Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kickstarter Funded Folding e-Bike

A Kickstarter project for an e-bike that is fully funded. It is a very attractive design.

Kickstarter page for folding e-bike

The informational site (that doesn't have much information yet.)

Since a $1,390 Kickstarter pledge meant one received one of the early bikes at a "special" price one can deduce that the expected sale price will be somewhere north of that. A Dahon electric folding bike with a more traditional derailleur shifting system can be had for around $2,000, so that's a point of comparison in the folding bike world. Performance has a Schwinn 8-speed comfort bike (no folding) with a 250 watt front hub for $999, which is probably the low(est) end for pricing for what is probably an OK (not for heavy use) electric bike.

Putting the battery in the frame seems lovely from a design standpoint but not necessarily very practical otherwise, but in the notes to funders, apparently it will be possible to attach supplemental batteries.

A strong advantage of this design compared to many e-bikes is that it looks to be reasonably light. In one of the videos, someone commented on the bike being light, which is hardly the first thing people typically say about e-bikes. The Schwinn mentioned above, near as I can figure out, must be around 50 pounds (or about 20 pounds more than it would otherwise).

Otherwise it has some issues, I think. Looking at the set-up, there appears to be a single brake lever yet one can see two brake units, front and back. A single brake lever that controls both brakes? I know this is technically possible but it seems highly undesirable. There does not appear to be any shifting mechanism for the pedal-drive system - the traditional drive system that the electric drive in the front hub supplements. Perhaps it just a single speed bike? And the use of a direct drive system rather than a chain (or a Gates belt drive, if one is insistent on getting rid of greasy chains) isn't something I find appealing, even if it is a elegant design element. I suppose since it is an electric bike, the loss of some pedal power due to the inherent inefficiency of direct drive is OK. Real bikes have tires that run on roads and sidewalks etc where there is dirt - in the rain, quite a lot of messy stuff, actually - so while you can get rid of the chain, folding the bike may still involve some mess.

I find most puzzling the use of "recycled aluminum" for the frame - presumably this is recycled aluminum appropriate for a bicycle frame and not just former beer cans. Or perhaps turning former beer cans into 6061 bicycle frames or similar is easy.

At least this bike project got funded!

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