That beautiful steel-and-leather contraption isn’t just another heavy-duty cargo cruiser: the Faraday Porteur’s frame is stuffed with enough rechargeable lithium batteries to provide an electronically assisted bike ride for up to 15 miles. The prototype bicycle was the winner of an Oregon design competition, but production will begin in earnest for a spring launch. (In the meantime, you can pre-order one on Kickstarter.)
Having recently started biking again–and then immediately falling off due to a poor decision to ride on old, slick tires–I’ve been poking around the electric bicycle scene, trying to decide if an e-bike is for me. (DIY or otherwise.) Quality e-bikes remain the domain of the well-off–at least compared to the relative price of decent push bikes. The nicer models are thousands of dollars; some are as expensive as a car. All of which is preamble to say that the Porteur’s $3,500 price tag isn’t completely crazy considering the in-frame technology and considerate design. (You can get something uglier for $500, though, and it’ll probably work just fine.)
Of course, there’s just one problem for New Yorkers: Mayor Bloomberg has continued his maddening campaign against electronic bicycles, despite the city’s increase in bicycle paths and bike sharing programs. (A ban that largely has to do with delivery riders, I suspect, some of whom have been known to ride recklessly.) But excepting purpose-built speed machines, most electric bicycles are like the Porteur: designed to lighten the load for cyclists, not turn them into silent motorcycles.
And really, with in-frame batteries and demure controls, who is really going to notice if you’re riding an e-bike like the Porteur and not an analog bicycle?