With the announcement of the participants in the 30-Day Electric Bike Challenge drawing near, I thought it might be fun to look at some electric bikes that take the concept to another level (with apologies to The Eagles for the bending of lyrics). When choosing an electric bike, you have lots of design choices if your preference is a bike that will blend into the crowd. In other words, one that doesn’t look – well — electric.
But if you want a bike that will turn heads and have everyone wondering (to slightly change a famous saying), “is it a bird, is it a plane, or is it an electric bike?, there are other options, sometimes with an environmental or sustainable aspect. Let’s look at a few examples.
New-York-based industrial designer Yuji Fujimura has designed an electric bike that at first glance looks like a rectangle on wheels. The combination of straight lines melding with the round wheels and pedal component gives it a futuristic feel that pretty much hides the fact that this is even a bike.
The rider can store and charge all kinds of technological gadgets, interacting with them via the built-in screen on the bike. Handlebars and pedals fold in to reduce needed storage space at the end destination. The bike is not in production, so no cost estimates are available.
But you don’t have to wait until then. Picycles can be purchased right now, if you have a spare $6,000 ($9,000 if you want the Kenny Roberts edition). The bike has received good reviews, with a smooth ride that speaks to the quality of the design and build.
It boasts an integrated smartphone app to keep you apprised of speed, charge level, distance/time travelled, efficiency, etc., with the ability to program the bike for different users. Remote diagnostics will let Picycle contact you if you need maintenance.
3. Enorm V3
The Enorm V3 Bullet comes equipped with a smartphone, gigantic tires, and lasts 62 miles on a single charge without pedaling. Although not yet available, its predecessor, the Enorm V2 sells for about $5,100 and boasts a range of 100 km, a 0.25 kW motor, using a 30Ah battery, 48V circuit.
Moving from a design perfect for the single man about town, we have the only electric bike that lets you take two young children along for the ride without the need for a trailer. The child seats are top-of-the-line with footrests, head protection, and reclining capability.
Although not yet available for sale in the US, the Japanese company that makes the bike reports sales of more than 300,000 at a price of about $1800 US.
And, to end our look at bike design, here are three non-electric versions that approach sustainability from a different angle altogether. First up, how about a bike made out of wood?
Jan Gunneweg, an industrial designer in Amsterdam, has crafted an all-wood bike (well, except for some moving parts). Even the wheels are made of wood – each with one wooden spoke among the metal ones that “symbolize the legs of man” according to Gunneweg.
The bike is made of solid walnut and weighs less than 35 pounds. No news on production plans for the wooden bike, but being precision-made of solid walnut, it’s likely to be a little pricey.
For those with a thinner wallet, how about a cardboard bike?
Israeli Izhar Gafni has built a bike completely out of cardboard. Constructed using a folding technique and lacquered with a brew of organic materials, the bike is waterproof, fireproof, and doesn’t even look like it’s made of cardboard. The Alfa model weighs in at 28 pounds with a manufacturing cost of $12-$20. With solid rubber tires, a car timing belt for the bike chain, and plastic bottle parts for the pedals, there is no metal involved.
Gafni does intend to offer an optional rechargeable electric motor and provide two smaller versions for children. He hopes to see invention in developing countries in particular, where selling advertising on the bikes could allow them to be given away for free. The bikes are in the process of being manufactured but no definite timeline yet on availability.
Finally, who could forget the Invisible Bike? I’ll bet no one — at least not after looking at this photo.
Designed and built by Jimmy Kuehnle in 2005 , as a piece of art/performance art, I doubt we will see this one in the stores anytime soon, but it does come with a matching riding suit. Exhibited in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Jimmy commented, “Constructed of Lexan or “bullet proof glass,” the bike exists in a dual reality as sculpture and transportation.”
So, there you have it. Some intriguing electric bike designs and some out-of-this-world notions for bikes going forward. For the Challenge, however, our participants will be sticking with the EVELO line of electric bikes. Stay tuned for the announcement of the participants!