Rouleur Classic

London Bike Show 2016: LIOS Nano

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Photographs: Rouleur

It’s rare that a folding bike is among the more exotic offerings at a bike show, but the LIOS Nano is no ordinary commuter machine.
LIOS are claiming a world first in having made a folding bike from carbon: the finished result of a two-year design schedule that yielded four prototypes. The handlebars, 33.9mm seat post, saddle and wheel rims are composite, too.
The bike is the brainchild of Steve McCulley, a former Royal Marine, inspired by a childhood restoring reclaimed bikes and selling them for profit, and by a meeting with Brompton Bikes founder Andrew Ritchie.
His colleague Wayland Austin said the LIOS Nano had been designed to mitigate the necessity of a hinged frame and other design drawbacks typical of some folding bikes: “Dirty, heavy, floppy, very utilitarian, and not much fun to ride.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper, which sometimes is the hardest place to start,” Austin said, “but it does mean that you can do pretty much whatever you want.
“Normally, on a bicycle, you need triangles for strength, but we’ve got a beam, two levers, and a triangle for the bottom bracket, which, considering how small it is, is astonishingly strong. We’ve had 1200 watts put through it with only 1.2mm of flex.”
Two LIOS Nano models are available. The single-speed Superlite weighs 8.2kg and costs £3250. The eight-speed Performance model, which has a Shimano Alfine hub gear, weighs 9.5kg and costs £3500.
The Nano has a chassis with carbon some 5mm deep in places to withstand the rigours of commuting. Two wheel options are available: a 20” diameter with 35mm carbon rims, and an 18” diameter, with a more aerodynamic 60mm rim, also in carbon.
The Gates carbon belt drive is intended to fulfil a host of a design goals, namely to make a folding bike clean, quiet, strong, fast and comparatively maintenance free. The belt is oil free and the Shimano Alfine geared hub offered with the Performance model has a service interval of 10 years. Austin said that Shimano had recently sent a prototype 11-speed, Di2 Alfine hub.
LIOS hopes to improve on a debut second place in the London Nocturne’s folding bike race with a clean sweep of of the podium in Smithfield this summer.
And the name LIOS? It’s another composite, this time of the names of McCulley’s two children, Lily and Oscar.
LIOS Folding Bikes

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