A startup company has a concept for an electric motorcycle that can both fit into tiny spaces and provide enough performance to ride on most roads. The Colibri M22 combines attributes of a folding bicycle with a motorcycle to create a machine that can go 60 mph, ride up to 124 miles, weighs as low as 114 pounds, and could fit into an elevator or the back of a wagon or SUV. Even better, it’ll be available to buy in America!
This motorcycle is the work of Petre Georgescu, a modelmaker perhaps better known for launching Hummingbird (note: Colibri is the word for Hummingbird in a number of languages), a company that builds lightweight folding bicycles. Hummingbird explains that Petre, a bike enthusiast from Romania, once left a movie theater to discover that his beloved bicycle had been stolen. He began dreaming of a bike that could be taken inside, hidden away from sticky fingers. Hummingbird’s co-founder, graphic designer Ligia Stan, wanted to store her bike inside, too but found that existing folding bike designs were too heavy to easily lug into an apartment on the regular. There were lightweight designs on the market, but Petre felt that they were too wobbly. Thus, he set out to design a carbon fiber bicycle that was lightweight, sturdy, and can still fold up and be taken inside.
Five years after launching the Hummingbird brand, Petre left his company and decided to expand the idea of a compacting two-wheeler. In 2021, he founded Colibri and created the first prototype for what would become the M22, a compact motorcycle with similar attributes to his folding bicycle.
A Blend Of Existing Ideas
This machine rides the line of different classifications of two-wheelers. It resembles a moped like a Tomos Targa, folds like a bicycle or a Motocompo scooter, but has a top speed closer to that of a motorcycle. With its top speed of 60 mph, this could even outrun some motorcycles in the 125cc class.
The Colibri seems to solve a few issues faced by a number of motorcyclists living in cities. If you own a motorcycle that is light enough, a pair of thieves could quickly carry your motorcycle away; something that I’ve seen happen to Honda Grom owners more than once.
Electric motorcycles have this same problem and introduce a new one with charging needs. Some electric motorcycles don’t have removable batteries, making them not ideal for apartment dwellers. Some do have removable batteries, which solve that issue but still leave the bike out there for thieves.
Petre’s Colibri M22 seems to offer a pretty neat solution for those living in a city. Not only can you remove the batteries for indoor charging, but you can fold up the motorcycle and take it with you into your apartment.
Its Party Trick
The Colibri M22 starts off with a chromoly steel cradle frame with a 45mm inverted fork and a rear monoshock. There are hinges at the swingarm pivot point and where the tail connects to the rest of the frame. This allows the motorcycle to fold in on itself, compacting down to 2.9-feet wide by about 4.2-feet tall. It’s designed to fit in small European elevators, on escalators, and in trains. It also weighs just 66 pounds without its batteries installed. And given its dimensions, this is also small enough to be thrown into the back of a wagon or SUV.
The idea here was to make the ultimate urban transportation device that saves you money, from Colibri:
“I move a lot, and the daily hours spent in traffic seem like a tragedy to me, especially since the distances traveled daily in big cities are increasing. For example, the average commute in London is 32 km a day, takes 85 minutes and it costs €5,722 per year,” explains Petre Georgescu. “With Colibri, the cost of one commute could be as much as a cup of coffee per month.”
Powering this street-legal mini motorcycle is a hub motor that’s able to provide 4 HP of continuous power and 21 HP in bursts. At peak power, the motor is also good for 137 lb-ft torque.
The motorcycle has three different top speeds, which all depend on which mode you select. Eco mode is designed for navigating tight streets in heavy traffic. Its top speed here is limited to 20 mph. Next is Dynamic mode, which is a setting that’s supposed to give you a good mix of range and speed. This is meant for regular city riding and limits top speed to 28 mph. Finally, there’s an off-road mode, which unleashes the full might of the motor and the motorcycle’s 62 mph top speed. Colibri sees you taking this thing down some trails at speed.
Feeding the motor is a modular battery setup. Out of the box, you get a single 1.7 kWh battery that provides up to 40 miles of range. In this guise, the motorcycle weighs 114 pounds.
You can spec up to three batteries in your Colibri M22, which the company says will give it a range of up to 124 miles and a weight of just 174 pounds. Colibri further says that if you never leave Eco mode, you might see as high as 142 miles on a charge. Of course, the fine print there is that you’d probably have to make multiple trips to get your M22 into your apartment. You’d have to first get the 66-pound frame in, then come back for the 108 pounds of batteries.
The good news is that all of the batteries can be charged at the same time and Colibri says that they’ll charge from dead to full in 2 hours and 10 minutes from a 240V power source.
One advantage that I see here that Colibri doesn’t mention is battery swapping. With the modular battery system, you could have a battery or two in the bike and a battery or two charged up at home or wherever, swapping as needed. I could see that being useful if, say, you’re using this for pizza delivery or similar. The best part is that while this machine will be built out of a workshop near Bucharest, Romania, you will be able to buy in the United States. Colibri says that this will be street-legal here in America.
Sadly, there is one catch. Like the Hummingbird bike was, the Colibri M22 motorcycle is being brought to life through crowdfunding. Prototypes of the M22 exist and the company expects to get approval in the U.S. and the EU in April. Production is then expected to start in May with deliveries beginning in August. Of course, that timeline requires Colibri to have the funding it needs. As of right now, Colibri is running pre-sales of the motorcycle. For $2,799 you get the single-battery model, but you can option it up with more batteries and other accessories like fenders.
I dig this concept. If you live in a place where motorcycle theft is rampant, you can have some peace of mind that your ride is safe. The fact that it folds could also make it a fun bike to have at the pits, a companion vehicle for a camping rig, or a trail toy. I could see myself taking this with me on a Gambler 500 for some trail runs or stuffed in a camper.
(All Photos: Colibri)
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I don’t care at all about the folding aspect, but this seems like a reasonably priced electric motorcycle with enough range for my around-town riding. I’ll be interested to see if they can deliver on the promised specs at that price.
So this seems like one of those ideas that was better in concept than execution. So they expect you to get home, pull the battery out and haul it upstairs, leaving your chassis there for the nearest person with a minivan to snatch. Then you come back and somehow balance said 70 lb chassis while removing the shock bolt and fold it up. Then hope no one else is on the elevator or you’re sitting a while.
So it’s at least a 30 min ordeal. Not to mention most potential customers don’t even know what a torque wrench is, much less would use one every time they touch that critical suspension bolt. How long will it take before some kid mangles that bolt and the bike becomes Full Self Folding on the highway?
As someone whose bicycle did get jacked, and who loves the idea of nippy little electric motorcycles for urban commuting, this looks rad as hell. Here’s hoping it gets the stamp of approval for US sales, though how the licensing system will work in different states–is it a moped? a motorcycle?–might be a nightmare.
I’ve no idea how it will work in the US, but in Europe it’s treated the same as any other motorbike. What I’m not sure about is how it’s power would be rated, if they take the 4HP continuous rating, or the 21HP peak.
Lol he started a bicycle company called hummingbird. Then when he got the idea for a motorcycle, he said, “Google, How do you say ‘hummingbird’ in Spanish?”
Apparently the Romanian for ‘hummingbird’ is ‘pasărea Colibri’, so I doubt he needed the translation.
I guess it’s probably from a Latin word originally?
If they can actually deliver these for that price, I will be very impressed. And I might actually buy one!
I really like this concept. I wonder what they are using for a motor and how much that motor weighs. 21 horsepower is quite a lot for such a light vehicle.
The price is doable if they get the production volume high enough. Ebike electronics have come down in cost greatly for what you get during the last 5 years.
I’m surprised it weighs as much as it does. That steel tubing must have been greatly overbuilt.
I’ve built an even lighter vehicle that is being upgraded from 4 peak horsepower to 13 peak horsepower, and simulation suggests 0-60 mph acceleration of under 8 seconds is possible. With 4 horsepower and hard pedaling, 0-30 mph is roughly 6 seconds in the real world, if care is taken to avoid losing traction. My motor weighs 17 lbs, is rated by the manufacturer at 1500W continuous, but in reality can do 2kW continuous without modification. Mine is modified, so I might be able to get 4 kW continuous, which would in theory allow 90 mph cruising speed on flat ground thanks to the aerodynamics of my vehicle.
Something seems amiss with the pricing. This has performance approximating a 150cc scooter or motorcycle. Closest competitor is the NIU NQi GTS and costs $5400, or twice as much.
The range in the performance mode is certain to be very limited. That is the drawback here and likely how they can make it so cheap.
Sounds too good to be true tbh. I’ll believe it when I see it.
I like the basic concept, but it would not legally pass for a road going motorcycle here (Ontario, Canada), and sits in the no-mans land of too powerful for a bicycle and lacking the requisite pedals. I also don’t think I could trick my brain into being happy with a 60 mph folder.
Ontario’s regulations on what qualifies as a bicycle/moped/e-bike/low-speed motorcycle/motorcycle are terrible. To their minor credit they seem to be updating the regs but those e-things that look exactly like a Ninja 300 and “only go 32 km/h” and “totally have working pedals, really” are still “bicycles”.
I’m all for transportation options and I sure don’t want my pedal-assist bike (Fuell Flluid) to require a licence. IMO if it has a throttle, it’s not a bicycle. Full stop.
“Price starts at 2.799$” Sweet, I would even pay the full 2.80$, they can round up and keep the .1 cent as a tip I suppose.
LOL! Apparently, using points instead of commas is a thing depending on region:
Yes, and it’s a real pain in the butt with some software titles that deal with decimal input.
This looks excellent. I’d love to have one for camping and the like. Set up camp and then ride this around instead of taking the pickup. Travel in one vehicle, have two when we get there. I dropped the $20 to reserve one. Hoping everything looks good to buy it when the time comes.
It seems a bit odd that this is significantly cheaper than his Hummingbird electric bikes.
Not that odd IMO: the Hummingbirds were carbon fiber and the Colibri is chromoly steel.
This is all kinds of badass. This would be perfect for ripping around my town on the weekends. I work from home, so the commute isn’t an issue. For the days I have to go into the office, I’d take my car. A 60mph top speed is a non-starter on the tollways of DFW. But, they’re really onto something here.
The 20mph and 28mph limits wouldn’t really work on the city streets either. I’d have to keep it in offroad mode 100% of the time or get mowed down.
they have not officially sold one yet either, so it could end up a bit like the Elio. lots of promise, very little reality.
Maybe not quite Elio levels of questionable. The founder’s already made a successful ebike company, and the jump from there to this isn’t exactly massive. It’s basically a scaled-up ebike. There’s also an actual prototype that seems to be rideable, though it’s visibly a prototype (3d-printed fairing/housing around the headlight instead of injection-molded).
There’s enough hedging on the claims to make them at least moderately realistic. That low price only includes 1 battery out of 3. You almost certainly only get the full “up to” range if you go like 15-25mph. Setting up mass production will almost certainly take longer and more money than projected.
It’s possible they’ll fail to raise the cash or sell enough volume and quickly collapse, but I’d say there’s better than even odds of them actually selling an actual product to at least some people. Elio was always super questionable, with way more hand-waving and hyperbole.
In many U.S. states that have codified ebikes into law, 20 mph using throttle only is a common legal specification, as is 28 mph using throttle plus pedaling. Those limits are likely set so the bike can pass as “street legal” when unregistered and when not operated in off-road mode. In some jurisdictions, off-road mode will be completely legal.
In my state, my PAS-equipped custom built velomobile/microcar that can hit 50 mph is perfectly legal to operate on public roads, with no drivers’ license, registration, title, tags, plates, insurance, ect. I can’t take it on the interstate, but cruising down state highways at 45 mph is doable without running afoul of legal technicalities. It is functional as a bicycle with the motor disabled and meets none of my state’s motor vehicle definitions. When I ride into my neighboring state, I have to restrict it to 28 mph and 750W when pedaling, and 20 mph using throttle only, or else the cops could try to claim it is a car or a motorcycle or an autocycle or a moped or any other number of things. It’s roughly the size of a Messerschmitt in volume, but greatly less mass weighing in at 91 lbs, and able to peel out and do donuts with all of 4 horsepower. I’m currently upgrading it to 13 horsepower so that it will be able to top out at 100+ mph and accelerate faster than most cars, and it’s getting DOT rims with solar car tires. If I disable the motor, I can still pedal it to faster-than-ebike speeds due to its aerodynamics.
the big question is are they legal to be operated by youth under 14? and what are the laws related to safety gear? because with Road rage and anger at all the bike lanes, i have to worry about my kid slowing down a rager.
That will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I don’t think this motorcycle is intended for youth. Road rage is a constant threat though, no matter the age of the person who is vulnerable for riding this bike. Riding around armed is a good idea in the context of this.
With 21 horsepower in such a light machine, this thing probably takes off from 0-30 mph like a Corvette. I couldn’t find additional info on the motor, but based on the manufacturer’s claimed continuous and peak power specs, it is likely that the hub motor for this product may be an MXUS 3k Turbo version. I have no way to prove that, but it is an educated guess. If so, this motor is almost twice as heavy as the one I am using.