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New Zealander Invents Segway Alternative 282

RainbowBrite writes "The YikeBike is the invention of a New Zealander aiming to alleviate city congestion. 'It might look like a collision between a praying mantis and a child's scooter, but it's the result of five years of work to reinvent the wheel, with one important addition: an electric motor. It's a bicycle, but not as we have come to know it. For a start, you sit upright and steer with your hands at your side.'" The YikeBike weighs in at a measly 22 lbs but has a hefty price tag of almost $5,000 US (£3,000). The battery's expected lifespan is only 1,000 charges, but the device has a projected range of around six miles.
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New Zealander Invents Segway Alternative

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  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:03PM (#29315293)

    Seriously, this looks like it could trip on your average pothole, curb cut, or simply breaking hard.

    Yes, your feet are fairly forward where you might be able to catch your self, but I see a lot of separated shoulders in this this bikes portfolio.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      There is a the pennyfarthing was replaced by the safety bicycle [wikipedia.org]. And, with the range and battery lifetime given, it works out to about 83 cents a mile, which is probably still more expensive than a Hummer.
      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:26PM (#29315721) Homepage

        There is a the pennyfarthing was replaced by the safety bicycle [wikipedia.org].

        Huh. So... can I bike if I want to? Can I leave my friends behind?

      • >>>it works out to about 83 cents a mile I'd rather ride in one of these. 240mpg == just over 1 cent per mile. Or maybe a revival of the Lupo 3L which got 88 mpg on the highway, or 3-and-a-half cents per mile. LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_1-litre_car [wikipedia.org] LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Lupo#Lupo_3L [wikipedia.org]
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          240mpg == just over 1 cent per mile.

          OHWI was talking not just about the cost of fuel but also about the cost of the bike itself. A battery that wears out after 1,000 trips and isn't easy to find poses a problem.

      • by Ardaen ( 1099611 )

        Is that the device's lifespawn or the battery's? It is only implied in the article but it looks more like that is the battery's lifespawn. Somehow I doubt the battery costs the full $5000 your using in your calculation, since that is the cost of the bike. I believe your cost per mile calculation is oversimplified and misleading.

        I believe if you use similar math on the hummer, a more total cost instead of just the gas price divided by the MPG you get somewhere between $1.50 and $2 a mile. Those numbers howev

    • You're really over exposed as well, i fail to see how this is any better than an electric bike in any way!

      • Can you fold up an electronic bike and carry it with you? I doubt it (but I could be wrong).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mmkkbb ( 816035 )

          Add a BionX [bionx.ca] to any folding bike. (Dahon, Montague, Brompton, what have you)

          • by dr2chase ( 653338 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:08PM (#29317237) Homepage
            The folding bikes already weigh about 25lbs, pre-Bionx. The weight matters, a lot. I bought a cheap used folder once as an experiment, it was great to have it on a business trip, but it was Too Damn Heavy.

            However, if I were spending that sort of money, I would save a little, and get a plain old folder, with no assist -- faster, longer range, "lifetime" warranty on the motor.

            The guys are chasing the "biking's-too-hard-for-me" market -- which, to be fair, is pretty good sized here in the US. It's mind-boggling, here in fat-land, to see all the people who drive to the gym (and all those who just drive, but not even to the gym).
            • by TobyWong ( 168498 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @06:21PM (#29318095)

              What exactly is mind boggling about people who drive to the gym?? You have 1.5 hours to workout, shower, and get ready to go. How much of that time do you want to spend in transit? Not to mention the fact that a lot of people go to the gym to attend classes because they enjoy the social component. How about people who drive to the gym, work out, get changed, then go to work or on to some other engagement. You think they should jog there and show up in sweaty gym clothes? What an asinine comment.

      • by Arthur Grumbine ( 1086397 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:47PM (#29316047) Journal

        You're really over exposed as well, i fail to see how this is any better than an electric bike in any way!

        That's because the greatest difference between this and a segway or bicycle was sneakily hidden in the article (and in the pics of the article):

        Crucially, you can fold it into a bag and carry the whole 22lb package anywhere

        It actually looks pretty damn useful (large backpack size when in bag) for being able to carry it into buildings, offices, subways, taxis, other-areas-you-can't-easily-take-an-electric-bike.
        I could totally deal with the range and potential stability dangers, unfortunately that price is a deal breaker.

  • Safety? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neurogeneticist ( 1631367 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:05PM (#29315317)
    What happens if you brake going down a steep hill?
  • Remember the buzz around the Segway before it came out? (I know some Slashdotters these days are a bit too young, see e.g. Kemper's Code Name Ginger [amazon.com] .) Basically Kamen's invention was first announced through the code names IT and Ginger, with the promise that this unknown invention would completely change life as we know it. When the Segway was finally unveiled, the disappointment pretty much killed off any widescale distribution of the device (along with crazy city ordinances). I wish this bike inventor l
    • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:18PM (#29315597)

      This thing does one thing the Segway can't: it folds into a shoulder bag and weighs 22lbs. That means I can bring it upstairs into the office once I get to work, or hell even bring it onboard a commercial airliner as unchecked baggage.

      In my opinion, if the longevity could be extended to somewhere north of 2500 charges it'd be a pretty compelling gadget even at $5,000.

    • When the Segway was finally unveiled, the disappointment pretty much killed off any widescale distribution of the device (along with crazy city ordinances).

      I don't know about crazy city ordinances, but I was astounded by the speed with which the electric personal assistive mobility device [state.va.us] gained recognition and all the rights of a bicycle under Virginia Law. I believe the law changes were in the books even before the first Segway hit pavement in Virginia. And I'm just willing to bet that you'll find similar treatment in state laws on both U.S. coasts.

  • It's a bicycle, but not as we have come to know it

    Better put as:

    It's bike, Jim, but not as we know it.

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:08PM (#29315375)
    It's more expensive than the Segway (which runs $3-5K last I checked), has 1/4 the range, and while it weighs less, this only partially offsets the more limited movement (it can't rise over a curb without aid, a Segway can). Unless your balance is atrocious, you can use a Segway (my 80 year old grandfather bought one as his knees declined). Why would I buy this?
    • Slight correction: Not all Segways get four times the range, but all of them seem to get at least 50% more than this product, usually twice the range.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      Why would I buy this?

      There are several factors that I'd want to compare products on if I were in the market for a personal motorized transport device.

      1. Size
      2. Weight
      3. Ergonomics -- sitting or standing? Comfort?
      4. Range
      5. Durability
      6. Cargo capacity

      For me, #6 would be a dealbreaker, the others are ones I could compromise on. What is the cargo capacity on a segway? How many saddlebags and how much weight can it handle? If I couldn't do my family's grocery shopping with it, I wouldn't consider it.


      • If I couldn't do my family's grocery shopping with it, I wouldn't consider it.

        Are you doing you family's shopping every day? On every trip?
        No. In a typical 2 car family, one car is used almost exclusively to get dad to and from work. 30 minutes each way, and it sits, parked, the other 23 hours.

        No, it (or a bike/Segway/bus/whatever) is not a total replacement for all of your vehicles. But maybe a replacement for one of your vehicles.

        The range on this seems to be a bit lacking, though. And the price is a
        • When I lived in a city, my wife and I had *zero* cars. This is common for dense urban areas; two cars per household is rare. When we needed a car (road trips, etc) we rented one.

          I used my saddlebags and trailer for my bike when grocery shopping then, and I still do even though I'm out in the boonies now (and we have two cars).

          I think the market that a product like this is geared to is not the two-cars-in-the-burbs market.
          • I think the market that a product like this is geared to is not the two-cars-in-the-burbs market.

            True. But just outside of the dense inner city, many, many families think they need two cars.
            I was able to be a one car family for several years, simply because I could ride my bike to work. Most of the shopping, etc happened with the car.
        • Are you doing you family's shopping every day? On every trip?

          Having a different vehicle for different kinds of trips is more vehicles to store, maintain, and insure. If I want to drive to work, but I want to drive to the grocery store on the way home, I need to take the grocery store vehicle.

  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:13PM (#29315475)
    ... is to just use your damn bicycle. Why pay $5,000 for that thing? Why pay money for a segway? Buy a bike for a couple hundred bucks or cheaper. It's better for the environment and costs less. I don't see the need for this fancy motor scooter crap.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Colin Smith ( 2679 )

      You just don't earn enough. This a demonstration (to the opposite sex) that you can afford to burn $5k therefore are "fit" and able to easily provide for offspring.


      • Any member of the opposite sex impressed by a $5k gadget doesn't count as "fit" in my book.

      • by 2short ( 466733 )

        But not "fit" enough to turn some pedals... seriously, look at the picture of the guy on that thing; it's not going to get you dates.

        If you want a bike, but need to impress people with how much money you spent, there are several manufacturers happy to help. I'd suggest a Cervelo. At 5K, you'll be looking at the bottom of their line, but the people who will be impressed by the name and not your skill won't know the difference.
      • I can think of a lot better ways to spend $5k, if the goal was getting dates.

    • by Altus ( 1034 )

      Seriously, given the range is only 6 miles, I don't see why you wouldn't bike. I could see the advantages of a powered vehicle over longer distances where I might get tired, but 6 miles just isn't that far.

      One of my coworkers at a previous company had a nice little fold up bike. He took the train every day and biked from the station to his house. Seemed like a pretty good solution. It was cheeper, faster and had better range. Probably lighter than 22lbs too.

    • @neonprimetime: "I don't see the need for this fancy motor scooter crap."

      And if God had meant for man to fly he'd have given us wings. Men on the moon??? Bah... humbug! And your little dog Toto too.

    • by Deosyne ( 92713 )

      Because for some reason my coworkers don't like to bask in the rich aroma of my sweaty balls after bicycling several miles to work. I will grant you a point on the "fancy motor scooter" quip, though, as one can get a motor scooter that gets far greater range at three times the speed for a third of the price, with the bonus of slightly more carrying capacity.

    • I gather you don't have a use for it. Great, don't buy one. But I ride my Segway an average of 200 miles each month, and wouldn't be without it. I live a sane distance from work, and commute back and forth without (a) getting sweaty and (b) adding quite so much to my carbon footprint as I did when I was using the Volvo. So yeah, Segways have their place. This Yike thing probably has a niche, too.
  • yeah yeah. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:13PM (#29315495)

    http://www.bicycle-power.com/electric.html [bicycle-power.com]

    Hey. I've had a great idea. People could propel these things using their legs, getting fit at the same time. So you would be moving to your destination *and* saving money in gym fees *and* saving all that waste time at the gym too.

    Think I'll patent it.

    "A method for increasing human fitness and moving towards a destination at the same time."


  • Personal mobility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by improfane ( 855034 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:15PM (#29315535) Journal

    I find this personal mobility devices pathetic for able bodied people.

    Why aren't we satisfied with walking anymore? I will be walking 30 minutes twice a day from September.

    The only issue is boredom and wasting of time. I will counter this with podcasts.

    • by selven ( 1556643 )
      I'd much rather choose how I spend my time. If you're walking, it's 15 minutes of podcasts. If you're on a bike, it's 5 minutes of podcasts and 10 minutes of whatever you want.
      • What if what you want to do with that time is walk? If time is the only consideration, it makes sense to drive just about anywhere within a 4 hour drive of you (and to fly further distances).
    • by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @04:35PM (#29316765) Homepage

      I find this personal mobility devices pathetic for able bodied people.
      Why aren't we satisfied with walking anymore? I will be walking 30 minutes twice a day from September.
      The only issue is boredom and wasting of time. I will counter this with podcasts.

      So... you don't actually do this *walking* stuff now? You don't actually know what it's like walking to work in a suit, when it's 95 degrees with 95% humidity? You don't know what it's like meeting with clients smelling like you just walked out of the gym? You don't know what it's like having to spend $100 a week on drycleaning? And you're calling people pathetic.... that's funny.

      The device would have been great for my last office. It was a 4 mile ride to the train station, the commute into the city, and then a 2 mile subway ride. Would have been fine by bike, but you couldn't take the bike on the train, so you would have needed two bikes. Which I wouldn't have minded either, one bike from home to station, one in the city from station to work, but there wasn't any place to lock up a bike at work and you weren't allowed to bring the bike into the office. The YikeBike could be stowed in a garment bag, that would have been perfect.

      • I do a lot of walking but now I'll be living in town rather than campus which means it will be every day rather than once or twice a week.

        I walked in London for about 1 hour in a smart suit and hot weather without knowing where I was going. I sympathize.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hognoxious ( 631665 )
        Isn't there somewhere at work you could leave your suit, and get changed when you arrive? I used to bike to work and do that. I never even had to take them home - there was a laundry service just over the road.
  • STOP!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:23PM (#29315695)

    You had me at "praying mantis"!

  • This has all of nothing to do with the Segway. It's a tricycle with the center of gravity moved forwards. It is significantly less stable than the Segway, and it's almost certainly more uncomfortable.

    • It has the same problem though--where do you use it? It's not street legal, and most bike/walk paths prohibit motorized vehicles... it will fit in well once we start redesigning cities to accommodate the Segway... has that started yet?
  • £3000?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:34PM (#29315859)

    I can buy a mopehead ("scooter") for less than £1000 which can go over 30 MpH. Why would I buy this? You cannot use it on roads OR on footpaths in a lot of locations and it is too small to really work as a carry-around and too big to park up.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not as cool/affordable as the eniCycle (http://enicycle.com/).

  • Handlebars on traditional bikes are a good idea. Leaning slightly forward in your normal position with your hands in front of you on a nice solid piece of metal, if you have to brake suddenly your weight shifts forward.

    So on a traditional bike if you hit the brakes when that inevitable Volvo driver cuts across you without signalling/pulls out, your weight shifts forward and you brace yourself with your arms. Your arms are pretty strong and it's a very natural position for them to take weight: we've been fal

    • ebikes still win. [ebike.ca]

      I've seen people refit their bicycles with an ebike conversion kit. For about $1200 CDN, you replace one of your bike wheels with a hub motor. It can travel about 30mph and has a distance of about 20 miles per charge. It doesn't look like a weird fucking thingamajig like this or the Segway, there's little learning curve, and it has easily replaceable batteries.

      I bike a regular bio-drive bike; it's helped me lose 85 pounds over the last 13 years. (From 250 down to 165) I can routinely outpac

  • People didn't buy the segway because it was as expensive as a motorcycle with a limited range and went slower than most people could pedal a bike.

    How is this better? Didn't learn from the Segway, did you? This costs more, has less range, and goes about the same speed.

    Sorry to rant, but I'm just incredulous. I rode a $500 bike 75 miles in 5 hours. I can't imagine why I would want a $5000 "bike" that goes 6 miles in 30 minutes, then dies.

    Here's the thing about progress. Later inventions are supposed to b

  • by Alzheimers ( 467217 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:38PM (#29315921)

    Leave it to a Kiwi to put training wheels on a unicycle.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:38PM (#29315925) Journal
    Here's a video of a woman riding one with 2 little kids and 4 sacks of groceries. [google.com]

    Sure, it's big, it's bulky, but for the most part, you will no longer need a car.

    And for those who like things a little more space age, There's the go-one and similar vehicles, like this one pulling into a campus at Intel. [youtube.com]

    The velomobiles will protect you in the rain, and you can't face plant in it. The Stokemonkey is stupidly powerful and extremely practical (try and haul 2 little kids and 4 sacks of groceries on a yikeBike). The YikeBike is for yuppies who want a cool toy.

    However: the future is not to be denied: the future of transportation lies in lightweight electric and electric assist (i.e. electric assisted pedal bikes and trikes) [jvbike.com] vehicles.

    Get 'em now while they're relatively cheap and unwanted...


    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      As for a bonus, if you indure your kids high enough,, you'll collect bid when some asshat runs a stop sign and kills them.
      But hey, your 'saving the enviroment'/

      Buy a freaking electric car.

  • by Odin_Tiger ( 585113 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @03:48PM (#29316057) Journal
    So given that the 6000 miles figure is obviously going to be optimistic, You're basically paying 1$ per mile to look like an idiot and probably be even more vulnerable to getting in an accident than a bicyclist. No, I don't think I'll be getting one of these.
  • " 'Round here, we call her The Decapinator."
  • How about getting an electric scooter? It's a proven concept. And it doesn't look as awkward.

  • Looks really weird, but at least is no South Park's IT [wikipedia.org].
  • Enough please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @04:04PM (#29316319) Journal

    Stop trying to one-up the bicycle. It works, it is cheap and it is time tested.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      The motto of people afraid of progress every where.

      You should stop trying to one up walking, it's cheap and time tested.

  • by mypalmike ( 454265 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @04:10PM (#29316417) Homepage

    Yet another article where a bunch of know-it-alls put down an invention for not being the status quo. "It's too expensive. It looks dangerous. Ride a bicycle. Ride an electric bike. Ride a motorcycle."

    Go back to your basements and play WoW. The creative people are busy creating.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SecurityGuy ( 217807 )

      You misunderstand.

      Creativity is good. In developing the next something, there should be a massive burst of creativity with ideas flowing all over the place. Then there's this point where you start winnowing. This one's a cool idea, but nobody wants it. That one's a great idea and people want it, but it will cost us more to make than anyone will pay. Etc.

      It's a hard lesson, but perhaps the value which should come from bashing unsuccessful products is the warning to the next inventor. It's not enough th

  • When I first saw a photo of this thing without the rider a few days ago I couldn't even figure out how the hell to sit on it. Seeing it now the thing looks like an awful safety hazard. The center of gravity rests too far forward. It's like riding a tricycle, minus the second rear wheel, by sitting on the handlebars. Hit any bump that causes the thing to stop suddenly and the rider is going to find him or herself sprawled all over the ground. Even small bumps that simply slow the vehicle would risk having th

  • Or I can just ride a regular bicycle which has at minimum the following advantages:

    • Faster (12mph is very slow on a bicycle)
    • More reliable (no motor to break or recharge - pedals are uber reliable)
    • Cheaper (Yes you can get a $5000 bicycle but most are MUCH cheaper)
    • Widely available
    • Easier to repair
    • Less dorky looking (subjective I'll admit but did we learn nothing from Segway?)
    • Legal to use (this device apparently is illegal on many roads, at least in the UK)
    • Unlimited range (only limited by your strength and ambit
  • I invented a segue alternative, but I'm really disappointed in the lack of puns in this article.
  • Yikes! (Score:3, Funny)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday September 04, 2009 @06:09PM (#29317969) Journal

    Don't wear your expensive suit.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"