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Rear wheel drives Smart Ped electric scooter

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If you live or work in a major city, you may have noticed a resurgence in kick scooters plying the sidewalks and streets. FlyKly updates the idea of the kick scooter with an electric motor and smartphone connectivity, calling it the Smart Ped.

With no twist throttle on the handlebars, I was dumbfounded by the Smart Ped, until FlyKly founder Niko Klansek patiently explained that the rear wheel maintains speed all by itself. I had merely to put one foot on the platform and kick off with my other foot. And then I didn't have to kick any more, as the scooter kept going.

This novel approach to control meant the scooter would only go as fast as I could kick it up to, which was probably not up to its top speed of 16 mph.

The rear hub contains all of the Smart Ped's electronics, including motor, sensors and Bluetooth transmitter. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The Smart Ped uses a simple design, a steel-tube frame supporting the rear wheel, and a simple vertical pole at the front with handlebars and front wheel. Both 16-inch wheels have pneumatic tires, making for a very comfortable and stable ride, even over rough pavement. V-brakes front and rear provide the stopping power.

All of the Smart Ped's electronics, including a 250-watt motor and 29.6-volt lithium ion battery, live in the rear wheel hub. Beyond simple propulsion, sensors in the rear wheel record velocity and resistance, and those sensors help determine its speed.

Just as I had to kick it up to speed for the motor to take over, arresting the motion of the rear wheel with the brake made the motor slow down or stop.

Riding it in San Francisco, I found it difficult to get used to. If I wanted to go faster, I had to kick the Smart Ped to a faster speed rather than simply turning an accelerator. And while the modest speeds I could kick it up to seemed slow to me as I was cruising along, they were appropriate for riding among pedestrians.

To keep riders engaged, the Smart Ped requires continuing attention to its speed. After 500 seconds, a bit over 8 minutes, you need to kick again to keep the motor going. According to Klansek, that amount of time should cover a couple of city blocks.

With its 16-inch pneumatic tires, the Smart Ped is comfortable to ride even over rough pavement. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The Smart Ped's wheel takes 3 hours to charge, but also gives you 18 to 30 miles of range. As even 10 miles would mean a long time for anyone to ride a kick scooter, the Smart Ped has an abundance of range, so probably would only need a charge every couple of days.

Beyond the electric drive, FlyKly includes an app to help control the Smart Ped. The app, for iOS or Android, is called Bitride, and it connects to the Smart Ped over Bluetooth. With it, you can see your remaining range and lock the rear wheel with a PIN. The app also tracks your routes, and can suggest more efficient paths to your frequent destinations.

Klansek also envisions crowd-sourcing the data from Bitride to let municipalities know where to expand bike lanes.

FlyKly launches the Smart Ped through a Kickstarter campaign today, offering the basic version of the scooter to early pledgers for $769. A premium version of the scooter, which will come with lights, a kickstand, and two folding points for easy portability, will initially be available for $949. After the Kickstarter campaign, the basic Smart Ped will go for $1,199, while the premium version costs $1,299.

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