Electric Currents

Why You May Want an eBike In the Boot

Mar 30, 2015

It's not a new idea putting a folding bike in the boot of an automobile, but it has always seemed more a marketing gimmick than filling a true customer need. Then I had to attend two back-to-back meetings in separate parts of town.

Over the last several years, I've watched carmakers like BMW, Volkswagen and now Ford Motor Company create electric bikes designed to fit into the boot ("trunk" for us Yanks) of a car or the back seat, in the case of the i3. Below are photos of them both folded and unfolded. All are ingenious works of styling and engineering, though legally speaking, Volkswagen's pedal-less model would be considered a motor scooter both in Europe and North America.

While interesting exercises for sure, I have always questioned the value of putting a
'Bike in the Boot.' What earthly good would they be, unless, of course, you ran out of gasoline or depleted your electric car's battery and needed to ride for assistance.

Then I had an epiphany of sorts. I actually discovered a practical reason for not just having a Bike In the Boot, but an electric-assist one, like the three below.

Two weeks ago, I had two meetings to make, one just up the street from TD Ameritrade Park, home of the NCAA College World Series. The second meeting was a good dozen blocks away in Omaha's Old Market District. Usually, I'd park near the first meeting, then I'd drive over to the second, parking there and shoving a few quarters down the throat of an ever-hungry meter, always putting in more than needed so as to avoid those hefty parking fines.

While it was around 32° (0° C) outside, the weather was clear, so I decided to do something different. In the back of my minivan - bought specifically for the purpose of hauling eBikes to demonstrations - was BambooZ+, my ZeHus Bike+ equipped bamboo and aluminum road bike. Weighing just 32 lbs, just about half the weight of my aging, but still-functioning TidalForce M750, it's easy to get in and out of the Odyssey.

A few blocks from the Old Market is a free parking lot below the Interstate 480 bridge linking Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa: free at least for the first 3 hours. While it wasn't exactly halfway between the two meetings, it was close enough. Besides, it adjoined Heartland Park along the Missouri River, the south end of which is Conagra Food's corporate campus. I'd wanted to explore the park and see where the trails went and how accessible they were to bicycles.

So, instead of driving over to the Wareham, near the Creighton University campus, I swung off the Interstate and drove down Leavenworth, turning north on 10th Street, and then parking under the bridge. I pulled the eBike out of the van, locked it and threw my messenger bag over my shoulder. Assisted by the Bike+ hub motor, I pedaled along in the crisp morning air to my first meeting, a weekly gathering of local entrepreneurs called 1 Million Cups.

From there, I saddled up and headed south along 17th Street, eventually making my way back to 10th and the second meeting at Aroma's coffee shop. A bicycle-friendly establishment, I locked the bike to their patio railing and went inside to meet with Miah Sommers of the Bicycle Union.

After the meeting, I headed back towards the van, detouring only slightly to ride through Heartland Park, discovering that bicycles are not allowed on the Conagra portion of the trail. Why, I am not sure: liability reasons, I suppose.

As I put the bike back in the van and headed towards the home office, I occurred to me, that yes, there is a place for a Bike In the Boot, especially in terms of minimizing the hassle to parking the car at multiple locations. There's also a financial factor: while street-side parking is cheap here in Omaha, as little as 25¢ a hour, depending on location, the closer to the center of activity, the more expensive and difficult it is to find. Parking further out can cut that cost considerably; and you get some good exercise in the process.

If offering the option of having a Bike In the Boot, and an eBike especially, becomes commonplace, I'd say go for.

Coincidentally, I' again have two back-to-back morning meetings downtown this week, so I may opt to park the van and ride to those meetings.


Ford folding ebike

Ford folding ebike


BMW folding ebike

BMW folding ebike


WW folding ebike

WW folding ebike

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