We have heard those words before, but this time, they may be accurate.
The email with the press release for the Xtracycle RFA e-bike described it as the "world's first future-proof electric bike." My first thought was of that great 1979 Atari 800 ad (see it at end of post) for a computer that "will never become obsolete." My second thought was of Yogi Berra's line that "it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." Especially these days.
But there is one thing I am pretty certain about, and that is that electric bikes are the future, that for many people they will do much of what cars are doing now, from hauling kids to shopping to whatever. After testing the Surly Big Easy and seeing what people could carry on it, I became convinced not only that e-bikes will eat cars, but that cargo bikes will eat SUVs. And it looks like the Xtracycle RFA could eat anything and adapt to anything.
“By ‘future-proof’ we mean this is a bike that can grow and change to meet the needs almost anyone, through all stages of life, from young adult, through parent- hood, into older-age,” said Xtracycle CEO and founder Ross Evans. “We wanted this to be a bike that never became obsolete. We’ve always aspired to that, but with the RFA, we think we’ve pushed the idea further than anybody ever has with regard to bicycles.”
The RFA stands for "Ready For Anything", and the key feature that makes this happen are the "DynamicDrops" that let the bike grow and shrink. You can move the back wheel from a standard wheelbase length, stretching out 5-1/2" longer.
In “short mode” it has the wheelbase of a standard bicycle, and a zippy, agile feel. In “long mode”, the bike is a full mid-tail cargo bike, with a smooth stable and able to carry two children and four panniers.
The bike is powered by a mid-mounted Bosch drive with a choice of three different motors, and can pack up to two batteries. This is the feature that for most people will make it a possible car replacement.
“Thinking about a bike as transportation, e-assist is a game-changer,” Evans said. “Hills, heat, distance and time, things that might have been concerns on a regular bike become non-issues. Yet electric-assist is an investment, and that’s why we wanted to make sure we created a bike that will hold its value in someone’s life for literally decades.”
These days, the e-bike world is changing and expanding as rapidly as the computer world did in the 80s. In decades we might be clipping a Mr. Fusion on to the frame, or riding it as a bike because electricity is a fond memory. So this bike may well not go for decades without becoming obsolete, but I suspect it will do a lot better than the Atari 800.