Bicycles tend to be big. Even the most compact of folding bicycles still end of being the size of a suitcase when collapsed down. Electric bikes typically add even more heft to the equation. That's why the Impossible electric bike on Kickstarter is attracting attention. It weighs 11 pounds and, when folded up, is a mere 17 inches tall. You can plop it into a backpack, and it doesn't even have to be a very big backpack.
The secret to making an electric bike this small has to do with some clever design shenanigans. When unfolded, the bike looks like a giant pair of weird glasses thanks to the circles-within-circles design that lets it all fold up. The batteries allow the bike to reach speeds of up to 12.4mph for as long as 45 minutes. At slower speeds, its range maxes out at 15.6 miles. That's enough to handle most urban commutes, especially for people on public transportation looking for a last-mile lift to work.
The Impossible bike is a radical design, and it's not immune to having some questions swirling around it. There are no pedals or a chain, so if you run out of juice, you will have to haul it. The reasoning behind this is to keep the weight down. The bike in its current form has a 180-pound weight limit for the rider, but the creators are working on improving the vehicle's capacity.
The small wheels are another potential issue. A video shows the prototype zipping along on smooth streets while carefully avoid things like potholes and speed bumps. Many urban commuters face all sorts of weird road conditions, so it will be interesting to see how the Impossible holds up to rough streets or bad weather.
With 42 days left to go on the project, there's still time for the creators to address some of these issues.
Impossible has already topped its roughly $48,500 funding goal. The standard pledge price for an all-black carbon-fiber version of the bike is approximately $467 (about £297, AU$535). Pledge slots for the white version of the bike are already sold out. The creators plan to use the funding to complete work on a custom electric motor designed specifically for the bike.
There's a lot about the Impossible worth getting excited about: decent price, cool design, extreme portability. If the creators can answer the big lingering questions (Are there any brakes?) and deliver as expected, it could end up being a viable option for commuters looking for an easy electric way to motor around the city. It seems plenty of backers are willing to take that bet.