A folding, plug-in electric bike from a New Zealand designer may tick all the boxes for convenience, eco-friendliness and style.
When Massey University student Richard Heath finished his design degree at the College of Creative Arts, he didn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Jumping on a plane to Sydney, he started knocking on doors to find a design internship and ended up working with top Sydney design company Blue Sky Design.
Impressed with the work he’d done on a motorcycle design project for Honda R&D in Italy, Mr Heath was given the opportunity to lead a project of his own. After some consideration, and motivated by the commuter transport issues he experienced while travelling around in a large city, Mr Heath came up with the concept of an electric folding bike, called the BlueSkyBike.
“It was clear to me that sustainability and finding alternative ways to move around will become more and more important as the world’s population grows, he says. “My challenge was to find a daily commuting solution that was clean and had a sense of style. In Europe, electric bikes are incredibly popular, so I thought I would develop a design that had a traditional styling but a modern feel.”
Identifying basic commuting needs like luggage storage, navigation via integrated smartphone control, portability and ease of use, Mr Heath designed a folding electric bike that could roll easily onto trains or be taken on buses, then stored in the office or at home.
“The BlueSkyBike would be powered by a 250 watt electric hub motor, which makes it small enough so users don’t need to have a license to ride it. The battery can be removed for recharging using a conventional socket, or charged ‘on the go’ with the regenerative braking function while going downhill,” he says. “It takes the pain out of those big hills that invariably lead up to the office or the train station.”
Although still a concept at this stage, Mr Heath says the internship with Blue Sky Design has given him valuable experience and confirmed his desire to work in design.
The BlueSkyBike has been recognised as one of the top ten New Zealand entries in the James Dyson Awards, and is currently being reviewed in the international judging phase of the competition. International finalists will be announced on October 18, with the winner announced on November 8.