LIFEbike takes a fresh approach to ebike design
By Ben Coxworth
May 27, 2013
For the most part, electric bicycles are configured like regular bikes, with the addition of a motor and battery. Because they’re essentially just conventional bikes with extra stuff, they also tend to be pretty heavy. The Revelo LIFEbike, however, is an ebike with a difference. Its wacky design runs the pedal axle through the front wheel hub, thus drastically shortening the aluminum frame and eliminating the chain. As a result, it weighs in at 15 kg (33 lb) – about the weight of a non-electric cruiser bike.
The LIFEbike (Lightweight, Intelligent, Flexible Electric bike) was created by Revelo founder Henry Chong, as the thesis project for his Industrial Design degree. After spending two years developing the concept, and winning four awards for it in the process, he’s now setting about getting it into commercial production.
In its current form, the bike has a 250-watt geared brushless hub motor in its 16-inch rear wheel, powered by a lockable 36-volt 10-Ah lithium battery. That battery can be removed and charged from empty in four hours, after which it should provide about 30 km (19 miles) worth of motor-only travel. The motor is controlled using a thumb lever on the handlebars, and propels the LIFEbike to a maximum speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
When in electric mode, it’s possible to swing both pedals downwards, so they can be used like the footpads on a scooter. Should the rider wish to save their battery by pedaling for a while, the pedals can then be locked into the more traditional “active” orientation.
From the looks of things, pedaling is only possible in a direct-drive, fixed-gear-like arrangement – not unlike the case with a penny farthing. Given that the fixed gear is in this case the 20-inch front wheel, riders probably won’t be able to get up a whole lot of speed by pedal-power alone. It should be fine for riding on things like pathways, but road riding will likely be a motor-only affair.
When it’s time to carry the LIFEbike in or out of buildings, its handlebars can be lowered and turned sideways plus its pedals can be folded in, all within about 10 seconds. Because it has no chain, riders don’t have to fret over getting oil stains on their clothing when carrying the bike.
Chong is currently raising production funds for the LIFEbike, on Indiegogo. A pledge of US$1,800 will get you one, when and if they’re ready to go. The bike can be seen in action in the pitch video below.