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Yikebike's ingenious range extender


March 11, 2011

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The Yikebike is a miniature, electric penny farthing made of carbon fiber and now it's on sale, it is quickly gathering a cult early-adopter following thanks to its weight of 10.8 kilograms, that it folds so small it can fit in a backpack, and that it will run at 25km/h (15 mph). Until now, it has ticked all the boxes except one – its limited range of just 10 kilometers. Now it has released an extender battery pack so you can add additional 10 kilometer increments to the range of your YikeBike.

Each battery costs US$195 and weighs 1.95kg and there's a special backpack to carry multiple batteries so it becomes a very practical solution that offers the Yikebike unsurpassed bang-per-kilogram and versatility as a commuting appliance. Though it's hard to equate the US$3600 price tag with primary transport, the addition of a Yikebike to any automobile storage compartment significantly extends the capabilities of both vehicles. The facility to carry secondary transportation inside cars has been explored many times in recent years by Honda and General Motors in particular … and it makes a lot of sense.

Gizmag's editor Noel McKeegan and myself both rode the YikeBike in Koln last September and were both very impressed. Normally, it takes 10 minutes or so to get acquainted with the handlebars which sit behind your hips. Noel is a keen mountain bike rider and dirt bike enthusiast and he simply got on the Yikebike and rode away, even though most folks have a few false starts.

I fared slightly less well, but had it all happening within a few minutes - if you can ride a bicycle, you need to rewire the brain slightly, but it's going to be a simple job accomplished within ten minutes.

Once mastered, the Yikebike offers remarkably quick transport for something that is so small – only Honda's still-unreleased U-3X (right) and Toyota's also-experimental Winglet (left) offer comparable weight-performance figures and it will be interesting to see how long these devices take to reach market and at what price point they greet the public.

The Yikebike is in many ways a revolutionary device, as it is the first of a new class of vehicle which we're almost certain to see proliferate as congestion and travel times force us all to consider transportation options. It has won or been a finalist in just about every major design award on the planet for which it is eligible, including making it onto the cover of Time's Invention of the Year issue in 2009 and now a Guinness Book of World records citation as the most compact electric bike in the world.

Now it's on sale, it will be interesting to watch marketplace acceptance.

The electric bicycle is closer on the consumer devices family tree to a computer than it is to a motorcycle, and just as laptops have a limit to their battery capacity, small transportation devices will also have a form factor that limits battery size. While it is by no means an elegant solution, it is one to which we are accustomed thanks to laptops and cameras, and once exploited, enables much greater runtime.

The Yikebike sells for US $3,595, GBP2,422, EUR2,872 and AUD $3,909. If your commuting regime involves train or road and a spot of walking, the Yikebike could be the answer.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

It will flop. It\'s closer to a Sinclair C5 than the Sinclair X-1 design is. Very limited range (unless you buy extra batteries), zero weather protection, questionable safety, just plain silly-looking. In fact, it has one major disadvantage compared with the C5: the exorbitant price, some 6x the price of a C5 without adjusting for inflation. I suspect it won\'t even carve a niche for itself as large as the Segway\'s, which was nothing to write home about.


That silly little bike should be equipped with a toilet seat as well; It already has those nice firm handle bars on the sides in case the \'driver??\' has to push a tuffy out on the go.


It see it was way better the Sinclair C5 since it is collapsable and would be easier to carry. With the extra batteries, its range is extended. I think it is more practical than a Segway since it can be carried if the battery goes dead.

I think it is neat since one can easily store it even in a compact car; sort of a \'drive and ride\' option to extend the range of both vehicles.


Where\'s the video? I wish items like these were marketed more in the US. It seems as though Europeans assume that the US wouldn\'t be interested in convenient commuter items like this bike. If the snobby Europeans don\'t appreciate it, try select US markets where commuting is problematic/particularly congested. ka

Facebook User

Well, as a snobby European, although I would prefer Englishman, I fear that this machine doesn\'t tug at my heartstrings, so by all means market it to Facebook User. Ian Colley.


BigWarpGuy is the only one who really gets it. The point is that mass transit needs something like this to make it really complete. Neither Sinclair C5 or X-1 works, because you can\'t take them on the bus or use them on the sidewalk. There should be special lanes in the future for some thing like the Sinclairs, but there isn\'t yet. And until then, something like this is necessary, that can complete the trip from the bus stop. It has to be small enough to take with you on the bus.


There are folding bikes that are small enough to take on the bus AND which cost 1/10th of this thing...but isn\'t it amazing the extent to which people will go just to avoid exercise!


there should be a law against this crap. what a waste of time and rersourses; $3500 for 10k\'s what a wank!


Tiny rear wheel rough sidewalks and potholes = crash.

Facebook User

The yikebike is a fantastic product and has deservedly won alot of awards. There are a bunch of videos online that you can check out of you doubt its usefulness. Range was certainly an issue but the battery extension should solve alot of those problems. It does have some major issues though which dont have anything to do with the item design but that really hamstring it as a product: 1. it\'s too expensive (as many people have pointed out) but then, first adopters always pay too much. If it becmes popular, the price will fall. 2. (this is the killer) it\'s not street legal in europe. I checked with the Department of transport int he UK. Riding this anywhere in public will get you arrested in the UK. Why? The power of the motor and the fact that there are no pedals (so it\'s not a pedelec) means that it is classed as a motorbike but it hasn\'t passed all the necessary tests for a motorbike and lacks certain features crucial to making a motorbike street legal (plates, indicators etc) - so it\'s not even legal to ride if you have a motorbike license and wear a helmet. And as it is classed as a motorbike, you can\'t ride it legally on the pavement/sidewalk.

Comparisons with the C5 are not valid but it does compare in this legal respect with the segway: interesting, innovative product. Potentially game changing even for city transport (as not everyone wants to sweatily pedal themselves around town). But illegal.

The less expensive alternative product (portable - if heavy) and folding, is the Trikke Pon-E which is alot less expensive and possibly safer and more comfortable to ride. Sadly, it\'s also illegal in the UK/Europe, for the same reasons.



Do you really think anyone who takes mass transit can afford to drop $3600 on this toy? Especially since it has such limited range and weighs so much? Nobody wants to lug almost 25 lbs for more than a hundred feet. Add another 4 lbs for another 6 miles of range. It\'s too low to push on its own wheels, so if you run out of power, you\'re out of luck.


This will never become popular enough for prices to fall. It doesn\'t have the \"cachet\" of the Segway, which has also not sold enough to become affordable. The Xootr eX3 electric scooter was very nicely machined from billet aluminum and had higher speed, the same range, lower weight, smaller folded size and all at 1/4 the cost. Guess what? It didn\'t sell well and was out of production within a couple of years.


Gadgeteer --

Not everywhere (even in the US) is mass transit just for poor people. I take it you aren\'t a New Yorker.

Not that I \"get\" this particular product -- it seems to have any number of disadvantages over existing folding bike designs. My favorite is the Bike Friday Tikit -- a top-of-the-line Tikit (with a carbon belt drive, Nexus 11 internally geared hub, frame custom-built to its rider and all the accessories) will cost more than the YikeBike, but then, it won\'t be limited to a 10km range, either.



As a matter of fact, I am a New Yorker. People on the subway don\'t have $3600 to throw away. People who can afford something like this in NYC are much more likely to take a taxi. Tell me, if New Yorkers are such a great customer base for something like this, why did the aforementioned cheaper, lighter, smaller, faster Xootr eX3 fail?


the brompton electric bike is a much better option $ 3195. You can cycle and use the motor. Or the dahon bike $1950.

Gerard Van Otterloo

No, this bike is great for me. New York is probably not the best comparison here, where the mass transit network covers almost everywhere – it's a city like Boston where I live.

Boston has an adequate mass transit system, but it's not complete to every destination, and sometimes the trip from the mass transit station or bus stop to my destination (especially in suburban areas) can be a real pain.

The YikeBike would be great for my half-mile walk from the bus stop to lessons, and the fact that it's foldable (and therefore legal on all of Boston's transit systems) makes it a great and handy thing.

I just can't wait until the bloody thing is legal to ride.

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