Electric bicycles are seemingly the best of both worlds: If your battery runs out, you just start pedaling. They’re also cheap compared to other transportation options. The problem, though, is that they’re still relatively expensive, and using conversion kits generally requires some technological knowhow. Plus you wind up with a bike that looks like the victim of a tragic Radio Shack explosion. The Rubbee seeks to solve both problems.
OK, so the name is kinda disturbing, but the engineering is on point. The Rubbee is essentially a conversion kit reduced down to its essence; a motor, a battery, and a wheel to propel your bike. You bolt the Rubbee to your seat post, place the polyurethane wheel on your back wheel, fire it up, and off you go.
There’s a lot of clever ideas on display. For example, the Rubbee is built to stick with your wheel no matter what using a “fixation” system, but you can also fix the wheel if you want to shut it off without uninstalling it, simply by placing a pin. If you’re worried about the Rubbee covering your back reflector, it comes standard with a red LED in the back, so it’ll follow you no matter what. The throttle and charger are connected using the same plug. The whole shebang is waterproof. And if you’re worried about hauling a battery around, it’s got a nice leather handle built right in.
It’s not a full electric conversion, mind you. The Rubbee can only do so much in terms of power; even a good electrical motor needs to scale up at some point to get more oomph. This is more a helpful hand than turning your bike into a rugged offroader.
Still, it’s small, it’s portable, it’s clever, and it’s a thousand bucks or so, far cheaper than most conversion kits. It’s currently up on Kickstarter.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.