PiCycle: the hybrid electric bicycle with embedded Wi-Fi technology
By Darren Quick
February 3, 2011
Combining an electric motor with a form factor that has remained largely unchanged for over a hundred years, hybrid electric bicycles make it easier to get around in an environmentally friendly way, while still providing some much needed exercise. One of the most distinctive electric bikes going around is the PiCycle (which began life as the Electrobike Pi). The latest model from Pi Mobility retains the instantly recognizable arch frame of its predecessor, but has been simplified even further and now offers the option of integrated Wi-Fi-based technology to remotely monitor the 2011 PiCycle’s performance and track the bike if it is stolen.
The seven-speed PiCycle ST packs its electronics and a 10 amp hour lithium-ion battery inside its aluminum heat-treated monocoque arch frame. This provides power to a front-mounted 750 watt/36 volt brushless DC motor.
With a 3.5 hour recharge time, a single charge can carry the rider for a range of up to 20 miles, depending on the weight of the rider, the terrain being covered and how much of their own pedal power the rider is willing to provide.
Unassisted, the PiCycle can reach speeds of 20 mph (32 km/h), while adding some pedal power can see the bike come close to 30 mph (48 km/h).
Pi Mobility also offers the option of adding a second motor that will increase the PiCycle’s acceleration, but won’t increase the bike’s top speed. However, adding a second motor will also result in the battery being drained twice as fast, resulting in the range being cut in half. So you’d want to weigh up just how important a quick jump off from the traffic lights is to you if you’re considering such an option.
The most unique feature of the PiCycle is the option of a “PiFi,” an embedded Wi-Fi-based technology that wirelessly streams data, including speed, distance, range, charge level, efficiency, cadence, mapping, direction of travel, and ambient temperature, directly to the rider’s smartphone. Pi Mobility plans to release its Pi Q app for iPhone and Android smartphones later this year to make the link even simpler.
The Pi-Fi system also allows Pi Mobility to remotely monitor the PiCycle’s battery health, battery charging frequency, battery cycle life, motor and controller experience and more, so it can take preventative measures like shipping replacement parts if it detects a problem. Additionally, it allows the company to locate a PiCycle in the event of theft – assuming the bike is in the proximity of a Wi-Fi network.
The PiCycle ST will be available later this year for US$2,495, with reservations being taken now at Pi Mobility’s website.
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