Cycling Personal Transportation

Affordable Storm roars onto the electric bike scene

Electric bikes come in many flavors, offering a wide variety of options for anyone looking to shorten their commute, save some energy, or simply enjoy the thrill. Unfortunately, their one commonality is their pumped up price, something no one can get excited about.

Touted as the world’s most affordable electric bicycle, the Storm E-Bike‘s $1,299 price point does undercut many similarly performing e-bikes, and does so while outperforming them, too. The Storm boasts a 350W geared drive motor capable of reaching a top speed of 20MPH, and a lithium-ion battery capable of being recharged in just 90 minutes and offering anywhere from 25-50 miles on a single charge. This combination is a powerful one, offering riders a zippy ride augmented with all-terrain tires and a water resistant frame so that nowhere is off-limits. The $75,000 campaign is offering the Storm for just $599, which is 53% off the retail price. It’s expected to ship in May of this year.

Glaring negatives include its hefty weight (anywhere from 45-55lbs) and lack of regenerative braking, a small addition that would have made a world of difference. All in all, the Storm E-Bike is looking to truly storm the scene. At its price point, it should appeal to everyone from commuters to outdoor enthusiasts who love a motor-assisted ride.

Connected Objects Toys

RC Brick moves building toys, couples smartphones with fun

Building blocks are the, well, building blocks of spatial learning for children. These toys are not only fun, but also allow kids to be creative while they learn to work with their hands.

RC Brick lets kids combine the fun of building things with the convenience of technology. This product works with most brick toys already on the market. It consists of motorized wheels that can move brick creations around. Using a charging cord, RC Brick plugs into any Apple or Android smartphone. The accompanying app lets the user control the movements of their RC Brick.

While this is a fun product that many kids will enjoy, it’s limited by the cord. RC Brick would do well to experiment with Bluetooth technology in order to make their device wireless. Backers will need to donate £27 (~$40) for the base model for estimated delivery in May 2015. RC Bricks hopes to raise £65,000 (~$97,400) on Kickstarter.

Personal Transportation

Impossible folding e-bike perfects the art of origami transportation

For the most part, electric bikes look like something out of Mad Max. In some cases, you’ll come across something that is a bit sleeker than others, but at the end of the day it’ll still weigh a ton. These characteristics don’t really make e-bikes the best solution for last mile transportation, especially because fitting a bike onto a train during rush hour simply can’t happen.

With their Impossible folding electric bike, Impossible Technology is offering an answer to those who truly want a portable solution to their transportation needs. The bike’s extreme minimalism allows it to fold up into its own 17 inch seat, allowing users to easily transport it in a duffel or book bag and making it the first bike to be so extremely portable. Don’t let its flexibility fool you: the bike can carry up to 180 pounds and since it’s electric, it can be charged anywhere there is an outlet. Its ten 2900mAh batteries can be charged in one and a half hours, and supports a top speed of 12.4mph for 45 minutes. Despite its name, it isn’t so hard to get one of your own. An Impossible bike is going for $530 CAD (~$467 USD) with an estimated delivery date of August 2015. The campaign’s funding goal is $55,000 CAD (~$44,060 USD).

The Impossible is a marvel. Its level of portability is unlike anything really done before, and marks a true shift in what is possible with transportation. This advance comes with a caveat in that there are no pedals to manually move around if the battery were to die, so be ready to tack on some more battery anxiety along with our other devices. Indeed, there are obvious trade-offs to an invention like this, but ultimately they’re necessary. If manufacturing goes as smoothly as Impossible Technology hopes, you’ll no doubt see a lot of these in many big cities.

Connected Objects Fitness

Acton RocketSkates lets your smartphone see just how you roll

The Premise. Most sporting gear operates as simple machinery like the bicycle, skateboard or rollerblades. More recently, many have added motors and power to transportation device to give them some extra oomph. Even more recently, there have been a slew of accessories designed to go with these products that connect via Bluetooth to apps making them smarter. It is easier than ever to zoom to one’s destination and have detailed data about the trip.

The Product. Acton RockSkates are smart motorized skates that fit right over your shoes. Once they’ve been powered on, simply push off and the motors will take over to propel you forward. For accelerating, lean forward and for braking or stopping, put your heel down. This means that the rider has complete control over the motor without the hassle of a remote. These skates are gray and red and are slightly bulky. With an app and Bluetooth connection, the skater can track their route and mileage as well as the progress of other Acton RocketSkaters in the area. 

The Pitch. Acton’s campaign starts off with a video of a ton of hipsters skating around L.A. with some funky music playing in the background. The creator then hops on to explain how his product works and what he needs funding for. For the remainder of the campaign, technical specs are discussed and a long list of praising quotes show the public’s adoration for the product. Acton is looking to raise $50,000 in a 45-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. Early-birds can enjoy several discounted tiers at $199, $249 or $399. At a regular price, a pair of R-6 RocketSkates complete with accoutrements will cost backers a donation of $499 with estimated delivery in October 2014.

The Potential. Acton RocketSkates take the best of motorized transportation and app capabilities. While the skates themselves aren’t super stylish, their remote-less power is certainly desirable. Other sporting products offer power, like the Baja Board, but not many are smart as well. While the app seems interesting, there’s a lot more the creators can do with it, like adding fitness data or even perhaps an interactive map of the best routes through town for those wearing the skates. Still, the Acton RocketSkates are an exciting, futuristic addition to the sporting market and will certainly be worn by many power-hungry fitness buffs.

Cycling Personal Transportation

Electric Urban Nomad bike cart will push Europeans around

Urban NomadMany people use bicycles as their main mode of transportation. The one thing that bikes seriously lack, however, is the power and cargo space that a car can provide. Introducing the Urban Nomad, a detachable cart for the back of your bike complete with a motor. It provides lots of extra space to cart around groceries and other purchases or cargo. With this extra boost, cyclists can travel up to 25 kph. One of these Belgian products will cost backers living in the EU $900 USD, which isn’t bad for the equivalent of an e-bike conversion kit that comes with a bit of storage. Urban Nomad hopes to raise $20,000 USD on Indiegogo.

Personal Transportation

No hoverboard, no problem: Baja Board would leave it in the dust

bajaboardEver long for more speed when riding a skateboard or longboard? The BajaBoard combines the basic structure of a skateboard with a little bit more umph under the deck. This powered device can reach a speed of up to 50 km/hr and has a power rating of 1,200W with a 3,000W motor. Shock absorbers like those found on a mountain bike guarantee a smooth ride. One of these Aussie made products costs backers a whopping base price of $3,850 AUD with rising prices once the early tiers are gone with an estimated delivery date of December 2014. BajaBoard needs to raise $200,000 AUD on Kickstarter in a 30-day campaign.

Cycling Personal Transportation Travel

ShareRoller turns clunky sharebikes into speedy e-cruisers

The Premise. In major cities around the world, bike-sharing programs are popping up allowing residents or tourists to borrow a bike and get where they’re going more quickly, but what if making use of this program involved less physical exertion and more fun?

The Product. The ShareRoller is a smaller motor that attaches to any bike or scooter whether it’s borrowed or not and allows riders to enjoy a smoother ride with motored assistance or no pedaling at all. The motor is designed to allow for 12 miles of range and offers 1 HP to get some speed going. The motor includes LED headlights to add visibility while riding in the dark, and also has a USB port to charge phones or tablets while commuting.

The Pitch. Inventor Jeff Guida shows off his love for sharebikes in his native New York City and demonstrates how a ShareRoller can speed up the heavier shared bikes. The product supports New York’s Citibike program, but also similar products in many other cities. With plenty of example photos on how to attach the motor and a convincing video, it’s easy to tell how much passion has gone into the development of this device. Guida and his team need $100,000 for injection moulding and to set up assembly facilities for the ShareRoller.

The Perks. Kickstarter supporters can get a ShareRoller for a pledge of $995, saving a whole $350 off the retail launch price, and should be riding in style by June of this year. An extended range battery which will add an extra eight miles of powered riding is available at the $1,295 tier, and New York City residents can get a beta ShareRoller in April for $1,995, which will be swapped out for the production model when it becomes available.

The Potential. The ShareRoller is a cleverly designed fantastic idea for urbanites who have access to bike shares or can commute using bikes or scooters easily, but there are some hurdles to overcome. First, the price point is steep for what it offers, meaning that making owning a ShareRoller economical involves a lot of two-wheeled commuting. Second, the weight of the device at between 6-7 pounds, plus an additional half pound for the extended range battery, is a little heavy unless there’s no walking to be done from the bike to the destination. There’s also the question of whether using the ShareRoller will be legal in the cities that offer the bikes it suports. This could be used by cities themselves to offer bike shares for people who are unable to propel themselves on a bicycle, but for the average consumer the ShareRoller still has a ways to go before becoming a crucial accessory.