EICMA 2010: Going green with electric ... bikes and such

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Much like motorcycling in the U.S., bicycling is still largely a form of recreation rather than one of mass transit. Not so much in Europe.

Wayel is a European manufacturer of electrically assisted electric bikes. An exhibitor in EICMA's Green Planet — an area of the show devoted to eco-friendly transportation — Wayel builds two-wheelers aimed at commuters.

The bikes themselves are classically designed rides that would look at home on any European street. Not your standard go-fast road bike or laid back beach cruiser, the bikes are those that simply say bicycle in their design.

One of the features that makes the bikes interesting — other than the small electric motors that drive both front and rear wheels — is the fact that four of the six model are shaft-driven. The other two are belt driven.

European standards dictate that electric-assit pedal bikes can only reach a speed of 25 km/h and feature motors that are a maximum of 250 watts, says Mirella Mistroni, Wayel's director of international business development.

The lineup is powered by three different batteries that vary in capacity and range, with the smallest offering up to 25 km, the middle up to 40 km and the largest allowing between 100 to 120 km on a full charge.

Two cool models are the One City and the Shopping Utility Vehicle (SUV, get it?). The One City comes in three-gear and seven-gear configurations and features an aluminum frame, drum brakes and air shocks. The SUV is built for — you guessed it — shopping, and features a low down tube for easy mount and dismounting. A large 37-litre capacity front basket is available as an option.

If it weren't for the huge distances that most American's have to make on their commute, it would be interesting to see such vehicles catch on in the U.S.

posted by Dennis Johnson