Modern bikes have come a long way since the penny-farthing. Cyclists of the 21st century have at their disposal carbon fibre frames, disc brakes, and Lycra, but there isn't really a bike that defines our technological age – until now. At MWC Ford surprised everyone by unveiling two bikes, the Mo.De.Me and the Mo.De.Pro, both are aiming to make journeys more economical, healthier and safer.
The bikes are part of a project named 'Handle on Mobility', which is an experiment attempting to make everyone's commutes a more enjoyable experience – sounds impossible, right?
The Mo.De bikes are electric and collapsible. The power comes from 200-watt motor and a 9-amp-hour battery which has a range of 35km. Unfortunately for the slovenly out there, they are only electrically assisted – so riders can't coast along on electric power alone.
The Mo.De.Me, with the smaller frame, is more suited to commuters, while the Mo.De.Pro is designed for more commercial uses, such as courier services. The bikes are capable of propelling the rider to a speedy 25km/h (a limit set by law), which is probably faster than the average traffic speed in London at rush hour.
'But', I hear you say, 'there's nothing new about electric assisted pedal-power, so what makes the Mo.De.Me and Mo.De.Pro so 'smart'?' Well I'm glad you asked. They both make use of technology that has recently been developed in the car industry. For example, it includes ultrasonic sensors that detect when a vehicle is about to overtake and alerts the rider by vibrating the handle bars.
The bikes also include a 'No Sweat Mode' which adjusts the amount of assistance depending on heart rate, geography and distance from destination (increasing the assistance as you get closer – so you don't arrive at work a panting, sweaty mess).
The bikes connect to an app (obviously, what doesn't these days?) that includes navigation via on-screen mapping and, if you don't want to look down at your smartphone, via handlebar vibration. This also communicates with indicator lights at the end of the handlebars to let nearby vehicles know when and were the bike will be heading (no more Victorian hand signals for you sir).
The navigation app is not solely designed for cycling. It will try to create the best journey possible by using a combination of car, public transport or cycling, taking into account weather, parking, cost and other environmental factors.
The app can also control all of the bikes functions, for example, the horn, hazard lights, headlights and indicators. These functions can also be assigned to two little thumb sticks located on the handlebar.
Ford was also showing off an adapted Transit van that has enough room for two Pro bikes folded up, a driver, two riders and cargo. This is part of their vision for a more flexible mobility service.
The bikes weighed around 13 kg and will be manufactured from a cast aluminium frame. Unfortunately, Ford have no plans to make the bikes commercially available yet, but providing there's positive feedback from the experiment – who knows what could happen? What do you think of them?
Do you think Ford should roll these bikes out into full production? Let us know in the comments.