Visiobike might just be the world's techiest e-bike
By Ben Coxworth
May 28, 2014
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.
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.