Ford’s latest e-bike prototype features ‘eyes-free navigation’ and a ‘no sweat … – Digital Trends

Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ford’s latest “multi-modal urban mobility solution” – or e-bike to you and me – is its coolest-looking model yet, and one you might actually want to ride around the neighborhood on. Shown off at this week’s Forward with Ford conference in Detroit, the MoDe:Flex is the most versatile of the company’s growing collection of as-yet unreleased electric bikes. While the other two – the MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro – are smaller in design and built more for shorter journeys, the Mode:Flex has been constructed as an all-round machine suitable for road, mountain and city riding.

The new e-bike connects with the rider’s smartphone, which can be secured in a built-in holder located at the center of the MoDe:Flex’s handlebars. Ford’s specially designed MoDe:Link app offers the rider real-time information on weather conditions, road congestion, parking costs, and also public transit information, handy if you pop into a store and return to discover your flashy new e-bike’s been nabbed.

Related: Volvo’s smart connected helmet keeps cyclists safe

The company has also wasted little time in creating an Apple Watch app that works in concert with both the iPhone and the e-bike. For example, select the “no sweat” mode and the MoDe:Flex’s electric pedal assist function will kick in if your heart rate reaches a certain level, thereby enabling you to arrive at work smelling as sweet as when you set off.

The machine can even flag up obstacles in the road ahead such as potholes (Ford doesn’t explain how this is done), with audible alerts delivered to the rider via beeps on the smartwatch. Possibly the most awesome feature, however, is the bike’s “eyes-free navigation” system, which isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds.

Eyes-free navigation is a built-in vibration system to enable safer journeys, so if, for example, route instructions on your smartphone require you to make a left turn, the left side of the handlebars gently shake to let you know. The handlebars also vibrate to warn you when a car is approaching from behind.

And just like the other two models, the Mode:Flex can be folded in two, making it the perfect size for slipping into the trunk of your car or even carrying onto public transportation.

Related: The first real-time collision-avoidance device for any bike

Ford is yet to release any technical details on its latest e-bike, though it’s possible they won’t be so different from the MoDe:Pro, which features a 200W motor helping it to speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, and a 9Ah battery offering about 90 minutes of continuous use.

There’s little information on when Ford might release any of these bikes – it’s apparently still refining the designs – but we’ll be sure to let you know if any of them do eventually make it to market.


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