Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Plastic Fantastic Eneloop Bike from Sanyo

They don't fit my aesthetic, but could these bikes (and bikes like them) fit the bill for moms wary of abandoning their SUV's to run errands and pick up kids? A comment on the Sanyo Eneloop got me thinking:
This is what the Japanese call the "Mama-chari". Its a purely commuter bicycle, designed for housewives and grannies that go to the grocery and run errands.

The Japanese still run errands using bicycles instead of SUVs, its a generally closer urban environment, so the bicycles aren't completely a recreational purchase like in the US where less people use the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. So a large basket up front, ease of riding for more elder consumers are important, and a mountain bike won't do.

Also, the 'hybrid' electric system is designed so that going up-and-down inclines are effortless for that 'housewife', its not designed for 'sport' but rather for functionality.
At $1800, this electric bike is a lot more economical than the Velorbis Elechic and all that plastic belies it's fancy-schmanciness and innovative technology. Maybe e-bikes like these could nudge moms into the bike lanes (or streets more than likely) because they'd know that the pedal assist was there for back-up if they were a little tired at the end of the day or if they had a heavy load or a massive hill or any combination of those things. I know that there are moms (and dads) who conquer hills and carry kids without a motor, but they're aren't a lot of them and that poses a big problem for utilitarian cycling.

With my new perspective on e-bikes, I must say that I hope to see more like this--just prettier. I'd hate to lose any potential cyclists to the Vespa (not that I have anything against Vespas, but they don't exactly further the cause of better bike infrastructure).


A said...

I retired to the far north US Rockies and found that I wasn't cycling much because the hills bothered my knees. I added electric power assist to my 21-speed mountain bike last year (the $279.00 Currie conversion kit to be precise) and I aboslutely love it. The Currie kit is a non-hub motor that has excellent torque, which I need for the hills here. I've now put more miles on my bike than my truck. I would recommend an e-bike to anyone and you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune for a ready-made bike. If you already own a good bike consider a conversion kit. However, read up on safety. Torque arms are a necessity with hub motors and it's a huge no-no to install a hub motor on an aluminum fork--their drop outs are cast and subject to failure without notice, which could result in significant injury.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

Wow, thanks for all of that information, A! I was only judging the Sanyo and Velorbis bikes on price and looks ;)

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