technology transport

An e-bike upgrade for India

Earlier this week I wrote about how my wife converted her bike into an e-bike, using a kit from the good people at Swytch. I was going to add this is a link, but it deserves a post of its own. Here’s a similar idea from India, aimed at the 58% of workers in India who commute by bike. Most of them ride the classic black bike that will be familiar to many in Africa as well. If you’ve ridden one, you’ll know it’s basic, sturdy, and easy to maintain – but not exactly swift.

Engineer Gursaurabh Singh has designed a conversion kit in keeping with the ethos of the bike – something practical and bordering on indestructible. I’ll let him introduce it:

There are some nice features to this device, besides being mud-proof. (Top marks for commitment to the demonstration in the video). I like that you can charge it by pedalling or with a solar panel, or the fact that you can charge a phone through its USB port. These are useful additions for communities that may not have a reliable power supply. It can also be fitted to delivery bikes and rickshaws.

This won’t be the only conversion kit for these bikes on the market, but if it can be produced in sufficient quantities at an affordable price, it could make a difference to millions of people. It’s the kind of technology upgrade that would preserve cycling culture, rather than sweeping it away to replace it with cars. And it’s a nice example of appropriate technology.

Before anyone asks in the comments, Gursaurabh Singh’s project is getting a lot of attention online, but isn’t in production at this point. There’s no word yet on price or how to get your hands on one. If I hear more about it, I’ll add a link. In the meantime, you can get updates on Twitter.

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