The “green” benefits of riding a bike are often touted by the bicycle advocacy crowd – this author included. Despite the obvious environmental goodness of transporting yourself with leg power compared to other methods, folks still strive to “improve” on the bike’s green image. And these improvements often involve electrification in some way. One of the more recent variations on this theme is the Yike Bike.
Despite the name, the Yike Bike marketing doesn’t really portray this as a “bike alternative” or “bike improvement.” However, it is a derivation of the “mini-farthing” concept, and there they do hint at the intent to create a better bike, so to speak:
The basic bicycle design has not changed in 120 years because it is a truly fantastic design that is stable and safe to ride. The mini-farthing has been designed to make a form of personal transport that is better suited to a modern city. Rather than just take a normal bicycle design and squash it up, our aim was to see if there was another configuration that was more suited to the task.
The specs on the Yike Bike do seem to fit nicely with the “just get me across town” market. The device weighs in at about 23 lbs. The advertised weight limit is 100 Kg, or about 220 lbs, which potentially limits the cargo capacity for some users. However, it is the range of only 6.2 miles per charge that strikes me as potentially the biggest limitation. I have not yet been able to find hard numbers on the charge time from complete dead to full charge.
The reported $3600 price tag clearly puts this into a particular market niche.
The comparisons to the Segway are probably a better assessment of the devices market segment – and while its “foldability” makes it very much more portable compared to the Segway, it shares many of the same advantages and disadvantages.
Probably the biggest change for those thinking of a “bike” while looking at this is the steering mechanism. You essentially site between the handlebars, and steer with your hands down about the level of your hips. The overall steering feel reminds me a lot of some recumbent configurations.
While clearly a more “green” alternative to your average SUV, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand this whole “electric is greener” concept. There are clearly environmental concerns about carbon fiber and aluminum manufacturing, but they pale in comparison to the chemically laden batteries that power so many of our e-super-green electric devices.
The Yike Bike is now available for purchase in select markets.