LIFEbike takes a fresh approach to ebike design


May 27, 2013

Toronto-based entrepreneur Henry Chong, riding the LIFEbike

Toronto-based entrepreneur Henry Chong, riding the LIFEbike

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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.

Source: Indiegogo

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

19 mile range? I weigh 220 lbs. How much do you want to bet I'd get much less???? Come on Henry, give it a real battery!!

My money is on the Neo Volt!! With a 56 mile range, you don't stand a chance!


Put a luggage carrier on top of the battery pod and affix a small generator for in-ride charge - Almost unlimited range! Many Japanese generators weigh only a few pounds so would not affect the handling much, they could still be left running in a suitable space to recharge fully while the rider is in a store, for instance..

The Skud

This design in a recumbent style cruiser bike ( crank forward posture with a seat even lower) AND a banan style seat which has room for a second passenger behind the first. That would be ideal. Of course youd need a more powerful hub motor but this would be much heavier.


the designer of this design should look at the outrider trike as an example of excellence

Asoka Nelson

Every time someone posts an eBike everyone complains about the price and limitations of the vehicle. The pattern is consistent enough for me to suspect the problem has much more to do with the technology than the companies deploying it.

I doubt there is a bunch of companies sitting around capable of building a perfect ebike but just not interested in all the money that would be thrown at them for doing it.

Most the eBikes I have seen with half decent capabilities are priced higher than you could pick up a motorcycle for.


Looks perfect for downtown but not much opportunity to pedal with only one speed. What about a Sturmey Archer type hub for the front wheel drive so that some gearing would be possible?

Roy Murray

Diachi hit it right on the head. For 1800, I can get a decent bicycle and a scooter for when I need to go more than 19 miles.


I find myself wondering what the advantage of this over a standard folding bike with a aftermarket hub motor front wheel and battery setup would be. You can get a decent folding bike for about $250 (citizen bikes), and a really nice wheel/battery setup for about $1400, and it would fold up smaller and be far better for use as a pedaling bike(6+gears). It might weigh a tiny bit more, but it would be a much more practical vehicle.

If I wanted something unique and I was going to spend $1800 I would probably spring for a Yikebike.

Michael Crumpton

3 mph pedaling speed would be faster to just walk home wle

Larry English

The front wheel is far to close under the rider. This design would have to be limited to slow (like 10 kph) speeds to allow safe emergency braking without flipping over the handlebars. Good compact design for light weight, but it has limitations like all current ebikes do.

Mark in MI

I like the design, with reservations. It needs to be able to fold up more.

I hope the basic fittings are standard so that we can add on if we want to. The first thing I'd look into for the vehicle, is a very well cushioned seat. Add-on shock absorbing seat posts exist.

Dan Lewis
To make it in the real world these bikes need to be able to carry full sized Americans as well as substantial parcels. For example when one goes out there might be several stops. Most stops are for minor items say posting a letter or picking up a battery for the remote TV controller. But one stop might involve groceries. Nobody will go out and then come back to get the car in order to get groceries which means the bike will not be used. Being able to haul the person and fifty pounds of groceries makes such a product really useful. So big luggage racks and much more potent batteries are really needed. Jim Sadler

This is a stale, old idea, not a fresh one. Pedals in the hub of the front wheel was tried and left behind over a hundred years ago. Pedaling a bike w/ the pedals on the front wheel causes the steering to wobble. That's acceptable on a child's tricycle but not on something you'd want to ride next to moving cars and trucks.


With the rider almost sitting on top of the front wheel, I guess that he/she will end up on his/her face with every hump on the road...?


Looks like this can be used like those kids runnerbikes without pedals. Or like the old hobby horse. I would think this is more practical than Segway. If I was looking for something with motor assist, this one is the best this far.


Keep working on the design. It's just not there yet...


Life-Bike is one cool Mini Farthing and I think it would be fun to ride ! When I rode a Neo Volt I almost killed my self falling backwards because the center of gravity is so far back and over the rear wheel. And who wants 56 miles range using the lowest speed setting if you just want to go 3 or 4 miles to get a coffee or a few groceries. I looks plenty fast, stable and easy to put in the trunk of a car. Wish I could buy one today !

Billy Schrade

You can get a really nice folding escooter for about 1/3 the price, and I am not sure why you would want a low speed pedaling option. It looks like you might even have to stop the bike to loosen the pedals to go from pedal to electric mode.

Michael Crumpton
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