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Visiobike might just be the world's techiest e-bike

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May 28, 2014

The Visiobike packs a lot of electronic features

The Visiobike packs a lot of electronic features

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As the recent Charged Up e-bike event showed us, the new generation of electric bikes is apparently here to stay. While many of them simply feature a motor that augments the rider's pedaling power, some really take the whole "electronics" thing and run (or roll) with it. The upcoming Visiobike is just such a machine. With a little help from the user's smartphone, it not only provides a power boost but also lets them navigate, deter thieves, see what's behind them via a video feed, and avoid having to shift gears.

The 21-kg (46-lb) Visiobike was created by a team led by Croatian entrepreneur Marko Matenda. It features a monocoque carbon fiber frame that internally incorporates a 14.5-Ah Panasonic lithium-ion battery and a bottom bracket-located MDF Drive 5.1 electric motor. That motor will be available in 250-watt and 500-watt versions, boosting the rider's pedal strokes to take them up to a maximum speed of either 25 or 45 km/h (15.5 or 28 mph) respectively.

It should reportedly manage around 100 km (62 miles!) per battery charge under average use, with each charge taking three hours. The battery also powers/charges the rider's smartphone, through a handlebar mount. From that perch, the phone communicates with the bike's electronics system via Bluetooth.

Using the Visiobike app, riders can select the level of motorized pedaling assistance (there's no throttle mode), check the battery level, see their current speed, or get turn-by-turn directions to their destination using Google Maps. They can also use the app to view real-time video from a rear-view HD camera mounted beneath the saddle, and to "unlock" the bike when they first start riding by entering a PIN – if the right number isn't entered, the electronics won't work and the rear wheel will lock up.

The Visiobike should reportedly manage around 100 km (62 miles) per battery charge under a...

Would-be thieves' lives are also made difficult by a motion sensor that will alert the rider via SMS if their bike is moved while unattended, and by a GPS module that allows the whereabouts of a stolen Visiobike to be tracked. If the rider is in an accident, on the other hand, the bike's systems should detect the impact and automatically save the last three minutes of footage captured by the rear-view camera. The app will also set about contacting emergency services, if the rider doesn't stop it from doing so within 60 seconds.

The bike additionally features a Nuvinci N360 continuously-variable hub transmission, which smoothly transitions between different gear ratios (even when the bike is stopped) as opposed to clicking into distinct "gears." While it's usually the N360 user who selects these ratios, the Visiobike uses a pedal torque sensor to adjust the transmission, automatically keeping the rider at their preferred cadence at all times.

It all sounds pretty fancy, but you can't take one home ... yet. Matenda and his team are currently raising production funds for the Visiobike, on Indiegogo. A pledge of €3,900 (US$5,300) will get you one, when and if they're ready to go. The planned retail price is €4,500 ($6,100).

More information is available 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
27 Comments

Clever, but why does every maker of these things assume one wants to have his iPhone sitting out in the weather?

The Skud
28th May, 2014 @ 09:18 pm PDT

In answer to the Skud 'why the smartphone?' It's all to do with a piece of marketing hype called 'The Internet of Things.' The 'IoT' does have some very useful applications but it has many more totally useless ones designed purely to sell 'Tecno-Toys' to the Wanna-be crowd.

Electric bikes should not need smartphones to control basic functions and the sensible user would be well advised to avoid smartphone enabled e-bikes like the plague!

Stuart Wilf Wilshaw
29th May, 2014 @ 02:11 am PDT

Agree totally ..

What happens if you loose your phone or get it stolen while out and about..you then loose your transport too.

Having an app or USB port if further setting tinkering is required or for data downloading is great..but to make it as an integral part of the bike is just plain wrong.

Neil Paisnel
29th May, 2014 @ 02:43 am PDT

Hi everybody, Marko here - founder of Visiobike.

If it rains,simply put your phone in your pocket, everything still works because of Bluetooth connection :)

So much tech is built into Visiobike that only a smartphone can handle it! Plus, nobody really wants the bike to have its own detachable control unit, right? What a hassle.

This way we leverage installed tech: everyone carries a mini supercomputer, so why not use it?

We see smartphone as unlimited potential for improvement of ebike features regarding safety and security in particular!

Over a decade ago, people used to wonder why cars need onboard computers, remember? Now, Audi has nVidia and Google maps in their cars, and all manufacturers control complex systems, gather data, and push firmware updates through onboard computers. :)

And I agree that IoT is largely hype... but if you can track your bike and push OTA through the cloud, you shouldn't really care what tech is called, right?

Visiobike
29th May, 2014 @ 03:49 am PDT

@Visiobike: cars have *on-board* computers, they are not dependent on a piece of random hardware that might become lost, stolen or forgotten. Put that phone mainboard *inside* the frame with a weatherproof screen on the handlebar - problem solved! Make it tweakable by blutooth (as has already been suggested) if you wish, but let the computer be integral to the piece of hardware it controls!

morphick
29th May, 2014 @ 08:25 am PDT

Yeah.....for $5,300 I would expect this bike to last me several years. That being said, the same BlueTooth protocols in use today will definitely not be around as long as I would expect this bike to last. Also, have you heard about texting and driving? Fiddling with your smartphone while riding in traffic is a sure fire way to get smashed. Sure, you can put it in your pocket but if you do, what is the benefit of having it connected to the bike? Overpriced, time-limited, DANGEROUS!!!!

Maybe e-bikes would gain mainstream support if the makers quit trying to put all this stuff into the bike and instead focused on reducing costs to a level that consumers could afford.

chomper
29th May, 2014 @ 08:41 am PDT

Good answers, Marko. Thanks for the explanation!

DavidB
29th May, 2014 @ 08:46 am PDT

what happens if the phone battery runs down?

mine would last about 30 minutes in always-on mode..

wle

[The phone is powered by the bike's battery -Ed.]

wle
29th May, 2014 @ 08:53 am PDT

Interesting stuff going on in Croatia... first the Greyp electric bike

( www.gizmag.com/rimac-greyp-electric-bicycle/29069/ ) and now this.

John Whitney Jr.
29th May, 2014 @ 09:07 am PDT

So when the hacker world decides it's a fun sport to remotely control the power (or lack thereof) of your e-bike...hilarity ensues!

f8lee
29th May, 2014 @ 09:10 am PDT

As we grow older we discard the trappings of childhood.  The  Barbie and GI Joe Dolls, the tea set, the skateboard, the kite and ol' ball glove, the tricycle and bike are all given away to younger children or end up in the attic.  We grow up and embrace adult interests.  Be an adult, drive a car.  

TeeWee
29th May, 2014 @ 09:25 am PDT

"Techie" this thing might be - by GOOD GOD, who designed its geometry?

Someone who has never ridden a bike in his life, I have to assume...

Seriously - it has to be A BIKE as well as a device for carrying gadgets about!

Keith Reeder
29th May, 2014 @ 09:34 am PDT

I don't see any way that you can remove the battery. Not a good design if it's sealed up in the frame.

If I need to charge it, I have to get the entire bike near an electric outlet. Can't do that at work. A removable battery pack I can take to my desk to plug in and charge during work hours (as I've done all the time with my various e-bikes).

Michael Logue
29th May, 2014 @ 09:44 am PDT

This bike looks fantastic and i would love to own one. But $6100?! who is going to pay that much for a bike when they could buy two cars for that price? If you want to encourage change to greener means of travel then make it accessible to more than just the super rich.

jack.w
29th May, 2014 @ 12:41 pm PDT

also

it;s TOO EXPENSIVE!

wle

wle
29th May, 2014 @ 12:46 pm PDT

All these e-bikes come in at very, very high prices. Amounts for which anyone can buy a good motorcycle and/or scooter, up to 250-150cm3, respectively. Both uses about the same amount of natural resources, energy and produce overall the same amount of pollution and waste.

Saving fuel is a noble goal, but wasting money is foolish.

Those who crusade to "save the environment" are the worst kind of idiots and liars. They lie when they state that they want to save the environment, the truth is, they want to change it to be as it was and the way they like it in the past. The way to save the environment is to leave it alone and not to meddle and/or interact with it and the only way to do it, is for men to walk naked and barefoot, always and everywhere. For that, man should have stayed on the trees, demonstrating true intelligence. However, coming down from the trees, developing so called "civilizations", humans became the most inhumane, destructive idiots in the known Universe.

gybognarjr
29th May, 2014 @ 09:20 pm PDT

@morphick - I think that smartphone is for a lot of people the most important thing they own and they take really good care of it!

@chomper - that's why we're using Bluetooth dual mode which makes Visiobike compatible with almost all smartphones made since 2004. What'll happen in the future, nobody knows but we'll find a way to keep every Visiobike up to date!

@wle - you can easily charge it from large Visiobike battery.

@f8lee - that's why only one Bluetooth device at the time can be connected to Visiobike

@TeeWee - Although I personally love fast cars and driving, ebike is THE perfect transportation in a large city!

@Keith - I can assure you that we paid a lot of care in to geometry and Visiobike is very comfortable to ride, especially over long distances! Hope you'll have a chance to try it someday. The motor assistance means Visiobike geometry doesn't need to be optimised for the same muscle groups as racing style bikes. Furthermore the low, central centre of gravity makes VB very stable. Stem is fully adjustable and seat post range is good, so every rider should find perfect riding position :)

@Michael - Visiobike battery is fixed in the frame but it's quite a big one, more than 30% bigger than ones you can find in other ebikes. So unless you cycle very very far and back every day, charging at home is not a problem. 3h to recharge is also very fast in this sector.

@wle - it's not a cheap one, thats for sure. But if you calculate how much average car or public transport costs you over 3-5 year period, you'll see that Visiobike is actually a wise long term investment! Costs of running it are extremely low! About 0.10€ per charge.

@gybognarjr - if you charge Visiobike from your solar cells mounted on your roof, than Visiobike becomes very green means of transportation that costs you 0,00€ to run!

Visiobike
30th May, 2014 @ 02:49 am PDT

"Using the Visiobike app, riders can select the level of motorized pedaling assistance (there's no throttle mode)," What? - how does one adjust the speed to accomodate changing traffic conditions? Do you have to tap frantically at your phone to speed up or slow down? Let's hope that it doesn't occur to the makers to also operate the brakes via the phone!

This phone-centric culture is idiotic; pedestrians are knocked down every day crossing roads because they are engrossed in their phones - it can only get worse if they are allowed to mix it with vehicles on the roads.

Sheldon Cooper
30th May, 2014 @ 07:35 am PDT

"@wle - it's not a cheap one, thats for sure. But if you calculate how much average car or public transport costs you over 3-5 year period, you'll see that Visiobike is actually a wise long term investment! Costs of running it are extremely low! About 0.10€ per charge. "

--please restate that with cost of replacement batteries when they die for good....

--make reasonable assumptions

==wle

wle
30th May, 2014 @ 08:07 am PDT

From an e-bike we only need a small power assistance to the existing bike setting. The BB located motor drive looks a better option than the hub driven. That's all we need.

With all the cyclist investing substantial $$ to reduce the weight of bike settings, manufacturers are trying to add something more resulting increased weight.

How stupid?

socool
31st May, 2014 @ 01:06 am PDT

please state cost of replacement batteries, as well as expected lifetime, shortest, average, longest

then we can talk about ''cost of ownership''

thanks

wle

wle
2nd June, 2014 @ 07:45 am PDT

@socool - it's not always easy to lower the weight and keep the wanted functionality in place. We're doing the best we can and in future the weight will go down for sure!

@wle - cost of the replacement battery is 400€.

Visiobike battery warranty is 3 years and 1000 cycles with 70% capacity left.

If you use it for 300 days per year for three years and average 80km per day the result is 72.000km with one battery.

Visiobike
2nd June, 2014 @ 01:08 pm PDT

ok

no one wants to address this

i assume replacement batteries cost a LOT then, making the whole thing cost about as much as operating a BMW or mercedes $$ class

wle

wle
2nd June, 2014 @ 01:43 pm PDT

@wle - I've just replayed, it costs 400€

Visiobike
2nd June, 2014 @ 02:25 pm PDT

"everyone carries a mini supercomputer"

Wrong.

"I think that smartphone is for a lot of people the most important thing they own"

Maybe we don't frequent the same persons...

For example, my 70 years-old father really loves e-bikes, because it allows him to stroll for hours, like he used to 40 years ago.

He'll maybe pay $6000 for a e-bike, but he'll never jump to a smartphone.

"unless you cycle very very far and back every day, charging at home is not a problem"

I don't have any outlet in my garage.

I bet you wont take this bike in and out from my appartment for more than a week.

This e-bike is a good idea, but not designed for the average e-bikers.

Jacques Facial
5th June, 2014 @ 03:12 am PDT

"cost of the replacement battery is 400€."

Yet the battery is fixed inside the frame. Can the frame be taken apart to get at the battery?

Michael Logue
9th June, 2014 @ 08:41 am PDT

@Jacques - we're thinking about offering 'low tech' model with standard controls that'll be attractive to older customers!

As always, there are different options on the market for different people.

@Michael - yes, when you remove electric motor you can get to the battery.

Visiobike
10th June, 2014 @ 02:53 pm PDT
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