Innovation That Matters

Folding electric two-wheeler offers new take on urban cycling

Mobility & Transport

What’s the simplest way to get from A to B with the aid of a machine? That’s the question the New Zealand-based creators of recently launched YikeBike set out to tackle from scratch. The result is a super-lightweight folding electric bicycle, with eco-iconic looks. The YikeBike is the first production version of the Mini-Farthing design concept which has been five years under development. Departing entirely from the norm, YikeBike features a radically novel riding position, steering mechanism and wheel configuration. It’s the evolutionary offspring of a Segway and a penny farthing. So why the strange design? First, YikeBike does away with exposed mechanics (chain, gears, standard brake mechanisms etc.), replacing them all with a lightweight, 1.2 kW electric motor and “smart electronics”. Allied with the carbon fibre frame, this helps keep the weight down to less than 10kg, reduces the need for maintenance and makes the YikeBike a breeze to carry in its case. The electrics also power safety features, such as anti-skid braking, brake lights and indicators. It’s claimed that the design is the equal of its 120 year old predecessor in terms of stability, and even safer as the upright position increases visibility and allows the rider to jump off unimpeded in the event of a crash. The YikeBike has max-speed of 20 km/h and a range of 9 km, so it should be up to the requirements of most commuters. Bikes are available for pre-order now, with expected pricing at a steep USD 3,500–3,900 (we’re hoping that’s an early-adopter price that will go down as production goes up). Seems like it could be just what the doctor ordered for the congested arteries of our over-populated cities. But there’s just one thing a standard bicycle can do that YikeBike can’t—keep people fit. The Mini-Farthing design is equally applicable to non-electic bicycles, though, and available for license—will you be the one to roll it out? (Related: Lightweight electric bike targets urban commutersHonda unveils U3-X electric unicycle.) Spotted by: Stephen Church



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