YikeBike

YikeBike in Malaysia, A personal usage experience in the Malaysian Urban context. (Updated 2.0)

It’s definitely an awesome ride I would say. I am writing this up because I am all excited for this gadget which has been around in the global market for more than 3 years and recently, 2012, it is kicking into the Malaysia Market. My boss, Gregers Reimann, also the managing director of IEN consultants, a green building consultant firm, has the privilege to be the first person to test it on the roads here. And as an environmentalist myself, I took it on the road to find a few answers, What is the reaction of the public? And How Safe is it to be on the road of Malaysia, particularly? And what’re the factors that determine the yikebike works best for your journey?

Testing Grounds – I have tried it out around Bangsar Area as a medium of transport to work, and also on the way and inside the campus of UPM Serdang, and I brought it up to USM, Penang. As a regular cyclist, I decided to take this gadget back to where I have been riding for the past 3 years and kick it in for a test to know the difference compared to a bicycle. I know a lot of arguments happened over how environmental friendly the yikebike is compared to bicycle, but I think the best thing is to test it out yourself before making any judgment

Disclaimer – This post on blog.japhethlim.com is purely based on a personal opinion of a frequent public transport user and not a carbon analysis or an EV expert. While it’s with some references to materials of IEN consultants, the rest remains to the blogger’s personal user experience. It is not supported by any kind of advertisement or marketing by the distributor but it is purely on an individual’s interest to seek better urban transportation for Malaysia with a neutral stand. Any further technical questions can be forwarded to the distributor/manufacturer itself.

Specifications – I think before I go in detail with my sharing, some of you may be a stranger to this world’s smallest electric bike, here’s a summary of the specifications.

 As for more details, please visit Mysikal as Yikebike has a different range of performance too, of course at a different price.

Brief History / Awards –  Yikebike has been quite a highlight over its an achievement for being the best inventions of the year, by TheTIME2009, click HERE for more.

The YikeBike was invented by New Zealand Entrepreneur Grant Ryan and his team of expert engineers and is the product of 6 years of Research & Development in Christchurch, New Zealand. The YikeBike is the only production model of the patented design ‘mini-farthing’ as it resembles the original Penny Farthing Bicycle design.  (please refer to www.minifarthing.com )

It is officially (Guinness Book of World Records) the World’s Smallest Lightweight Foldable Electric Bicycle, and is packed with safety design features including permanent front and rear lights, anti-skid regenerative braking, signal indicators, and horn.  It has other benefit features such as German Schwalbe Tyres (the foremost bicycle tyre manufacturer in Europe), puncture-proof inner tubes, and not to mention the rapid charge time of 50 minutes. 

Recently, Yikebike has expanded its market to Malaysia, the official distributor is Mysikal, located in Langkawi. You can contact them via their WebSite HERE. Also recently it was previewed in Penang Green Transformer Expo, August 2012 with the support of YB LimGuanEng, Chief Minister of Penang, who has been emphasizing on “Cleaner, Greener Penang”

About the Distributor

Mysikal Ecobikes are the sole distributors of YikeBike for Malaysia.  YikeBike has other partners in other Asian countries, and they each have to work with their own national government to establish the current legalities of electric vehicles.  The YikeBike is custom built in New Zealand and delivered to your door with 3 weeks of your order.  It comes with a full-service warranty, continued support from Mysikal Ecobikes, and there are also numerous videos online for YikeBike owners to maintain their own YikeBike easily. Please follow up with their Facebook PAGE  for more details.

Using the MiniFarthing concept.

When it comes to Yikebike, many people will think of it’s the closest relative, the segway. At HERE, you can see what Grant Ryan, the inventor of yikebike has to elaborate on segway and also the concept of minifarthing generally. The concepts are:

  • It is super-small and light so it can go everywhere in a city. The light weight means it is easy to carry up/down stairs, in the store or as part of a commute. The small folded size means it is easy to tuck away on a train or bus, in a car, in an elevator, in a closet, under a desk etc.
  • There is no parking hassle meaning it is faster to get from point to point. And because you can just take it with you, there is less risk of theft.
  • The mechanics are enclosed so it is both low maintenance and clothes don’t get damaged (particularly when carrying).
  • It is a stable platform with an emphasis on safety. The shorter wheelbase makes it very maneuverable, the front wheel is a decent size for bumps and curbs, the upright riding position makes it easier to see and be seen in traffic and handle-bars are no longer a hazard in an accident. More at HERE

The Top 3 first Reactions / Impressions – I have been trying to show the bike to all kind of target groups, from campus students, professors, press medias, and also Dr. Guenter Georg Gruber, the German Ambassador in Malaysia who has always been pushing Green lifestyle. Well as long as I am riding it, there’s always people looking/peeking at it, instant center of attraction. 

To the extend that I get people winding down their car windshields to ask me more about it during the stop at traffic lights, but anyways, just to share the common reactions I get.

1. You Ride that on TheRoad?!?!? I think it’s a direct translation of what they mean, “You sure that’s safe to ride, seems so small and fragile!” Most people will question the logic of its design and assume it was supposed to sit the other way around. Perhaps they have forgotten that the earlier day bicycles also used to have a bigger front wheel and smaller rear wheel. It seems to be too small for people to imagine how to something as small as half the size of a typical bicycle can have a faster take off speed than bicycles.

It takes quite some time to get the handling right, I took one day to get around before riding it on the road steadily. It’s NOT like how you ride a bicycle, totally not, it’s sitting on a moving chair! The Yikebike travels at max 23km/h and I would say that’s the best top speed it should have, not beyond it, because I can’t imagine the handling beyond that speed. It is indeed an engineering marvel I would say, the entire motor and battery is just embedded at the small portion of the front big wheel, yet it’s compacted and light and powerful.

2. So Expensive! Yes, i get that a lot when I say it cost 7k+ ringgit for one unit of these. 80% of them will instantly throw back the price at me while the other 20% will say it’s so cheap! simply because you cannot compare this product with anything else on the product so far, bicycle or motorcycle? well, perhaps it’s just our common mentality to evaluate things based on price. They are just totally different and all has their pros and cons which I will elaborate later. But really I think 7k is worth the price totally provided you really use it around daily. Or perhaps most people just don’t dare of investing 7k into something unknown yet in the market.

3. Is it Legal?  Mysikal Ecobikes have received confirmation from JPJ Malaysia that the YikeBike is classed under the same rules as a bicycle, and is therefore accepted for use on Malaysian roads, exempt from registration and licensing requirements.  The YikeBike is super lightweight and is limited to 23kph for this reason, and most countries around the world are accepting this standard as a bicycle, with larger Electric Motorbikes (over 40kg) coming under a different category which requires other registration, tax, and licensing regulations. Please visit HERE for JPJ’s Acts Regulations to EVs.

It’s hard to miss out the YikeBike in the dark, it’s Hi Vis built in LED doesn’t only light your surrounding but also allows you to give signals. and also there’s a honk button which most probably can only be heard by pedestrians but I am sure that the electric motor sound can be heard from quite a distance, which is good actually because nothing on the road is meant to be traveling quite, quite dangerous in my opinion.

Environmental Friendly or Not?

This is something widely debated between me and my other environmentalist friends, my principle is to be neutral in this topic. One of the main arguments is that the YikeBike is not eco at all compared to the bicycle as it consumes electricity. My answers are:

Yikebike isn’t invented to take over a bicycle, it’s meant to replace cars in the urban setting for close distance traveling. So you can’t compare with bicycles. Then a counter-argument to that is that if you are a meat eater traveling on a bicycle compared to a vegetarian traveling on the yikebike, then you can be having a higher carbon footprint as well!

But all in all, the quantified analysis on this is to simply calculate its energy usage and to see how much exactly it uses. And based on several references, it’s calculated that it only uses 8sens per 10km trip, the amount of energy usage is almost as much as charging your laptop, or.. anything you can imagine with the amount of electricity you pay with your most often misplaced your 10 cents coins.

The Ultimate Green Ride yet?

Yes. And depends on what context you are talking about. The Yikebike is probably 100 times lighter than the car and 10 times smaller than the size of the car. If we are going to assume such gadgets being deployed in places like Georgetown while you have it car free zone, it does not require a car park, you don’t pile up in the traffic jam ( and the furthermore car burns out more fuel while they are crawling in the jam).

If we are going to compare the context with the bicycle, I would say bear in mind that most people mind the sweat by pedaling over 5km in the city center and stepping into the office just wanting another shower.  But definitely the idea of both yikebike and bicycles saving congestion and offer better mobility still puts them as the urban congestion solution options. Just that the yikebike wins over bicycles in avoiding the sweaty and tiring ride and also definitely much more compacted and lighter than even foldable bicycles. Current foldable bicycles are still quite a bulky and heavy and performance varies with the size of the wheels.

Please PLAY the Short Clip for a preview of its riding in Bangsar Area.

 

Best Practice Usage

Yikebike is NOT meant for long distance traveling, just in case you have not realize, it’s NOT meant to go along with highways or LDP. I ALWAYS use the back lanes, residential road etc. simply because the urban road design does not reserve a space as wide as a bicycle lane for you to use the yikebike. And using the main roads will instead slow the traffic down because of your speed and you just couldn’t afford to go to the side to give way to them.

But to go along with commuters and bus, I would say it is something really worth to think about. As I have been using via my house to KelanaJaya station then transit to Bangsar Station, then a 3km ride up the hill, the Yikebike proves to be good for that. Another best usage would be university campus lifestyle, I really wish I had the yikebike during my past 3 years of university life, I cycled everyday however the sloppy hills in USM main campus gives me sweat every time the moment I reach class. I tried the slopes with yikebike weeks ago, it works really well with the hilly slope too! And Yikebike is also good for large factory areas / complex etc.

Possible Improvements

– There are quite a few versions of Yikebike as far as I notice, the fusion series is 15kg while the carbon frame is 7kg. Despite the latter is half the weight, both are still heavy things and would still require a place to secure it as it’s your transport gadget. eg, I wouldn’t be carrying this in the shopping mall everywhere I go. Thus it’s good if there’s a place to lock it, but again to think that it’s something more than 7 thousand ringgit, so not your average bicycle to be locked randomly at any possible locations. It will be good if Yikebike comes with an embedded lock or a wiring device that can be extracted out with some access code, just as the mean of securing the yikebike.

Paddings can be added to the bottom side of the yikebike to sustain the wear off or scratches. well yikebike often does go over some landscape rocky areas in unexpected journey, or sometimes driving too close to the road divider or to the car while crossing through the jam.

Suspension. Riding the yikebike over the potholes can be quite a painful experience I would say! Not only to you physically but the bike itself which you wonder if it can take the impact of the potholes. And earlier on I said take back lanes/ residential lanes, but most often those are roads less maintained!

Conclusion

As for my point of view, Yikebike is solution for urban congestion in KL and this is just a general statement as that really depends on each user preference and their travelling route. It’s still relatively new in Malaysia and we are hoping to see more of it on the streets and hoping for good feed backs then.  I still suggest people to try their hands first on the yikebike to understand it before drawing a conclusion. Feel free to email me at limgeneharn@gmail.com for more enquiries or perhaps even a test drive if it is possible! or call up Mysikal for more details about it!

IF you are really interested in the whole concept of the yikebike from the point of view of the inventor itself, then please read MiniFarthing as it really helps you understand the concept before understanding the product! 

Credits to William from Mysikal for the additional input.

Credits to MYSIKAL ECOBIKES for giving us the opportunity to test drive, please visit THEM for more purchasing information. 

Credits to Gregers / IEN consultants for the material references listed.