This is one bike that will certainly turn heads for various reasons when it hits the mass market.
New Zealand-inspired YikeBike has built upon inventor Grant Ryan’s Mini-Farthing design to produce an under-10kg, foldable, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) powered next-generation carbon-fiber electric ‘bicycle’ that makes the Segway look like a beached whale. With a top speed of 20 kph, range of 9 to 10 km, and an 80% recharge in 20 min (with up to 1,000 charge cycles), the only thing that can stop me from going out to get one right away (apart from its retail availability) is its estimated €3,500 to €3,900 retail price.
YikeBike explains what drove them to invent the mini-farthing vehicle platform:
We started with a blank sheet of paper and addressed the needs of urban commuting: light-weight for carrying; compact and clean for carrying and storage; decent size front wheel for bumps and curbs; better visibility through upright riding position; shorter wheel base for better manoeuvrability and electric drive to prevent working up a sweat. We also addressed a number of safety issues such as: shorter stopping distance (the YikeBike has anti-skid brakes), tighter cornering for emergencies, better acceleration, a limited top speed of 20kph and a riding position that is upright and unencumbered by handle bars in the event of an emergency stop or accident.
From what I gathered, initial production of YikeBikes has yet to begin, and with the first 100 YikeBikes will only reach the hands of customers anywhere between early- to mid-2010, we’re still a long way from mass market availability. Check out YikeBike’s FAQ for more details.
I suspect YikeBike is built by the same group of engineers that designed the Mini-Farthing vehicle platform as a prototype to excite the mass market. Their main business model is not to sell a gazillion YikeBikes, but more to encourage the spread of the platform and earn on the platform licensing fees. There’s probably still some ways to go in terms of manufacturing processes that can further lower the cost of a YikeBike – it’s currently assembled (probably by hand, which explains for its low volume) in New Zealand, with materials sourced from around the world, i.e. Japan, USA, England, Germany, France and China.
I’d love to lay my hands on one, but only if some form of financing can be structured around it. Its range could also do with some boosting – I’d love to ride down Bukit Timah Road to grab the train at the Newton MRT station, but I will probably run out of juice 500 metres to 1 km from it. I’m also curious as to how steep a gradient a YikeBike would be able to climb, and the associated power drain. I’m guessing this won’t work that well in hilly San Francisco!
Here’s a wild idea to reduce traffic on our roads – LTA could give one YikeBike away for free with every car that gets converted into an off-peak car, on top of the S$1,100 rebate one receives every subsequent 6 months! Hell I’d convert my car right away!
I yike it! Don’t you?