So-called e-bikes, which receive a boost to human pedal power from an on-board electric motor, have under whelmed American consumers. Transportation experts had high hopes that the techy gadgets would encourage more people to get out of their cars and reduce congestion and pollution, all while getting exercise and having a fun ride.
The idea is that the electric motor can help people take longer rides, and make steep hills much more manageable. But the technology has not taken off.
Now, Electrobike hopes to turn some heads and capture the imagination with its new Pi electric bicycle, reports the Los Angeles Times. At 750 watts, or about 1 horsepower, the Pi reaches the limit of federally allowed power boosting. It sports a 36-volt pack of nickel metal hydride batteries, and can be pedaled like your dad's old cruiser or run solely on its own juice, up to about 20 mph (although modifications can be made to increase that). You can also ride it in a hybrid mode of both pedaling and power assist.
The design is bold, bright and modern, perhaps consciously rejecting the notion that power-assist is for retirement communities or fuddy duddies. The Pi will be exclusively sold through Design Within Reach stores at $7,500 a piece. After two and a half hours of being plugged into a standard outlet, Pi has a range of 25 miles, not including any boost from your legs. A solar powered charger is an optional accessory.
The Pi is assembled in California, from parts that mostly hail from the same state. Electrobike advertises a clean manufacturing chain, releasing fewer than 200 pounds of carbon dioxide per unit. Charging the motor up even from grid electricity is much less polluting than using a gas engine.
It remains to be seen whether the impressive capabilities and head-turning design of the Pi will kick start more interest in e-bikes. Many people live close enough to their work to make the technology a viable commuting option. And anything that gets more Americans to question our obsession with the automobile is probably a good thing.
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