Swytch is revolutionizing the e-bike conversion system

November 16, 2017 by  
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Wheels like the GeoOrbital and Copenhagen Wheel will turn your standard bike into an electric one, but their weight can make it impossible to pedal far in non-electric mode. That’s why we’re so into the new Swytch eBike conversion kit. Swytch puts the electronics and battery on your handlebar, leaving your wheel light and easy to pedal, even when you aren’t in e-bike mode. Electric wheel conversion kits are heavy because they have to carry the battery, motor and electronics all within in the wheel structure. That makes it difficult to pedal when you aren’t using the electric assist. But Swytch claims to eliminate that problem by putting the battery and electronics in a pack that attaches to your handlebars, leaving just the motor on the wheel. That makes it so you can leave the wheel on full-time and still use the bike in non- e-bike mode. The pack can also be mounted in a few seconds (after the initial installation), so you can switch back and forth as needed. More: Swap-in wheel converts any bike into an electric within 60 seconds The pack also includes a light to improve visibility, and riders can control the amount of electric assistance and check range using a control panel on the top of the pack. It also weighs in at a scant 8.6 pounds (10.6 if you choose the larger battery). That’s half of the weight of the electric wheels out there, which typically weigh around 20 pounds. It’s also more versatile, fitting on any size wheel. That means you can now electrify your Penny-farthing, Kickbike or recumbent bike. The small battery has a 25-mile range, while the larger one can take you 50 miles. If you want to snatch up a Swytch, they are running and Indiegogo campaign (which has already surpassed its goal). You can get a kit for $299 right now, over half off the retail price of $650. That’s cheaper than other wheels, which sit in the $1,000 – $1,500 range. + Swytch Indiegogo Via New Atlas

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Swytch is revolutionizing the e-bike conversion system

Harrison Ford: The greatest threat is that people in charge don’t believe in science

November 16, 2017 by  
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Take it from Indiana Jones (or Han Solo, or Rick Deckard) — doubting climate change is dangerous. The actor who played all of these characters, Harrison Ford recently gave a speech at the 30th anniversary gala for Conservation International  (CI). After receiving the Founders’ Award at the ceremony in Culver City, the outspoken advocate for ecological and environmental protection expressed his frustration with Trump — albeit indirectly. The vice-chair of CI said, “We face an unprecedented moment in this country. Today’s greatest threat is not climate change, not pollution , not flood or fire. It’s that we’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science .” As IFLScience points out, it is hard to disagree with his assessment. Though 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is a real phenomenon that poses great threats, the Trump administration — led by President Donald Trump — has downplayed the veracity that global warming is real and worrisome. To make matters worse, the administration hasn’t just ignored the science — it has outright attacked scientists and the field’s various branches. Related: Major climate science denial group admits to using false temperature data “I’m here tonight for one reason: I care deeply for the natural world . It’s not about me, it’s not about me at all, it’s about this other world we’re going to leave behind,” Ford continued. “If we don’t stop the destruction of nature, nothing else will matter. Jobs won’t matter, our economies won’t matter, our freedoms and ethics won’t matter, our children’s education and potential won’t matter, peace , prosperity.” “If we end the ability of a healthy natural world to sustain humanity nothing else will matter, simply said. For decades, Ford has advocated for sustainable change. He has met with lawmakers, businesses, and communities to discuss how improvements can be made to conservation policies and practices, according to the Hollywood Reporter . Now, he’s fed up with politicians dragging their feet and is using his platform to speak out and raise awareness. Ford concluded, “Other than my family, doing this work has been the most important thing of my life. Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature.” Via Hollywood Reporter, IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons,  Flickr

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Harvard researchers just developed self-healing rubber

August 22, 2017 by  
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You’ve heard of self-healing concrete and even the potential of a self-healing starship , but what about rubber that repairs itself? The invention now exists, thanks to researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). In a new study published in Advanced Materials , the research team reveals how they developed a hybrid rubber with both covalent and reversible bonds that is capable of repairing itself. While self-healing materials aren’t new (researchers at SEAS created self-healing hydrogens which rely on water to incorporate reversible bonds that promote self-healing), this is the first time engineers have created a self-healing rubber. The task was difficult, as rubber is made of polymers often connected by permanent, covalent bonds. Because the bonds are strong, they never reconnect once broken. The researchers overcame this by making the bonds connecting the polymers reversible, so the material could break and reform. Related: This rubber-jointed LED table lamp can bend in any direction like Gumby To mix covalent and reversible bonds, the researchers developed a molecular rope (called randomly branched polymers) which tied the two types of bonds together. This rope allowed two previously unmixable bonds (“like oil and water,” according to Li-Heng Cai, a corresponding author) to be mixed homogeneously on a molecular scale. It was this step that produced the self-healing rubber. Unlike typical rubber, the self-healing variety redistributes stress so there is no localized point of trauma that results in cracking. When the stress is released, the material “snaps back” to its original form and the cracks repair themselves. Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has already filed a patent for the technology and is seeking commercialization opportunities. This means that in the very near future, objects that utilize rubber are likely to become more durable. Cai, a postdoctoral fellow at SEAS, Jinrong Wu, a visiting professor from Sichuan University, China , and author David A. Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, developed the hybrid rubber as a team. Their research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and the National Institute of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “There is still a lot more to do. For materials science , it is not fully understood why this hybrid rubber exhibits crazes when stretched,” Weitz said. “For engineering, the applications of the hybrid rubber that take advantage of its exceptional combination of optical transparency, toughness , and self-healing ability remain to be explored. Moreover, the concept of using molecular design to mix covalent and reversible bonds to create a homogenous hybrid elastomer is quite general and should enable development of tough, self-healing polymers of practical usage.” + Advanced Materials Via GreenCarCongress Images via Pixabay ,  Peter and Ryan Allen/Harvard SEAS

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Worlds largest bike parking garage opens in the Netherlands

August 11, 2017 by  
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Good news for cyclists in the Netherlands — which, to be honest, is pretty much everyone. The country just unveiled the world’s largest bike parking garage ! By the end of 2018 the 184,000-square-foot facility beneath Utrecht’s central train station will be able to hold 12,500 parked bikes. For years, bicycle enthusiasts have been urging the government to update its parking infrastructure . Martijn van Es, the spokesman for the Dutch cycling organization Fietsersbond, says the country could do much more to accommodate the growing volume of cyclists . He said, “They have been talking about updating the city since 1989. The infrastructure hasn’t changed enough. And there are a lot more cyclists today than there were, [and much of the infrastructure] was built in the 1980s.” Van Es has a point. Bicycles outnumber people in the Netherlands , and the average citizen cycles more than 600 miles a year. Additionally, over one-fourth of the population bikes to work. It’s because of this that parking garages such as the one in development are in high demand. Related: The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees The Guardian reports that the Utrecht train station is an ideal location for the parking garage, as 40 percent of commuters who arrive there do so by riding a bike. And, according to Tatjana Stenfert, the project manager at Utrecht station’s square, even more bike parking will be added to the area in the future. She said, “We will have 12,500 places by the end of 2018. But then we will have to do some research and find more places for the bikes . It never stops. I look around and everyone is trying hard to find spaces – trying hard and fast.” + CU2030 Via The Guardian , Curbed Images via CU2030

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Oregon just approved the nations first tax on bicycles – and cyclists are furious

July 19, 2017 by  
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Riding a bike is good for your health and the environment – so you’d think governments would go out of their way to encourage cyclists, right? Wrong. Oregon — a state known for its avid bicycling culture – just approved the nation’s first statewide bicycle tax . The new excise tax will require consumers to pay $15 for bikes that cost over $200 with a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches. The Washington Times reports that the $5.3 billion transportation package is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. Both anti-tax Republicans and environmentally conscious consumers are frustrated by the development. It is “an unprecedented step in the wrong direction,” said BikePortland publisher Jonathan Maus. “We are taxing the healthiest, most inexpensive, most environmentally friendly, most efficient and most economically sustainable form of transportation ever devised by the human species.” Related: Sweden wants to fight waste with new tax breaks for repairs According to Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier, the tax is an effect of Governor Brown’s “endless obsession with finding new and innovative ways to take money out of the pockets of Oregon taxpayers.” There are numerous reasons bikes are better for the environment than automobiles. For instance, bicycles require fewer natural resources to create , emit zero emissions, cut down on health care costs (30 minutes of cycling a day is estimated to save $544/year ) and help combat noise pollution — in addition to other benefits. This acknowledged, why should consumers who strive to get healthier and benefit the environment pay more money to do so? Via Washington Times Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens

June 30, 2017 by  
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In the near future, 20 million people will be able to clean the air as they cycle. To fight air pollution and create a healthier environment for future generations, eco-innovator Daan Roosegaarde just partnered with Chinese bike-sharing giant ofo and leading Chinese design platform TEZIGN to make his smog-free bicycles available to millions of consumers. Roosegaarde’s highly-anticipated Smog Free Bicycles inhale dirty air, clean it, and then release fresh air into the environment. The bicycles work similarly to Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Tower by providing “a healthy and energy-friendly solution for urbanites, combatting both traffic congestion and pollution issues in the city.” Both the Smog Free Tower and the smog-free bicycles are part of Roosegaarde’s larger vision to fill cities with fresh air. At present, the project is being developed in China and the Netherlands. Roosegaarde , a Dutch artist and innovator, first unveiled the concept for a Smog Free Bicycle at a TED talk. It wasn’t long before excitement grew for the innovation, resulting in the progress made thus far. In a statement, Roosegaarde said, “ Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities.” Related: Daan Roosegaarde’s smog-sucking tower will clean the skies of China The news was announced at a press conference at the World Economic Forum / AMNC17, in Dalian. Further details about the project will be revealed in coming months. There’s still a long way to go to slash pollution and traffic in China, but the Smog Free Bicycle offers a creative approach to the problem. + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Studio Roosegaarde , Pinterest

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Portland debuts newly designed thief-proof bike racks

June 13, 2017 by  
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Portland , Oregon is home to more bike parking spaces on city streets than any other city in North America. But that also means there are more opportunities for bike thieves . So the city is rolling out a new bike rack design to deter would-be crooks. Bike burglars in Portland have recently attacked not a bike’s lock, but the rack to which it’s connected. Bike owners lose their ride, and the city has to replace the racks. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), which wants city residents to feel their bikes are safe, turned to a new design to thwart thieves. Related: Crazy SkunkLock makes would-be bike thieves vomit From the outside the new racks don’t look like anything special – CityLab described them as tubular arches. But inside there is a “free-floating, steel-wire cable routed through the hollow steel piping of the rack,” according to PBOT communications specialist Hannah Schafer. “This makes it difficult to cut through, because the wire moves when the blade attempts to get purchase.” Then, 10 inches above the ground is a bar spanning the bottom of the rack for extra security. The bar prevents a thief from unscrewing bolts to slip a U-lock around the bottom of the rack, according to Schafer. She told CityLab, “In addition, if a potential thief were to cut through the bike rack and wire rope, the bar makes it difficult to pry the rack apart and slip a U-lock off.” Radius Pipe Bending manufactures the new bike racks for the city. PBOT said they’re not able to replace all 7,000 racks currently in the city with the new design – the new racks cost around $5 more than the old ones – but new installations and maintenance will feature the new robber repellent design. Check out the city’s schematic here . Via CityLab and the Portland Bureau of Transportation Images via BikePortland.org Facebook and Portland Bureau of Transportation

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Portland debuts newly designed thief-proof bike racks

Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

May 15, 2017 by  
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Daan Roosegaarde has been touring China with his Smog Free Project , showcasing the Smog Free Tower and encouraging people to find innovative solutions to address air pollution . He’s not out of ideas yet though; he’ll add to his tour with new smog-sucking bicycles . These bikes could work much like his Smog Free Tower does, absorbing dirty air , cleaning it, and pouring it back out as fresh air. Biking in a city polluted by smog isn’t healthy, so people are less inclined to ditch their cars and opt for a bicycle. Roosegaarde envisions an answer to that problem in a bike that can inhale dirty air, clean it, and pump it out around a cyclist. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working In a statement, Roosegaarde said, “ Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities.” The studio says the concept aligns with growing interest in bike sharing programs in China – like Mobike , which has over a million shareable bicycles in the Beijing area. There’s still a long way to go to slash pollution and traffic in the country’s capital, but the smog-sucking bicycle could offer a creative approach to the problem. The Smog Free Bicycle found its beginnings in a Studio Roosegaarde-hosted workshop at contemporary art museum M Woods in Beijing, featuring Professor Yang of Tsinghua University and artist Matt Hope, who worked on an idea for an air-filtering bike around four years ago . According to Studio Roosegaarde, the new smog-sucking bicycle is “currently in the first stage and is intended to become a medium for smog free cities, generating clean air by pedaling, and creating impact on the larger urban scale.” + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Studio Roosegaarde and Wikimedia Commons

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Daan Roosegaarde introduces smog-sucking, air-cleaning bikes

San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike

April 17, 2017 by  
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A new bike store in the Bay Area of San Francisco has come up with an interesting way to get people to reduce their transportation footprint. Electric bikes make a great alternative for commutes in cities like San Francisco , but many people find the hefty price tag of an e-bike prohibitive. The New Wheel solves that by allowing patrons to trade in their old vehicles for an e-bike – and a healthier lifestyle. San Francisco’s 74 hills don’t make for pleasant bike commutes – unless you’ve got an e-bike to help you. The New Wheel is making it easier for people to obtain e-bikes. Patrons can bring in their old cars, and the bike shop will take notes on the car’s condition and mileage, and send the information to Roadster.com . 48 hours later they make patrons an offer, and will even come pick up the old car and deliver a check. Ideally patrons will spend some of that money on an e-bike at The New Wheel, but aren’t required to do so. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike Shop co-founder Brett Thurber told Fast Company, “We’ve always been in the business of trying to figure out ways to get people out of cars and onto bikes. With all the traffic and even parking, it’s not convenient anymore, in many instances, to own a car. I think the thing we’re up against is just habit.” The New Wheel has adopted other ideas from the car industry to help people get used to the idea of owning a bike as their main vehicle. They offer financing for e-bikes and allow people to trade in their old e-bikes. They even offer roadside assistance; if bikers get a flat tire The New Wheel will pick them up twice a year and give them a free ride up to 30 miles. + The New Wheel Via Fast Company Images via Pixabay and Tom Lowenthal on Flickr

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Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

March 20, 2017 by  
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Are you intrigued by electric bicycles but already own a regular bike? UrbanX created a drop-in wheel that can turn almost any old bicycle into a cool e-bike. The wheel only takes around one minute to install and boasts an impressive range of 30 miles on a single charge. The UrbanX bike wheel simplifies e-bikes: add their wheel and you’re good to go. The product adds an additional 15 pounds to a bike, which isn’t as heavy or clunky as some electric bikes can be. The company behind the product offers the wheel in six sizes; they say it will fit 99 percent of bikes. Their compact battery charges in an hour and a half. Related: Juicer electric bikes bridge dorky environmentalism and cool-guy style https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934648866/urbanx-convert-any-bike-to-an-electric-bike-in-60/description The company offers a 240 watt motor and a 350 watt motor. The 240W motor’s top speed is 15 miles per hour (mph) while the 350W motor’s top speed is 20mph. Bikers can also pedal as normal; UrbanX includes a three level pedal assist system that can be switched via an app. UrbanX says their product “works smarter, not harder by using an algorithm to ensure 100 percent of motor output is utilized to power your ride.” They came up with their patent-pending Sinus Algorithm Controlling System to boost the battery and motor’s efficiency. UrbanX isn’t the first company to come out with such a product; GeoOrbital also recently unveiled a bike wheel that converts bicycles into e-bikes within 60 seconds. The look of the two wheels are quite different, and UrbanX’s 240W motor wheel is much less expensive than GeoOrbital’s wheel. To help bring their product to market, UrbanX also turned to crowdfunding . With over 30 days to go, they’ve raised more than double their initial goal of $50,000 on Kickstarter . The limited early bird prices for the tires start at $299. UrbanX ambitiously says they’ll be delivering the wheels this summer. Via TreeHugger Images via UrbanX Electric Wheel Facebook

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