BayCycle bike kit puts commuters on the water
October 8, 2013
The BayCycle Project is fast gathering attention for its crowd-funding campaign to bring a fully-fledged water-bike to the masses. BayCycle has released a number of eye-catching videos, including one of project founder Judah Schiller crossing San Francisco Bay on one (which is apparently a first). The project appears to be using off-the-shelf kits from Italian outfit SBK-KIT, whose Shuttle Bike we first featured back in 2005.
As previously reported, the Shuttle Bike is a kit that can be worn as a backpack, which can be used to convert an ordinary bicycle into a water-bike in the space of about 10 minutes. The water-bikes featured on the BayCycle Project website and campaign appear to be SBK-KIT's Shuttle Bike. Judging by the BayCycle video, riders can work up to impressive speeds, though we're not sure if the 10 km/h top speed we reported previously is still the standard.
CNET reports that BayCycle intends to raise funds to buy Shuttle Bike kits from SBK-KIT to sell in the States. However, BayCycle's Indiegogo funding campaign page states that phase two of the project will be for research, design and prototyping. That being the case, perhaps BayCycle is using Shuttle Bikes to raise awareness of water-bikes generally, before going on to develop its own design. Alternatively, perhaps BayCycle has licensed SBK-KIT's technology, but hopes to refine it further.
If, however, CNET is correct, and BayCycle is merely hoping to buy kits in, perhaps it can save end users a few dollars in shipping by bulk buying these things in.
Questions abound at this point. We've asked BayCycle for clarification as to the arrangement with SBK-KIT in Italy. We've also dropped SBK-KIT a line to work out if Shuttle Bike kits can be ordered directly, and if so, for how much. BayCycle Project is asking for US$5,000 for a water-bike kit. We'll update this article as and when we hear back. We do wonder at the apparent lack of mention of SBK-KIT on BayCycle's official channels, though.
You can see BayCycle's water-bike in action below.
Update: after an exchange of emails with Judah Schiller, he has clarified that the intention is indeed to develop a new product. "Yes, the Indiegogo campaign is to raise money for design and development of new product," he writes. "We like the SBK Shuttle Bike (enough for me to ride one across SF Bay) and hope others do too. And it was designed in late 90s in Italy. You can imagine how much bike frames have evolved in the past 15 years (particularly in America). And in general, different types of cyclists will want different types of kits that match their skills, abilities, conditions and lifestyle preferences."
Update 2: BayCycle would like it to be pointed out that you do receive some other perks for your $5,000 pledge, but this is the lowest pledge which will, all being well, net you a water-bike.
Update 3: SBK-KIT has responded to our queries to confirm that it sells its Shuttle Bike kits over the internet for €1,098 (under US$1,500), which includes freight on orders placed before the end of the month. How BayCycle's proposed water-bike will differ from SBK-KIT's isn't clear (clarification: the bike kit you'll receive for this pledge is an existing SBK-KIT Shuttle Bike, even though it isn't named on the page), but potential backers will have to weigh up whether the extra perks (some of which you'll need to get to the Bay Area to take advantage of)
and an unknown spec on top of a $1,500-Shuttle Bike kit are worth the extra $3,500.
Source: BayCycle Project