Let's play a word association game: electric bike, penny farthing, folder, carbon fibre, Porsche… hard to build a mental image from that lot, but one day… that list will immediately make you think “Yike Bike”. Maybe.
What we have here is a folding electric bike that weighs less than 10Kg with a range of about 10Km and that is as easy to charge as a laptop and not that much bigger when folded, which the team behind it hope will one day be the transport of choice of the style-conscious buisnessman or urban commuter for the short hops from penthouse apartment to downtown office. And as for the “Yike” – well, that's what you say the first time your ride it, or at least the cleaned-up version.
The guys behind Yike bike designed this from the ground up with portability, in terms of weight and pack-down size and ease of charge in mind. So out went wheels of the same size and in came a penny farthing design – except smaller. Power comes from a small electric motor, there are plans for a more powerful version next year (suggestions on a postcard for the name of that one), but the standard version is plenty nippy enough with a medium-sized rider like me aboard. Weight limit for this model is 100Kg which as the makers say covers 90 per cent of the population, while that turbo charged Yike will also be capable of taking bigger lads, too.
Steering is via bars that wrap around behind instead of in front as per the standard bike fashion; when riding, this and the fact that your weight is bearing down on the small back wheel, is the yike-inducing aspect of the Yike for the novice. The ends of the bars feature integrated hedlights and there is an integrated rear light plus indicators and horn, too. Levers below the grips control power and braking respectively, and they operate and feel very much like the brake levers on a bicycle.
For a cyclist, though there is a lot to get used to, when you're sitting on the Yike it feels like you are leaning back with your hands down by your sides. So what's it like to ride… well the name says it all, at least at first. There's a lot to learn or unlearn: that back end is very sensitive, as are the controls – move your bum in any way and that little wheel is going to respond with a yike-inducing wobble. Your feet rest on two small platforms. Oh, and you need to keep your knees in, pretty much clamped to the bike.
Do that, and relax and you start to adjust and get in to it – the Eurobike test track is probably not the ideal location to try one being buzzed by pre-pubescent Germans on pedalecs – the Yike bike guys recomment some quality time in a car park on your own. Weirdly, the thing it most reminded me of was controlling a Scalextric car – the brake was pretty much redundant, ease off the throttle and the Yike immediately slows down, and as you get more confident you can lean into and “power” through corners.
The Yike is available on pre-order now with a €100 deposit via the Yike website and it was certainly attracting the attention of UK distributors, too. The price may be a stumbling block to it hitting the mass market though – you won't get much, if any change from €4,000 – that's where the Porsche reference comes in to the Yike's marketing push – although it's got to be said that the Cannondale On we featured yesterday will also set you back that amount. Yike say that they hope to bring prices down as they achieve economies of scale.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.