Alternative Transport Emerging From Kickstarter

There has been no lack of interesting designs coming out of the alternative transportation world; there have been an electric foldable bicy...

There has been no lack of interesting designs coming out of the alternative transportation world; there have been an electric foldable bicycle, a motorised roller skates and even a velomobile, which is a vehicle with an identity crisis as it falls somewhere between a bike and a car.

While we're not sure whether these alternative and re-imagined modes of transportation are here to stay, we cannot deny that they are certainly interesting. So, we decided to trawl the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, which funded the production of these designs, to see what other ways we might be getting around town in the future.

The Halfbike

Hmm. It is certainly missing half the structure of a conventional bicycle. Most noticeably, the Halfbike doesn't come with a seat nor the typical handlebars. Instead, the rider stands on the pedal and cycles (or runs?) to move forward, leans to steer and holds onto the wooden pole-like handlebar for support, which is also where the brake handle is located. The lightweight frame is crafted from aluminium.

The Halfbike was designed by architects Martin Angelov and Mihail Klenov, who founded the start-up company Kolelinia which will manufacture the personal vehicle. The company is taking pre-orders now, if you are interested, and to own a Halfbike, you'll have to fork out US$999; it is certainly not cheap, but they ship worldwide at no extra cost.

The Me Mover

The Me Mover is rather similar to the Halfbike but, between the two, more closely resembles a Segway with its T-shaped handlebars. Instead of a bicycle pedal, which requires the feet to move in a circular motion, the pedals on the Me Mover moves in an up-down motion, very much like a step machine you might find in the gym. In fact, the Copenhagen-based company markets the vehicle as a personal transport and training device, enticing walkers to see more, joggers to add on core training and eliminate impact, and cyclists to enjoy better posture. The company claims that the Me Mover offers a 40% higher intensity cardio workout than cycling; however, if our aim is to get from one point to the other, and not expend all our energy in the process, we think that the conventional bicycle may be a better choice.

Still, it does look cool when in motion. The Me Mover has a price tag of €1499, but if you order now, you get a €200 discount.

Priority Bicycle.

This is simply...a bicycle.

But think of it as the quintessential bicycle. It did, after all, manage to raise more than half a million US dollar from more than 1500 backers on Kickstarter. It's sale pitch is simply "maintenance-free bicycles that make cycling easy"; perhaps, that's all that the urban commuter wants. The bicycle uses a belt drive, which is more durable and cleaner than conventional chains, and features puncture-resistant tyres. The frame is made from aluminium, which means it is light and rustproof. The designer, Dave Weiner (yes, you can laugh at his name, but he is one smart guy!), decided to keep it simple by incorporating only three speeds, sufficient for everyday bikers. The Priority Bicycle website promises that the saddle is extra soft and comfy, and that the bike is designed so that the rider is seated upright, eliminating back strain.

The Priority Bicycle is only US$400, which would otherwise cost US$800 but the company keeps overheads low by selling through its online store only. Sadly, it only ships to the US and Canada for now.

FlyKly Smart Wheel

FlyKly's Smart Wheel is a pedal-assist device that replaces the existing rear wheel of your bicycle, very much like the Copenhagen Wheel that we featured on this blog a few months ago. The Smart Wheel's hub houses a 250W motor, with regenerative braking system, powered by a 30V lithium battery. When fitted to the bicycle, it essentially converts it into an electric bicycle, boosting the vehicle to speeds of up to 25kph with a 40km range on a single charge. The Wheel is operated via Bluetooth link with the rider's smartphone.

FlyKly raised US$700,000 via Kickstarter, much much more than its goal of US$100,000, which shows that there is a demand for pedal-assist devices such as this. However, at US$800, it is a hundred dollars more than the Copenhagen Wheel, and goes slower and less farther. If this is the device for you, then go with the Copenhagen one.

The Jyrobike

If we want the future generation to embrace emissions-free transportation, we should start them young, right? So, this looks like a typical children's bicycle, but the interesting thing about this vehicle is not easily discerned from its looks. The name should give you a clue - 'jyro' is derived from gyroscope - which means that the bicycle auto balances itself. Scrapped knees and elbows may become a thing of the past.

In the hub of the front wheel is a battery-powered motor that spins a flywheel, preventing the vehicle from tipping over. Kids can just hop on and start cycling immediately! There are three different settings, which can be lowered progressively as the kid gains confidence; the flywheel can eventually be removed, converting the vehicle into a normal bike.

Price of the Jyrobike starts from £218. If you're hoping that they made one for adults, then you're in luck; an adult version is being developed for the wobbly and insecure adult biker.

The Hoverbike

Ah, this is the one we wish would come true, but it may not happen so soon.

London-based designer, Chris Malloy, is raising funds so that he can continue research and development on the Hoverbike design, which looks like a quadcopter that can be mounted like a motorbike, and also like something that Batman might ride through Gotham City chasing villains.

The invention is far from being production-ready but, meanwhile, a one-third scale drone version of the Hoverbike is available for purchase.

The OverDrive

We have always been keen on flying cars but, alas, the OverDrive did not manage to capture the imagination of would-be donors on Kickstarter. The company had hoped to raise US$250,000 to finish building the prototype, but only managed to scrape together pledges amounting to US$12,000.

On the road, the OverDrive appears to be like any other modern sports car, and has a 450bhp engine; at the push of a button, wings unfold from the front, rear and chassis within 30 seconds, and energy is diverted to the propellers. It is then ready to take off!

Having failed to raise funds, we do not know if LaBiche Automotive, the company behind the OverDrive, will manage to complete its prototype, much less go into production. But the company has already started accepting refundable deposits for its first model, which it had slapped a US$109,990 price tag on.


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