At first blush, one may be apt to put a lot of emphasis on the MoDe:Flex – the latest incarnation of a “smart bike” from Ford Motor Company. If you are like me, you want to see this as an indication that cycling is finally coming of age in this company. After all, if a car manufacture is looking to break into the bike market, that must mean they are starting to see them as viable competition – right?
Well. Maybe. But in truth Ford Motor Company is not a new comer to the bicycle market. In fact, they’ve had a long history of involvement, especially with E-Bikes. This latest incarnation, announced recently at Ford Motor Company’s Palo Alto research facility, got a step beyond simple E-Bike development however.
Because we view ourselves, both as an automotive company, and as a mobility company
The MoDe:Flex is very much the integration of modern technology with a standard E-Bike platform. By integrating smart-phone apps with on-board technology, the MoDe:Flex appears to be attempting to build a true “smart bike” that responds to the usage of the rider.
Probably the best indication of this integration is what Ford is calling “No Sweat Mode.” The idea here is to key the amount of assistance from the onboard electric motor to the heart rate of the rider. In theory, by proving more assistance as the rider’s heart rate increases, the bike can help minimize the dreaded “sweat factor” that many of us cycle commuters have to deal with. Showing up for the meeting out of breath and with a damp shirt is, unfortunately, still a major hurdle to many in the adoption of the bicycle as a viable, primary mode of transportation.