The Faraday Porteur electric bicycle stole hearts when it won the Oregon Manifest bicycle competition last year for IDEO and Rock Lobster, but was never intended to be sold. However, lead IDEO designer Adam Vollmer was so enamored with the fruit of his labor that he founded Faraday Bicycles in order to bring the Porteur to market.

The Faraday Porteur wears its geek-cred proudly on its sleeve and the company derives its name from 19th century British physicist Michael Faraday, who was instrumental in the creation of electric motors. The bike model, Porteur, refers to a classic functionally-styled bicycle first used by Parisian newspaper couriers in the early 1900s.

The pedal-assist technology of the Porteur promises to deliver an "electric tailwind" everywhere you ride, for a maximum of between 10 and 15 miles (16 and 24 km) depending on conditions. The 250-W brushless DC electric hub motor is powered by lithium batteries which are tucked away in the bike's double top tubes. The Porteur is said to charge in just 45 minutes and the fact that Faraday includes two chargers for convenience is a nice touch.

The Porteur has an on/off switch but no throttle setting as the bike simply adjusts to your own pace. There's also a boost mode to help the less fit amongst us struggle up hills and this can be activated by holding down a thumb switch. The bike's lights are activated by an ambient sensor when conditions require.

The standard production model of the Porteur ships with the following specifications:

  • Eight-speed Shimano Alfine internally geared hub
  • Avid mechanical disc brakes
  • Standard 26 inch (68 cm), 1.3 inch (35 mm) tires
  • TIG welded chromoly steel frame, handmade in the USA
  • Brooks B17 leather saddle
  • Waterproof bamboo fenders

In addition, the Porteur weighs 17.7 kg (39 lbs) without the front rack attached and comes in small, medium and large sizes of 51 cm (20 inches) 54.5 cm (21.4 inches) and 59 cm (23.2 inches), respectively.

The Faraday Porteur is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign which has a target of US$100,000 set for August 11. Though posters and t-shirts can be had for more modest contributions, the real action starts at $3500 for the standard production model of the bike, a reported $300 discount off the eventual retail price. For those with deep pockets, there's also a collector's edition available for a cool $10,000 which comes with improved parts and is handmade by Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster Cycles.

The cost of the production version is comparable with other desirable electric bikes like the Elmoto HR-2 and Schwinn Tailwind, though unfortunately the Faraday Porteur is only available to U.S. residents at present. The company does state a desire to bring its bike to other territories at some point in the future.

For more information on the Faraday Porteur, check out the promo video below.

Source: Kickstarter, via CNET