Folding Into the Future: Conscious Commuter’s Collapsible E-Bike

Will the ingenious electric bike solve the first mile, last mile conundrum?

Shaping the future of urban mobility: Conscious Commuter's folding, electric-bike. (Photo: Gabrial Wartofsky)
Sal holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

You’ve abandoned long showers. You’ve shunned single-use plastic grocery bags. It’s been years since you washed laundry with hot water. Buoyed by the ease at which you’ve incorporated these and other eco-acts into your daily routine, you’ve decided to take the ultimate green plunge: ditch your car and embrace public transportation.

Problem is: a) you don’t want to walk two miles to and from the bus or rail stop to your office and b) you don’t want to peddle a bicycle that same distance and show up at your cubicle drenched in sweat.

I will never forget that moment, and even when I watch it today, I’m struck by the fact that there is nothing else like it out the in the market.

Gabrial Wartofsky and Bob Vander Woude of Conscious Commuter Corporation hope that you consider their solution to your commuting conundrum: a super compact, lightweight, folding electric-bike.

“Our bike is an ecological, sweat-free, seamless way to get you where you need to go,” says Bob Vander Woude. “You simply fold it up and store it under your seat.”

Conceived two years ago by Wartofsky when he was a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, the bike eschews much “of the clunkiness that so many electric bikes are burdened with, and less of the kids’-folding toy look that many folding bikes have,” praises Treehugger.

Vander Woude, a longtime “start-up business guy,” joined forces with the designer earlier this year after a web search took him to Wartofsky’s blog.

“I remember the first thing I found was the video of the bike folding and unfolding,” says Vander Woude. “I will never forget that moment, and even when I watch it today, I’m struck by the fact that there is nothing else like it out the in the market.”

This summer the company raised more than $25,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to take the final prototype into production.

“The average pledge is in the $25 to $50 range,” ways Vander Woude. “We averaged over $250 per pledge, which is ten times that amount.”

The e-bike’s top speed is 20 mph—electrically, that is. “You can go as fast as you want peddle power,” jokes Wartofsky.

The prototype weighs roughly 20 pounds, but the actual models will be built from aluminum smelted in the U.S. “Doing this will shave five to seven pounds off the weight,” says Wartofsky. Other e-bikes can weigh in the “high thirties,” says Vander Woude.

Conscious Commuter has yet to set a final price for the bike, which will be powered by a 36-volt, 10-amp battery capable of 20 miles per charge. But, says Vander Woude, it is their intent “to come to market with a lower price” than their competitors’ bikes, which typically retail for between $2,500 and $2,800.

Wartofsky and Vander Woude say that the first round of bikes will be ready in Q1 2012, a full three years before the market for two-wheel electric vehicles is expected to hit $10.9 billion, according to a new report.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Wartofsky grew up in a family that did not own an automobile. His mother became a local icon after The Washington Post labelled her “the bike lady.” His design is a tribute to her. “My mother’s philosophy was: ‘Movement is magic,’ ” says Wartofsky.

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