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Urban Transport Series: YikeBike

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.

3 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I have been looking for a NYC Yike Bike owner for the LONGEST time! I even asked the company to help me find someone.

    I am interested in it but want to try it first, and to my knowledge, there’s no dealership here in Manhattan. If I am close to purchasing, I hope that I can contact you and maybe try your’s? I’ll let you use my Segway ($5k plus) to glide alongside me so we’re both in one another’s view.

    As you know, a Segway just can’t fold-n-go like the Yike Bike, and I also hate relying on public transportation. I have literally waited over 20 minutes for a bus/subway, by which time I could have walked to my destination. But my Segway is not regulated and I can get a ticket because it stands out whereas the Yike Bike kinda looks like a bike.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this review. I really, really want to try and possibly buy one. It’s reasonable if used in lieu of a car in NYC, which is what I use my Segway for.

    • Segway rider,
      Unfortunately, I had to send back the YikeBike test unit. But I am very curious, how often do you use your Segway in NYC? Have you ever got into trouble for using it n the roads? How do you park it places?

      I have actually never tried a Segway but have always been intrigued.

  2. Hi David – I used to use my Segway very often. I’d take it to my gym (20 blocks away) and to work at that time where there was a security staffed parking garage. It was ideal. Since then however, I have worked at other places in NYC that aren’t ideal for it parking and safety-wise.

    I can park it anywhere. I can lock it to a bike rack or if I’m nearby, just leave it unlocked with an alarm on. The Segway key alerts you to tampering if within a close distance. If I’m running into a store with windows, I’ll do that occasionally (prop it against a bldg, turn on the alarm and go).

    The police so far have not bothered me. I don’t typically take it through the city, just along the bike trail early in the morning sometimes. When I had a foot injury though, it served me well for transportation, and I didn’t care about getting stopped. So far I’ve been lucky though.

    I wish it was regulated because sometimes I cannot get a cab and it would be perfect for getting around then.

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