Back to the (post-war French) future

Revamp of the VeloSolex bike.

e-Solex

Alternative forms of eco-friendly personal transportation have been appearing on drawing boards and wacky-tech Web sites for quite some time now, and in most cases they don't actually gain much traction. And many are painfully awkward despite a seemingly 'streamlined,' 'futuristic' design (we're talking about you, Segway ). So maybe it's time that personal-transportation visionaries actually looked to the past for inspiration.

Like this one, a new take on the classic VeloSolex motorized bicycle. The VeloSolex, according to oO's Very Eclectic, was originally introduced in 1946 as a low-cost transportation solution for post-war France. The funky little bikes, which could be given an extra speed boost by pedaling, were discontinued in 1988.

Leave it to Italian design house Pininfarina (best-known for many Ferrari-related endeavors) to revive it in a 21st-century incarnation that gives it a cool, old-school-visions-of-the-future look. Called the e-Solex, the new version of la bicyclette qui roule toute seule is now powered by an electric engine and a lithium-ion battery. It tops off at about 35 miles per hour, which you can juice up a bit with human power. It's currently available in France, and I'm guessing that prices vary depending on the dealer.

And since we all love pictures that move, here's a YouTube video of the e-Solex's test drive:

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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