Written by John Barker for CamCycle. Read the full magazine issue here.

John Barker, cycling his FLIT-16 folding ebike

I am a longstanding Camcycle member and veteran cyclist. In the summer of 2018, I attended one of Camcycle’s monthly meetings when Dave Henderson, the Technical Lead of Flit, introduced their innovative electric folding bike to Camcycle members. As an engineer, I was intrigued by the technical and user-friendly features of the Flit bike. Dave had a prototype with him that I was lucky to try out for a few minutes. It was a revelation!

I am 84, with metal knee joints which stop me walking or cycling far without aid, so I already owned an e-bike to help me get around. However, this e-bike is too big, heavy and complicated to dismantle for the boot of my small car or to take on public transport.

A few weeks later on my family holiday in Dorset, I found myself feeling frustrated at not being able to join the rest of the family on the daily walks, go into Corfe for a wander or even go to the local shop for a newspaper without using a car. This is one of the major challenges of rural ‘staycations’: if you have mobility issues, the most realistic way of getting about is by car.

For me, my folding electric bike increases my mobility, allowing me to stay connected with my family and get back out into the countryside which I have loved and enjoyed all my life.

This experience got me thinking back to the Flit bike. I’ve spent most of my life walking in the countryside and climbing mountains. I wouldn’t be able to climb mountains with a Flit bike, but I certainly could cycle along roads through the countryside and meet my family at their destination. When visiting friends and family around the country I would easily be able to take the bike on the train or in a car and be much more mobile once I had reached my destination. Also, it would enable me to do all the short trips that I habitually did by car.

Once back from the holiday I booked a test ride with Flit and decided to invest in one. Just over a year later, it was delivered (it was a ‘pledge’ product when ordered). It arrived at the perfect time during the Covid-19 pandemic when socially-distanced transport and devices to help one stay active are more important than ever, especially for someone in the vulnerable category.
I find the Flit bike extremely comfortable to ride over medium to long distances, which I didn’t really expect. I found it very stable, with suspension that smoothed out all the bumps. Of course, it isn’t as powerful as other heavier e-bikes but that doesn’t matter because it has a different function: the important thing is that it gives me the boost I need to climb hills without overloading my knee joints.

I think people often see folding bikes as commuter tools, but I believe they have huge potential to be useful to many people in many ways. For me, my folding electric bike increases my mobility, allowing me to stay connected with my family and get back out into the countryside which I have loved and enjoyed all my life. At the same time, I will reduce my carbon footprint by using my car less, which has been a major goal for me over the past few years. In the future, whenever I go away from home to visit family and friends around the UK, I will always take my folding bike, and then I am equipped to hop on it and keep up with life with less damage to the planet.

John Barker, for CamCycle.

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