Mate: The Solution to a Problem

There is an ebike in my future.

I was minding my own business yesterday, checking in on Twitter, when I came across a tweet by my friend Mike in Brooklyn. He was linking to an Indigogo campaign about an electric bike. I’ve been looking at ebikes for some time now and clicked the link.

Indiegogo, in case you don’t know, is a website that entrepreneurs use to raise capital for new products. They create prototypes, produce slick videos, and put information on the site that includes support levels and perks. The perks are usually versions of the products or a chance to buy at a reduced rate when the product becomes available.

The video for Mate, the ebike Mike linked to, was slick in a way that only Europeans can make them. In it, the Mate designer described the bike while video clips played, showing off how fun and practical it was. I watched closely; I was interested in two features: motor control and foldability. When both features appeared, I was sold.

Nicely designed and feature-packed. This is the solution I’ve been looking for.

But Mate has more features that make it perfect for my needs. It has a good suspension with all-terrain tires — that means it’ll work on rough road surfaces. (The video shows it riding on cobblestones.) It weighs in at less than 50 pounds. It has an onboard trip computer that helps control the motor and keeps track of distances. The rechargeable battery is hidden in the frame so there’s no bulky box to deal with. There’s an ergonomic handle that makes it easy to lift if you need to carry it up a flight of stairs. And on the top-of-the-line S model, the battery can take you up to 50 miles and an independent throttle can get the bike up to 20 miles per hour. In other words, this bike can go the distance.

Although Mate isn’t cheap, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than every other ebike or portable bike I’ve seen. Better yet, it’s a lot cheaper than the Honda Grom I’ve been looking at (about $4200) or the cost of getting my new used 100cc dirt bike street ready (about $1200). Yes, it won’t go as fast as either one of those, but I already have a road-ready motorcycle (and now a dirt bike) so I don’t need another fast bike. And with a Mate, I won’t have to worry about how I can take one of those motorcycles with me when I travel (the front hitch with bike carrier solution I was looking at would cost about $700). This will fold up and fit inside the Turtleback, my truck, or even — dare I say it? — my helicopter.

So I signed up for the Mate S. The way I see it, the money I saved by not going with any of the solutions I was already looking at paid for this ebike. And if it does fit onboard the helicopter, I’ll get a lot more use out of it. My only tiny concern is delivery; more than a few Indiegogo campaigns have failed to deliver in the past. This one looks pretty solid, though. I guess time will tell.

As for Mike, well his wife is getting one, too.

12 thoughts on “Mate: The Solution to a Problem

  1. There are 2-3 folding ebikes on the market that you could buy in Seattle tomarrow if you don’t want to wait. My girlfriend test rode them before driving to Vancouver to take advantage of the exchange rate and buying a non-folding ebike made by Cube.

    • I’ve been looking at them for some time now and the price tags are usually what put me off. This one has a very practical design, completely meets my needs, it is under $1000. I’m pretty sure I’ll have it by the end of October.

  2. I bought my first ebike a year ago. It has been a revelation. It cost £900 ($1200) from Halford’s, the UK’s biggest bike dealer. I opted for a big wheel, non-folding, model. It has hydraulic disc brakes, suspension and eight gears. Folding bikes mean small wheels and they are uncomfortable and less stable on the rough hilly roads around here. But mine would definitely not fit in your helicopter.
    It can do 80 miles on the flat or 50 miles on my local patch, between charges. It whizzes up hills with ease. It has intelligent intuitive controls and matches your effort with battery back-up.
    It is heavy and changing the rear wheel to fix punctures is quite complicated, so I have fitted Schwalbe Kevlar, all terrain, puncture-proof tyres.
    Cruising at 20mph makes it easy to overtake all but the most dedicated Lycra-clad weekend boy wonders on their $5000 carbon-fibre racers.
    Great fun.

    • I suspect that Europeans are a lot more advanced in their use of bicycles and electric bicycles than Americans are. We are generally lazy people and the only people who do any biking are the ones who are health-conscious — as well as late middle aged men who are trying to recapture their youth. I suspect the high price of fuel in Europe also has something to do with this — a bicycle becomes a very practical form of transportation. We are just catching on here. There are options in the US, but price and feature set is what kept me from buying any of them. This bike has all the features you mentioned, including the onboard computer, and the fact that it folds will really make it something that I bring with me when I travel. I live 2 miles down a gravel road so the likelihood of me riding it away from my house is very slim.

    • The Brits like cycling but the Dutch are the real evangelists. They have cycle-friendly road layouts and bikes there have priority. Since all the Dutch ride bikes, they are courteous to one another. We take our chances and every week a cyclist will be crushed by a bus or 40 ton truck in central London.
      But given that London’s roads are gridlocked most of the time, cycling allows an average speed higher than driving. It is also free, hence very tempting to chance an injury by infiltrating between the lanes of slow moving buses and cars.

    • Things are so spread out here that bicycles become impractical for transportation UNLESS you live in a big city. Then bikes are great for commuting and a lot of cities — for example, Seattle and Portland — really cater to cyclists.

      I’m 10 miles from a supermarket and 12 miles from downtown and with 2 miles of gravel and lots of winding hilly roads along the way. I’d likely kill myself if I attempted it on a bicycle.

    • I’m excited, too! You know I’ll take it through the paces when I get it. I’m very interested in it as a local means of transportation when I travel with my truck camper or by helicopter. But I’m also wondering how it measures up as a regular road bike. We have an 11-mile loop trail here along the Columbia River and that’ll be my first destination. Hope it comes before cold weather sets in!

  3. Buongiorno sono italiano e mi scuso di non riuscire a scrivere almeno in inglese, ma purtroppo non conosco altre lingue.
    Volevo sapere se questa bici ha anche un modello per poterla usare con carrozzina manuale, se si dove posso vederla, se avete un agente in Italia e come contattarlo.
    Cmq andando oltre se vi servisse un agente per l’Italia vorrei proporre la mia candidatura.

    Ringrazio del tempo a me dedicato, in attesa di gradito riscontro.
    Cordiali saluti.

What do you think?