To coincide with the official launch of the new FLIT M2, ebiketips met up with FLIT co-founder Alex Murray for a first look at the firm's new smaller and lighter electric folder. We have already had a look at the Cambridge-based company's first e-folder, the FLIT 16, concluding that it was, "an extremely impressive debut for an electric folder designed from the ground up." Can the M2 live up to the high bar set by its predecessor?
FLIT goes weld-free to reduce weight and folded size
The FLIT M2 looks even sleeker and, to my eye, more futuristic than its predecessor. Whilst it retains its Brompton-sized 16” wheels, rear hub motor (though it is an upgrade on the previous motor) and in-frame battery, it gets a single-sided front fork, which helps it fold smaller.
The M2 is down to 797mm x 600mm x 305mm as a folded package, which FLIT say is over 20% smaller by volume, whilst its weight is down from over 15kg to around 14kg (the battery is also easily removable if you want to make the folded package lighter by another 1.5kg, or just want to take it away for charging).
Like its predecessor the bike is designed from the ground up as an electric folder, so all the electric elements are very well integrated into what appears to be a similarly high quality design.
According to FLIT, another significant element is a new manufacturing method, which apparently helps keep the weight down. FLIT say that the new technique – using alloy tubes bonded with structural adhesives – means no weld distortion (it’s a weld-free process) which in turn means a more precise and tighter fold.
Not only that, the bonding process allows for a paint-free, super-smooth and tough anodised finish and means supply chain delays are less likely. (Wait times for traditional welded bike frames went from from two months to 15 months during the COVID pandemic.)
FLIT received a government backed Innovate UK grant to help them develop this technology specifically for folding e-bikes.
The M2 also gets upgrades for key components. There is a new, powerful and quiet 250W Mivice rear hub motor with torque sensing, the aforementioned single-sided fork, hydraulic disc brakes and fully-integrated, hard-wired front and rear lights. Although they weren't showcased on the test bike I had a spin on, there will also be folding mudguards which slide away for rolling the bike along when folded.
Ride and fold
It couldn't be simpler to hop on and ride the FLIT M2, as I found out when I took it for a quick circuit around Norfolk Heritage Park in hilly Sheffield. Like the original FLIT 16, it's a single gear model and with an easy step-over frame and a fairly upright and comfy ride position for my 5ft8in frame (FLIT say the M2 should be suitable for riders between 4ft10in and 6ft - or 6ft6in with an extended seatpost option).
I've tried the Mivice hub motor before and I was impressed then with its quiet, proportionate and smooth power delivery and it behaves just the same on the M2. It's great for hill starts too and the gearing ratio seems about right to allow climbing of some fairly steep hills while still allowing me to zip along at 15+mph.
There is a neat handlebar display that allows you to both toggle up and down the five power levels and turn the integrated lights on and off.
The new hydraulic brakes are a welcome upgrade over the previous rim brakes and feel sharper and crucially will mean no rim wear, which can become significant quite quickly on smaller wheeled bikes ridden in all weathers and conditions, which, as a commuting bike, this is likely to be.
FLIT say they have a tested range of around 30 miles from the 230Wh battery using power level 3 of 5. This certainly sounds plausible given my riding experience of the Mivice motor when I found it to be very efficient.
The fold is pretty quick and easy and rather similar in process to the original. It's a ‘tri-fold’ where the rear forks swing under the main frame while an offset hinge just above the front fork allows the front wheel to fold back along the side of the main frame. The handlepost drops down between main frame and front wheel.
There are two new welcome elements to the fold that look like improvements to me. Two angled alloy feet act as rests to make a more secure base for the folded package to sit on, whilst the front and rear wheel hub ends neatly meet and click together with a newly-designed mini-ball and socket arrangement to keep things firmly locked together.
It's all very neat and ideal for train-bike commuting and travel. (FLIT say there will also be a range of luggage options for the M2 to be announced shortly.)
FLIT say, "A first batch of M2s has already sold out to the FLIT community and pre-orders are now available to the general public with delivery expected by the end of 2023. At £2,499 FLIT have managed to keep the M2’s full retail price that same as for the FLIT-16, with a £500 discount available for pre-orders (£1,999)."
The bike is only available in the UK and is eligible for up to a further 43% off through the Cycle to Work scheme. Test rides of the M2 are available at FLIT’s workshop in Cambridge or at UK test ride events announced through the FLIT mailing list. There is a test ride this coming Sunday (July 2) at Redemption Roadsters cafe on the edge of Hampstead Heath in North London.