This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
The Smacircle S1 is a compact, foldable electric bike that has been seeking funding on the crowdfunding service Kibidango since August 20, 2020, with a target of 23 million yen.
I attended a media test ride of this electric bike, and in this article, I will report more details about the Smacircle S1 and how it rides.
If you'd like to take a quick look at it in action, check out the video below, which is about 2 minutes long.
What is the Smacircle S1?
The Smacircle S1 is an electric bike that weighs 8.6kg with a carbon fiber body. It has a top speed of 19.9km/h and can travel up to 20km on a single charge. It is designed to be used for commuting to work or school from home to the station, or for neighborhood use such as a quick trip to the nearest convenience store.
The feature of the Smacircle S1 is that it can be folded and carried compactly, normally 95 cm in length, but it folds up to 29 cm when folded. It can be carried in a 30L bag.
It's easy to set up from the folded position; once you get used to it, you can take it out of the backpack and set it up in about a minute, and the same goes for the folded position. I watched a demonstration of both setting it up and folding it. I actually touched it, and it was a level of ease that you won't have to worry about once you've experienced it.
When folded, the tires are tucked away inside the ring of the frame, so even if the tires are dirty, they are less likely to stain around them, and the design allows for compact storage.
The Smacircle S1 is operated by twisting the electric throttle levers on the left and right handlebars, but unlike a motorcycle, it doesn't start by simply twisting the levers. Twist the levers and kick the ground like a kickboard to start running gently. This is to prevent the rapid acceleration inherent in electric bikes, which seems like a special thing to write down, but when I actually rode it, I felt no discomfort.
The seat of the Smacircle S1 is the battery unit, which can be easily removed and recharged via the included AC adapter, and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery takes about 3 hours to fully charge.
You can also use the free app to manage your ride information, lock your bike, and check your battery level and speed using the free Smacircle App.
You can ride on public roads in Japan with a license plate
The photo above is a prototype of the Smacircle S1, which is customized for Japanese specifications. The Smacircle S1 is a class 1 motorized bicycle in Japan, so it is equipped with a rearview mirror, blinker and a license plate so that it can be ridden on public roads in Japan.
I took it for a test ride
Here are my thoughts on the Japanese spec prototype of the Smacircle S1.
Please note that the Smacircle S1 is a moped and therefore requires a regular driver's license and the wearing of a helmet.
As mentioned in the article, the Smacircle S1 is designed to run gently by twisting the lever and kicking the ground like a kickboard. The first time I was confused, but after the second time I was able to launch easily.
The Smacircle S1 has small 8 inch tires and therefore, it wobbles a little at the start of running and while riding. The chassis is not very sturdy due to its small frame, and the tires are solid damping tires that are less prone to punctures and do not have the same elasticity as pneumatic tires, so they seemed to be weak on slightly uneven roads.
The speed goes up smoothly and the electric bike is quiet and comfortable to ride, but I felt it was difficult to ride hard on a main road because the maximum speed is 19.9km/h and it is not as stable as a moped.
"It seems to be convenient to move around in the vicinity, and the design is really cool, but I'm not sure if it's practical..."
That's how I feel about it.
We talked to Mr. Aoi, Senior Project Coordinator at Kibidango, Inc. about the possible uses of the Smacircle S1.
Demand for factory transportation and hotel rentals
Over 150 people have already supported the Smacircle S1. What kind of people is supporting it?
Discerning customers who have bought all kinds of gadgets have decided to buy them right away. In addition, professionals who create products seem to support them by praising them for having created this mechanism well, or by falling in love with the design at first sight.
On the other hand, I get the impression that those who value practicality are in the process of being vetted.
As for the design, I couldn't complain about it when I actually saw it in person. But what about the practicality of it? I was wondering, what is your take on the practicality of the Smacircle S1?
If you use the neighborhood, like going to the nearest convenience store through the back streets, you'll be satisfied. However, I'm not sure it's practical to ride on the main road with the Smacircle S1 or use it on a rainy day, as it's not practical for safety and other reasons.
What kind of use do the people who are supporting it expect to make of it?
Except for those who are thinking of using it for neighborhood use, many people want to use it for camping and other outdoor activities as a means of transportation or for fun, since it's small enough to be loaded into a car. Others think of it as a means of transportation within the factory, for lending to customers in hotels, or as a means of transportation during a disaster. People who expect to use it in factories and hotels also like its high design quality, because it looks stylish just folded and lined up.
The Smacircle S1 has been seeking funding on the crowdfunding service Kibidango since August 20, 2020. The Smacircle S1 has an estimated retail price of 185,900 yen (including tax), but currently has a 27% discount on the super-early bird price of 135,000 yen. A set that includes a spare battery and a carry bag is also available, for a discount of 73,600 yen off the scheduled retail price of 222,600 yen (including tax) to 149,000 yen.
Unfolded Size: 950 x 860 x 470 mm (37.40 x 33.85 x 18.50 in )
Folded Size: 290 x 530 x 200 mm (11.41 x 20.86 x 7.87 in )
Tire: 8 inch Solid Tire
Weight: Approx. 12kg (including battery, rearview mirror, and license plate)
Body Material: Carbon Fiber
Maximum Load: 220.46 lbs (100 kg)
Motor: Brushless Gearless
Motor Power: 250 W
Mileage Range: 17 - 20 km (10.56 - 12.43 mi)
Maximum Speed: 19.9 km/h (SPORT Mode) 15 km/h (NORMAL Mode)
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.