Tuesday October 9, 2012
Yikes! I like this bike
By MENG YEW CHOONG
World’s smallest and lightest e-bike is now in Malaysia.
ELECTRIC bicycles have been around for a while, as have folding bicycles. But a folding electric bicycle that transforms into a neat package is still a rarity, so Gregers Reimann was delighted when he spotted one in Singapore in February.
“I asked around and found out there was a distributor in Malaysia, who then graciously lent me the bicycle for a trial period,” said Reimann, 37, a Kuala Lumpur-based green building consultant.
He has been using the bike for the last two months for his daily commute between his condominium in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, and his office in Bangunan Syed Kechik, Bangsar.
“I ride the whole way to my office (about 9km) but due to the steep hill, the standard battery cannot power me for the last 300m to the office. However, on the way home, I have no problem riding all the way (generally downhill). To solve the problem for good, I have acquired an additional battery pack to double the range from 10km to 20km,” said the Dane who hails from Copenhagen, a city where half the population cycles to get to their destinations.
Naturally, Reimann is also a cyclist and used to pedal 25 minutes to get to work using a conventional bicycle.
“When I pedal hard, I pant, and breathing in the city air is not that great,” said the managing director of IEN Consultants who has lived in the city since 2005.
Cycling in Kuala Lumpur is nothing as pleasant as in Copenhagen, where the weather is cooler. “Here, I have to shower in the office if I cycle, but with the YikeBike, I can still travel across town for meetings without sweating. It makes a lot of sense (to use an electric bike) in cities ... and it is a very green technology. It will take you about 10 minutes to learn how to ride it. Then you probably never want to get off it again. The range of the battery is about 10km, which is about right.
“I have no complaints and am now a bit addicted to it. It is so practical. When I go for lunch with my colleagues, I will always be the first one to arrive and the first one back at work as there is no need to look for parking.”
When Reimann needs to travel across town to meet clients, he would use the YikeBike to get to the LRT station, then folds up the bike and takes it onboard the train. After getting off the train, he would use the YikeBike to reach his destination. In this way, the e-bike complements train and bus services, and has the potential to encourage greater public transport use.
According to the New Zealand manufacturer YikeBike Ltd, the iconic vehicle is a statement about using smart technology to solve the problems of personal mobility in congested and polluted cities. “It is the first commercial expression of the mini-farthing concept, created by a bunch of successful entrepreneurs, engineers and dreamers. We were intrigued by the creation of something that can dramatically change urban transport, enabling city dwellers a fast, safe and easy way to navigate their environment,” said the company in a press release.
The original carbon fibre YikeBike generated tremendous interest when it was unveiled in late 2010. “This led us, in record breaking time, to design the more mainstream YikeBike Fusion in June 2011, which uses conventional materials to make it more appealing to both cost-conscious and energy-conscious consumers,” said YikeBike chief executive officer Grant Ryan.
As the world’s smallest and lightest foldable electric bicycle, the YikeBike is heavy on safety, and it has been touted as the world’s first electric mini-farthing to have anti-skid regenerative brakes. This means the rider not only stops with confidence on nearly any surface, but the act of applying the brakes helps to recharge the battery. Its maximum speed is 23km per hour.
The rider can also tackle most bumps and potholes without any fear as the larger 51cm front wheel can safely roll over most undulations, and the smaller (20cm) rear wheel easily follows as the momentum will carry it through.
Further safety features include permanently lit LED lights so that the rider is conspicuous to other road users at all times, as well as turn indicator lights, brake lights, rear lights, and hazard lights.
After using it for two months, Reimann said that a full charge of the battery (enough for his one-way trip) will require 0.223 kilowatt hours (kWh) – which works out to about eight sen per charge, or less than 20 sen per day for a round trip. According to his calculations, in terms of kWh per 100km travelled, the YikeBike consumes only 2.3% of what an average American car will use.
When he rides it, Reimann naturally generates a lot of interest, with many people stopping in their tracks and whipping out their cameraphones when he passes by.
“So many people have stopped me, and some cars tail me just to ask me questions. I normally pass out the name cards of the Malaysian distributor in response. It has been quite fun, and the YikeBike makes a lot of sense, even though I love normal bicycling.”
> The YikeBike is custom-built in New Zealand, and comes with a warranty supported by the Langkawi-based distributor Mysikal Ecobikes (mysikal.my). The Fusion (14.7kg in weight) costs RM6,995 and the Carbon (11.5kg), RM12,875. For more info, go to yikebike.com.