Cycling is picking up both commuters and enthusiasts as it gains popularity worldwide. A bike has become both a means of transportation and something to be proud of, and sometime to have fun with. A new e-bike launched this week, called the Faraday Porteur, is just that.
Founded by Adam Vollmer, a Stanford and MIT educated mechanical engineer, Faraday Bikes stemmed from what he calls a "passion project," or an invitation to design a bike for the Oregon Manifest, one of the premiere bicycle design competitions. He was asked as part of the design firm IDEO to create a modern utility bike for the contest. The bike, on which Vollmer was the lead designer, went on to win the People's Choice award at Oregon Manifest, after which Vollmer left IDEO, and Faraday Bicycles was born.
"We got excited about an e-bike," said Vollmer, "because there's a lot of potential for them to not only be really fun, but also to get more people out on their bikes. There wasn't a product out there that had a pull for us as cyclists."
The Porteur was made to look and feel like a high-quality city bike, but it was made with an integrated, all-weather computer that manages the intelligent pedal system that can sense the rider's output and power the front wheel accordingly. There's a "boost" switch for a surge of extra power, say for that hill you've been dreading, but only you can decide when you need it. It uses long-range lithium batteries, and with no throttle you can still ride it like a normal bike.
"You're not cheating," Vollmer told SmartPlanet. "You can still ride it around like a normal bike. You're still getting exercise, you're just getting further."
The bike comes equipped with high-powered front and rear LED lights that switch on and off automatically, and the battery is hidden within the frame, not as a design afterthought, like with many e-bikes. The bike is also light, at 40 pounds sans rack.
The first production run of Faraday bikes is currently being sold on Kickstarter, and after just one day of launch, the team has almost raised half of their $100,000 goal. Kickstarter was chosen by Vollmer and Co. to get commitments and generate buzz. Kickstarter has proven to be a great public forum to build, and after the great response the team received in Oregon, crowd sourcing seemed to be the next natural step.
"There's a long list of things that are great about it," said Vollmer (it's good for the earth, it gets more people on bikes, there are health benefits involved). "But at the end of the day, it's just a delight to ride. That's the bottom line: people ride it because it's fun."
If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the first line of bikes at $3500 each will be delivered by March 2013.
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Check out their video, below.