Handlebars seem about as important as wheels in bike design, but Swiss inventor Yvan Forclaz has done away with them in favor of a mode of control you're more likely to associate with aircraft or video games – a joystick. The Joystickbike has been tweaked and refined since we first saw it a few years ago, and now it's almost ready for tinkerers to get their hands on it.
Forclaz's design is an electric-assist recumbent bike that's steered by way of a joystick mounted on the right-hand side, which has a direct mechanical link to the front wheel. A second stick on the left is used to manage the electric motor, with stats on power, speed, distance and autonomy displayed on a little LCD screen.
Motor-wise, the Joystickbike has been toned down somewhat since earlier prototypes, and the decision seems to have been made to allow the bike to be road-legal in different countries. While it once sported a 400-W electric drive powered by a 72-V battery pack and could reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph), the consumer-ready bike now has a 250-W motor, 48-V battery and a top speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
That brings it in line with electric bike laws in the UK, Europe, parts of Asia and Australia, and below those in the US and Canada. That said, there is still the option to crank the motor up to 1,000 W if your local laws allow, or if you don't plan to take it out on the public roads.
The team plans to ship the Joystickbike as three separate kits – motorization, seat and frame, and all the technical components – for you to put together yourself. If you're not very handy there is an option to receive it pre-built, but that comes with a heftier price tag and most likely higher shipping costs. Along with the street-legal version, there's also the option of a Fat model if you'd rather take to the trails.
The Joystickbike is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, which has so far raised about US$3,800 of its $53,000 goal, with 42 days to go. Pledges start at about $3,000 for the full bike kit, with individual kits and test drive days available for smaller pledges. If all goes to plan, the team expects shipping to begin in May this year.
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