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Urban Freedom - round two (Segway Redux)
March 5, 2010 7:58 PM   Subscribe

This is not your (grand)father's PennyFarthing ... but it sure looks like one! Introducing the YikeBike, being developed by an outfit in Christchurch, New Zealand. With a top speed of 20kph, a cruising range of 9~10km, and a re-charge time of 20+ minutes, it's not going to be the answer for every commuter, but given the astonishingly small compact size to which it can be collapsed - and taken on a train/bus/etc. - it looks to be a real contender in the 'run about town' market. Plenty of action videos are linked from the bottom of their Gallery page.
posted by woodblock100 (99 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody wants to use a wheelchair, but apparently everyone wants to use a wheelchair.
posted by thorny at 8:06 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The YikeBike is designed to be super small when folded up so does not have a carrier or pannier bags. You can use a standard backpack while riding. The maximum total weight of the rider and bag is 100kg.
So... not meant to be sold in America, then?
posted by hincandenza at 8:19 PM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


They don't focus on the rider for more than a few seconds between clip edits, but what they did show makes the bike look a bit shaky. That small wheel at the back is going to take a lot of stress.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:22 PM on March 5, 2010


And the thing is going to cost nearly $5,000. I'd rather get a Vespa.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just look at the price tag. Yikes!
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:33 PM on March 5, 2010


So... not meant to be sold in America, then?

100 kg is 220 lbs in Americanese. Presumably few people over 220 lbs are riding bikes, anyway, and if they do, they are already riding a bicycle with a frame and wheels that have been spec'ed for greater load.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:33 PM on March 5, 2010


FOR SALE NOW, MY SUBARU-DRIVING FRIENDS
posted by circular at 8:38 PM on March 5, 2010


Blazecock:

Oh, shoot.
posted by circular at 8:39 PM on March 5, 2010


I'd rather push pedals, but anything is better than sitting in traffic.
posted by archivist at 8:45 PM on March 5, 2010


For the 21st century dork.
posted by nola at 8:51 PM on March 5, 2010


For 4500 dollars you can definitely buy a bike that goes faster than 15mph and that you can ride for more than 20 minutes at a time.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 8:55 PM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oooh, sudden breaking and turns will make life much, much more exiting for anyone who rides one of those.

Sarcasm aside, I like the over-all idea, but honestly I don't think the world needs more gadgets.
posted by lekvar at 9:07 PM on March 5, 2010


You can't carry groceries on it, and I wonder how the weight of a loaded backpack would affect your balance on that thing.

Cute toy, but for $5000, you can get many, many sturdy beaters off Craigslist.
posted by maudlin at 9:10 PM on March 5, 2010


(OK, it says you can use a standard backpack, but how much can you actually put inside it? The wording "The maximum total weight of the rider and bag is 100kg." is a bit ambiguous.)
posted by maudlin at 9:12 PM on March 5, 2010


PepsiBike
posted by davejay at 9:15 PM on March 5, 2010


The wheelbase-to-center-of-gravity ratio looks like a disadvantage too, and on a bike you can adjust your center of gravity whereas I don't see that with the Yike.
posted by lekvar at 9:15 PM on March 5, 2010


ugh, get a folding bike and go for as long as you want. You don't have to sweat yourself to soaking wet everytime you hop on a bike either... nothing wrong with a leisurely pace.
posted by glip at 9:28 PM on March 5, 2010


Be seeing you!
posted by charred husk at 9:38 PM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is the little greenish fart-trail cloud a byproduct of the bike or some weird side effect of the British diet?
posted by Scattercat at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2010


What I really don't like about it is if somehow the front wheel hits something, what safety device prevents me from shooting out of the front ass over teakettle?
posted by Sphinx at 10:18 PM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's questionable to advertise your product by showing people watching a man ride by and smiling in wonder laughing at his goofy ass.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:18 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


what safety device prevents me from shooting out of the front ass over teakettle?

From the safety FAQ:

It is likely that you will jump off the front of a YikeBike in an emergency braking situation – this is very easy as there are no handle bars in the way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought it was dorky until I saw how well it folded up. Then I thought it was actually pretty well designed, and also dorky.
posted by echo target at 10:30 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


They don't focus on the rider for more than a few seconds between clip edits, but what they did show makes the bike look a bit shaky.

Yeah, they seem to be much more concerned about being as annoying as possible ("Don't you yike our cutesy, irritating baby talk puns?") than showing how their electric barstool actually works.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:45 PM on March 5, 2010


> Presumably few people over 220 lbs are riding bikes, anyway, and if they do, they are already riding a bicycle with a frame and wheels that have been spec'ed for greater load.

Who's presuming such stupid stuff?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:48 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Christ on a [Yike], I thought there was no way to make a bicycle more dangerous for the rider and unstable, but this really knocks it up a notch. It's like a unicycle that goes at 20km an hour. What an insane idea. Not even a helmet.
posted by smoke at 10:48 PM on March 5, 2010


> For 4500 dollars you can definitely buy a bike that goes faster than 15mph and that you can ride for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Well that's just fine, The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal, so long as you don't mind standing next to your stripped mountain bike in helpless consternation as happy Yike Bikers zip by you, giggling as they struggle to keep their balance.
posted by contraption at 10:50 PM on March 5, 2010


Also from the aforementioned Safety FAQ :

The handlebars are at the side rather than in front so in the event of an accident or need for an emergency stop the rider’s head or body is not catapulted into an obstacle.


Do they not realize how a fulcrum works? Or is "YikeBike!" going to be the sound I make when my knees lead whatever bodily impact I make the first time I ride this thing downhill.

At least I can wear a helmet and gloves for protection on a bike, what sort of contraption do I need for this?
posted by Sphinx at 10:58 PM on March 5, 2010


The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal: "For 4500 dollars you can definitely buy a bike that goes faster than 15mph and that you can ride for more than 20 minutes at a time."

For $4500 you can vaccinate 45 children from TB and save their lives. That would be the most efficient use of money, one life for $100. You can walk to work right? Hell, sell your house and live in a tent. In a shoebox. In a pothole in the street. That's what we did when we were kids. We had nothing but a rock to play with. And we were lucky.
posted by stbalbach at 11:11 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who's presuming such stupid stuff?

On average, for most bikes out there, with factory wheels, the number of spokes on these wheels, and the space-age material they make the frames from just don't carry that kind of stress too well (unless you get a heavier and more expensive touring bike, and/or beef up the wheels). You'll find out the same thing yourself if you look at the capacity ratings for stock bikes, most of which are around the same capacity as this folding electric bike (with some exceptions). A bike is engineered for its target market, and it cuts into profits to over-engineer a mass-produced item like this. It's just an observation, not a value judgement.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 PM on March 5, 2010


100 kg is 220 lbs in Americanese. Presumably few people over 220 lbs are riding bikes, anyway, and if they do, they are already riding a bicycle with a frame and wheels that have been spec'ed for greater load.

I find it pretty hard to believe that the weight limit for an average mountain bike/ hybrid bike is 220 pounds. Obviously for super-expensive road bikes and racing bikes they are going to be limited by the low-weight material, but given the fact that mountain bikes are designed to be ridden down mountains they're obviously going to be pretty sturdy.

(And, the reason I'm pointing this out is that around here average people generally buy mountain bikes, and then take them up and over curbs and stuff without worrying about it. In fact they'll usually have front shocks at least, which I think is over the top)

here's a thread on a bike forum of people discussing weight limits. Plenty of 220+ people and their friends chiming in.

I found this discussion on Amazon where a faq on a bicycle is excerpted, and the answer from the company said: "A 14 year old that weighs 120 lbs could easily destroy one of our bikes if he abuses it by jumping it or similar unintended uses. However, a 400 lb rider could be perfectly content with the durability of a bike if he uses is solely recreationally and avoids impacts such as curbs and pot-holes."

Looking at Trek's website, I'm not even finding weight limits specified in their specs.
posted by delmoi at 11:34 PM on March 5, 2010


Yeah, and this yike bike. Those handlebars look seriously difficult use. It wouldn't take much momentum at all to throw you off the front, so I'm assuming it doesn't go fast enough for you not to be able to jump off the front and land on your feet.

And for the price, you might as well get a segway.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 PM on March 5, 2010


I don't really give a crap about bike specs, I just find it an unfounded presumption that "few" people over 220 lbs ride bikes.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:39 PM on March 5, 2010


And here's a statement from a bike shop:
...For most of the bicycles we sell, they will probably be able to handle in excess of 300 lbs, but most of the manufacturers of the bikes we sell do not provide us with specific rider weight limits for the bikes. In other words, the bikes should be built strong enough for heavy rider, however since the factories don't give us specific weight limits on the bikes we can't advise the maximum rider weight for any specific bicycle.

If you are a heavy rider, over 250 lbs, one of the best ways to stay safe on your bicycle is to be sure that your bike is kept on a regular maintenance schedule. Taking your bike in to a local bike shop for routine maintenance can help you ensure that all of the parts on your bike are holding up ok to the weight...
Presumably if they were going to make bikes that would break down for people over 220 pounds, they would have to mention it somewhere.
posted by delmoi at 11:41 PM on March 5, 2010


I don't really give a crap about bike specs, I just find it an unfounded presumption that "few" people over 220 lbs ride bikes.

Yeah, I found that obnoxious as well, which is why I'm googling stuff up to disprove his central point, which is that most bikes probably couldn't even handle 220+ people. That part was ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 11:43 PM on March 5, 2010


the fact that mountain bikes are designed to be ridden down mountains they're obviously going to be pretty sturdy

You'd be surprised how flimsy most modern bikes are. But you're correct that road bikes will take less weight, particularly more expensive bikes with odder materials that favor fewer grams over strength.

here's a thread on a bike forum of people discussing weight limits. Plenty of 220+ people and their friends chiming in.

Mostly chiming in about how they have added spokes and ride with sturdier frames, from what I can see.

"However, a 400 lb rider could be perfectly content with the durability of a bike if he uses is solely recreationally and avoids impacts such as curbs and pot-holes."

The YikeBike appears to be targeted for use as a form of urban transportation, and not for recreation — at least the way it is being advertised. I don't know if you have ever biked in the city, but I can tell you from personal experience that curbs and potholes are the norm when jetting around a city. Bikes take an inordinate amount of abuse from that alone.

I'm not even finding weight limits specified in their specs.

You might go to a bike store to see if they will confirm whether what I've written is true or false, in general. It's not something I am particularly invested in fighting about, it's not a value judgement about people who are heavier, it's just a general observation about what bikes get sold, how they are made, and who uses them. Mass-produced bikes are made for an international market. It's just not as profitable to make a bike for the average heavier American who, on average, sees the bicycle as a toy, which is why you see the distribution of bikes that are out there.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:56 PM on March 5, 2010


why I'm googling stuff up to disprove his central point, which is that most bikes probably couldn't even handle 220+ people

Again, I'm not interested in arguing about it, but the one thread you pulled up is neither representative of all cyclists nor does it necessarily contradict what I said.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 AM on March 6, 2010


For that money, couldn't you create a city network of these? You can reach 50km/hr in those bikes!
posted by DreamerFi at 12:06 AM on March 6, 2010


As for me, I ride a chunky bike because it aesthetically works with chunky me. I have no idea if it's suited to handle my weight, though, and the salesmen didn't intervene.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:14 AM on March 6, 2010


Do want. Way too pricey. But very, very cool. If Segways could be this portable/stowable, they'd be as popular as iPods.
posted by zardoz at 12:35 AM on March 6, 2010


I guess I don't get who is supposed to want this. It has many of the disadvantages of a bike (ambiguous traffic profile, difficult to lock up, look like a dweeb, limited range, can't really ride on a sidewalk, can't really carry anything, open to the elements, balance required), with none of the advantages (cheap, a form of exercise, easy to find maintenance or DIY, doesn't require fuel or charging).

It seems to be for people who want to travel a distance that's between 0 and 5 miles but refuse to walk or ride a bike. What am I missing here, is this really anybody?
posted by breath at 12:39 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ha ha, shoulda previewed. Zardoz, why do you want it?
posted by breath at 12:40 AM on March 6, 2010


Is the little greenish fart-trail cloud a byproduct of the bike or some weird side effect of the British diet?

Because in the colonies, diet is mandated by the Crown?
posted by pompomtom at 12:47 AM on March 6, 2010


For me the price is the big problem. Not least because for $4500, you can get a pretty incredible normal bike of whatever stripe. In fact for $450 you can get a good bike.

Other points: most people who ride bikes quite like the exercise component.

You still get wet on a Yikebike in nasty weather.

15mph is a crappy top speed and 6miles is a not so useful range.

Brompton folding bikes already do the small collapsing thing. They do not cost $4500 either.

So, yes, I am thinking that the YikeBike is the son of Segway and the grandson of the sinclair C5.
posted by rhymer at 12:48 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, I'm not interested in arguing about it, but the one thread you pulled up is neither representative of all cyclists nor does it necessarily contradict what I said.
Well, I just think you're wrong here. I've never heard anyone say anything like that (other then for super-expensive ultra light weight bikes) and it seems like it would be pretty dangerous, from a legal perspective to sell bikes that can only support 220 pounds without warning people about it. I actually tried to do fair research here, I didn't find anything to support your opinion, really (except for one comment about a custom seat post that was only rated to $185 pounds)
It's just not as profitable to make a bike for the average heavier American who, on average, sees the bicycle as a toy, which is why you see the distribution of bikes that are out there.
Look, if you don't care that much about this issue, that's fine. But don't go making up random facts and acting like they're true. No offense, but it's really obnoxious. I actually looked this stuff up with an open mind, and I didn't find anything that backed up what you said. I also don't think it would be that much more expensive to build a bike that can support a 300 pound person then a 200 pound person, we're talking about steel or thick aluminum here (or titanium). Given the cost of additional metal, and the risk of liability, and the fact that people might take their bikes off road, over curbs, etc, it's more likely (in my mind) to have a bike that's over designed then one that's under designed. The fact that they don't even list or mention bike weight limits makes this clearer.

Again, it's not the same for $4k ultralight carbon fiber framed bikes, but that's not what we're talking about here. Cheap ($300-$400) mountain bikes are going to be overbuilt, not underbuilt.
posted by delmoi at 1:16 AM on March 6, 2010


Metafilter: "Somebody on the internet is wrong ..."
posted by woodblock100 at 1:19 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Must have been quite challenging bringing all of New Zealand's cars together for that clip
posted by mattoxic at 1:20 AM on March 6, 2010


I actually looked this stuff up with an open mind, and I didn't find anything that backed up what you said.

You looked it up but you didn't read it, given that your two links, in fact, corroborate what I said clearly and unambiguously: Heavier people have to reinforce their bikes and maintain them more stringently than less heavier people. On the whole, bikes for getting around the city are just not engineered for use by heavier people the same way that they are engineered for less heavy people (who are less than, say, 220 lbs). YikeBike is not selling its products to heavier people, because that isn't its market. That's all I was saying. Period. Every thing else you're deriving from this is in your own head.

But don't go making up random facts and acting like they're true

Look, I get that weight issues are sensitive on Metafilter, but that's no excuse to recast what I've said with scare quotes and misinterpretation. What you're doing is obnoxious. Give it a rest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ha ha, shoulda previewed. Zardoz, why do you want it?

I live in the city and I take the train, bus, and sometimes taxi to where I need to be. But from the station/stop, there's often a loooong walk to my destination. So just the fact that you can sling this bike over your shoulder and take it with you and pop it out when needed is just the berries. Of course, this thing may be far to heavy and unwieldy to be practical, but it's a great concept. And I agree with you about the range at least; any technology dependent upon batteries is necessarily crippled (glares at laptop, iphone).
posted by zardoz at 2:00 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


No wireless. Less space than a nomad Segway. Lame.
posted by autopilot at 3:32 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A bike designed by and for product liability plaintiff's attorneys
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:44 AM on March 6, 2010


You looked it up but you didn't read it, given that your two links, in fact, corroborate what I said clearly and unambiguously

The first link talked about needing reinforced bikes for people in the 350+ weight range, not 220+

Here are the quotes with the numbers:
To avoid this issue I only ride steel framed bikes with no less
than 36 spoke wheels and they hold my 350+ arse just fine.
...
As a bike dealer, I have on occaision worried about the rugged factor when selling a bike to the larger folks. In 1990, a 12 year old kid, Jason, came into my shop looking for a new bike. I only mention his age because at that time he weighed in at 325. The bike held up fine, but the various components did not. He folded wheels, stripped cogs, and generally wore the bike out in a couple of months. Fast forward to now. He is still riding. He is still huge (now about 450). He rides a Rocky "Flow" now. It seems to be holding up just fine. Jason gave up trying to ride off road. He sticks to the street. So, I guess the frames themselves are rugged enough for up to 500 pounds, but the components may not be.
...
etc.
(Actually, the very last comment does mention 220 pounds, which I didn't see, but he just says "my understanding is...") To say that it backs up what you say "unambiguously" is silly, since only one comment even mentions weights as low as 220, and other comments talk about much higher weights (and then there's the custom seat post issue). And these are probably about expensive bikes as well.

Obviously the heavier you get, the more the sturdier the bike is going to need to be. But for ordinary, cheap recreational bikes I don't see anything to indicate that they are designed for 220 pounds max. Maybe super expensive ultralight racing bikes. And like I said, if the bikes couldn't handle more then then that, then I'm sure there would be warnings. No one would sell them to people who weighed more then that due to liability issues. It's obviously not the case. If you think it is the case, then you really need to show some evidence that it's true.

Anyway, I think the comment from the bike shop, plus the excerpt of the FAQ are more normative.

Also just saying that because you can't think for a reason for bike makers to make them to support more then 220 pounds means they can't possibly be doing it is ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 4:02 AM on March 6, 2010


> Presumably few people over 220 lbs are riding bikes, anyway

You do come out with utter cock sometimes.
posted by scruss at 4:35 AM on March 6, 2010


.
posted by fixedgear at 4:46 AM on March 6, 2010


Many folding bikes are not advertised as suitable for people over 230 pounds, but the Dahon rep explains here why they define that limit.
Let me mention that our folding bicycles do carry a weight capacity maximum of 105kg or 230lbs. The point being is that if a 200lb rider drove off a curb accidentally, the pressure exerted on the parts the rider is holding, namely the handlebars and therefore the stem that holds the handlebars, the seat and the seatpost that holds the seat and the pedals axle shafts can have a momentarily exertion of 600lbs more or less. That is for a 200lb person, and our limit is 230lbs.

So we are quite firm on our rule regarding this regulation, although we have heard of other heavier people riding with no failure and no problems ever. Certainly a bike with larger diameter 2.0" tires would be advisable to insure adequate protection of lighter weight alloy rims and making sure that the tires are always fully inflated.

You are stuck in this "Catch 22" vicious circle that a good way to burn calories and lose weight is by cycling. However Dahon (and numerous other manufacturers) place a rider weight limitation on their bicycles. How you ride, your "finesse" is negotiating treacherous terrain and periodic maintenance determine how well the bicycle can last.
I know that Trek makes a folding model that was cleared for people up to 250 pounds (haven't been able to Google which one) because I know someone who bought one of those and rode it successfully at 250-260 pounds. Believe me, he did a lot of research before he found a model he was confident he could use.

While people over 220 pounds who ride a lot and/or more aggressively will probably see the wheels on their reasonable quality hybrids or mountain bikes weaken and fail sooner, casual riders and commuters over 220 pounds should be able to use their bikes a long time without them exploding or disappearing in a puff of smoke. Their bikes come off the assembly line already designed to handle a greater load than folding bikes with tiny frames and tiny wheels.

This Trek manual (PDF) defines weight limits for their usual line of bikes -- not anything specifically marketed for heavier riders -- as 300 pounds, 275 pounds for road bikes.

In short: 220 pounds is not over the usual limits for a good quality folding bike, and it is well under the limit for the type of full sized bikes most casual riders use.
posted by maudlin at 5:39 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A better use of 5 grand.
posted by Mister_A at 5:43 AM on March 6, 2010


Let me mention that our folding bicycles do carry a weight capacity maximum of 105kg or 230lbs. The point being is that if a 200lb rider drove off a curb accidentally

Oh man, could you imagine going over a curb on this "YikeBike"? That would not be fun.
posted by delmoi at 5:51 AM on March 6, 2010


Anyway, back on topic: the YikeBike is a gorgeous object. A lot of thought has gone into its elegant design, and I love the cunning way in which it folds up. I'd jump at the chance to try one out because it would be a fun ride (where I define "fun" as lying somewhere in between the exhilaration felt by a 5 year old on her first trike and the sheer terror induced by being strapped into a shopping cart rolling downhill).

I just can't see many people buying and using it because the initial cost, low riding profile, limited speed and range, its inability to carry anything much beyond a rider of a certain size, and iffy safety profile would successively weed out the poor, the short, the long distance commuter, the packhorse, the Clydesdale and the easily scarred with little or no health insurance.
posted by maudlin at 6:12 AM on March 6, 2010


can you imagine going over a curb ...

Well, you can watch it happen in their 'Testing video #1', linked at the bottom of this page, along with running over cattle guards, through potholes, up and down slopes on wet grass, making emergency stops, etc. etc.
posted by woodblock100 at 6:17 AM on March 6, 2010


i wish they would start selling these over at the scooter store.
posted by lester at 6:31 AM on March 6, 2010


I just wanted to say that I weigh 225 pounds and, in good weather, I ride about 100 miles per week and typically will do 5 or so centuries over the summer, with at least one 200 mile ride.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:28 AM on March 6, 2010


Off topic, look at this awesome baby stroller & bike-in-one... the Zigo. That looks ridiculously convenient. And 1/3 the price of the Yike...
posted by anthill at 7:29 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I have no idea if it's suited to handle my weight
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:30 AM on March 6, 2010


Do they not realize how a fulcrum works? Or is "YikeBike!" going to be the sound I make when my knees lead whatever bodily impact I make the first time I ride this thing downhill.

I don't really understand what you're getting at. The lack of front handlebars is one of the only defensible points in this thing's design, IMO.

Front handlebars are a huge hazard and a cause of many serious bike (and motorcycle) accidents and fatalities. A bike where you could jump off frontwards, feet first, rather than going over the handlebars head-first (at high speeds, as in the case of motorcycles, generally with two femur fractures), would probably be much more survivable.

Better to absorb energy with your legs than your arms and face.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2010


Esthetically, that's a nice piece of design.

Too bad about the price.

A self-balancing electric unicycle (google that phrase) is available off the shelf from a couple of manufacturers, as are a lot of DIY plans.
posted by warbaby at 7:53 AM on March 6, 2010


Clever design, the wheel stows inside the other wheel. This would be useful for me, I'm often going back and forth between two spots about 15 blocks apart, I don't have room in my apartment to stow a full bike, and I don't like locking and unlocking things.

The cost doesn't work out though, that price would cover a year of judicious cab fare between my point A and point B, if I walked about half the time.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:34 AM on March 6, 2010


Totally not science, but at my heaviest I weighed about 230. I had to true and replace a lot of wheels/spokes on my entry level Gary Fisher mountain bike. It was nice enough so the components were durable but heavy, certainly not a light-weight racing bike.

As I started to lose a a bit of weight, the wheel problems disappeared. Now I can safely ride a road bike with skinny 700c wheels and no problems. Note that I was a fairly experienced bike rider before, so this doesn't have anything to do with riding technique or a change in use. This is was a difference of about 60 lbs, so I'd guess the difference in exerted force is somewhere around 190-240 lbs.

Also, although we're not talking exclusively about folding bikes here, I think it's safe to say that many if not most folding, ultra-portable bikes have a maximum recommended weight of about 180-200 lbs.

I'm thinking of:
The A Bike: 187 lbs
The Strida: 220 lbs.

Now these are ultra portable folding bikes, competitors with the Yike Bike.

Someone made quite a nice list of more traditional folders and it seems like the limit is usually around 240 lbs.

That being said, if someone is riding an old beater with decent 18" wheels and a well tightened seat tube, I think 220 should be fine. It's the curbs and potholes that might cause you any grief. A slow ride on a bike path should be fine.
posted by Telf at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My theory is that this is a bluff. There's no intention to produce more than a prototype for the demonstration video. Even money this is being funded by Dean Kamen to make the Segway look cool by comparison. It's all about moving the goalposts, folks.
posted by Naberius at 8:41 AM on March 6, 2010


Don't know why I wrote 18" wheels, meant standard mountain bike size. Carry on.
posted by Telf at 8:49 AM on March 6, 2010


Just data, whch seems to be severely lacking here, but at 245 and 6'2 I've ridden my Trek 430 down kerbs, through potholes, down dirt hills and on aggregate paths for years without ever needing to true my wheels, add extra spokes or wear a flashing vest saying "self-flagellating fat bloke on a bike - pass with care, may explode into components like a clown car".

Fuck the folding bikes, though. They're structurally fine even outside the manufacturer limits, but my centre of gravity is way too high (and you look like a dork when your feet are longer than the diameter of the wheels). I'll leave them to the dwarven commuters they were made for.*

*I know, I know. Bromptons and so on are lovely pieces of engineering and tour well.
posted by cromagnon at 1:45 PM on March 6, 2010


A national store once stocked a somewhat heavy, crappy 'Schwinn' 5-spd electric bike with heavy lead-acid batteries, that retailed for ~ $600 new, and was occasionally on sale for $350. Two years ago I bought one near-new for $325. It's still running, I can do my 14km downtown in under a charge, it's built like a tank and it's too damn ugly to steal. I use it as a break from regular biking, or don't have time for a shower after the ride.

The Yike is an interesting concept... but it needs to show up in the Sharper Image catalog at $699 before I'd really consider one.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:47 PM on March 6, 2010


It looks like it uses proprietary tire sizes? Good luck with that.
posted by thewalrus at 2:41 PM on March 6, 2010


I'm 6'1" and have weighed upwards of 225. Currently at 210. Body fat typically clocks about 10-15%, though it's been as low as 7% (though I'm around 200 when that happens). Been riding a stock chro-moly Giant purchased in 1989 with cheap ass rims over rough NY Streets, and intermittently a Colnago with Columbus tubing that dates to at least the mid-80s (bought used in 1990), with considerably better rims. Haven't had either set trued, and nothing even close to frame or rim failure. Never occurred to me to 'reinforce' my rims. And it wouldn't if I put on another 40lbs.

Didn't know folding frames were rated so low, but 220 is absurd as a generic number. I wouldn't buy something that was rated within 10% of my weight (they might be spec'ing for insurance purposes, but for $5 grand, I would want a greater margin of error).
posted by 99_ at 2:58 PM on March 6, 2010


I'm guessing the weight limit has less to do with the strength of the bike as with the power of the motor. If you ride an electric bike with 25% more weight that's going to result in significantly less speed/distance, so in order to justify their claims they might have to put in the weight limit caveat.
posted by alexei at 4:05 PM on March 6, 2010


The weight limit is a function of those tiny baby-buggy/shopping-cart wheels, tires and rims. That thing is a complete joke to anyone who knows anything at all about wheel-building.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:42 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This would make public transit a lot nicer, since you could carry it on the bus/subway with you. That said, I've been riding a kick scooter to work lately (it takes me about 20 minutes) and it has similar advantages (I can take it on the bus if I have to, I carry it up to my office) with the additional advantage of giving me a bit of exercise. If I really have to drive, I park about half a mile away (where it's free) and scoot the rest of the way (under five minutes).

I suspect that the kind of people who would ride something like this find the exercise facet of biking a benefit rather than a bug, and people who don't bike because they don't like the effort wouldn't be caught dead on a Yike.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:21 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not clear from the (few) text portions of the website how this thing is steered, and I'm not about to watch all the videos to figure it out. Do the handlebars pivot the big wheel? I know unicyclists get along just fine just by moving their center of mass, but I've never met a unicyclist nimble enough to try city traffic, and, anyway, that's not a unicycle.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:05 PM on March 6, 2010


PareidoliaticBoy: Why? That all depends on the design of the bike. Perhaps you should watch the test video on their site before doing any more armchair engineering?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 10:26 PM on March 6, 2010


i second the notion of foldable kick scooters, for going short urban distances with a device you can carry around in a bag. of course, the weight limit on most scooters much less, but the off road models serve nicely.
posted by eustatic at 7:25 AM on March 7, 2010


The point of contact with the ground is the wheel, not the frame, Soupisgoodfood. Almost anyone who takes cycling beyond the entry level quickly learns this. Those of us who spend a lot of time on our bikes have typically learned this the had way, and in the hierarchy of bicycle mechanics the best wheel-builders are at the apex. A crappy frame with well-built wheels can tackle obstacles and withstand abuse that would destroy a top-of-the-line frame with cheap or poorly built wheels. Most catastrophic failures on the trail are wheel failures, and I don't need to look at some cheesy marketing video to grasp this. The rules of physics are not suspended because someone wants to lull gullible hipsters into thinking that if they just spend enough money, 3 inch wheels make any sense on anything other than skateboards or slot-cars.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:45 PM on March 7, 2010


Oh, so it's not the size you're talking about, but it's construction? It's made of carbon-fibre; both the wheel and the rest of the frame. Why do you think it's so expensive? Did you even look at the test video of it going over potholes, cattle grids, short curbs, and up a grass hill?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 8:56 PM on March 7, 2010


What I'm wondering about is the bearings. Since the clever folding design leaves no room for a traditional spoked wheel, the motor must be very wide and have some kind of strange roller or needle bearing going all the way around the wheel. I bet some part of the frame or rim will get warped, water will leak in, grease will leak out, and it will turn into a rusting maintenance nightmare after a few years.

The Pareidoliatic one speaks truth, Soup. The abuse that a wheel can take for 10 seconds of test footage has nothing to do with how it will look after 365 days of commuting.
posted by anthill at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2010


It sounds more like he speaks assumptions based on narrow experience. I'm not just going by the test footage, I'm going by the fact that it's made of carbon-fibre and obviously designed for a certain job. It's not some off-the-shelf wheel for a shopping cart. What exactly makes you think it will be a problem?

I also don't understand why you think it must be prone to warping. What makes you think the materials it's made of are particularity prone to that?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 7:14 AM on March 10, 2010


Not claiming to be an expert wheel-builder here, but---

I'm going by the fact that it's made of carbon-fibre and obviously designed for a certain job. It's not some off-the-shelf wheel for a shopping cart. What exactly makes you think it will be a problem? (Soupisgoodfood)

I would actually trust it more if it were a shopping cart wheel taken off the shelf, because shopping cart wheels have a long history of astonishing sturdiness. You say "it's made of carbon fibre and obviously designed for a certain job", but my problem is that I don't know what job it's designed for. It may be designed to be light, and sexy, and expensive, which would be just the opposite of what I as a commuter want from a wheel, namely, a big dumb loop of steel or aluminium that I can smack against a curb or get run over.

Also, anthill makes a good point about the bearings. It's worth pointing out that after the rim warps, it's not clear how you could true this kind of spokeless design, or even get a replacement from anyplace except the original manufacturer.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:26 AM on March 10, 2010


What's with the assumption that the rim will warp? Does carbon-fibre warp very often? None of you can still tell me exactly why that small wheel is a bad idea. How can you be so sure it isn't strong enough? Do any of you have experience with manufacturing carbon-fibre parts? Or anything for that matter. Why do you think you know more than this guy? Or do you think he must be trying to con people?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 4:26 PM on March 10, 2010


I own a carbon fibre bike, I have a fleet of different kinds of bicycles, ride extensively year round, on and off road, and I was a bike-store manager for 7 years. I also have extensively tested and researched electric bikes, and would have purchased one; if the shop owner hadn't turned out to be a complete dick. I have been a motorcyclist and scooter rider for a decade as well, and have extensive exposure to different kinds of motorized two-wheeled transport. In short, I am their precise market, and that thing is frikkin' useless.

I watched that laughable video, and once again, any experienced cyclist would spot the gaping flaws in their so-called "tests". The bike-rider going uphill is standing up. Wrong. In the braking test, the bike-rider initially only uses the back brake. Wrong. In the hill climb the Yike doesn't make it up the hill, and has to angle across it. Wrong. The promoter claims that the back wheel takes less abuse than the front, as it merely has to follow the front. Wrong. Etc etc etc.

But it might be true that someone's narrow experience and assumptions are causing a lack of understanding here.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:01 PM on March 10, 2010


I don't have any problem with the little back wheel, it's the main "big" wheel that I'm suspicious of. While the Yike frame may be carbon fibre and will not bend until it snaps, the tire rim is very likely aluminum.

On a traditional bicycle wheel, closely-spaced spokes absorb shocks and spread impact forces around the rim. From what I can tell, the Yike has nothing except a tire to protect the rim and motor from the 400lb force spikes a large rider can produce when hitting bumps.

I can't be sure it's not strong enough, I don't pretend to know more than the Yike designer, and I don't think he's trying to con people. He just needs a great-looking clever design to sell. Tough and simple machines are often ugly.

FWIW, I have a mechanical engineering degree and have fixed my own bike for 15 years.
posted by anthill at 6:06 PM on March 10, 2010


Also, beans!
posted by anthill at 6:08 PM on March 10, 2010


Oh, the back wheel is critical, as it takes all the punishment the front bears, and more. The rider's weight gets suddenly and erratically imposed on it, and it and has to follow an already set path ( body English notwithstanding) . While it's true than an occasional wrong decision results in a potato-chipped front wheel, we all constantly bend, twist and generally thrash our real wheels. It is a given that i have to have my wheel-builder work on my rear wheel after every ride, so I run two rear wheels with my main scoots as SOP.

From what I can tell, the Yike has nothing except a tire to protect the rim and motor from the 400lb force spikes a large rider can produce when hitting bumps.

Precisely, among other things. But, let me tell you this about carbon-fibre as a bicycle component material. It's brittle. Extremely brittle. The first time I went over a log on my carbon-fibre bike everyone stopped. From the noise it made, we all thought it had exploded. We don't run carbon fibre in our stems, cranks, forks, bar, hubs, or wheels.

Ever.

We like our gonads.

Also, this.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:06 PM on March 10, 2010


Still not buying it. Your extensive experience with traditional bikes is exactly why I think you are being short-sighted. I've just seen it far too many times to think you know better than the person who designed the product.

I still don't see why you're trying to compare it to a normal bike, since it's clearly not designed to be used in the same ways. That you go on about how much damage the rear wheel takes is a clue here: most casual commuters don't punish their bikes to that degree. I've never broken a single spoke before, let alone needed anyone to fix anything at all on my bike after going for a single ride. Plenty of people run carbon-fibre wheels and don't have any problems.

This thing is designed for the pavement, not for hitting logs or full-height curbs all day long. The reason for the test video is to show people that it won't simply fall apart or make you fall off when such things happen, not to suggest that this is how it's supposed to be used most of the time.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 9:37 PM on March 10, 2010


Soupisgoodfood: "What's with the assumption that the rim will warp? Does carbon-fibre warp very often? "

Soup, you demand to know why we think the larger wheel's rim will warp, and the answer is...because wheels warp. This is why every bicycle shop has a truing stand. Building a wheel that won't warp is so, so, so much more lucrative than this Yike business that the engineer would be an idiot not to call up Zipp or whoever makes the nice wheels these days and just name his price.

By the way, do you ride a bicycle yourself? Maybe you don't notice this because it's generally less of a problem for cars. Their wheels are much wider relative to their diameter, built more sturdily and wrapped in more rubber. Also, there are four. But every bicycle wheel will warp, and that's with spokes to help absorb the shock. Anthill is absolutely right to worry about this.

Anyway, I'm going to wait for this to be reviewed in a bicyclist's magazine.
posted by d. z. wang at 11:23 PM on March 10, 2010


A spoked wheel is prone to warpage because of the spokes. They provide the force that shapes the wheel, and if one or two stretch, then the wheel warps. A spokeless wheel doesn't have that problem.

However, in order to maintain its shape, it has to be much heavier than a spoked wheel of similar capacity.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:25 AM on March 11, 2010


You know those drag cars with the huge front wheels, and tiny rear ones? And the motorcycles with the massive front wheels and the tiny rear rear ones? How about all those dump-trucks with the tandem axles in the front?

Oh wait. There aren't any.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:29 PM on March 11, 2010


Jimmy Havok: "A spoked wheel is prone to warpage because of the spokes."

Oops, thank you. I should have specified "at equal weight." As you say, it's possible to build a spokeless wheel that stays true better than a spoked wheel, but it'd be much heavier.
posted by d. z. wang at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2010


You know those drag cars with the huge front wheels, and tiny rear ones? And the motorcycles with the massive front wheels and the tiny rear rear ones? How about all those dump-trucks with the tandem axles in the front?

Oh wait. There aren't any.


That simply isn't true. I'll give you one clue about the Yike Bike and how it relates to this; it isn't RWD.


Building a wheel that won't warp is so, so, so much more lucrative than this Yike business that the engineer would be an idiot not to call up Zipp or whoever makes the nice wheels these days and just name his price.

I think they already know the answer to that: composites. They have a range of such wheels on their site. But they aren't a replacement for traditional wheels for several reasons which I'm sure you already know. But that's actually besides the point:


As you say, it's possible to build a spokeless wheel that stays true better than a spoked wheel, but it'd be much heavier.

Even when you're talking about a wheel that is basically just a rim?


Now, let get back to another baseless assumption: Why assume it uses needle or roller bearings? Why can't it use normal bearings? Or perhaps the rim runs on a few small roller wheels, one which is driven by a motor.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 12:21 AM on March 12, 2010


I think you'reI think they already know the answer to that: composites. (Soupisgoodfood)

Who? Zipp?

They have a range of such wheels on their site. (Soupisgoodfood)

Could you provide a link? I haven't seen them, so I don't really know how composite are the answer or why they aren't replacements for traditional wheels.

Even when you're talking about a wheel that is basically just a rim? (Soupisgoodfood)

Yes. The point is that an empty rim is a structurally weak design. The reason a bicycle wheel is strong is because in order to compress it in any direction, you have to stretch another set of spokes in a perpendicular direction, because the rim must (or tries to) stay at constant circumference throughout the deformation. Tension is a lot cheaper than compression in terms of weight.

I think you're imagining that we can just take off the spokes and still roll around on the same rim, or even a slightly reinforced version of the same rim. That isn't true. If you don't have the spokes, then you have to build up the rim a lot more to achieve the same strength.
posted by d. z. wang at 2:47 AM on March 12, 2010


Could you provide a link? I haven't seen them, so I don't really know how composite are the answer or why they aren't replacements for traditional wheels.

Just Google "Zipp". It's the first link. Look at their 900, Sub-9, and Super-9 wheels. You asked why the Yike designer didn't sell his wheel designs to Zipp, and I was just saying that Zipp probably doesn't need any help with wheel designs that don't need to be kept true.


Yes. The point is that an empty rim is a structurally weak design.

But that completely depends on where the load is, doesn't it? Surely I don't have to explain?

OK... Obviously, if you load it from the top, a rim with nothing in the middle will be weaker, but if the rim ran on rollers, and one of the rollers was at the bottom, then the main load on the rim is at the bottom. Same applies if it uses large bearings instead of rollers.

Now, can we all just admit that perhaps this designer is actually somewhat competent?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 7:26 AM on March 12, 2010


baseless assumption: Why assume it uses needle or roller bearings? ... perhaps the rim runs on a few small roller wheels, one which is driven by a motor.
In my defence, it was more blind speculation than blind assumption, but your speculation is much better than mine. Google says it has a long history.

Speculating about rollerwheel-rim-type construction, I'd think it would be sensitive to compressed mud and dirt accumulating on the rim (think mechanical mouse balls x 10), would have lots of drag (which is fine if the batteries are powerful enough), and would still be a maintenance pig (with at least a dozen bearings instead of two).
posted by anthill at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2010



It sounds more like he speaks assumptions based on narrow experience.


Still not buying it. Your extensive experience with traditional bikes is exactly why I think you are being short-sighted.

Um... so which is it?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:19 PM on March 19, 2010


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