Enter the sleek Jive bike from London-based Jam Vehicles. The electric-assisted folding bicycle systematically eliminates commuters’ traditional objections to getting in the saddle.
Arriving at work lathered in sweat? Not an issue, thanks to a 250w brushless electric motor, mounted inside the front wheel hub, which provides sufficient scoot for sustained 16mph travel. Dry-cleaning bills from a greasy chain and splattered mud? It’s covered, literally, courtesy of a chainless, mechanical drivetrain (a combination of shaft and belt drives) housed inside the frame. Can’t take it with you? You can. About 15 seconds is enough to collapse the 33lb Jive into what looks like a bespoke dually unicycle, for easy carrying in a train station or office.
The Jive consists of an aluminium frame, a lithium polymer battery that recharges in two hours via any electrical outlet, hydraulic disc brakes and wireless smartphone connectivity through Bluetooth. Yet another entrant in the competitive, build-a-better-mousetrap world of electric-assisted foldable bikes – the Mando Footloose and Gocycle have recently reached market – the Jive can travel up to 20 miles on a full battery charge and is operable in either full-electric, partial-assist or no-assist ride modes.
“Our objective was to make the sleekest and most beautiful bike on the market, so we covered the drivetrain and the two hinges that allow the bike to fold,” says Jam founder Marcin Piatkowski. “And because the drivetrain is encapsulated, it’s 100% maintenance-free.”
Piatkowski also notes that roughly 95% of the energy generated through pedalling is transferred to the rear wheel, a remarkable percentage. Over time, conventional bicycle chains become stretched, rusty and dirty, which reduces a bike’s efficiency to around 50% or 60%, he says.
The Jive earns further tech-geek points with a tiny Arduino computer mounted inside the front of the frame, which enables smartphone integration through the Jive app. After downloading, a rider need only clip a smartphone to the bike’s “dashboard” to view features such as Google maps, a speedometer and trip odometer, calories burned and other useful parameters.
“You can even adjust the throttle using the mobile application,” Piatkowski says. “If you launch a product like this, it must have a computer on board. Then it appeals to tech geeks, as well as commuters for whom being eco-conscious is more than just a lifestyle choice. It’s also a status symbol.”
The Jive will be manufactured in Piatkowski’s hometown of Mielic, Poland. Its maker claims that 4,500 bikes are already on order. The price tag? An initial 100 were made available at a special introductory rate of £1,499 (roughly $2,500) to residents of London, where the product is being launched, but when production ramps up in summer 2015, the bikes will list for around $3,200.