The YikeBike doesn’t exactly fit into the traditional e-bicycle category as you cannot pedal it… It’s more of a mechanized transport vehicle akin to a Segway, only more bicycle-shaped. Composed of two wheels held in a frame with one behind the other, it is steered with handlebars connected to the front wheel just like a bicycle. It resembles the penny-farthing or “ordinary bicycle” of the mid 1800’s that had a very large front wheel and smaller stabilizer in the rear. And just like these old fashioned bikes, the YikeBike can be a bit unstable at first. These old fashioned “bigwheel” bicycles could operate without a chain, leveraging cranks connected directly to the oversized front wheel. In much the same way, the YikeBike motor is built into the front wheel system which powers the vehicle and offers regenerative braking.
Riding the YikeBike is thrilling and a bit unstable at first. Thankfully, it doesn’t position the rider very far off the ground and the top speed is less than 15 miles per hour, greatly reducing the potential for injury in a fall. At any time during a ride you’re able to put your feet down on either side for stability. It operates much like a strider bicycles which has become a popular platform for teaching kids how to ride a bike. Once you’re moving forward, the bike becomes more stable and feet can be rested on two silver pegs extruding from the front wheel base. The real trick to riding this bike is gently squeezing your legs together on either side of the front wheel.
In my opinion, the YikeBike is all about enabling commuters. It makes getting to or from the subway, train or bus station more manageable. No more slow walks, no more sweating and best of all, no more oversized systems that are too heavy to lift. The Fusion is the heaviest YikeBike in the series and it still only weighs about 31 pounds! It folds down to the size of a large briefcase and can be lifted with one hand by grabbing behind the seat. It also looks relatively cool and won’t seem out of place leaning against a desk in an office. Taking just five seconds to completely fold or unfold, it’s a convenient ride.
Driving the YikeBike is a 450 watt motor built right into the front wheel. You can’t see it but you do hear it whirring as you squeeze the hand throttle on the right grip. 450 watts is quite a lot for such a small, lightweight system. The battery driving it offers 37 volts of power and 6.6 amp hours of range. Overall, this is quite good and the bike feels very capable riding around on the flats. Even though the range and ride time is a bit more limited than full sized ebikes, the charge time is significantly less at just 1.5 or 4 hours depending on if you use the quick charger. If you left one charger at the office, you’d have no problem topping the YikeBike off before riding home or taking it out for a snack mid day.
The primary downsides to this system are the learning curve to figure out how to ride it and lack of shock absorbers or suspension. Given the lower top speeds and primary use of sidewalks or bike lanes however, it rides well enough and isn’t that uncomfortable. The tires offer a bit of give along with the seat and I found that pushing myself up using the foot rests reduced the shock of larger bumps. Overall, it’s a quirky but functional machine that does its job well. One of the big up-selling points from the Fusion to the higher end Synergy or Carbon is the locking mechanism for the rear wheel shown below. It’s a bit higher quality and easier to manage with the higher models.
A lot of thought has gone into this very custom electric vehicle from New Zealand. It’s got headlights, tail lights, turn signals, flashing hazard lights and even a small chirping horn. It’s definitely a head turner, something you’d expect to see in a science fiction movie. I remember when the Segway came out, it got a lot of questions at first but eventually found a niche with security personnel and city tours. The YikeBike addresses the needs of a much larger audience on a more practical level. It solves that “extra mile” stopping so many people from commuting to work with more efficient, sustainable public transportation options.
- Folds and unfolds very easily and quickly
- Gets extremely compact when folded, just 1.52 cubic feet – the size of a large briefcase
- Weighs just 30 pounds, liftable with one hand
- Large and powerful 450 watt motor driven by 37 volt 6.6 amp hour battery pack
- Features regenerative braking to extend range and smooth out stops
- Includes front and rear lights, turn signals, hazards and an electronic horn
- Optional “training wheel” system makes balancing easier and enables two riders but becomes annoying at higher speeds
- Can be skinned for branding or promotional purposes
- Takes a bit of practice to learn the best riding technique (squeeze front wheel with legs for stability)
- No shocks or major cushions, still rides pretty well
- Rides for less than one hour at full speed, can still travel ~10 miles per charge
- Horn isn’t especially loud, mostly used like a bell to signal to pedestrians and other riders
- Heavier than the two higher models, different frame that doesn’t look quite as cool or unfold quite the same way