Ford Motor Company adds to its Smart Mobility program with the MoDe:Flex eBike prototype. The Flex joins its program siblings, the MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro, to add a one-bike-fits-all model for cyclists that enjoy road, mountain and city biking activities.
While technically the Flex looks like a straight-up bicycle, this look can be deceiving – a battery is hidden within the frame, and a small, gearless electric motor in the rear wheel hub makes it a de facto electric motorcycle, or possibly a moped, as it uses both a motor and pedals for locomotion. The suspension can be set up for whatever type of riding you wish to do, eliminating the need for more than one bike to meet your needs, and the disc brakes and fold-down feature, while interesting, are among the more mundane features.
Not so mundane is the electronic capabilities available for the bike – namely the MoDe:Link that uses your smartphone for real-time information on weather, traffic and public transportation schedules for “Bike and Bus” commuters. Health and fitness information, navigation and even a pothole detector are among the other functions of the MoDe:Link feature, as well as interaction with your cage (automobile) door locks for speed and convenience when loading the bike in your car. There is even a “No-Sweat” function that monitors heart rate and increases electric motor output to prevent perspiration while riding. I have no doubt that this may work as advertised in some areas, but I wonder how well it works in areas such as mine, where heat indices can reach well above 100 for much of the summer!
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Why It Matters:
Bikes and pocket motorcycles like this can be quite useful in certain areas where traffic and lack of parking (or lack of free parking) is a problem, and many people choose to bike out of concern for the environment or for health benefits. This ride is a win-win all the way ’round, no matter what your reasons are. While it is still in the prototype stage, it does show some of the wonderful possibilities that the foreseeable future holds for green, sustainable transportation.