A French entrepreneur has developed an e-bike that doesn't use a lithium-ion battery, and never needs charging. Instead of a standard battery pack, the Pi-Pop bike uses a supercapacitor to store energy, and is charged while you ride.
E-bikes open up the world of cycling and bikepacking to people who'd otherwise count themselves out, but while they're much less environmentally damaging than a car, they still require cobalt and lithium. Modern batteries use less of these rare metals, but demand is soaring and shortages are looming. There's also an ethical problem: most of the world's cobalt is mined in the DRC, often by workers who are underpaid and poorly treated.
As Euronews Next explains, entrepreneur Adrien Lelièvre set out to find an alternative, and has designed and patented the Pi-Pop city bike as a more sustainable alternative. It uses no lithium or cobalt, and unlike plug-in e-bikes, it's charged by regenerative braking, where the kinetic energy from braking is converted into electrical power. It also charges while you ride downhill, when the wheels are moving but the motor isn't engaged.
The Pi-Pop is a class-one e-bike, meaning it can provide assistance at speeds up to 15.5mph, and the motor will only engage while you're pedalling. The supercapacitor has a lifespan of 10-15 years. For comparison, the typical lithium e-bike battery will need replacing after 3-5 years.
It has a unisex step-through frame for city riding, with front suspension to smooth out bumps and potholes. It's equipped with a lightweight Aikema Electric Drive Systems motor, Shimano Tourney RD-TY300D seven-speed derailleur, and Tektro MD-M280 disc brakes.
Best of all, the Pi-Pop isn't just a concept – it's actually available to order for €2,450 including tax (about $2,600).
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.