Ever imagined converting your traditional bike to an electric one just by changing the front wheel? Though this might take some time to reach India, the idea of such innovation has already kicked off in France.
Laurent Durrieu used an opportunity to leverage rejected and abandoned bikes to create an alternative to sustainable commuting. The Teebike project came into light when Durrieu while touring China, came across open-air disposal or ‘cemetery’ of bikes which stationed thousands of unused, abandoned bikes with no hopes of restoration.
Making Traditional Bikes Electric- The Teebike way
Incubated in 2019, Teebike, a french startup, manufactures wheels powered by an electric motor and equipped with Bluetooth, which can be easily fitted on to the front of any bike replacing the typical front-wheel converting it to an electric vehicle. The different wheel size options include 20, 26, 27.5, and 28 inches. with brakes aided by discs and pads.
The electric motor can go up to 25km/hr with the battery lasting between 50 to 80 km depending on certain factors like road conditions, the weight of the rider, level of assistance used, and weather conditions.
The Bluetooth system allows connecting the wheel to your smartphone, enabling controlling the settings. The motor can run without the smartphone as well. However, it will start automatically when the bike is started and will operate as per the last settings used.
Your bike can also be used as a regular bike by shutting the engine off. Meaning, you can just paddle it to move when the motor is turned off.
The battery, consisting of several lithium cells, can be charged by connecting to the wheel's axel. They have partnered with Cyclofix, another French startup concentrating on making vehicle repairs easy, on ensuring care and maintenance. In the event of the battery needing replacement, the wheel can be sent to Teebike, and they will return after installing a new one in a week. In case the replacement takes more time, the company also claims that they will furnish the customer with a new wheel for temporary use.
The Teebike wheel and the bike are secured with safety features, including application controlled padlock, alarms, and anti-theft measures.
Teebike wheels are priced at £750, and the cost to change the battery is £200. The prices are lower compared to the existing electric bikes in France and across Europe, which are priced higher at £1000 to £2500.
Teebike creates a positive ecological impact- The need
Teebike has partnered with Corepile for the efficient and secure recycling of its batteries. Abandoned and worn-out bikes cannot be recycled or reused easily. The application of Teebike may create a sustainable environmental impact on the environment by reducing waste product that is difficult to recycle alongside expanding the use of a cleaner alternative- electricity.
It is an inspiration to countries and governments to layout innovation towards sustainable alternative energy adoption.
Bikes are a sustainable mode of commute given that it needs less parking space, does not create unnecessary traffic, and of course, emits less pollution compared to vehicles running on fuel.
Given the short run time and range, it's evident that it's aimed at short distance commuting. Some use cases could be commuting to the college/school/office or traveling within a range of up to 10 Kms around your home.
Additionally, it can be used across different age groups without needing a driver's license.
Teebike running on Indian roads
The Teebike has ecological advantages, creates sustainable environmental impact, and influences better practice. For sure, we need such alternatives in India, but do we see Teebike running in the country anytime soon? Yes, but to a minimal extent.
India has seen a rapid increase in rural-urban migration in recent years, which rose by almost 4% in 2018 and is set to go up in the coming years. It is also an influencing factor for the increase in road traffic in the country. India topped the TomTom traffic Index 2019, as reported by Economic Times, which further adds to the level of pollution.
An innovation like Teebike can allow vehicle parking management in offices, schools, and residences along with cutting down on the level of pollution caused. It will also enable a reduction in daily traffic during peak times. Such technology has chances to become popular across age groups, primarily due to the factor that the customer can use any bike as per comfort, need, and budget and turn it into electric with just having to replace the front wheel.
In India, the introduction of Teebike will face comparisons with more popular two-wheel brands dealing in electric bikes. The market has already seen the introduction of Touche Helio, Pure EV, Elektron Hybrid, and Roulik Inizio.
Though Teebike resonates with uniqueness transforming any bike into an electric one, it does have specific challenges when pitted into an Indian market. The cost of owning a Teebike under present circumstances will be expensive due to factors like international price fluctuations, import duties, and documentation charges. Also, a proper after-sales service infrastructure will take time to establish. Customers can buy an electric bicycle at a much cheaper cost, instead. Additionally, the extent of performance is questionable due to the lack of good roads in the country.
It does seem ideal that the French startup begins manufacturing in India, which will allow cheaper Teebike options for the Indian audience. It would need to set minimum requirements, like the age of vehicles, for traditional bikes to ensure compatibility. Identifying sources of rejected bikes is essential too. India presently generates over Rs 6000 crore annually in the junkyard sale market, and this does create an opportunity for a startup like Teebike to make in India.
Nevertheless, it is, without a doubt, an invention that inspires adoption. With Teebike, cycling enthusiasts can resort to electric mode during times of hot weather to avoid sweating a lot; they can switch between electric and traditional mode as per the workout routine, or carry more load using the motor which will make pedaling easier.
Likewise, investing in eco-friendly technologies is a good practice that the company can inculcate among consumers. It will be interesting to see how Teebike plans operations, pricing, and product awareness, if and when they decide to launch in India. If not that, can we see a similar startup coming from India?