The Mando Footloose IM is by far the most unusual e-bike I've ridden.
Why? It doesn't have a chain. Instead, this £2,000 or $3,000 bike is entirely propelled by its electric motor. You mount the bike as normal and begin pedalling. But rather than moving the wheels, the pedalling motion simply tells the motor it's time to start moving.
If you start pedalling quickly -- when you're setting off from a standstill at traffic lights, for example -- your legs will simply flail until the motor realises what's happening and kicks in to send you on your way. It's an odd sensation and not one that I particularly like. It's disconcerting having a delay between your pedalling and having the bike actually set off. Perhaps it's something you'd get used to after a while.
The main drawback of the all-electric drive, though, is that once you run out of charge, your fancy bike isn't going anywhere. The act of pedalling turns an alternator to help power the battery, but the maximum range Mando says you'll achieve is 37 miles from a single charge. That's probably enough for both legs of your daily commute. But even so, you'll want to recharge it every night to make sure it doesn't cut out on you while you're trying to weave your way through traffic.
As the Footloose IM is such a modern take on the humble bicycle, there's no surprise that it has a daring design to match. Its curving metal body, minimalist aesthetic and bright colour scheme certainly stand out from other bikes on the road. Once you get going it's very comfortable to ride as well -- you certainly won't break a sweat cycling to work.
It's a compact size, but at a little over 21 kg (46 pounds), it's a hefty thing, so you won't relish carrying it up and down the stairs to your flat each day. There's an easy alternative, though. Park your bike in a lock-up downstairs and simply carry the battery into your flat to plug it into the wall.
While the comfortable, all-electric Footloose IM allows you to zoom through the city with ease, I'm put off by the way it becomes unrideable once the battery runs out. Yes, you'll enjoy an effortless cycle each morning, but is that worth the risk of running out of steam on the way? Personally, I'd rather sacrifice a touch of comfort and have more peace of mind for the asking price. You'll pay around £2,000 or $3,000 for the Footloose IM. It's not available in Australia, but the UK price converts to about AU$3,455.