The Yikebike is a foldable, baggable, portable, minimalistic electric transportation system. It's not an "E-bike", at least insofar as there is no way to pedal the thing when the battery runs out. It's not high-performance, as most average-to-good urban cyclists could whip it soundly over a short course of a couple of city blocks.
The "YikeBike" has been getting more coverage on gadget blogs than on cycling blogs, and this is for good reason. (It's not, after all, a bicycle as we think of it.) Here are some pertinent specs:
- Range: 9-10 kms (5.5-6.3 miles);
- Payload: 100 kg (220 lbs.) including baggage;
- Charging time: 20 mins for 80% charge;
- Charging cost: $0.15-0.20;
- Vehicle weight: 10 kg;
- Cost: Between $5200 and $5900.
This raises the problematic question: if the YikeBike isn't a serious alternative to cycling or aut0-commuting, what is it an alternative to? The uncomfortable answer: walking. Walking on a very short commute, or walking to and from the bus-stop. Not even an e-bike purports to replace walking, typically they replace hill-climbing. (And that's fair enough, I suppose.) E-bikers will actually pedal on the flats, extending their range indefinitely, although too bad for them on the climbs when the juice runs out.
I say we need more walking, not less, and therefore I predict the YikeBike will join the Segway in the pantheon of vehicles for sore-footed tourists who want to do extended-range walking tours in urban settings. There are a lot of good design ideas there, though.
Postscript: what do I really, really, really like about the YikeBike movie? Check it out. The uber-cool YikeBiker is wearing Chuck Taylor All-Star Black Monos. This is the ultimate shoe in the world. It can be worn anywhere: your local skateboarding park, a cocktail party, with a tux to an opening at the Kennedy Center. It's green, recyclable, and your yoga teacher will like it, because it folds and gives your feet an opportunity to learn how to Walk Right. I own two pair (one high-top and one low) and am happy to bestow on them the Practical Cyclists' Seal of Approval. (Now if Converse only made them SPD compatible!)