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Volkswagen shows production-ready folding two wheel EV Bik.e

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April 30, 2010

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg rode the Bik.e onto the stage for the unveiling. Dr. Hackenberg is a...

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg rode the Bik.e onto the stage for the unveiling. Dr. Hackenberg is a Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand with responsibility for Development

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The concept of “last few mile mobility” is one which we'll all grow accustomed to over the next decade as the world's cities become more congested and non-polluting micro mobility concepts begin to supplement other forms of transport. In the last year alone we've seen Toyota's Winglet, Honda's U3-X, Nissan's electric skis, and now Volkswagen has shown a micro mobility concept which it has dubbed the "Bik.e" – a folding electric bike with one of the most ingenious folding mechanisms we've seen. With a range of 20 kilometres (12.5 miles), the Bik.e has 20 inch wheels and folds to a footprint identical to that of a car spare tyre, enabling it to be stowed away easily. Whatsmore, the bik.e will definitely see production, and possibly even before the end of the year. VW's choice of form factor is as fascinating as its choice of a recognisable name is inspired. The Bik.e could turn out to be as important to VW as the iPod has been to Apple.

VW's choice of form factor is fascinating and it's an enormous shame that more detail has not been revealed. The bik.e reportedly weighs in at under 20 kilograms – porky for a bicycle but relatively light for an electric bike. Honda's U3-X and Toyota's Winglet weigh in at half the Bik.e's weight but the folding mechanism enables the bike to sit above the spare tyre in the wheel well without taking up any of the luggage space of most vehicles according to Volkswagen. Attempting to match Honda's U3-X weight and functionality would probably be beyond a stadium full of Phds but in creating a micro mobility concept designed to be an adjunct to a larger vehicle, VW recognises that 20 kg is relatively inconsequential.

No details have been given on its charging time, though it has been revealed that it can charge from the battery of the “mothership” - the car it will reside within. So if there's a powerpoint available at the destination, the bik.e can travel its full range of 20 kilometres. If not, then it can still offer a distance of 10km there and 10km back to the parent vehicle where it can be charged in transit.

The Bik.e has a top speed of 20 kmh (12.5mph), and reports from Beijing suggest that while it could easily be faster, its top speed has been pegged at 20 kmh because it enable the machine to be ridden in Germany without a helmet.

Several global trends are driving the need for personal micro mobility solutions - the world's population is ageing rapidly, the world is drowning in excrement and the world's roads will become hopelessly congested within a few decades.

Not much else is known at this stage about the Bik.e though it clearly uses batteries stored within the frame, cable-operated disc brakes on each wheel, injection moulded aluminium or magnesium construction reminiscent of the Gocycle) and integrated LED lighting. Even the split centrestand is a stroke of design genius, offering far better stability than the traditional prop-stand of a bicycle yet folding almost flush with the frame when in use. Volkswagen's sustainable design expertise is beginning to look mighty impressive and could have yielded an iconic design for the ages – perhaps even as representative of Volkswagen's brand values as that previous icon, the Beetle.

This is a landmark design, and one which, like Apple's iPod, could become an accessory on vehicles other than those wearing a VW badge.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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16 Comments

Two questions, Why is there no picture of it folding/folded? How can they call it a bike if it has no peddles?

Paul Anthony
30th April, 2010 @ 06:53 am PDT

too kewl ... me want ...

hourglass
30th April, 2010 @ 07:30 am PDT

I like it..........

Risso
30th April, 2010 @ 07:47 am PDT

"Bik.e - a folding electric bike with one of the most ingenious folding mechanisms we've seen."

Nice article, still, since you tout the folding mechanisms as such a great feature, it would have been nice if you had included a photo that showed the Bik.e folded up.

yrag
30th April, 2010 @ 08:47 am PDT

What? o pic of the bike folded?

davidrmartinez
30th April, 2010 @ 03:34 pm PDT

I want one.

Jim Ehmann
30th April, 2010 @ 04:40 pm PDT

Too bad that under my U.S. state's (New Jersey) arcane laws, the lack of pedals on that bike would mean it would be classed as a motorcycle and require registration, helmet, motorcycle license and insurance. Even if it was classed as a moped it'd still need a helmet, license plate, registration and insurance. And if it doesn't have a Vehicle ID Number, you can't get insurance for it, which is why there are no legal electric bicycles (or even regular bicycles with a small electric assist motor) in New Jersey. Come to think of it, there doesn't appear to be a break light or turn signals, so it would be illegal on those grounds alone anyway. Meanwhile the law has been modified so that people can mow you down on the sidewalk or the street with a Segway, even at night with no lights, because it's been classed as a mobility device for the handicapped, like an electric wheelchair.

Other than the fact that I may never be able to get one, this seems a lot more practical and useful than the Segway. The ability to stow away in a conventional vehicle (or a closet, or under a bed) is genius. The only thing it's lacking is a rear frame to be able to attach a backet/crate for hauling a bag or two of groceries.

alcalde
30th April, 2010 @ 05:04 pm PDT

Great concept. Congrats to VW. As for ability to carry, no doubt there will be holes in the frame, both front and rear, to attach carriers which will enable goods to be carried. I too would love to see this Bik.e folded. Cost will be important as well, but it's an extremely clever design of something that's been around for a while d;-)

Jetwax
1st May, 2010 @ 04:15 am PDT

The lack of pedels is a non-issue since the bicycle(two wheels)does not exceed 20mph. Horses do not have pedels,but riding one is not against the law. We're Americans; since when did laws matter.

Facebook User
1st May, 2010 @ 05:31 pm PDT

Right on Alcalde, right on. Don't dismay though as the right machine is on its way. DOT approved moped class, yet fully pedalable at any time, or not. Pay the minimal fees to license and register and start getting 50 mile plus range at an average of 25 mph in variable terrain with active pedaling on $.05 worth of grid electricity. For the gas version your range is limited to tank size but averaging 25 mph with active pedaling you can easily achieve 200 mpg and also have the ability to run alcohol.

This type of thing is like the Segway, Copenhagen Wheel and other concepts that mean well but miss the mark. The very fact that it doesn't have pedals and they are calling it a bike is joke. It should be labeled as a scooter.

The "last few miles" concept is interesting however. But walking or taking the bus is not a bad option or just pedal a regular bike that will cost way less and you won't have to worry about it getting stolen quite as much.

Bob Poor
1st May, 2010 @ 09:44 pm PDT

Pedals (!) This is just a little e-motorcycle not an "e-bike" (bicycle). Misleading name at least. For me a reason no to consider. I need an option to move after the battery is flat. You can just push around this hero.

nehopsa
3rd May, 2010 @ 01:22 pm PDT

In the lower pic, you can see how the two wheels pivot inward to rest in the curve of the frame.

RpD
4th May, 2010 @ 11:41 am PDT

when and How MUCHHHHHHHH!!!!

Jorge L Ayala
12th May, 2010 @ 11:32 am PDT

Interesting technology, but I don't see the point. As a regular ebike commuter, I need pedals as a backup and to get some exercise. Plus, how does this thing fit into the regulatory structure? Where I live, a two-wheeled motorized vehicle without pedals has to be titled as a motorcycle, so I could not legally leave my driveway on it.

Robert Schell
15th May, 2010 @ 09:15 am PDT

There's some video and shots of it folded here:



excellent folding action! Pity it does not have pedals.

patoleary
26th May, 2010 @ 07:29 am PDT

OK, now where are the several models of a VW electric car? The world economy is ready for low cost vehicles that small business and consumer owned rooftop solar installations can make use of. VW should be leading the field, instead of sitting on the sidelines making toys.

electric38
10th November, 2011 @ 02:40 pm PST
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