Cyclo-therapy: Enter the YikeBike – the extraordinary lovechild of a Segway and a penny farthing with dwarfism
Saturday 05 September 2009
Electric bikes – why would you? But apparently the market for power-boosted cycles is booming. A recent article in 'Business Week' reports that 23 million "e-bikes" were sold worldwide last year, a figure that is expected to double by 2012. In Britain, the guys at ElectricBikeSales.co.uk tell me that sales are up 60 per cent on last year as a younger clientele plumps for batteries over brawn.
I see more electric bikes in my inbox than on the road – I get a press release a month about some new ride promising to revolutionise urban travel – but it looks as if these hybrids are set to become more common. So I guess it's time to try one out. Enter the YikeBike, the extraordinary lovechild of a Segway and a penny farthing with dwarfism. This time, the press release was intriguing enough to make me actually pick up the phone.
The next day I met New Zealand inventor Grant Ryan, gearing up for the unveiling of his brainchild, and found out the YikeBike wasn't, strictly speaking, a bike at all. There are two wheels – a big one at the front and a diddy one at the back – but no pedals. That technicality aside, Ryan hopes his electric-only invention will compete with more conventional e-bikes. It certainly stands out. Beautifully crafted in carbon fibre, the futuristic machine is also lighter than most Bromptons and folds flat into a shoulder bag.
Time for a spin. The saddle is perched on the front wheel and lowering oneself on to it is a bit like sitting on a swivel chair without its base and then trying to stay balanced while lifting one's legs. And then, with a squeeze of my right hand, I'm off, whizzing (and wobbling) around the square behind my office like a drunk man on a very fast loo.
I look faintly ridiculous but the YikeBike is surprisingly nippy (15mph) and great fun. Drawbacks include run time (six miles between charges) and cost (more than £3,000). If e-bikes are set to make inroads in our cities, then I don't think this wallet-busting curiosity will lead the charge, but its revolutionary design is turning heads and generating column inches – which is what e-bikes need if they're going to make it big. Watch this space (and, on our blog, a video of me looking like an idiot on the YikeBike).
Can our trees be saved from big timber, rampant disease and global warming?
Like a lamb to the slaughter: Environmentalist attacks 'ecological disaster' of sheep-rearing at hill farmers' meeting – and is met with stony silence
Python eats croc: when two (or more) species go to war - the 12 most amazing animal battles ever recorded
The 10 best folding bikes
10 best hiking boots
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...