Personal Transportation

Virtue Pedalist combine car and motorcycle, makes Smart cars feel fat

Cars are a costly necessity for many consumers who need a way to travel to and from work each day where there are no public transportation options. In addition to the upfront cost to buy a car, there’s the frequent need to buy fuel that’s bad for the environment and the, hopefully less frequent, need to repair the vehicle.

Virtue Pedalist, the latest vehicle from company Virtue Cycles, combines elements of an electric bicycle, cargo bike, velomobile (bicycle/car combination) and a tadpole tricycle (a recumbent tricycle with two front wheels). It has two front wheels, one rear wheel, and an outer shell that shields the driver from sun, wind and rain. There are three modes of riding it: pure pedaling, pedal assist in which its electric motor multiplies the user’s pedaling power, and electric-only throttle mode.

Although riders can cycle as fast as they want with the first two modes, the throttle-only speed is limited to 20 miles per hour so that it can be legally classified as a tricycle, rather than a moped or scooter, under regulations in California and most other U.S. states, according to its Kickstarter campaign. The Pedalist will cost $4,499 and ship in November. The company is hoping to raise $100,000 by May 21.

Personal Transportation

URB-E personal transporter gets you around, won’t weigh you down

The Premise. That last leg of the commuter’s long journey is the distance between the train station or bus stop and the front door…the dreaded last mile. With no room on public transport for a bike, and no room in a grown adult’s life for a freakin’ scooter! (dopey razor kind, not retiree’s mobility kind)… however will one traverse it? Walk? Pashaw!

The Product. The URB-E is a folding electric mini-bike which collapses down to roughly the size of a rolling oxygen tank. This funky little take on the commuter vehicle comes in Carbon Grey, Cloud White, or “GoGo Green,” main colors (with Polished Gold and MRDR Black premium options), with accent choices of black, blue, white, hot pink, or orange. The rear-wheel assembly is modular, allowing users to switch between three-wheeled URB-E Commuter and two-wheeled URB-E GP versions, which provide optimal performance in slow populated conditions or faster open conditions, respectively (alternate wheel assembly sold as optional accessory).

The Pitch. Five, that’s right, FIVE videos outline everything from the URB-E’s marketing campaign and development to its adventures in the orient and rivalry with a gorilla. Clear and numerous pictures depict URB-E’s color options and smartphone-aware charging station (which will soon include an app to track range, battery life, speed, and even lighting). A three hour charge, a 36V battery and a 250W motor achieve URB-E’s 15mph top speed (max for electric mobility vehicles), 20-mile range, and a 250lb load capacity — pretty impressive for something that weighs less than your kids’ BMX bikes. Finally, URB-E’s development team’s references include the likes of Vans, Nike, Porsche, Samsung, and Disney, to name a few.

The Perks. Available in August 2014, the traditional options include: $1599 extra early backer with exclusive color, $1699 early backer, $1799 purchaser, and even a $250 down payment/reserve option, which locks in promotional price. Awesome options include: $999 race the gorilla option (to secure a chance to race the aforementioned gorilla. Seriously.), and a $20K “first model off the line,” option.

The Potential. With other compact products out there like the Yikebike Fusion, and the boxy Kickstarter alum Zeit-Eco (which is comparable in range and price, and includes built-in sound), commuters have emerging alternatives including many electric bike. However, with a 20-mile range and a design that can go basically anywhere, the URB-E is definitely worth a serious commuter’s second look.