The Christchurch company that developed the electric folding YikeBike has just launched a new Fusion model – a slightly heavier version of the original carbon fibre bike but a bit lighter on the pocket.
Chief technology officer Peter Higgins said the Fusion model would be a standard version for distributors, while the carbon fibre bike would be the high end version, sold online via YikeBike's website.
The main difference is the Fusion frame and structural parts are made from alloy and reinforced polymer composite, while the original is made from carbon fibre.
"So you will end up with a bike that looks very similar at a lower price point, 3kg heavier," Higgins said.
The Fusion weighs about 14kg compared to the 10.8kg of the carbon fibre bike.
The Fusion will cost just under US$2000 (NZ$2500), cheaper than the carbon fibre version at around US$3000.
The company developed the Fusion model because there was strong interest in the original YikeBike but at a lower price point, and people wanted to be able to buy the bike through a distributor so they could go and see the product and test it, Higgins said. The Fusion model would meet that demand.
The company had not been too hard hit by the February 22 earthquake which struck Christchurch, Higgins said, and staff had been able to zip around the city's streets more easily on their YikeBikes than in their cars due to damaged roads and traffic congestion.
The first version had been bought by "early adopters" – people who like to have the latest in cool new stuff.
The bikes were first sold in August and September last year and since then the company has sold about 250 carbon fibre YikeBikes, including to local software company Hairy Lemon. Other customers include Google and Jackie Chan.
The company, founded by serial entrepreneur Grant Ryan, has recently picked up the Dell Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product Award at the NZ Hi-Tech Awards.
The judges said the YikeBike was innovative at both a concept and execution level, with a market driven approach to product development, with sound plans to drive mass market adoption.
The more affordable Fusion model may be part of the mass market plans. The bike was ranked 15th in Time magazine's top 50 inventions of 2009 and while the United States is currently the biggest market for the bike its customers span the globe – from New Zealand to Finland, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Brazil.