Taking along the bicycle along has added a new and exciting dimension to the Big Lap of many a grey nomad.
Once the rig is parked up, the bike is a great way to get around and to keep fit, but Jeez those hills can be annoying sometimes, can’t they? The realisation that pedal power will only take some people so far led to the introduction of the electric bike. Now, you don’t have to venture too far in our towns and cities … or even some camping areas … to see these smug-looking ‘cyclists’ whizzing effortlessly up hill and down dale making most of the huff-and-puff brigade look positively pedestrian. Although e-bikes in Australia are limited to a maximum power output of 200 watts, they can still reach a fair old speed.
The batteries on electric bikes have traditionally been re-charged by using pedal power to both drive the rear wheel via a chain, and to charge up a small battery pack. Now the bicycle revolution has been cranked up a notch with the abandonment of the chain! The soon-to-be-launched Mando Footloose transforms the rider’s pedal power directly into electricity via an alternator connected to the crank. The electricity is stored in a lithium-ion battery and used to power the motor.
Yeehaii! No more oily trouser legs, no more chains slipping off, no more maintenance. The bike is back.
The Korean-made Footloose – which folds up neatly for transport – combines a throttle drive with pedal-assisted technology allowing ‘cyclists’ to travel up to 30 kilometres with the motor alone … and if they want to go further, they are going to have to work for it.
An Electronic Control Unit (ECU) works with sensors and an automatic gear changer to monitor terrain and adjust the motor’s output as necessary. The handlebar-mounted Human Machine Interface also displays information such as the distance travelled, speed and amount of electricity produced. This is removable and the bike will not start when it is removed. Take that you would-be thieves!
The Mando Footloose will go on sale in Europe mid 2013 … and it could be here soon afterwards. The price has not been set yet.
Could these chainless wonders help to keep even the laziest grey nomad in the saddle?