Eco-friendly e-bike to be unleashed on Kiwi farms – and elsewhere

A Kiwi-designed electric farm bike will be released by Christmas.

A New Zealand-made electric farm bike, which can travel 100km on 60 cents-worth of power, as well as charge a smart phone, iPad or power tools, should be on the market by Christmas, says its developer.

Electric bike specialist Anthony Clyde, one of the designers of the Ubco utility bike, says electric bikes are ideal for farm work as they are quiet (so they don’t disturb livestock), light (so they can be lifted over fences), strong (it can carry loads up to 200kg) and don’t have drive chains or clutches to cause maintenance problems.

Perhaps just as importantly, at a time when cloud computing and intelligent software are transforming farming practices, the lightweight lithium ion battery that powers the bike also has USB and power sockets to charge devices – and power tools. Oh, and being electric means “no petrol, fumes, smoke or emissions”.

Ubco worked alongside potential customers to design the bike, including St John and the Department of Conservation, says Timothy Allan, founder and managing director of Locus Research Product Development, which has invested in Ubco. Production should start by Christmas and will focus initially on the Australasian market.

Allan says that after the bike was listed on US ‘blokes-and-their-gear’ site Uncrate, Ubco got noticed overseas, and the company has received more than a thousand international requests. He says Ubco is now working with NZTE to develop a strategy for the American market.

“As a cross-over bike – the 2x2 has a broad range of uses from on road to off-road, industrial or recreational – it is hard to determine the absolute market potential. But the interest is stronger than we expected,” Allan says. “We have a strong development programme in place to evolve the whole platform to the next level, and we are very excited by some of the new ideas our design team have come up with.”

Allan says the 2x2 is constantly being improved, with new features and upgrades being implemented as soon as the technology is available. They’re currently developing an on-road version of the bike and designing accessories to allow the 2x2 to be further customised. 

Three other e-bikes we think are worth looking at:

YikeBike

Also designed in New Zealand, the YikeBike resembles a penny farthing but is small enough to be folded down to fit into a carry bag. The YikeBike, built for busy city dwellers zipping around town, has a range of 14-20kms.

Copenhagen Wheel

If you don’t want to replace your existing bike, the Copenhagen Wheel is your best bet. Simply remove your bike’s back wheel and replace it with the Copenhagen Wheel, and the bike is transformed in an e-bike. The wheel charges while you break or pedal downhill.

Ford Super Cruiser

Even the motorcar company Ford has released its own e-bike. Designed by mountain bike designer Tony Ellsworth, the Ford Super Cruiser is bestselling e-bike of 2015.