Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cruisin': Electric bicycle combines aerobic exercise, transportation

 By Wayne Risher
Charles McVean rides an Aerobic Cruiser Hybrid Bicycle on High Point Terrace near the Shelby Farms Greenline. McVean, 67, launched development of the Aerobic Cruiser four years ago in hopes of blending fun, exercise and profit.
Photos by Greg A. Cooper/The Commercial Appeal
Charles McVean rides an Aerobic Cruiser Hybrid Bicycle on High Point Terrace near the Shelby Farms Greenline. McVean, 67, launched development of the Aerobic Cruiser four years ago in hopes of blending fun, exercise and profit.
The leader of the pack is a 67-year-old millionaire who wears a warm-up suit and a smile as broad as a kid with a new toy.
Charles McVean gestures toward a fleet of funny-looking electric bicycles parked nearby and tells his entourage "OK everybody. Let's cruise."
And away goes The Mild Bunch, nine laid-back riders gliding silently down High Point Terrace to East Memphis' new railbed-turned-trail, the Shelby Farms Greenline.

At the head of the column rides McVean, financial whiz and principal in Aerobic Cruiser Hybrid Cycle LLC, a maker of plug-in electric moped bicycles.
The founder and president of McVean Trading and Investments LLC launched development of the Aerobic Cruiser four years ago in hopes of blending fun, exercise and profit.
To hear him tell it, the long, low-slung bicycle with a battery-powered motor between the driver's legs is a cure to what ails Memphis and America.
He believes it can help fight climate change, the obesity epidemic, the foreign trade deficit and a diminished manufacturing base.
McVean's company is assembling the Aerobic Cruiser in Memphis, albeit from mostly foreign-made parts.
"One of our objectives is to be a microcosm of the rebirth of manufacturing in the United States of America," he said.
It's developing a bicycle lifestyle center a few blocks north of the Greenline, in the neighborhood shopping strip where McVean rode his bike as a kid.
Cruiser's Lifestyle Center, 485 High Point Terrace at Philwood, will contain a bicycle service center, Cruiser showroom, convenience store, restaurant and public restrooms. First will come restrooms, opening in November, to provide pit stops for Greenline users.
Thinking big is old hat for McVean. In the 1980s he dropped millions on a proposal for indoor racing featuring hackney ponies ridden by robot jockeys. Six years ago he started the Peer Power Foundation at his alma mater, East High School. It cultivates high achievers to boost performance of their lagging peers.
McVean said he's invested "several million dollars" so far to create his own spin on the electric bicycle, a low-impact conveyance that sells tens of millions of units a year worldwide, primarily in Asia and Europe. His design combines pedal power with electric power so riders can go faster or further, climb hills or take a breather without stopping.
"It has not caught on yet in the USA because nobody has built the right machine," McVean said. "I think this is it."
"It's fun. It's exercise. But most of all, it's serious transportation," he added.
McVean has 12 to 15 people carrying out his vision, which sees Aerobic Cruisers dovetailing with efforts to make Memphis a bicycle haven.
McVean said the ultimate would be a bicycle lane atop the Mississippi River levee from Walls, Miss., to Vicksburg, with a high-speed ferry filling the gap between Walls and Downtown.
Employed by his venture are bicycle mechanics, competitive cyclists and business, retail and restaurant types.
McVean punctuated their cruise from High Point to the Shelby Farms visitor center with comments on marketing, economics and recent articles about the electric vehicle market.
"The Cruiser is a very unique project that's exciting to be a part of," said Jeremy Reese, who started working for McVean four years ago.
The Aerobic Cruiser is pricey: $5,000 for a deluxe model with well-padded semi-recumbent seat and shock-absorbing frame. The top-of-the-line can go 75 to 100 miles on a charge.
McVean's company has built 20 prototypes, outfitted with high-efficiency lithium iron phosphate batteries.
A lower-line model, the Commuter, will sell for less than $2,000. A three-wheeler also will be offered.
Kyle Wagenschutz, bike and pedestrian coordinator for city and county governments, said the Cruiser suits people who want both exercise and transportation out of a bike, but maybe need help covering longer distances.
McVean's plan for the High Point Terrace center is an example of economic activity spurred by the new Greenline, Wagenschutz said.
The trail's opening has been eagerly anticipated by the bicycling public, said Daniel Duckworth, general manager of Midtown Bikes on South Main.
"September was my best month all year," Duckworth said. "In my conversations with customers, it's obvious, whether they're buying new or dragging in something old to refurbish, generally most people have a high interest in utilizing that great asset we now possess."
As for the Aerobic Cruiser, Duckworth said, "The only segment that product will reach is well-to-do boomers."
Duckworth said purists, which covers most bike shop owners , "tend to have a general disdain for the electric bicycle. I embrace it."
He sells a plug-in electric unit for about $1,500 and can put an electric motor on a conventional bike for about $1,000. "Once people hear that price, they shy away."
McVean said he regrets initial prices are so high, due to the cost of batteries and components, but he expects costs to drop as production ramps up. "I hate telling the postman I don't have anything for him," he said.
He plans to target upscale retirement communities such as Johns Island, Fla., and Bay Harbor, Mich. It was on an annual visit to Bay Harbor that he got the idea for the cruiser, after seeing a man drive a plug-in electric car to and from a fitness center workout.
McVean views Memphis as a test market. "We're going to come in here and see if the concept has traction. If it does, we're going national fast."

Rabbi: Electric bike kosher for riding on Shabbat

9/16/2009 8:59:00 PM 

A California rabbi has given an electric bicycle his OK for use on Shabbat. In a letter cited in press material, Rabbi Marc Rubenstein of Temple Isaiah in Newport Beach, Calif., states, "This letter is to assure you that the Pedego electric bicycle does not break any Jewish laws regarding work on the Sabbath."
He further notes: "There are 39 prohibitions against labor on the Sabbath. The last nine of these are called melakhot. They include prohibitions regarding the releasing and termination of energy flow. Since the Pedego bicycle can be plugged in and left on the on switch at all times until use, the energy current is omnipresent. Therefore, under the strictest of orthodox Jewish law, we are confidently within the realm of the observance of the Sabbath while still using the Pedego bicycle. This bicycle can enable the most religious Jew to travel to his synagogue to pray on the Sabbath."
The rabbi acknowledges that some Orthodox Jews might not feel that using the bike is in the "spirit of the law."
"They would be completely wrong É . The use of the Pedego bicycle by the Orthodox Jew on the Sabbath falls within the parameters of Jewish law," concluded Rubenstein.
Given, however, that Rubenstein was not ordained an Orthodox rabbi and his synagogue is nondenominational, it's unlikely that any Orthodox Jews will accept his ruling.

-- compiled with reports from JTA News and Features, The Jerusalem Post and other sources.

The Difference in Motor Power – 250w 500w 750w

The Difference in Motor Power – 250w 500w 750w
Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) Founder, Ed Benjamin, explains what it means in terms of electric bike performance for motors having varying degrees of output, from 250w-500w-750w:
A “bicycle” is a very privileged vehicle. It can use the roadway, or the bike path. There is no need for a driver’s license, license plate, or insurance. Taxes are limited to sales tax.
One of the key issues in defining an electric assisted bicycle as a “bicycle” is the power of the motor. The general idea is that if the bike has a motor that is “too powerful” then it is really a moped or motorcycle. So most laws that create and define the category of electric bicycle worldwide have a limitation on the power of the motor – with the idea that the ebike should have similar speed and performance to a normal bike.
That, by the way, is a pretty broad range of speed. Normal bikes can travel as fast as 30 MPH with a strong rider, and they can climb nearly any grade.
But in general, many nations have adopted laws that define a bike that uses a relatively low-powered motor, with a limited speed, as an electric bike – with the same privileges as a normal bicycle.
So what about motor output?
There are a lot of factors to consider in motor output choices for an electric bike. Here are some of them:
1. Legality. Different jurisdictions have different laws about motor output for a vehicle that can still be considered an electric bike. In the EU, Japan, China, and other places, the power limit is 250 watts. In the USA it is 750 watts.
2. How that power is measured. An argument can be made to measure power in these ways:
A. Electric current into the motor.
B. Mechanical power output at the “shaft”. (but if it is a hub motor…do we measure at the hub flange or the rim / tire?)
C. Power in, less the efficiency losses of that motor. (Complicated.) And more, whose machine and which method do we use to measure that power? In the EU, there are detailed regulations about how to measure power. In the USA, it is pretty much what the maker says it is, with no testing method described or required.
3. Do we use peak power (the amount of power that the motor is capable of producing under maximum effort for a short period before overheating) or do we use continuous power?
4. How much power can the battery support? There is a balance of cost, weight, and energy storage in the decisions about the motor power, battery size, etc.
This is not a simple subject. But I will offer my advice:
Most 250 watt systems are satisfactory for pedelecs (where the rider is pedaling and thus adding in his energy / effort).
For throttle-controlled, or power-on-demand systems where the rider is not pedaling, 350 to 500 watt systems are a better choice.
750 watts seems attractive, but this requires a big battery – and the combination of cost and weight is not that attractive. This combination will get better as technology improves, but at this time, 500 watts may be a better choice in many cases.
Climbing hills on any of these will require the rider to add in some muscle power – but not a lot.
In all cases, the rider will enjoy the ride, sweat a lot less, and have less fatigue and go farther, faster.

Ebikes Hit It Big At Best Buy


The United States has never taken to the electric bicycle in large numbers, but all that seems set to change. The high cost of gas, and the high cost of cars, is promoting a change to new, more economic transport, and with an electric bike that can go 20 miles an hour, for an hour or so, anyway, that future may be here.
Best Buy has teamed up with ebike retailer Ultra Motor to sell the electric A2Bs (cost $2,699) at 20 locations in California and Oregon. They’re also selling them in warm-weather states, in bike-friendly locations such as Portland (OR), Seattle, New York and San Francisco — and even in Connecticut,.
Read more at The Daily Green.

China’s Love Affair With The E-Bike


Shanghai, China — China is considered to be the world’s bicycle kingdom , because one of every three inhabitants rides a bicycle.
And more and more of them are riding e-bikes, from workers tired of jam-packed public transport, to those tired of pedaling long distances to work. Even some who can afford cars are takig to ebikes to avoid traffic jams and expensive gasoline.
Thirty years ago, practically no one in China owned a car and bicycling was the only way to get around. Today, it still has 430 million bicycles by government count, outnumbering electric bikes and scooters 7-1.
But production of the electric two-wheelers has increased from fewer than 200,000 eight years ago to 22 million last year, mostly for the domestic market. The industry estimates about 65 million are on Chinese roads.

Electric Bikes Fight High Gas Prices


Stuart, Florida — What driver hasn’t been stuck in traffic, wishing that half the cars on the road would disappear? What driver hasn’t stopped by a gas station to fill ‘er up, only to wince at the sight of the price per gallon.
Electric bikes will feel a need, and entrepreneurs around the country are starting up e-bike shops to sell this relatively new mode of transport. (Ebikes aren’t new, but they are only now gaining popularity in the United States.)
Linda Gaudino is one of these entrepreneurs. She has started an online site to purchase ebikes, the Electric Bikeshop at
“Way cooler than you think, you can ride a bike, they really sell themselves because they’re so cool,” said Gaudino.
The bikes she sells run anywhere from 500 to 1500 dollars.  Online sales have been just as healthy as in store sales.
Gaudino said, “It’s really really neat, there’s an audience of billions online.”

Modern Times Launches Lightest E-bike

Modern Times Launches Lightest E-bike

Modern Times Launches Lightest E-bike ► Retweetmodern-times-electric-bike

Winchester, England — One of the drawbacks of electric bikes is that the battery and motor add an extra thirty pounds of weight. So even though it’s possible to pedal an ebike should the battery go dead, it will make it twice as hard to go up hills!
The fit cyclist doesn’t need to worry about this, but those who use an e-bike in order to get into shape, or who live in an area with a lot of hills, may view this as a cause for concern.
Which is why Modern Times Ltd. has proudly launched what it calls the lightest e-bike ever. They’ve put their power assist on a Cannondale Capo Cytronex, currently priced at £1650 .
Read more at BikeRadar

Barcelona, Spain Introduces Charging Stations

Barcelona to premiere electric motorcycle charging stations in September.

The head of the Department of the Environment of the City of Barcelona, Xavier Felip, said that the will of the municipality is to extend the initiative to various locations in the city, such as the Maritime Zone, the city centre or the University area, among others.
Barcelona, Spain Introduces Charging Stations

Barcelona to premiere electric motorcycle charging stations in September.The first eight will be installed in the district of 22  
  and will recharge up to 25 vehicles simultaneously.

  Companies, Mobec Point and Schneider Electric, have  submitted a tender to place re-charging stations in the Montmelo racetrack, and to install electric motorbike charging in the Catalan capital from next September. The stations can charge up to 25 vehicles simultaneously, it is so "simple and safe," according to a joint statement from the companies, that forecast 40,000 electric bikes will be in use by 2016.

The two companies have stressed that the stations are designed to operate using renewable energy, "emissions of carbon dioxide from the electric bikes are zero." The next instalment of eight stations by Point Mobec in the district of 22 @ Barcelona is part of an initial period of tests in which different manufacturers installed charging points in the city.

For its part, the general director of the Mobec Point company, Jordi Ventura, has stressed that Barcelona is "the second city in Europe, behind Rome in the number of motorcycles" and has highlighted the benefits of the electric motor, for example "it does not pollute, is quiet and economical." Ventura has been underlined in this respect that the average cost of the new vehicle is "less than one euro per 100 kilometres," so he said that " electrical mobility is no longer a future possibility but a reality available to all citizens of Barcelona".

Electric Two Wheelers Will Sell But What Kind?

A recent study estimates some 466mm electric bikes, motorcycles and scooters will be sold worldwide over the next six years. Most will be sold in China and yes, it’s hard to fathom but some research says there’s already100mm electric bicycles on the road in China.

History repeats itself because everyone is getting all jiggy about electric bikes….again. Yo….I’m getting’ déjà vu dizzy thinking back a decade about the ill fated Schwinn-GT/Tom Mason/Currie electric bike partnership fueled by Tom’s industry outsider turned insider quest to show the bike biz how it was done.  (BTW, wtf ever happened to Mason anyway?)

No surprise, the doomed project transformed the production line into one that exclusively built closeouts and as my lovely colleague Andrew Herrick says, “There’s nothing worse than being ahead of your time”

But today it’s different, better technology, batteries, market, demand, etc. The list is promising. However, a case of black hole blindness prevents me from seeing the U.S. electric bike market accelerating as much as on other parts of your planet.

Instead, the big two wheeled electric sellers in the U.S. will be electric scooters.  Easy to park, low cost to produce/sell and operate and much more “streetwise” in their modus operandi. C’mon….if you’re a fat, lazy and unaccountable American why would you even think of getting around on a bike with a  boat anchor battery? Ha

Stand back you naysayers because the big players are jumping in deep with electric scooters….. Mini, Honda, Peugot, Nissan, etc….. all are corp-dudes that play for keeps.  With the ability to weeman dwarf any product/marketing efforts the puny U.S. electric bike industry can muster to convince consumers that your pedal platform electro-product is more relevant and desirable?        

OK…Can we hallucinate for this 5 minutes of my life?  If I was a bicycle retailer I’d consider opening up a new retail store called Lenny’s Electric Scooter & Bicycle Joint.

Location, location, locationed in a densely populated earthly urban market it would most likely be a “pop-up” retail opportunity. This small footprint, temporary satellite location would be a 90-180 day test with clean, simple, inexpensive and minimalist merchandising displays (think giant chalkboard art walls).

Of course, we’d offer up a tight line of urban friendly bikes at reasonable price points but the real focus would be a select line of electric only scooters and folding bikes….

Whoa…..I’m out of time…..Part Two of this post will pose the possibility of the folding bike becoming the future two wheeled icon of urban cool.  ??????

Retail Outlets Can Now Profit from Customers Needing Electricity Access for e-Bikes and Laptops

Retail Outlets Can Now Profit from Customers Needing Electricity Access for e-Bikes and Laptops

Pay-per-charge service makes recharging batteries as easy as buying long-distance minutes
LINCOLNSHIRE, IL and KITCHENER, ON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ - Retailers across North America can now offer a revolutionary new service to customers whose cell phones, iPads, computers, e-bikes, e-scooters and other electronic devices need a charge. 2D2C, Inc.'s new SafePlug(R) Model 1200-P3 pay-per-use electrical outlet makes it safe and easy for retailers to provide pay-per-use electrical outlet access to the public.
"Customers will be able to purchase a pre-paid card that entitles them to a number of charges. They will simply touch the card to the SafePlug electrical outlet to have access to power for a set period of time to use or recharge their electronic device," said Steven Montgomery, Chief Operating Officer at 2D2C, Inc. "In today's world, recharging electronic devices and vehicles anytime, anywhere is going to be a necessity."
Everyone can relate to the frustration of running out of battery charge on computers or handheld devices prior to taking a long flight, or being stuck in a remote location with no means to recharge. Montgomery anticipates high demand for the SafePlug outlets in convenience stores, airports, hotel lobbies, malls and more. The device received eager interest on October 8, 2010 from retail store owners at the NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) trade show in Atlanta
The SafePlug 1200-P3's patented technology adds a high-value and high-return offering for retailers, while being affordable and convenient for users (for more detail go to: The P3 pre-paid cards required to activate the outlets are available in either a plastic key-fob version or a credit-card sized paper version. The cards can carry retailer labeling and color advertising information for added benefit and can be dispensed from kiosks or at the counter.
The SafePlug 1200-P3 outlet will turn on electricity to its receptacle socket only after it reads a P3TM pre-paid card. The P3 card will be pre-loaded with a set number of fixed duration, charge-time credits. For example, a 20-minute charge time can typically restore 30-40 percent capacity for Li-ion rechargeable batteries commonly used in newer e-bicycles, e-mopeds, laptops and cell phones. Montgomery feels that most customers stuck for power won't mind the wait.
"It's truly a revolutionary design due to its built-in security to prevent 'power theft' by users who haven't pre-paid. The SafePlug outlet has LED indicators to show when it's charging and the credits left on the P3TM Pre-Paid Power card," said Montgomery. "The SafePlug system incorporates a lot of the features customers are familiar with when buying long-distance minutes or using an ATM, so it's going to be easy for people to start using the service."
The device even has 'anti-bully' technology to prevent someone from removing a customer's charge plug and inserting their own; the outlet will recognize the change of equipment and cut off the power feed. For the retailer's peace of mind, the SafePlug 1200-P3 system has built-in security features to prevent tampering with the pre-paid-cards or counterfeiting.
"The possibilities for this product are only limited by imagination," said Montgomery. "Wherever people are living, working, travelling or relaxing, they take electronic devices and the reality is, even the most sophisticated device is useless without a charge."
About 2D2C Inc.
2D2C, Inc. ( develops electrical wiring innovations for safety, energy and security. 2D2C, Inc. holds a number of patents on electrical safety and wiring devices and licenses its technology to other companies. Additionally, 2D2C, Inc. sells its own "SafePlug" product brand ( (SafePlug is a registered trademark and P3 is a trademark of 2D2C, Inc.) 2D2C, Inc., a Delaware company, was founded in 1999 with headquarters in Lincolnshire, IL and operational facilities in Kitchener, ON Canada.

i-MiEV Electric Bikes - Mitsubishi’s mini “green” vehicle

If you’re just remotely interested in electric cars, you will know of i-MiEV, Mitsubishi’s mini “green” vehicle. The i-MiEV has been around for years in Japan (the US will get it in 2011), and now a local retail chain called AEON is offering two e-bikes [JP, PDF] whose design is supposed to resemble said car.
AEON chose white/light green and white/red as the colors, which are also used by Mitsubishi for the i-MiEV. The e-bikes have 20-inch wheels and are powered by a 4Ah lithium-ion (MiEV-branded) battery. Once fully charged (for 2 hours/$0.12), the battery makes it possible to travel about 15km.

AEON already started the bikes in Japan (price: $1,200), but don’t expect them to hit other markets anytime soon.

E. China's Shandong Province Introduces E-bike Subsidy

    2010-10-13 19:25:53     Xinhua      Web Editor: Han
Shandong Province is the latest of 10 Chinese provinces to provide a subsidy
on rural e-bike purchases, and it was just the incentive Song Yingxue, a farmer
in the east China province, needed to buy a 2,410 yuan (361 U.S. dollars)
"luxury" - electric bicycle.

With the subsidy, which Shandong put into effect this week, rural consumers
like Song can get a 13-percent "discount" on e-bikes.

It used to take Song 50 minutes get to work on her old bicycle, but now
it only takes 20 minutes.

"I like the spot lamp best. It makes the bike safer than traditional ones, and
is very useful when riding on dark countryside roads," she said.

E-bike rider seriously hurt in Windsor, Canada

The rider of an electric bicycle is in hospital with a serious head injury after he collided head-on with a car Saturday night.
The accident happened around 6:30 p.m. as the rider of the silver e-bike attempted to make a right turn onto Silverdale Drive and collided head-on with a blue Dodge Spirit approaching the stop sign.
"It looks like he was trying to carry too much speed, took that turn a little too wide and caught that car as she was slowing down for the stop sign," said Windsor Police Staff Sgt. Todd Lamarre.
The cyclist, a Windsor man in his 40s, was thrown from his electric bicycle into the windshield of the car before landing on the pavement.
"I was working on homework when I heard a big thud," said Dilshan Pieris, who called 911. "I came outside and the guy was on the ground twitching, he had blood on his face and the driver was hysterical."
Lamarre said the rider was taken to hospital with a serious head injury. His condition was unknown at press time.
The driver of the Dodge Spirit will not be charged.
Another e-bike rider suffered non-life threatening injuries last month when he struck the door of a parked van on Wyandotte Street.
The cyclist was wearing a helmet and the driver of the van was charged with opening a vehicle door improperly.

Read more:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Zerotracer motorcycle throws down gauntlet to electric cars

Zerotracer motorcycle throws down gauntlet to electric cars
02:11 July 6, 2010
The Zerotracer
The Zerotracer

The Zero Race will see contestants dash around the globe in 80 days in zero emission, electric powered vehicles... and one of the most distinctive entries is the Zerotracer. Designed by a group of engineers from Winterthur, Switzerland, the Zerotracer is an electric motorcycle that encloses its two occupants in a Kevlar shell and is capable of a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) and a range of 350 km (217 miles) on a single charge.
The vehicle is based on a MonoTracer body but replaces that vehicle’s 4-cylinder in-line BMW K-engine with a battery-powered electric motor that provides 135 kW/183Hp to propel the Zerotracer from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. Without passengers the body of the vehicle weighs less than 80kg (176-lbs) and the 18 kWh, 400V battery pack can be fully charged in two hours, while a quick charge can charge the battery pack to 80 percent capacity in less than 30 minutes.
Since the driver and passenger are enclosed in the vehicle’s Kevlar composite outer shell and can’t use their legs to stay upright when the Zerotracer isn’t moving the vehicle uses a pair of retractable wheels to stabilize itself when stationary. When retracted these wheels protrude from the side of the cabin to act as a “knee” to skim the road when cornering at high speeds.
Inside the cabin the occupants are treated to an almost noiseless ride thanks to the silent electric motor, unless of course they are listening to the Zerotracer’s stereo system. The vehicle also boasts a heating system and two bucket seats from which to enjoy the panoramic 250 degree-plus views provided by the plexiglass windshield.
The rules of the Zero Race state that the race teams must produce their own electricity using renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and/or geothermal. This electricity must be then fed into the grid system in the home country of each team to offset the electricity used by the vehicles during the race. Taking care of this aspect is the team’s main sponsor, Oerlikon Solar, which will generate electricity from thin-silicon solar panels at the company’s headquarters in Trubbach, Switzerland.
With its aerodynamic design and impressive performance statistics the Zerotracerstands to be a real contender to take out the honors when the Zero Race kicks off in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 15. 2010. We’ll take a look at some of its competitors in the coming weeks.

Bubble-bike: US$750 Electric three-wheeler

Bubble-bike: US$750 Electric three-wheeler
09:12 July 13, 2010
The US$750 Bubble Bike urban commuter recharges from a domestic power point
The US$750 Bubble Bike urban commuter recharges from a domestic power point

The Bubble Bike might look like the love child of a scooter and a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller, but it’s an ingenious response to the needs of Northern China and some of the more northern Asian countries where temperatures drop well below zero in winter and the roads get a liberal coating of snow and ice, making them not nearly as suitable for scooters and motorcycles as they are in summer. The recipient of a 2009 Red Star Design Award (China’s equivalent of the red dot awards), the three-wheel Bubble Bike sells in China for RMB 5000 (around US$730).
Low cost transport is imperative in many developing countries, and the Bubble Bike's price-tag makes it the only game in town if you want more than two wheels, or want to carry three people or a lot of luggage and keep them/it dry and warm.
Most importantly, the Bubble Bike is electric, meaning it recharges from a power point for a negligible cost and has oodles of grunt for getting up to its 45 km/h top speed. Now we understand that's not so fast by the standards of the big cities with lots of space that we're accustomed to, but it's plenty fast for urban running in the highly congested streets of China's megacities.
The Bubble Bike has a range of 100 km and takes between six and eight hours to charge from a standard household power outlet in its current configuration. The manufacturers are currently trialling alternative batteries which decrease the charging time to three hours and increase the range of the vehicle to 200 km, plus the cost of the Bubble Bike by several hundred dollars. I'm presuming those batteries are lithium ion but translation between the designer’s Shandong dialect and English was an issue, so I can’t be sure.
The biggest benefit of the bike is apparently roadholding. Bubble Bike's representative said that because the bike is very light and has three wheels and a low center of gravity, it really hangs onto the road. Given that its specifications and geometry are very similar to the Spira that I tried in Thailand last year I imagine that the handling would be similar (i.e. sensational).
In many ways, it's a scooter with a bit of protection, and there was some discussion amongst those of us looking at the machine whether there was adequate crash protection in comparison with a Western motor vehicle. One of those present contributed, "I'm sure it crash tests better than the scooter it will replace though."
Export inquiries on the Bubble Bike can be directed to the web site.

The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter

The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter
22:00 June 28, 2006
The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter
The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter
The Fhybrid scooter is a hydrogen electric hybrid two wheeler that has emerged as Crijn Bouman's graduation project at Delft University in Holland and it is a very different form of two wheeler than almost anything that has come before it. For starters, it’s the only front wheel drive two wheeler going around that we know of, has a reverse gear for parking (another first on a scooter), and a range equivalent to that of a normal scooter in that it can travel approximately 200 km on a full tank of hydrogen. Oh, and it doesn’t make any noise or produce harmful emissions and looks very different to normal scooter fare.
Bouman, an Industrial Design Engineering student at TU Delft, developed a working prototype of the 65 km/h FHybrid scooter with acceleration superior to that of a standard 'petrol scooter'. The FHybrid was designed to be hydrogen-powered, but for now the prototype is powered by batteries, with the help of a special fuel-cell simulator that was specially designed for this project.
"A special course and various permits are required to build a hydrogen-powered engine. It wasn't possible to achieve this during the time period of my graduation project," Crijn Bouman explained. "The faculty is now trying to assemble all the necessary means to fully develop the hydrogen-powered scooter."
The FHybrid is the first front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter. The scooter has an electric engine that mainly derives its power from a (Li-ion) battery. This battery is charged by a compact fuel-cell system, which derives its energy from hydrogen (from a tank) and oxygen (from the air). The FHybrid also has a regenerating braking system that reduces the hydrogen consumption by 10-20 percent.
Bouman has equipped the scooter with a “traffic assistant”, which enables the scooter's electric engine to be very precisely controlled when travelling at low speeds. The FHybrid's complete drive system and energy management system were built by Epyon, a TU Delft spin-off company, of which Bouman is one of the founders, and in partnership with the Delft Design Institute.

Sanyo and Suzuki collaborate on experimental electric scooter project

Sanyo and Suzuki collaborate on experimental electric scooter project
15:00 September 27, 2010
Sanyo and Suzuki have announced a collaborative project resulting in the development of an...
Sanyo and Suzuki have announced a collaborative project resulting in the development of an electric drive system for an prototype scooter named e-Let's

    Sanyo and Suzuki have announced a collaborative project resulting in the development of an electric drive system for an prototype scooter named e-Let's. About the same weight as the petrol scooter it was based on, the prototype has a claimed range of 18.6 miles and its battery pack can be charged using a household outlet. The scooter is currently undergoing on-road trials leading to possible commercialization.
    Based on a petrol-engined model called the Let's4 basket, the e-Let's features an in-wheel electric motor to the rear with regenerative braking, a dedicated charger and battery system, a "high efficiency control circuit" and a Li-ion battery pack. The developers have managed to keep the new prototype at about the same weight (74kg) as its petrol predecessor.
    The e-Let's scooter is charged from a 100V household outlet and a single charge is said to take about four hours and should be good for a journey of around 18.6 miles (30km), not exactly ground-breaking but sufficient for most inner city journeys. The prototype is said to offer the kind of "smooth acceleration, nimble performance, low noise, low vibration" that is making electric scooters an attractive short commute option.
    Last week, Suzuki began testing the prototype on public roads in Japan and plans to use the data gathered to create a production model. The road trials will also be conducted as part of the Hamamatsu Social Experiment Project on Next-Generation Eco-Cars announced in May.

Radical electric bike concept saves on space

16:00 April 6, 2010
The Electric Bike Version 2 also features a compartment for storing and charging mobile ph...
The Electric Bike Version 2 also features a compartment for storing and charging mobile phones, notebooks or MP3 players
Yuji Fujimura has taken the bicycle design manual and thrown it to the wind with his concept Electric Bike Version 2. Ditching the popular and familiar diamond frame design, Fujimura has opted for a flat solid box on wheels where the handlebars, seat and pedals fold away flat to help squeeze the bike into tiny parking spaces.
Parking bicycles can be a troublesome affair if you're in an area where an awful lot of people use two wheels to get around. As electric bikes grow in popularity the issue is unlikely to improve. The Electric Bike Version 2 concept from Yuji Fujimuratakes a slightly different approach to bike design which also offers a possible solution to overcrowded parking woes.
The concept bike would have pedals for human propulsion, which could both be set at the lowest position when traveling under electric assist. The upright seating position appears similar to that of more familiar diamond frame bicycles but that's where the similarity ends. As you can see from the gallery examples, Fujimura has gone for a flat, solid body box design with all the electronics and lighting enclosed within the housing and solid wheels.
Being a concept design, details on the electrics are limited to revealing that the designer proposes using a Li-ion battery, an electric rear wheel hub motor and that the bike would include a charging compartment for mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players and so on. The handlebars, seat and footrests/pedals fold away flat so that the flat, wheeled box can slide into the slimmest of parking spaces.
Whilst the Electric Bike Version 2 concept is imaginative and aspects of it make a lot of sense, just how stable the bike would prove in strong winds with nowhere for gusts to go except to slam against the solid body is cause for great concern, especially when cornering. Fold-away handlebars, seat and pedals to help squeeze the two-wheeler into tight parking spaces though - now there's a good idea.

User Comments (12)
I wonder how it will handle cross winds. My guess is that it won't.
Looks more like a home appliance on wheels.
Roger Kummert
- April 7, 2010 @ 11:04 am PDT
very kewl concept for crowed cities ... i'd be wary of crosswinds however ...
- April 7, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
oops, meant to type "crowded"
- April 7, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
A gust of wind and the rider is scraping the ashphalt.
It's ugly too.
- April 7, 2010 @ 05:04 pm PDT
Wow. Leave it to the Japanese to make things one-size-fits-small. Also, there doesn't seem to be room for escaping nut-crunching short stops...
Ceilidh Madigan
- April 7, 2010 @ 07:04 pm PDT
i thought it was a... credit card on wheels...
- April 8, 2010 @ 08:04 am PDT
Hello back pain! People who aren't riding competition speed bikes don't like leaning forward due to the strain it puts on their lower back.
The handlebars should be made to raise up to a level that allows the rider to sit upright.
Facebook User
- April 8, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
Yuji Fujimura has taken "art and beauty" manual and thrown it to the wind with his concept Electric Bike Version 2.
- April 13, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
I LIKE IT. Modern and reminds me of somthing ....lets call the thing an, ibike.
Put an apple sticker on it and...hello, it's cool dudes. Gotta have one, Steve baby does bikes, who cares about cross winds.
- April 22, 2010 @ 11:04 pm PDT
Yes, I agree that crosswinds will be an issue, particularly on bridges (where there is nowhere to fall except into the bus lane)! So the design will have to be more of a lattice work, still strong and very light weight but also able to let the wind pass through. Love the iBike moniker - every time you pedal, you charge your gizmos.
- April 29, 2010 @ 12:04 pm PDT
he diamond frame in a box they forgot to unpack it from. Owch the sharp turn where hand meets box. Great crankset, bet that set you back big bucks and is unobtanium for repair parts in the open market.
There are street people here who come up with better solutions to get stowage! I could get exhausted citing the commercial models that run circles around this one.
Does the "designer" still dress like an extra for 2110 the movie? ibike indeed. sterile ugly, inhumane layout, uninspired....does that just about cover my thoughts? close to it!!
- April 29, 2010 @ 02:04 pm PDT
this has to be the ugliest, least user friendly bicycle ever thought up, so for me it is a big thumbs down
- April 30, 2010 @ 07:04 pm PDT