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Anyone who commutes to work in a major metropolitan center like New York, London, Paris or Berlin knows all too well about the challenges of getting from Point A to Point B. And urban dwellers struggle to choose between options that all seem to have drawbacks.
Packed trains, busses and metro lines with unpredictable reliability, vehicle restrictions, expensive parking, and mind-numbing traffic, not to mention costs of either public or private transport, all have led commuters scrambling for alternatives.
The traditional bicycle has emerged a strong contender for favored commuter method, especially as cities become more bike friendly with special lanes for two-wheel travelers, incentive schemes to motivate would-be bikers, and even convenient rental stations that allow easy access to bikes most anywhere you might need one.
So while there are many reasons to consider biking to work, there's one reason urban commuters have shied away from this alternative.
"Sweat," says Ben Jaconelli, owner of London-based Fully Charged bike shop near London Bridge. "People don't want to arrive at work all sweaty and have to carry an extra set of clothes and then shower at the office. They want the most efficient and hassle free way to get to work, and humping across town on a push bike is not necessarily the best approach to achieve that."
The e-bike alternative
Enter the electric bike. Long considered a handy way for older or less active folks to enjoy the experience of biking, e-bikes struggled to gain widespread appeal, especially for the younger set. Boring, clunky designs, underperforming motors, and a general lack of coolness kept hipsters away. But e-bikes have entered a new era with bold designs, innovative technology, and an interesting set of suppliers entering the market, bringing creative, out-of-the-box thinking to how powered two wheel vehicles can revolutionize urban transport.
Indeed, market forecasters are bullish on the e-bike market in Europe, with some predicting double digital growth in key markets such as the UK, France, Holland and Germany.
James FitzGerald, owner of the popular e-bike retail chain Just E-Bikes, is seeing the trend take hold first hand. "Today's electric bikes are cool and desirable. New manufacturers are changing the face of the e-bike market with truly breakthrough designs, like the Mando Footloose and for a lot of very practical and obvious reasons, the use of these vehicles is starting to take off."
But the cool factor cannot be underestimated.
Mando Footloose IM raises the bar: "The iPhone of e-bikes"
Entering a store like Fully Charged or JustEbikes the causal e-biker observer is astounded by the range of styles now available as powered two-wheeled vehicles. There are urban commuter bikes, mountain bikes, speed bikes, even utility cart-style bikes.
One particular model that immediately jumps out is the Mando Footloose IM. It sports a futuristic looking design, emphasized by its most eye-catching feature – a chainless drive mechanism that makes even other e-bikes look like granny-mobiles. With the Mando Footloose IM there is no mechanical connection between the cranks and rear wheel and instead they are connected by an alternator. A 250-watt motor allows the rider to achieve speeds of up to 25Km/hour and a single charge of the handy 36-volt removable lithium ion battery pack will take you up to 60Km. It weighs in at a manageable 21 kilos.
The bike's stunning good looks – smooth clean lines and a range of sporty colors – has earned it the prestigious Red Dot and Good Design awards and its game-changing design is mesmerizing. But the underlying technology will make the geek in you salivate, too.
The bike is made by Mando, leading automobile technology company in South Korea, which counts Audi, BMW and GM amongst it 4-wheeled customers. The company has applied its car know-how to the bike with advances such as the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that monitors the bike's condition and manages the system to optimize the bike.
The rider uses the bike's removable Human Machine Interface (HMI), a smartphone sized LCD computer module that mounts on the handle bars, as the dashboard for the bike. It provides the user with power, speed, maintenance and even health/fitness information. The HMI also allows the user to select preferred modes including acceleration mode (eco, normal, sporty, health) and pedal resistance mode (soft, medium, hard). The HMI communicates with the bike's other systems to notify the user of changes in terrain, maintenance issues and battery level via its intuitive and bright display. In addition to being a useful source of information, once the user removes the detachable head, the bike is rendered unusable, thus providing an efficient security system as well.
"As proud as we are of the unique aesthetics of the bike, it' s a truly a performance machine as well," says renowned British bike designer Mark Sanders, who has designed three generations of the bike for Mando. "It's an ideal combination of form and function, an iPhone for e-bikes, if you will. And the reality this appeal to people who may not even consider themselves biking oriented. It's more like a car on two wheels."
But you can use the bike lane. No sweat!
The original folding Mando Footloose and the Mando Footloose IM are available immediately and information on where to buy can be found at www.mandofootloose.com.