Power Pitch

An electric bike you can fold in a second

An electric bike you can fold in a second
An electric bike you can fold in a second

This start-up claims there's no excuse not to bike thanks to its bicycles that fold in half and fit practically anywhere.

"Gi FlyBike is an electric, smartphone integrated, maintenance-free, folding bicycle that we created for the future of urban commuting. The Gi is the fastest folding bicycle in the world — one second and one motion," said Eric Sevillia, co-founder of Gi Flybike.

Taking Charge

Sevillia's idea came from living and working in Argentina during a transportation strike.

"I noticed that commuters wanted the kind of independence that is incompatible with public transit, they also wanted agility that cars cannot offer," he told CNBC.

So in February 2012 Sevillia, along with co-founders Lucas Toledo and Agustin Augustinoy, launched Gi FlyBike, an electric folding bicycle controlled via smartphone.

"With Gi FlyBike we believe that thoughtful design and technology can take us into the next generation of transportation, to create more effective and eco-friendly cities with happier people," said Sevillia.

The Gi Flybike offers 40 miles of pedal assistance per charge, and incorporates a custom design that enables the bike to fold in literally one second by pulling a lever on the frame. Its other features are managed through the free Flybike mobile app, which controls everything from the level of electric assistance, to the LED smart lights, and GPS navigation. Users can even lock or unlock the bike automatically when they are more than 10 feet away from it.

The bike also includes anti-puncture full-sized tires, a belt drive system which eliminates rust and broken chains, and a lightweight aluminum alloy frame.

Gi FlyBikes are currently available for pre-order on the company's website for $2,290.

To date the company has pre-sold 321 bikes, which will deliver in March 2017.

Switching Gears

Gi Flybike
Source: Gi Flybike

In a competitive marketplace dominated by European electric bike brands like GoCycle and Stromer, angel investor Alicia Syrett was concerned the start-up's high price point would make mass adoption difficult.

Sevillia claimed the company's prices are in the lower to middle range of the electric bike market. "We analyzed the top 15 countries that comprise 90 percent of that market, and we looked at the average prices per unit. The fact is that the competition sells anywhere from $1,500 all the way to $7,000."

But Michael Roberts, executive editor of Outside magazine, questioned the start-ups potential for profitability in the U.S. market.

"It's true that the U.S. in particular when compared to the rest of the world has been slower to implement the road infrastructure necessary to push people to get on the street and bike," said Sevillia, but he insisted that of the nearly $750,000 in pre-sales, the majority of the start-up's bikes were purchased by U.S consumers, followed by "30 percent in Europe, 15 percent in Asia, and another 15 percent between the Middle East and South America."

Sevillia also said that increasing tolls and parking costs in the U.S., "will let the bicycle become one of the primary modes of transportation in urban areas."

New York City-based Gi FlyBike has raised $1.5 million in its seed round of funding, and will soon enter into its series A round. Key investors include Incutex and Santex.

According to the start-up, there are plans to distribute its bicycles to hotels, cruise ships, universities and gyms, in addition to a adding a bike-sharing program.

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