For big city people, transportation is a sore subject. Walking can only get you so far so fast. Cycling requires a full workout when just trying to get from point A to point B. Worst of all, the underground subways are smelly and crowded. So most of us find ourselves in the latter category, sitting unhappily in crowded urine soaked subway cars playing with our Blackberries to pass the time until we can breathe easy again. In this series I plan to cover subway alternatives, gadgets and gizmos that may empower you to take control of your commute without looking to out there.
The YikeBike is another gizmo that tries to solve the problem of the short range commute. In short, the YikeBike is a modern version of the old penny-farthing. But unlike its ancestor, the YikeBike is foldable, electrically-powered and has an impressive package of safety lights. For this review, we took the YikeBike out for a spin. Read on to find out if we survived.
Wow-Factor: Riding the YikeBike will definitely get you some looks. Well first, no one rides a penny farthing anymore–well at least not anyone I have seen. On my first ride I had no less than 5 people stop me to ask me what the hell I was riding. Secondly, the YikeBike has a motorcycle-grade lighting system, with bright blinkers for directional turns (very comforting for night-time riding safety). Lastly, and not necessarily all that great, is that the YikeBike makes a humming noise when you ride that is pretty loud–even some people who didn’t see me turned because they heard me.
Rideability: For a device that looks kind of like a bike, the YikeBike sure doesn’t ride like a bike.
- Posture: The handlebars are below the seat, which means that you have to sit straight up when riding. Unlike a bicycle rider that balances his/her weight between the seat and the two pedals, the YikeBike rider puts 95% of his/her weight on the seat. This single point of balance makes it much harder for a rider to learn how to balance on the YikeBike, especially when starting off. For a guy in my late twenties (for a little bit longer at least), my lower back felt strained when I stepped off the YikeBike.
- Riding: After a bit of practice I got pretty good at yiking (new word!). The ride itself is pretty smooth. However, the turning radius is pretty wide–you can’t make sharp turns–and I often found myself wobbling to maintain stability. Considering the YikeBike’s handling, the YikeBike definitely felt more comfortable to ride on roomy upstate roads than on the narrower, pot-hole ridden streets of NYC.
Folding: One of the coolest features of the YikeBike is that it can fold up into a tiny portable package. YikeBike claims that folding takes 15 seconds, in the video below it took me a whopping 22 seconds.
Overall Quality: To keep the “bike” light, the YikeBike Fusion has a plastic outer shell. While the lighter weight felt great when carrying the “bike” home, at times the YikeBike felt insubstantial when riding.
Wrap-Up: The YikeBike is cool and innovative. The YikeBike may not be as easy to use as a pedal-assisted bicycle, but it bring a new form factor and offers a hyper-portable option for those in urban environments. However, when priced at $3795 for the Carbon and $1995 for the Fushion, the YikeBike’s price tag makes it a novelty item that is simply out of range for most.