Fresh from a $1 million funding round, the Gi Bike enters the growing space of green, folding bikes. How does it fare against the competition?
Across the urban spaces of the world, there has been an explosion over the past few years in alternative modes of green technology aimed at helping city residents travel quickly and efficiently from points A, B, and beyond. One of the latest players to come on the scene is the Gi Bike from the folks at Bignay Inc in Argentina. The Gi Bike is a ‘smart’ electric folding bicycle that is quickly gaining buzz for its solid design and use of innovative tech integrations that are likely to appeal to a wide range of urbanites, and with $1 million in recently announced seed funding, it could surface as a strong competitor in this space.
What’s under the hood?
The design of the Gi Bike works to incorporate the elements of a sleek, solid-frame city bike with the ease of a folding bike for storage and commuting. Powered by a high performance Lithium-ion battery, it comes through with an impressive set of features that include powered assistance for when you are too tired to make it up that hill on your own two-legged engine. The magic under the hood goes past the battery that they claim will push on for over 40 miles with a set of features for their app, which is due to come out later this year for both iOS and Android. Riders can tap into the app for social media, a GPS, controlling the lock on the wheels, and other yet to be announced bells and whistles that should excite anybody looking for more ways to include their phones in other parts of their day to day. The bike will come in two different models, breaking down between the electric version and the more basic manual folding one.
According to CEO and Co-Founder Lucas Toledo, the goal of creating the Gi Bike grew after a general strike that hit Argentina in 2012 crippled the mass transport system, highlighting the need for alternatives. Toledo and his team of co-founders, which includes CTO Agustín Augustinoy and CFO Eric Sevillia, got together to work on their design in Córdoba, Argentina and have since gained a lot of notice both at home and abroad.
Though the company’s Kickstarter campaign in May failed to reach their rather high goal of $400,000 (they raised $116,057), Toledo stated that, “The impact of the campaign was fantastic, the Gi Bike was mentioned by more than 350 media publishers, generating content in more than 60,000 web pages worldwide. Throughout the process, we were able to validate the design and features of Gi Bike, communicating directly with prospective customers and distributors. We are now in contact with automakers BMW and Ford, and have won the 2014 Future of Mobility Contest sponsored by Ford. The Gi Bike was also invited to major technology and transportation conferences around the world and was selected as one of the products that could reinvent the world in 2014.”
Since the successful round of social exposure and support, Gi Bike has received another significant boost with the announcement on March 19th that the Argentinian incubator Incutex led a $1 million seed funding round in Gi Bike with other investors aimed at further development of the software and moving into mass production. In speaking about the decision to join with Gi Bike, Incutex Co-Founder Juan Santiago said in a statement that, “I decided to invest in Gi Bike because the project has every aspect I look for in a project. The team is amazing! and well balanced. It has a great technological component to it. It is environmentally friendly while creating a healthy habit. It can make a real difference in the way society relates to urban spaces. And last but not least, its inception was rooted to my home town, Cordoba and that presented a personal challenge in helping someone locally.”
Standing up to the competitors
Always on the lookout for new tech here at Geektime, the Gi Bike is hardly the first shiny ‘green transport’ to come our way. Back in January, we reviewed the Inu, a fold up electric scooter from Green Ride out of Haifa, Israel that made some waves at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. Equally as sleek and sexy, if even in its own way (or even more), the Inu also offers riders an easily foldable and powered mode of getting around town and looking great while doing it. Both two wheelers come with their must have apps and impressive tech for taking advantage of integrating the Internet into the overall experience, with the Inu even sporting a SIM card for data connection.
Both of these space-aged beauties come at similarly starry-eyed prices. According to their asking price on Kickstarter, the manual version of the Gi runs for $2,590 and the electric assistance model for $2,990 at an early bird rate. The Inu starts with the most basic model at €2,999, and the top of the line model reaching up to €4,999.
Is there a market?
Despite their delicious similarities, these two will likely attract specific folks looking for different products. Even with the electric assistance on the Gi, riders still have the experience of riding a high quality bicycle that is head and shoulders above nearly every other powered bike out there on the market.
While the first set of the Gi Bikes are still yet to come out of production, we’re hopeful that these guys will find a target niche for this bike. The high-end price may be a bit off putting for the average buyer, but it will definitely find its fans that will appreciate a quality ride. Expect this one to start making their way into select cities as we continue to move into 2015.
Featured Image Credit: Gi Bike