The city of Oslo, Norway is offering grants to help its citizens partially pay for electric cargo bikes through its Climate and Energy Fund. Each grant covers up to $1,200 or 25 percent of an electric cargo bike purchase, which can cost from $2,400 to $6,000.
Call me lazy, but one of my favorite things about electric bikes is that you don't have to work very hard to get very far. For throttle operated e-bikes—where you twist the grip like a motorcycle or continually push a button for some juice—you can cruise as long as you hold onto the throttle. Of course, for lazy people like me, the throttle can be too tempting to not use.
For that reason, I've really been enjoying Espin's pedal-assisted e-bike that's designed specifically for commuter biking. The San Francisco-based startup sent me their "Flow" model to test-ride for two weeks, and what I like best is how it not only looks like a regular bike, it also gives you a bit of a workout like a regular bike.
Espin's Flow is an e-bike that does not look like an e-bike.
Don't get me wrong—the Espin is fast, powerful and you're unlikely to break a sweat even as you reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. The more I pedaled, the faster I zoomed along, making it an addictive and exhilarating ride. Most people couldn't even tell it was electric.
The Espin has assist levels from 0-5, with the higher numbers giving more oomph. A zero rides like a traditional two-wheeler while a 5 lets you zoom around and even tackle hills. The assist lasts for about 2 seconds after you stop pedaling.
An easy-to-read control hub displays distance, speed and battery life. By holding down the central power button on the left handlebar, you can switch on a powerful LED light allowing for night-time rides.
I was very impressed by the bike's 418 Watt-hour lithium ion battery which can be entirely removed with a key and plugged into a wall. So if the battery dies while you're on the road you can just remove the battery and maybe plug it into, say, a coffee shop outlet and wait while it charges. The battery is hidden in the middle of the bike's aluminum alloy frame, making it look more like a regular bike. It takes about about 4.5 hours to fully charge, but in the two weeks that I've intermittently ridden the bike, I haven't had to recharge it a single time. The company says the Espin has a range of 25-50 miles on a single charge. The battery is expected to last about 2-4 years or around 500 charge cycles.
Here's another cool thing—and it came via fluke. My boyfriend, on a ride home on the bike from the bar, took a jump on a ramp and caused the chain to slip off. Much to his amazement, the assist still worked without a functioning chain and he zipped all the way home without any pedaling.
"That's a feature I would pay for any day," he said.
At $1,888 the Espin, is an affordable e-bike option. And, at 48 pounds it's also a lighter ride, when others can weigh more than 60 pounds.
"Espin was created out of necessity. When we first came up with this idea, we were struggling to find a performance eBike for ourselves that would be great for getting to work, but also looked stylish and didn't break the bank," said
Josh Lam, co-founder of Espin, in a statement. "Many eBikes have a bulky battery and have high price tags. We knew there was a better way to create something that people could afford and really consider as their daily ride. We put form and function together to make a cool, stylish, affordable bike that happens to be electric. No more sweating on rides to work!"
My one criticism is the assembly process. While the company touts that the bike can be put together in less than 15 minutes, it took a friend and me several hours to assemble. That being said, the company was helpful with my questions and linked me to an online tutorial.
Some other specs include a rear-mounted luggage rack, 350 watt motor output and 45 Nm torque. The Espin also comes in a sleek "Sport" model. Both the Flow and Sport are available in black and white. A $300 discount is also going on right now.
Electric bikes are a great way to zip around town with less pedal power, but they have two problems. First, the machinery can make them heavy or bulky. Second, at some point, they will run out of juice.
But Austria-based VELLO BIKE has solved these two problems with its innovative VELLO Bike+, the world's first self-charging electric folding bike that gives cyclists ultimate freedom.
The lightest self-charging folding e-bike in the world.VELLO BIKE
The bike claims to be lighter than most folding e-bikes on the market—the titanium model weighs about 24 pounds, and the chromoly frame model weighs 26 pounds.
It can easily fold down to just 72 x 53 centimeters, or suitcase size, making it easy to store in tight spaces, such as under a desk or in the trunk of a car. You don't even have to carry it—once folded it can also stand on its own, meaning you can just wheel it around. The bike's patented magnetic release makes it quick and easy to fold.
"A self-locking magnet allows hands-free folding, which makes it very different from a typical folding bike with complicated hinges to open," company co-founder and designer Valentin Vodev said. "They don't tend to be very user-friendly as the folding process is lengthy and can be frustrating."
Vodev was given a Red Dot award, an international product design and communication design prize, for the bike's innovative design.
"I always try to take a novel, previously unexplored approach in my designs. This mostly results in unconventional solutions, which I can then turn into innovations. In my opinion, design is a mixture of logic, aesthetics and art," he said of his work after being given the award.
As for its self-charging feature, the bike's integrated lithium-ion battery can be completely recharged just by pedaling or braking, the developers claim. Using its Integrated Kinetic Energy Recovery System, the VELLO Bike+ converts mechanical energy into electricity to power a 250-watt motor.
"You can ride up to 15 miles per hour for unlimited mileage in 'self-charging mode,' or in 'turbo mode' up to 18-30 miles on a full charge without any effort," the company says. "As soon as you stop pedaling, the motor will stop pushing. The generated power depends on several factors including the bike speed, the pedaling speed, the road slope and the selected power mode."
The bike comes with its own smartphone app with features such as a custom dashboard (to see your speed, miles, battery, etc) and an option to lock the bike remotely.
"Riding performance was also essential to us in the development of the VELLO BIKE+, it feels and rides better than most of the existing folding bikes on the market," Vodev said.
The VELLO Bike+ has already blown past its €80,000 ($87,863)
Kickstarter goal with 18 days to go. Prices start at €1,599 ($1,756) on Kickstarter and will ship anywhere around the world.
Watch the bike in motion here:
My bike isn't exactly what you'd call "nice." I bought my humble three-speed for $50 bucks off Craigslist. I believe the original owner bought the bike for about twice that amount at Walmart. Over the summer, however, my second-hand Craiglist bike was converted into a fancy electric one thanks to EVELO's Omni Wheel, a motorized wheel that replaces a regular bike's front wheel.
The Omni Wheel EVELO
As a recreational bicycler, all I want in a bike is simple yet functional riding. So when EVELO sent me this 20-pound, $1,000 wheel for a test spin, I was skeptical. The installation process, which the company says should take most people only 30 minutes, took me and a friend (a sometimes frustrating) two hours. Admittedly, the lengthy installation time could also be down to how bad I am with simple tools. That being said, the EVELO team was happy to answer any questions I had and there's also a 5-minute video tutorial for reference.
Upon successfully installing the wheel, my friend had the perfect words about my newly electrified bike, "It f—ing works!"
It really does work. The lithium-battery powered Omni WheeI basically turned my bike into a scooter. After effortlessly zipping around with it for the past month, I realized something—I kind of love, and maybe need, an electric bike.
My second-hand Walmart bike I bought off Craigslist for $50 was pimped out this summer with EVELO's electric wheel.
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, do not require as much pedal power but they aren't just for the lazy. With my Craigslist-bike-turned-e-bike, I biked more than ever before. Research actually shows that e-bikes make people cycle longer and more frequently. Instead of hopping into my car like I usually would, I biked to the gym, met up with friends and yes even biked for fun.
The wheel I tested came with a thumb throttle that pushed me at speeds around 15 miles per hour, which felt pretty fast to me. At that speed, I was biking faster than the 10 mile-per-hour speed limit for my apartment complex driveway.
For those of you who enjoy biking for the exercise, you can switch between the throttle or old fashioned pedaling whenever you want. While I was out riding one day, the battery ran out of juice and I easily pedaled the rest of the way back home.
I live in a beach town in South Carolina so biking was easy on the flat pavement, but EVELO says that their wheel is powerful enough to tackle hills and long distances with ease.
A full charge on the Omni Wheel puts a rider into the 40-mile range and lasts around 4 or 9 hours depending on the wheel model. The all-in-one wheel kit includes a wireless display panel you place onto your bike's handlebars that shows how fast you're going, how many miles have been clocked up and how much battery is left.
The wheel comes in two sizes, 26" and 700C, meaning it fits a wide range of bikes. Starting price for the cheapest wheel is $999, which is hundreds less than low-end electric bikes.
By Kelly McCartney
Leave it to Germany to build a bicycle autobahn that connect 10 cities within its borders. The goal? To take some 50,000 vehicles off the actual highways and make commuting by bike a much easier—and safer—proposition.
The idea was sparked six years ago when a cultural project caused the one-day closure of the road between Duisburg and Dortmund and more than three million people flooded the road on bikes, skates and feet. Last December, Germany's first stretch of bike highway opened for business between Mülheim an der Ruhr and Essen. Eventualy, the Radschnellweg will link 10 cities and four universities with 62 miles of bike highway.
The bikeways—and parallel pedestrian paths—are completely separated from the vehicle lanes, with a 13-foot width, tunnels, lights and snow clearing because safety and accessibility issues are two of the biggest obstacles to biking. Coupled with Europe's blossoming affection for electric bikes and Germany's limited proximity between cities, the Radschnellweg stand to attract a new wave of pedal-powered commuters. Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg are also undertaking bike-related feasibility studies in order to curb traffic and pollution in those urban areas.
Of course, the Germans are only the latest to enter the bike highway fray. The Netherlands started building their 20-strong network of bikeways 10 years ago and continue to expand it, while Denmark focused their efforts on Copenhagen. Norway will soon be getting in on the action too with bikeways connecting nine cities.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Shareable.