Bike 2.0

I reckon electric bikes are the Next Big Thing. Adding weight to my pet theory, designboom have just announced that the winner of their Seoul cycle design competition 2010 is Bike 2.0 which features a generator and wires instead of a chain.

I know there’s a few ‘purists’ out there who aren’t keen on electric bikes. That approach is fine for Christchurch or Palmy, but for the average Wellington hill-dweller these things would be great.

You can see the rest of the competition shortlist here. There’s some fine looking bikes and some extremely covetable accessories in there. Well worth a look!

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7 thoughts on “Bike 2.0

  1. Simon Kennett

    I actually reckon electric bikes are better for flat cities than hilly ones. The regulations limit the power of an electric bicycle motor to 300 watts, which isn’t enough to get you up a steep hill without pedalling, and if the battery goes flat, an electric bike is like an anchor to drag uphill.
    Only trouble on the flat is that (human nature being what it is) you’re unlikely to pedal hard enough to get an elevated heart-rate – and without an elevated heart rate, you loose most of the gains of cycling. In monetary terms at least, the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the environmental benefits. It’d be a shame if cycling was as good for your health as riding a motorbike.
    I can see that sharing the roads with electric bikes would be better than SUVs, but I just can’t see SUV drivers making the switch. Happy to be proved wrong though!

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  2. Lisa

    If I understand correctly, the point of an electric bike is not that one stops pedalling, but rather that the motor provides an assist while pedalling up the hill. So it’s win-win!

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  3. I think Wellington could really use some electric-assist bikes as long as they are still relying mostly on energy generated by the rider.

    Also, for a while the cost of the batteries will remain out of the price range of most people. Just remember that Copenhagen went from a car-centric city to a bicycle-centric city in less than a generation, contending with winds off the North Sea and SNOW. They did all this before electric bikes were possible.

    I think this electric bike is stunning to look at and most probably very useful, however cost and availability may cause us to look elsewhere for the answer to our transport needs.

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  4. Simon Kennett

    The problem with the Bike 2.0 is that it has no chain, so the pedalling will charge the generator, but it might not add to the total power output (which is limited by transport regulations as well as engineering limits). On the flats, it’ll be a win IF people choose to pedal vigorously while riding. On steep hills you’ll probably have to get off and push – which is great for fitness, until the novelty wears off and it gets left in the garage.
    No doubt there are better designs on the way – battery technology is improving at an incredible rate of knots.

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  5. Lisa

    It’s not really about this particular electric bike, although it’s very pretty. The point is more that in a place like Wellington, with big hills, an electric assist may well appeal to current non-riders. I don’t know much about battery cost but it’s not new tech so shouldn’t be out of reach.

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  6. So glad to see a Wellington bike site, as I thought it would have more relavance to me down here in Dunedin – having hills and all. Blow me down, and you have a post about electric assist bikes! I use one to get up a huge hill here, and without the assist I wouldn’t be riding, fat b*gger that I am. There’s nowhere in Wellington I wouldn’t be able to cycle now. (BTW: I’m on a Wisper – robust, great service and heartily recommended).

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    1. Lisa

      Oh fantastic! I’ve never had the chance to talk to an e-bike rider so I’m glad you commented. It sounds as though you find it pretty useful.
      Would you be interested in writing an article on your experience for the website sometime?

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