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Pushing The Envelope On EBike Technology

Think of it as the bike James Bond would ride, if James Bond rode a bike instead of an Aston Martin.

For a cool $6,125, you can soon own the most futuristic ebike to hit the market, the Visiobike -- a black, carbon-fiber e-bike controlled entirely by your smart phone.

Loaded with software, the Croatia-based manufacturer of the Visiobike describes it as a “high-tech electric bicycle.” The website proclaims it is “shaking up the bike world with revolutionary new technology and design,” but is also “Ultrasafe! Ultrasecure! Ultrafun!”

All the controls on a Visiobike are in a smart phone mounted to the handlebars and connected to the bike with wireless Bluetooth technology. The phone’s screen provides navigation via Google Maps, gives you the status of the bike’s battery charge, current speed, and the view from a rear-facing camera under the seat.

There’s also built-in security. If you’re rammed from behind, the camera has video of the last three minutes of your ride. And a thief can’t pedal off with your bike unless he enters your pin code in the phone. If he does, and the bike senses it’s not you, it sends an alert to your mobile phone and tracks its own location through GPS.

Then there’s propulsion, which is the whole point of an e-bike. The Visiobike is what’s known as a “pedelec,” meaning the motor is idle until your legs need help. In fact, the Visiobike’s motor automatically senses when that help is needed, so it maintains speed with little exertion by the driver.

The quiet, battery-operated 250-volt motor can last anywhere between 25 and 62 miles (40 and 100 km, respectively), depending on terrain. A second model comes with a 500-volt motor. Speeds reach 15 mph or 31 mph, depending on the size motor. To recharge the battery, you simply plug the bike into an ordinary outlet for three hours.

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This isn’t the first e-bike to integrate smart phone technology. Already on the market is the Gi bike, which has similar connectivity. But the Gi is different, not least because it’s designed to be folded up when not in use.

The Visiobike not only doesn’t fold up, it has a sporty appearance, more like a burly mountain bike. And, being burly, it weighs 46.3 pounds. Marko Matenda, the bike’s designer, says it’s an ideal weight, despite its fairly large battery. “[The bike is] light enough that you can carry it up a flight of stairs,” he says.

Acknowledging the bike’s high cost, Matenda says his company is considering development of a less expensive version. “We'll try to bring the price down,” he says, “but we're starting with the premium model. We want the experience with the Visiobike to be amazing.”

You can’t actually buy a Visiobike yet. The company has launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo with a goal of raising $250,000 to bring the bike to market. The first 20 are expected to be ready by late summer.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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