British designer, Mark Sanders, Dutch e-bike expert Han Goes, and Korean auto suppliers Mando Corp and Meister, have come together to design the world’s first plug-in hybrid-electric bicycle, the Mando Footloose.
Electricity is stored by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack in the frame, which is either charged by a plug-in charger, or by the pedal-driven generator. The generator is located in the hub of the pedal drive, eliminating the chain altogether.
On battery power alone, the Footloose has a range of about 18 miles, which can be increased by adding a little of your own foot power. Speed is governed by a thumb-throttle, which controls an electric motor in the rear wheel. Gearing is electronically controlled automatically depending on terrain and demand.
A display on the handlebar covers speedometer and odometer functions, and when removed, doubles as an anti-theft device, as the bicycle won’t function without it. It has the added convenience of folding to a compact size, and without a chain to get in the way, folding is a three-step process, which makes it much simpler to work than some other folding bikes on the market.
Some riders may be put off a little bit, considering that it weighs in around 46 pounds. My 1995 Giant ATX 760, with upgrades, still weighs less than 28 pounds, but alas, doesn’t fold up as nicely, so a little bit of trade-off there.