September 2, 2014
The Gi Bike and the Argentine 'bike revolutionary'
By Nadia Nasanovsky
“For 200 years, since the inception of the bike, we have not experienced a true bike revolution,” reads the manifesto-like product brochure. “Behold the Gi, a 21st century crafted vehicle, by city lovers, for city lovers.”
Born two years ago in Córdoba province, inspired by a national public transport strike, the Gi Bike is still a prototype, but it aims high, more precisely, “to challenge 200 years of bicycle design” with an all in one folding bike, that folds in 0.8 seconds in only one movement “while preserving the quality of a full-sized bike”.
With bus drivers on strike, seeing that most of his colleagues and friends were unable to go to work or attend University for days, Lucas Toledo, a 28-year old economist began to think about the best mean of transport to move from point A to point B in a crowded city.
Months of study followed that first thought. “All the research pointed to bikes as the most efficient mean of transport,” the man who first came with the concept of the Gi Bike explains to the BuenosAiresherald.com.
But soon, Toledo and two of his friends who joined him, industrial designer Agustín Agustinoy and entrepreneur Eric Sevillia, realized that despite its “unrivaled urban efficiency”, not everyone rides bikes, many still prefer to drive. They were determined to change that.
“Bikes today do not allow its users to stand out, as cars do” Toledo explains, “and more importantly, today folding bikes take forever to fold and unfold and they have small wheels, which are less secure and quite unesthetic for grown-ups to ride”.
The team came up with an all in one bike idea, “you buy it and you forget about buying anything else, like lights, locks, or fixing bicycle chains,” they explain. The prototype was designed following European standards with a special focus on design and safety, with automatic led lights on the wheels, carbon drive belts and smartphone integration as its distinctive features.
The project won financing from the Technological Argentine Fund (FONTAR) which allowed the team to take the Gi bike from a concept to a full prototype. And now they have turned to crowdfunding for the funds needed to take the next step and start producing. “We chose crowdfunding not only as a mean to raise funds but also as a way to validate our product, to test our initial analysis,” Toledo says.
They have eight more days to raise 400,000 dollars from people who like the project and pledge money to make it happen. Donations range from 1 dollar to over 6,400 dollars and all backers get a reward, according to the amount pledged, from a humble Twitter mention to their very own Gi Bike.
So far, most comments on the Gi Bike Kickstarter platform are highly positive, although some question the price, currently set at 3390 dollars per bike. But the creators argue it is below the competition. “That is the price set for Kickstarters, that is, if we produce only 150 units. Hopefully we will be able to manufacture more, thus reducing the price” Toledo says.