The tiny Smacircle S1 is claimed to be "the world’s most compact and lightweight ebike," as it folds up small enough to fit into a backpack, which could be a useful tool in multimodal transportation for some people. However, there's a fine line between developing a truly innovative product and one that straight-up jumps the shark, even if it does tick all the requisite boxes for internet fame.
Weighing in at 7 kg (15.4 lb) and measuring 19.3" x 7.5" x 11.4" when folded, the Smacircle S1 is said to be capable of speeds up to 12.4 mph, with a range of 12 miles per charge, and can carry up to 220 lb on its carbon fiber frame. The rubber meets the road on the S1 with 8" wheels bearing what appear to be solid (non-pneumatic) tires, and the bike uses a 240W electric motor powered by a 36V 5.8Ah Samsung 18650 lithium ion battery pack that can be fully charged in about 2.5 hours. The S1 also includes a USB port for charging mobile electronics, but considering the relatively small battery capacity, powering your phone with it may not be the best choice.
The S1 is more properly an electric scooter than a bike, at least to my view, as it doesn't have pedals or any way to manually propel it (although I suppose you could ride it Flintstones-style by pushing yourself with your legs like a kids' balance bike). And of course, because it's 2017, it's an app-enabled device that can be locked and unlocked via a smartphone, which is also used to control the front light and side lights (which are on the 'saddle' that is more like a butt rest than a bike seat) and for monitoring speed and battery state-of-charge.
The bike is said to be able to handle grades up to 15 degrees (~26.8% slope), which means that while it may be appropriate for relatively flat cities, those who live in hilly cities may find themselves either carrying the S1 instead of riding it uphill, or resigning yourself to a very slow ride.
As a bike-lover, I'm leaning a bit toward 'jumps the shark' with this product, but your mileage may vary. Depending on the particular needs of a given city dweller, this may be just what the e-mobility doctor ordered, especially if getting on and off a bus or subway is part of a daily commute and securing a full-sized bike isn't convenient.
To launch the Smacircle S1, the company has turned to crowdfunding with an Indiegogo campaign which seeks to raise $30,000, and has already garnered some $20K in pledges with a month left to go. Backers of the campaign at the $549 level will receive one of the first models, along with a backpack for carrying it, when the bike is shipped sometime in October of 2017. More info is available at the company website.
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