The Bionx Electric Assist for Bikes

Bionx on the bike

Ok so this is pretty cool. A friend of mine turned me on to this while we were kicking it in Tahoe this past weekend. Fatherhood-tinted glasses will change the way you look at the world. In this case, we were discussing the various ways to use bicycles that don’t involve going downhill fast. As in my previous posts, I touched on the simple Bamboo Bike and then the uber versatile Yuba cargo bikes. I was discussing these with him and everytime I mentioned something, he would trump me with something cooler.

Yes he had an Xtracycle (another brand of cargo bike that has the FreeRadical that attaches to an existing bike) but he lives at the top of a steep hill in Boulder. The cargo-style bikes are good for a lot of things. However loading up with milk and rice for the family and hoofing it up a 24% grade is not one of them. Enter the Bionx electric assist.

Bionx electric motor and parts

I’ve seen motors on bikes and motorbikes. But this one is cool…. It’s ELECTRIC. That means it’s QUIET…

The other cool thing about it is the regenerative aspect. You can put power back into it. You can turn gravity into electricity. It will slow you on high speed descents. Pretty cool, huh?

He had to cut spokes and rethread his rear wheel. But I gotta give it to him. He’s taken a couple of new technologies and created a bike that works for him. As a civil engineer working on transportation projects in Boulder, Colorado, he is setting a standard for his constituents and an example for the city’s residents. Nice work.

What does it cost? There are currently several models for kits. The differences being High-Speed, High Torque and Light Weight. Between $1890 and $2195 will get you into this. Or you can get crafty and get a setup on eBay or Craigslist. You can also choose to purchase a whole bike outfitted with the Bionx set up. I saw some renditions here.

Now I want one, too.

The ElliptiGO

ElliptiGO in Sausalito

I was driving down the street sometime in late 2010 when I saw this guy and his friend riding on some sort of bike looking contraption. At first I am thinking that this is another one of those San Francisco bike rental gimmick things like those stupid Go Car scooters. Then when I got a closer look, I see that these people are actually working hard on this thing.

So I take a quick video and photo with my new iPhone 4, which has a bitchin’ camera and video. So I can look into it later. Which I do. Now here is the info I found out:

It’s called the ElliptiGO.

YES – You stand on it. You don’t sit.

YES – it’s like an elliptical machine at the gym. It’s more like a running and climbing motion than cycling. So it’s low impact, outdoors fun.

YES – it can do what most bikes do.

"Looking at me?" You can see his GF in the rearview

YES – it has brakes.

YES – you can coast.

They put this bike up to the challenge when they did the Death Ride near Lake Tahoe in California. It stayed in the game with most bike riders. While it wasn’t out to win the race, they sure proved that it can stand up to most riding conditions and similar endurance distances.

YES – it has gears. Eight of them on a Shimano Alfine internal hub system.

YES – it is expensive. $2,499 will get you going on this interesting machine.

If you’re not into riding and really like running but can’t take the impact, this is nice alternative to staring into a screen at the local 24-Hour Fitness. I guess if I’d spend that much on a bike but wasn’t buying the bike and I really liked running I would get this. As with anything, a few more revs won’t hurt. The product is relatively young. The first was built in 2007. Keep an eye on this as another way of getting around that’s cooler than a Segway.

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