Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Don't We Ride Our Bicycles More Often?

For most trips I take during the day that are too far to walk and too close to drive, a bicycle would be a good solution. I seem to always come up with an excuse for not using a bicycle however - the weather is too bad, my hair will get messed up, I'm worried about safety, I feel exposed, etc., etc.

Michael Scholey tried to take all of these excuses, and more, into account and designed a bicycle that just might get slackers like me to forego the car a bit more often. It has two front wheels that tilt to allow banking in corners but have self righting springs to allow feet-up stops. The two front wheels provide increased cornering and braking stability and allow a 6 ½ ft turning radius.

Scholey calls his creation the Emcycle and has tried to overcome the limitations of weather by including a roof and Velcro-detachable side panels. Basically you feel safer in this cocoon and can pedal or take electrical assiatnce to get you to your destination.

It is classified in Europe as a bicycle with electric front wheel drive, variable assist up to 1000 watts, up to 40mph and 40 mile assisted range, overnight plug in home recharge and regenerative braking. There are separate batteries for drive functions and additional equipment.

Features include:
A single person commuter vehicle for a driver and up to 75 lbs of luggage.
Fully enclosed body.
Two lockable doors. Front and lockable rear luggage compartments.
30mph crash tested; Roll over protection, Airbag, 3 point seat belt.
Head and brake lights, seat belt, airbag, radio / MP3 player plug in, storage space (approx 6 shopping bags in total using front and rear) comfortable seating.
Adjustable full seat.
Adjustable handlebar/instrument pod.
Ignition key to lock steering column and parking brake.
Lockable glove box.
Windscreen wiper and washer.
Front and rear LED lights. Separate LED headlight. Headlight flasher. LED direction indicators with self canceling. LED brake lights.
Full instrumentation – Speed, miles/kilometers, trip miles/kilometers.
Battery charge gauge, electricity usage gauge, warning lights for all functions, 4 way emergency flasher.
Flow through filtered ventilation and heater.
Suspension; Disc brakes; Reverse gear.
Two side rear view mirrors.
24” wide X 73” tall X 80” long. Pedals power the rear wheel through a driver operated infinitely variable constant velocity transmission. Height and bright colors make it conspicuous to other road users. 80lbs. ‘No air – no puncture’ foam filled tires.

It will be available at around $2500 – $4500 and the plan is to get the vehicle into production in England by 2011 in time for the London Olympics.

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