From Beijing to Cambridge: why we are building a folding ebike

Jan 27, 2017

Dave, Alex, David, and Hongwei decided to start Hinton Bikes [Edit: now Flit] for a simple reason: we think that ebikes are a great idea but we don’t see anyone building the kind of ebike that we want to buy. We love bikes as great ways to get around our cities, and to see them from ground level. But when it comes to ebikes, most of the ones on offer are chunky, ugly or impractical. We want to build something more useful that will fit around our lives instead of us having to plan around them.


Dave Henderson, an automotive engineer, electric transport fan, and our lead engineer, has spent much of the last five years living in Beijing, a bustling city where the constant search for better ways to get around has led to many people adopting ebikes. With over 30 million ebikes sold in China each year, Dave was in the right place to see the benefits that they have to offer: in a city which is often gridlocked and polluted, ebikes were fast, cheap, and clean. In fact, he liked ebikes so much that for years he rode them around Beijing and, seeing a lack of options in the UK, he saw an opportunity to adapt the technology with his own design for people back home and across Europe.


Soon after starting out, Alex Murray joined Dave in Beijing to set up Hinton Bikes and help him in developing the best possible ebike. Having recently left a career in management consulting, cycled from Hong Kong to Beijing, and completed a research study on the adoption of electric cars during his master’s degree, Alex was looking for a project to sink his teeth into. Ebikes perfectly combined his interests in cycling, public policy and new tech.


David Turpin, a product designer with over 20 years of experience, worked closely with Dave and Alex to help to make their idea a reality: to design a folding ebike that is light enough to carry anywhere. With decades of experience designing clean and practical consumer products, David set the template for the ebike’s design and has collaborated closely with the team ever since. Having found many ebikes to be chunky and ugly, they have sought to return to the elegance and efficiency of traditional bike design.

FLIT folding ebike design progession
Flit folding ebike design progression


Hongwei Ma, an electrical engineer at the Beijing Institute of Technology, got to know Dave in Beijing where they worked together designing components and systems for electric cars. Excited by some of Dave’s ideas for the ebike, Hongwei joined the team to develop the sensors and controllers that we need to get our ebike up and running. This is vital because adding an electrical system to our ebike is not as simple as it seems at first. It’s easy to retrofit a motor, battery and controller to a bike, but it’s much harder to do so if you want to keep the ebike light and practical. Hongwei has brought his deep electrical engineering experience to helping Dave design an electrical system that achieves just this.


Having formed the company in Beijing, we have since moved back to the suburb of Cherry Hinton in Cambridge. Here, in the cycling capital of the UK, we are designing a compact, lightweight folding ebike stripped back to its fundamental components. Put together to get you around with minimum fuss, we are excited to see our ebike move over the coming years from our initial designs to a final version that is ready for the road.

Flit folding ebike - initial design concepts
Initial design concepts

We are always looking to talk to people who are interested in what we are doing, whether they are ebike enthusiasts or those looking for a new way to get around. If that’s you then please get involved by following our blog, joining our mailing list below or getting in touch with us directly. We’d love to hear from you. 

[Edit: Hinton Bikes was renamed Flit in October 2018 – links have been redirected to the new website: www.flit.bike]

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

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