According to its manufacturers, the A-Bike is the world's smallest, lightest folding bicycle. It's certainly also one of the strangest-looking. Now, a group of UK-based entrepreneurs are hoping to extend its claims to the world of e-bikes, with the A-Bike Electric.
The original A-Bike was designed by British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair, who also brought us the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer and the human/electric hybrid Sinclair C5 trike. More recently, his son Crispin set about designing "the world's safest bicycle," the Babel Bike.
The A-Bike Electric takes the same form as its human-powered namesake, but adds a removable 24-volt 5.8-Ah lithium battery and a brushless front hub motor. It has little in the way of controls, with a single power switch letting users switch between electric-assist and pure manual modes – there is no throttle mode.
When electric-assist is activated, riders can go up to 12.5 mph (20 km/h) for a maximum range of about 15 miles (25 km). The battery can be recharged via USB, and takes 2.5 hours to charge from empty.
Folding the bike down reportedly takes less than 10 seconds, and results in a package measuring 21 x 40 x 70 cm (8.3 x 15.7 x 27.6 inches) – in all likelihood, it could indeed indeed be the world's most compact e-bike. With a total weight of 26 lb (11.8 kg), it's also claimed to be the lightest. That's almost true, although the singlespeed version of the Maxwell EPO is said to tip the scales at just 25 lb (11.3 kg).
But ... what about those tiny wheels? Wouldn't they be swallowed by potholes? "Potholes are a problem, but you’d experience similar problems on a Brompton [compact folding bike] or even a full-sized bike too," A-Bike Electric Ltd's Richard Ling tells us. "With commuter traffic you’re likely to not be going at high speeds either, so have time to watch out for them. The smaller wheels help you get up to speed quicker, which is ideal for the stop and start city commuters."
Additionally, a two-chain reduction system allows riders to pedal at the same rate as they would on a regular bike – so they're not furiously pedaling at the same RPM as the wheels.
Its designers are currently raising production funds for the odd little e-bike, on Kickstarter. A pledge of £515 (about US$805) will currently get you one, when and if they're ready to roll. The estimated retail price is $1,089.
For an even smaller and lighter e-bike that never reached production, check out the Impossible electric bike.