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The YikeBike Story

The YikeBike is a light, foldable, easily portable, electric bike developed by Christchurch inventor and entrepreneur Dr Grant Ryan and his team. It is a radical redesign of the traditional bike.

Transcript

Voiceover:

For the first time in history, more people live in cities than outside them.
More people means more congestion.

But now there’s a solution… a bike you can carry as easily as it carries you.

Voiceover:

Grant Ryan is a Christchurch inventor…until recently, best known for his internet search algorithm used by millions, billions of times a year.

He has the same ambition for the YikeBike.

Grant Ryan:

It’s the smallest lightest electric bike in the world. So you fold it up and you never have to leave it outside to get stolen. It’s a great convenient way to get around.
Our big hairy goal which is crazy is could we create something that could become the most commonly owned transport item in the world.

Voiceover:

At 10.8kg the YikeBike is light enough to carry and unlike its maker its genius is that it folds under pressure.
But getting it this compact took 5 years experimentation in a garage, partly funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Peter Higgins:

We failed rapidly, that’s our catch phrase I think round here. We must have been through 15-20 different prototypes by now.

Grant Ryan:

It looks hodge podge but it’s actually a very scientific way of you know developing very quickly, and you have this rapid alliteration, it’s a very powerful way to create new things.

You need a decent size front wheel to handle pot holes and bumps. And then we just wanted to make everything else as small as possible.

Peter Higgins:

We tried a skateboard truck on the back to see if that would make riding it easier. We ended up in the bushes a few times with that and it really wasn’t a roaring success. And just a single wheel like we have now ended up being a better solution.

Grant Ryan:

We started with pedals because we thought we’ve got muscley legs, why not use those to get you around the place. And the reason we went to electric is so we don’t have to have a gear box, chains, pedals, brake levers, cables.

The way that we’ve managed to get the YikiBike as small and light as this is we’ve got a tiny little electric motor that’s only about 450 grams, and so that enables it to sit right in there. So we can use the whole space in the wheel, and we can put the battery and the motor and everything in here.

This little motors got more power than Lance Armstrong so you can whiz up a hill and take on all the guys in their lycra clad stuff, no problem.

Voiceover:

Yike is the first bike with electronic anti skid brakes, and its electric drive chain means you can sit up straight for better visibility.

Putting the handlebars on the side was a compactness break through. But before it was good to go, the Yike needed to prove its durability.

Grant Ryan:

So this is the YikeBike testing machine so we can put a bike on here and basically beat it up. We can put it through lots of cycles.

So after the earthquake we came in here to check on the building and this machine was still pounding away on the YikeBike. It was at an angle but it was still going, so it can clearly handle quite a load.

Voiceover:

With a Phd in Ecological Economics, Grants made the YikeBike ecologically and environmentally friendly. Once you’ve paid $4685.00 its nano lithium battery charges itself when you brake and when you plug it in.

Grant Ryan:

8 cents of electricity to fill it up and you can buzz it around so it’s a really green clean way to get around, it’s a bargain, everyone should have 2.

Voiceover:

Or 1 at half the price.

Grant’s team has now come up with a cheaper version.

Peter Higgins:

The fusion’s going to be different, and that it’s going to be about 3 kilograms heavier, but it’s going to be much more affordable replacing the carbon parts with alloy and reinforced plastic parts.

Voiceover:

Time magazine named the YikeBike one of the top 50 inventions of 2009.

Its biggest market is in the States. But they’re selling from Brazil to Belgium to Abu Dabi.

Closer to home Grant now sees Christchurch’s earthquake damaged streets as a design opportunity to rebuild a city of inter linked rooftop gardens.

Grant Ryan:

Once you get innovative with creative people choosing to come and live in your city, then you thrive. If you don’t you die.

It’s really worth it.

Voiceover:

Meantime some reckon the YikeBike is the best innovation out of Christchurch.

Peter Higgins:

World domination, I’ll tell you in 5 years.

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