CLIP Turns Any Bike Into an E-Bike
Tom Spendlove posted on March 25, 2019 |
New unit clips to a bike's front forks, helps users who want to bike to work without coming in as a ...

Somnath Ray worked with the Smart Cities group at MIT Media Lab, designing the future of urban mobility. He says that riding a bike to work every day is great for your body and the environment, but the ‘brief moments of extreme effort’ required to bike discourage many riders. Commitment to a healthy self and lowered carbon footprint are great, but showing up to a morning meeting sweaty and disheveled kills the prospect of biking. Along with the engineers at CLIP Ray has developed a ‘portable e-motor that will turn any bike into an e-bike.’ The vision is that a user can easily attach the unit to a bicycle, ride to work in the morning, and then recharge the motor during the day. The company is running a Kickstarter campaign for the first fifty units to fund more development of production components.

The CLIP unit has a 450 Watt motor, a 4 Ampere hour / 36 Volt battery, and weighs 1.7 kilograms. The unit is designed to easily fit in a backpack, and a connected app tracks distances ridden and C02 emissions saved while controlling the motor. The device is designed to easily fit onto any bike’s front fork, the connection method isn’t completely clear in the campaign video but demonstrations show the assembly being attached and the motor started in less than twenty seconds.

CLIP is unusual because the crowdfunding is taking place toward the end of the design cycle but not as an offering of the first production parts. Up to fifty beta CLIP pieces will be built for users to jump on board as beta testers. Design iteration, rapid prototyping, and testing will also be done during this phase. The campaign page warns that these prototypes are not optimized for manufacturability and will not enjoy the benefits of high volume production that future units will experience. My biggest concerns about the system are keeping friction on the front tire against the motor, keeping stones or dirt off of the wheels, and the strength of the connection method to the front fork. I’m hoping that all of these issues are worked through during this next prototype phase. The Kickstarter campaign ends on April 19.

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