The 20 MPH Storm eBike Costs $500 (For Now)

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The Storm eBike is an electric bicycle which can be purchased for as little as $500 (until February 6). The Indiegogo page claims it can achieve a top speed of 32 km/h (20 MPH) using its 380-watt direct-drive motor technology. These performance statistics sound feasible, but note that the MSRP is $1,300, so the eBike is squarely within the price range of other eBikes that travel up to 20 mph, not a fraction of their cost like the campaign page said.

Storm eBike. Image obtained with thanks from Storm.
Storm eBike.
Image obtained with thanks from Storm.

To cut the cost of the eBike, they omitted regenerative braking from the design, and didn’t use expensive materials like aluminium or carbon fibre commonly used to reduce weight. Instead, they made it out of steel. While this is touted as a low-cost electric bicycle, it isn’t entirely a bare-bones product. It has a compact, easily swappable battery pack, wide wheels to enhance stability, and it can travel 30-50 miles (48-80 km) per charge. The direct-drive motor design is good for the consumer because it is mechanically simple and cheaper to maintain.

Despite the fact that the chassis is made of steel — A metal known for its weight, it still only weighs 45 pounds. It can recharge in 90 minutes, which is on par with the charge time of most battery-powered devices. Charge time may seem like only a convenience issue, but it is much more important than that. For trips outside of its range, the user would have to wait 90 minutes for it to charge, which is too long. This is why electric vehicle range is such a big issue, and gas-powered vehicle range is not. Gasoline-powered vehicles can be refilled quickly, and most electric vehicles cannot.

To be fair, most electric vehicles’ range far exceed the average commute (despite limited battery technology), but for those that go on unusually long trips regularly, this is an issue. The perceived range of gas-powered vehicles is virtually unlimited because they can recharge quickly and keep going, while the perceived range of electric vehicles is their range per charge, because charging takes too long. Various forms of fast-charging battery technology have been invented and proven to work. However, commercialization requires a great deal of time and money.

The Storm eBike campaign ends on March 3, 2015, and has already far exceeded its campaign goal of $75,000.

Personal mobility devices like electric bicycles can help to mitigate air pollution because they (with the exception of devices powered by two-stroke gasoline engines) tend to be smaller, lighter, and far more efficient. Electric bicycles can carry a couple of grocery bags, avoid parking, slip through narrow spaces on congested road, and more, but they must be left outside due to their size, and bike theft is a huge (and common) headache.

Smaller devices like the Boosted Boards can be carried anywhere and picked up easily to traverse obstacles like stairs and speed bumps. They don’t have to be left outside either. The user can just pick them up. These devices may be the ultimate personal mobility devices where portability is concerned, but they have no cargo room. What could the perfect personal mobility device be? Is there a perfect one? After all, everyone has their needs.

Time will tell, as the need to pick up your own cargo will decrease. One day, new drone technology will deliver your goods in a matter of minutes. There is a good chance that you could have your supermarket groceries (including perishables) at your door in only 30 minutes. You may not even need cargo room, making it easier to choose the smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more efficient personal mobility devices!

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Source: The Storm eBike Indiegogo page.