Foldable bike maker reinvents its wheels

FOLDABLE WHEELS: YikeBike founder Grant Ryan. YikeBike has launched a middle-of-the-road version of its electric bike.
FOLDABLE WHEELS: YikeBike founder Grant Ryan. YikeBike has launched a middle-of-the-road version of its electric bike.

YikeBike, the maker of the world's lightest foldable electric bike, has reinvented its wheels.

The founder of Christchurch company YikeBike, Grant Ryan, said the company launched its third YikeBike model, called Synergy, yesterday.

YikeBike now has three models on the market - the mainly aluminium Fusion, which weighs 14 kilograms, the carbon fibre Carbon and the new part-carbon model, Synergy.

All three bikes can now travel 50 per cent further than earlier models - up to 15 kilometres from 10km - and the latest versions of the Carbon and Fusion bikes are now also half a kilogram lighter.

Ryan said ''hundreds of other little tweaks'' had made the bikes easier to ride and easier to fold.

In countries like New Zealand and the United States, the company sells a a higher proportion of the Fusion bikes. In Asia, it sells a higher percentage of the Carbon bikes.

The new version was ''kind of a mixture'' of both in price and weight, Ryan said.

The company doubled production of its bikes last year and was on track to double production again this year, Ryan said, but he would not disclose production figures.

The firm now had a permanent staff member based in Asia to oversee its supply chain, and that had helped speed up production.

The majority of YikeBike's suppliers were there, he said.

YikeBike would keep its manufacturing base here for the foreseeable future, Ryan said, as the company was still learning about and tweaking the manufacturing process, and the speed that it could do that was important.

The target market for the bikes was the multi-modal future of transport, where commuters used public transport and a bike, or a car and a bike, to travel around a city.

Car manufacturers were hunting for ''transport appliances'' that could fit into cars or be carried on public transport to be used as a second mode of travel.

''Pretty much all the car companies have worked out other forms of transport are going to be integral,'' Ryan said.

Cities around the world were investing in cycle infrastructure and public transport.

''Pretty much every city in the world has worked out you can't just throw more cars into a city. Even if cars were free and petrol was free and there was no CO2, there's just not room,'' he said.

''It's all early days, but it's looking promising."

The latest YikeBike will make an appearance on The Today Show in the US today.

The Press