Coolpeds' iBike aims to relieve two of the most common e-bike pain points: high cost and heavy weight.
E-bikes seem to be everywhere these days, which is a good thing when it comes to transport options, but many of them suffer from the same two issues, both of which can be deal breakers for some potential electric bicyclists. An e-bike that costs as much as a used car can serve as a serious barrier to entry for some folks, as is a 50 lb. weight, especially for those who need to carry their bike up and down stairs for storage or security. But there may be a solution, in the form of a crowdfunded e-bike project that promises a 30 lb., $500 electric bicycle.
Coolpeds, the company that brought us the electric briefcase scooter, has launched a campaign for its iBike on Indiegogo, with backers at the $499 level getting first dibs on the new e-bike. While it's not exactly a top-end bike, as the price probably suggests, and it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles (not even one bell), it could be well worth considering for a starter e-bike.
The iBike is built on a steel frame, runs on 26" rims with 2" tires, has high-rise handlebars for an upright riding position, and features a leather spring-loaded saddle, leather grips, and a front LED headlight. The electric drive system is a 350W front hub motor, powered by a removable 36V li-ion battery that hangs from the top tube in a "leather-look" bag, and is monitored and controlled via a small LCD screen on the handlebars, all of which adds up to a top speed of about 20 mph and a riding range of about 50 miles per charge. The overall weight of just under 29 pounds is a great contrast to many of the other e-bikes on the market, which may top 50 pounds, and could make it much easier to tote around when not being ridden.
Here's the pitch video (try to ignore the typos in it):
This low-priced e-bike looks like it falls a little short in some aspects, as it's a single-speed, which isn't as much of an issue when under power, but which can be a bear to ride manually when faced with a hill to climb. It features run-of-the-mill V-brakes, and it doesn't come with a rack (or even braze-ons for attaching one), which seems like it would limit its usefulness on any day you don't want to ride while carrying a shoulderbag or backpack. And while the battery mounting system is definitely unique, and may have some advantages (such as keeping the frame simple by not having to accommodate a battery pack), I'm not sure that having a pleather battery bag hanging between your legs while pedaling is going to be very comfortable (nor will cornering with a weight swinging from the top tube).
That being said, this e-bike looks like a contender for its price point, as it costs about the same as a standard name-brand new bike, but offers the option of electric drive, which can take some of the sweat out of bike commuting. For the aspiring e-bike DIYer, it's possible to convert a bike into an electric bike for the same amount of money (possibly less, depending on the choice of components), but for anyone else, it might be a bit of a stretch to find a similar electric bike option for $500. The sub-$500 price is only for Indiegogo campaign backers, and the suggested retail price for the iBike is said to be somewhere between $799-$999, so it could save you several hundred dollars if you back the project now.