What's good about electric bikes? They broaden the appeal of cycling and make the bike a viable alternative for more people. And the downside? Well, they tend to be heavy and expensive. Step forward inventor and entrepreneur Stephen Britt, who's in the running to win a £50,000 business development grant. His product? Powered pedals.
Yup, we're not making this up and furthermore it sounds like an excellent idea. The fact is that most people - even those not fit enough to ride up hills - don't need a fully-fledged electric bike that'll do 30 miles under its own steam and weighs 25 kilos. For a start they're likely to be popping to the shops or commuting a short way to work, and secondly they only really need the help on a few bits of the ride where they've got a hill to climb.
Enter the powered pedals. They slot into a charger to get powered up, a bit like a cordless drill, and each pedal has a motor, gearbox and Lithium Polymer battery built in. As you pedal sensors detect how much effort you're putting in and give you a helping hand. If you don't need any assistance you just flip the pedal over and use the other side.
The pedals are at the prototype stage right now but Stephen's aim is to develop them to the point where they'll have a range of 10 miles -fine for the occasional cyclist - and provide up to 200W of assistance, about the same as a standard electric bike. Most importantly though they'll be retro-fittable to pretty much any bike and won't significantly increase its weight. They'll also be all-but-invisible, which should take some of the stigma out of electric assistance. Plus it'll be another opportunity for Pro teams to [snip! - road.cc ed]
We reckon it's a grand idea and worth the fifty grand of investment capital that Barclays are putting up in their Take One Small Step competition. To vote for the peds, point your browser at https://www.takeonesmallstep.co.uk/Entry/View/2462 and make your mark. The outcome of the compo is solely decided on the public vote, so tell as many of your friends as you can! The closing date is 5 July.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.