Twike | The World’s First Bike-Car

twike 01 Twike | The World’s First Bike Car

If you have $27,500 burning a hole in your pocket, you should check out the Twike by FINEMobile. The Twike is a hybrid “car”, combining traditional electric battery power with your own personal hamstring/calf/quadriceps/abdominal power. The idea is interesting: the typical hybrid braking-energy recapture, plus the ability to pedal energy into the battery while driving.

It’s an interesting idea, in that no one else is using this technology yet… but the overall design doesn’t seem usable for everyday use.

Apparently the Twike is really hot in Europe – it was designed by Swiss students in the 1980s and recently moved into production in Germany. You can sign up for Twike tours via the website and owners can join Twike clubs. (Twike hopes this will take off in the U.S. as well, but I can’t imagine who — outside a handful of pudgy bikers who want to ease and extend their touring — would be into it.)

twike 02 Twike | The World’s First Bike Car

But it’s not so “G”. Although the appeal of a battery that individuals can charge with muscle-power beckons, the Twike is unrealistic as a commuter vehicle. At least in the U.S. It’s too small and doesn’t have the protection of other promising alternatives to the passenger car. The biggest problem is that it runs on electricity from rechargable batteries that no amount of leg power can recharge. Twike’s zero-emission claim is true at the tailpipe (there isn’t one), but the pollution happens elsewhere (the power plant) which could be more damaging than burning a tank of gas.

But I am rather fond of the way it looks.

Catch the Twike in action here.

  • http://www.vegalicious.org Vegalicious

    Avoid the ‘elsewhere pollution’ by generating your own electricity (solar panels, small wind turbine,…) or buy green power. My objection against the Twike is the maximum speed and I agree about the safety issue. In order to get to work I have to use the freeway (no alternative routes), so it is too slow and I wouldn’t want to sit in it squeezed in between trucks at 65mph.

  • http://gliving.com G Monkie

    Vegalicious, what do you drive now? Would you consider something like the aptera Type 1? http://gliving.com/aptera-typ-1-to-begin-production-in-2008/

  • http://www.vegalicious.org Vegalicious

    I sold my regular car years ago and commute to work with public transport, which is not always convenient. Most electric cars have at least two weaknesses: range and infrastructure. I would say that 90% of my travels are within the range of current electric cars (commute to work, shopping in town, going out in the evening etc.), but for the remaining 10% (business appointments, family visits, a day at the beach etc.) they don’t have enough energy. So we either need the infrastructure countrywide for a quick recharge or have an extra power generator on board to extend the range. Next is the issue of the infrastructure for charging at home or at work. Many people don’t have their own driveway or garage for a charging station. So the cars are being parked in public space. We will need a lot of charging stations with an intelligent billing system. Electric car manufacturers have to work together and decide upon a generic plug and charging system.
    The Aptera is cool, but I think less suitable for North-Europe. I would be happy with something like the Mitsubishi i MiEV. A small practical city car.

  • http://anirul.alcor.ch/ anirul

    It depend how the electricity is produced in your country and how long do you spend commuting in your country. I typically commute for around 20 minutes so those speed and autonomy correspond to my needs (and to the needs of typical Europeans). This is something I admit this is not adapted to the US market so much.

    In Europe a lot of countries don't produce electricity in a polluting way, France is Nuclear, Swiss/Austria are mainly hydraulic, Germany and the north country try to go to a mixture with a good share or renewable energies.

    On the security point of view I tend to agree even if the biggest danger with a light car like that is the others! This is reason why in some country they are talking of forbidding SUVs and trucks.

  • http://www.glenstark.net Glen Stark

    You are failing to take into account the effective efficiency of the Twike. By virtue of allowing human power, having such a light weight chassis, efficient electrical motors, advanced electronics and a streamlined design, the amount of energy consumed by a Twike is enormously less than say, a Toyota prius. So if you calculate the emmissions at the power plant, even a coal plant, you are still ahead of the game.

    Further, if you are an indivdual lucky enough to have access to clean power, then you can really commute emmissions free. I know individuals who charge their Twike using Solar or hydro power for example.

  • http://www.illinois.edu/goto/twike M@

    "the overall design doesn’t seem usable for everyday use"

    "the Twike is unrealistic as a commuter vehicle"

    hmmm… as I've put 10,000 miles on Twike 433 in Champaign Illinois over the past 3 years I can easily refute these assumptions. I drive *all year 'round*. Checkout my blog/website at http://www.illinois.edu/goto/twike 'Tis a chick magnet on campus (well, to be true, it's a people magnet) and is tons of fun in the snow. If you're gonna be in C-U, drop me an e-mail, we'll go for a ride.

    Safety is what you make of it — many bicyclists feel safe on city streets with cars going 20-35mph. Motorcyclists feel ok going 65+. Me, I twike on the same roads I feel comfy bicycling on with my kiddos on a tag-along and a Burley — just because a vehicle can go 60 mph (and I've had the Twike up that fast) doesn't mean it's a good idea to do it, regardless of whether it's a bicycle, motorcycle or SUV. If you get hit by a loaded Semi at 65-70mph, you're gonna lose no matter what vehicle you're in — driving a bicycle/motorcycle/twike makes you a safer driver because you learn to avoid dangerous routes. Kindof. I have a photo of 433 taken by the Swiss Engineers with the Sears Tower in the background. They took her out on Lake Shore Drive.



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