine, 48t
Cassette 13-tooth 3/32″ single sprocket
Bars Carbon 520mm width, 50mm rise
Seatpost Carbon, 33.9mm diameter
Saddle High-density padded w/ergonomic cut-out, carbon rails, 130mm width
Wheels Ultralight aluminium alloy, 16 front/20 rear spokes, sealed bearing hubs, Schwalbe Kojak, Kevlar bead, 25c tyres
Weight 7.24kg
Contact hummingbirdbike.com