Eurobike: Electric Penny Farthings

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The early Eurobike buzz is an electric, mini penny farthing. As cool as that sounds, it also causes some concern in the position of the cyclists and in “doing a header,” “endo,” or getting out of the way of a delivery truck.

The modern bike we ride today is based on an innovation called the safety bike. It had wheels of the same size, double triangles, and so on. Now we don’t want to buzzkill any excitement about an electric bike that folds and all, but hope they’ve done some testing on potholes and bumps.

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To their credit, YikeBike’s FAQ address safety, handling, and maneuverability and they claim they started with a blank sheet of paper. The bike has built-in lights and maybe it’s like a folder that rides on rollerblade wheels or the Strida. Cool for going a block to the subway and about human-powered urban mobility, as opposed to a Segway.

We’re on the lookout for the YikeBike at Interbike and hope it rides as good as it looks. We do wonder why this industry constantly reinvents the old. Imagine if the computer industry was still on 8 bit Ataris, but dressed up in carbon cases.

Notes: Penny Farthings (aka boneshakers) were called that because one of the wheels was smaller than the other and looked like a penny and a farthing. The YikeBike truck photo was photoshopped for this post.



5 Comments

I think safety-wise, they might have it wired.  The biggest problem with the “ordinary” (I’d understood ‘penny-farthing’ is frowned on?) is that your legs would get tangled in the bars if you stopped quick or hit something.  Combined with the fact that you were way up due to the big wheel, you’d go right onto your head.  Since this thing has the bars behind you and you’re not too far up due to the 20” wheel, I imagine you’d just end up on your feet.  With your 4000 euro gizmo ghost riding off somewhere.  Seems like a more practical segway, but still no human power and way way expensive for something limited to 20 kmh and 6 to 7 km per charge?  I’d sure jump to test ride it, though!

The overall design YikeBike was licensed from Mini-Farthing ( http://www.minifarthing.com/site/faqs ). MF proposes that one could make all-electric, all-pedal, and electric / pedal hybrids ( http://www.minifarthing.com/possible-designs ). I have to say, if someone released a pedal version I’d probably buy it, however I’m not into a cooler Segway (which is how I perceive the YikeBike).

Good point and find on that site. We covered this [minifarthing](http://bikehugger.com/2009/06/modern-penny-farthing.html) earlier in the year. Without pedals one could argue it’s a scooter or more like a Segway. So it’s a mobility device, rather than a “bike.”

I thought of that too, but then you don’t have arms to stabilize yourself. Of course we want to ride it, but I wonder if you raise your arm to adjust your glasses or signal, if it goes in that direction.

A penny farthing isn’t the same thing as a boneshaker. Boneshakers were called that because they shook your bones. They had wooden wheels, like wagons. The penny farthing (AKA ordinary, high wheeler) had steel spokes (like the modern bicycle) and solid rubber tires. They were not uncomfortable to ride, but they were somewhat dangerous because riders were prone to fall forward and smash their heads. See the Wikipedia article on boneshaker for more.

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