What is holding back bicycle commuting in the United States? Washington-born designer Gabriel Wartofsky has suggested that it is the lack of options available. To this end he has been working on an electric assist bike that could help users get to the nearest transit hub or final destination sweat-free, grease-free, and without a hassle.
The key is that his folding e-bikes, which has been in development for the last two years, and is now entering the final stages of pre-production, can be folded up, stored beside a desk, under their bus seat, or in the trunk of a car. Beyond commuting, the e-bikes could offer other opportunities for Americans, especially as the price as the gas pump remain fairly high.
The award-winning e-bike designer has also taken a unique approach towards raising funds to jumpstart his U.S. manufacturing, and launched a Kickstarter campaign, which is an Internet funding platform that will allow potential users to actually be involved in the product’s development.
His current design is based on a prototype that features a 250-watt hub motor, and can travel at speeds up to 15mph and is capable of 10-15 trips. So not exactly the longest commutes, but good for urban dwellers as well as for trips to the store. The concept further calls for storage at charging stations, so riders could drop off the bike during the day, or alternatively use bikes that are part of a fleet of shared bicycles.
Costs for the folding e-bike haven’t been set, but Kickstarter backers were reportedly offered a pre-launch price of $1,395 with a two year warranty. While that price has yet to be set, considering the cost of many other commuter bikes this project could be getting the kickstart it needs!