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Month: March 2020

Coronavirus Chaos: How to move around London without risk

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the world into disarray. In the UK, as elsewhere, the government has placed severe restrictions on movement. Restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas, and just about any other location where gatherings could potentially take place have been closed down, whilst home working has been recommended for all but a handful of ‘key workers’.  

 

The message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson is loud and clear –’Stay at home’. If you happen to be one of these key workers, however, you may be left wondering how you can get to work without the risk of picking up or spreading coronavirus. 

 

The latest reports from London show that tubes and trains are still packed during rush hour – perfect conditions for this disease to pass from person to person. As fewer services are running and stations closed, those who do have to travel around the capital (and many that don’t) are cramming into carriages. 

 

In order to prevent the spread of this disease and the NHS from being overwhelmed, two things need to happen: firstly, we repeat, stay at home; secondly, seek other ways of moving around the capital that are less risky. 

 

As it happens, we might just know the ideal alternative to the tube during this troubled time. 

 

Pedalling against the pandemic 

If you’re a key worker, one of the most secure ways to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 on your commute is by getting on a bike. Now, you could use a standard old-fashioned bike, but this pandemic has caught you unaware and you might not be in the best shape to pedal across the capital. An eBike is the answer, and here’s why. 

 

  • Motor-assistance – Electric bikes are fitted with lithium-battery-powered motors that assist you up to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph. This means you can get to your workplace without breaking a sweat, and probably faster than you would with the tube anyway. 
  • Sustainability – Electric bikes are an environmentally-friendly way of getting around. Whilst pollution has plummeted in London since the beginning of the outbreak, riding an eBike certainly won’t dirty the capital’s air. 
  • Reliable – TfL has closed more than 40 stations around London, and reduced most services to a weekend rota. Although it’s committed to ensuring key workers are able to reach their destinations, travel is likely to be disrupted. With an electric bike, however, commuters can take control and be where they need to without delays. 

 

Cycling tips during coronavirus 

Cyclists must adhere to the normal rules regarding the coronavirus outbreak. This includes regularly washing hands, not touching your face, and severely limiting social contact. A specific consideration for cyclists is to be wary of touching handlebars, helmets, and any other equipment. Preliminary research has shown that the virus can live on surfaces from anywhere between a few hours to days, so it’s highly advisable to wash your hands as soon as you’ve finished your ride to your workplace or home. 

 

Everyone must do what they can to stop the spread of coronavirus. For most, this means staying inside and avoiding all but the most essential contact with people from other households. For others, especially those deemed as ‘key workers’, this means reducing the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Alongside thorough hygiene practices, choosing alternative modes of travel like an electric bike will help to stop the spread of this disease. 

 

FuroSystems make a range of electric bikes to aeronautical design precision. Our eBikes offer commuters a fast, efficient, and green way to travel to-and-fro. Check out the Furo X – the first ever full-carbon folding electric bike. 

Our service and commitment towards the COVID-19 outbreak

During these times of uncertainty and as the world enforces the necessary actions to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak from spreading catastrophically, with the ultimate goal of saving lives, we have also taken action to help towards this global effort.

Where possible or necessary, our staff is currently working from home. As a digital brand, this is very easy for us to implement while maintaining our outstanding level of support and customer service. The safety of our team and customers being our top priority, we currently do not offer trials on any of our products. This is constantly being reviewed. Our workshops are still manned with the minimum amount of staff possible in order to guarantee no internal social interactions but still deliver our customer support, spare parts and repairs.

In addition, thanks to the actions taken by UPS towards embracing global COVID-19 health and safety regulations while still maintaining an effective network around Europe, we are currently able to ship and dispatch any order as per usual.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call or message us, we are here to help!

Electric scooters to take to UK roads legally for the first time

Back in January, the Government announced that it would discuss the legality of electric scooters on public roads. Since then, progress has been made with the Department of Transport unveiling plans for a trial period.

 

Starting in the next few months, four areas will be treated as test grounds before new regulations are rolled out to the rest of the country. 

 

The four areas chosen are all designated ‘Future Mobility Zones’, where new and innovative solutions to the UK’s transport problems are trialled. These include: Portsmouth and Southampton; the West of England Combined Authority (WECA); Derby and Nottingham; and the West Midlands.

 

Various rules and restrictions will be assessed during the test period. Amongst them, the programme will consider the minimum age of riders, speed limits, rules for helmet wearing, and requirements for insurance and licensing. 

 

It’ll also look at minimum design standards for electric scooters, and assess the safest places for riders on the road (i.e bike lanes). 

 

Whilst all aspects of riding electric scooters on the road will be under consideration, it’s likely that the eventual rules will be similar to those currently in force for electric bikes. This includes a minimum age of 14 for riders and speed caps of 15.5 mph (25 kph). 

 

The programme will also benefit from insights gained from other EU countries that have already legalised electric scooters for use on public roads. Issues such as inner city speed limits and where to park dockless electric scooters in public spaces will be informed from the experience of European cities like Paris, and will ultimately help to refine the UK’s approach to legislation. 

 

The exploration into more agile, electric vehicles by the UK government represents a commitment to more environmentally-friendly ways of travel – especially in urban environments. 

 

Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, stated: 

“Decarbonising transport is key to ending our contribution to climate change. This review could drive down transport emissions by making greener ways to travel available to more people. Future Transport Zones will also help to spur low carbon innovation by providing our best and brightest researchers with testing facilities for the clean transport technologies of the future.”

 

Alongside the trialling of electric scooters on public roads, other technology-led transport solutions will be tested out. This includes the transportation of medical supplies via drone to the Isle of Wight and an app-based booking system for public transport. 

 

FuroSystems welcomes this announcement which sees the UK move closer to legalising electric scooters for public roads up and down the country. We’re well aware of the benefits that electric scooters can bring, and we’re confident that our Fuze model is ahead of the curve both in terms of quality and sustainability. 

 

To keep up-to-date with news from the trial, and other tips on how to use and maintain your electric scooter, check our blog regularly. 

Can you take an electric bike on a plane?

Ebiking holidays are growing in popularity with many people taking to the pathways and trails of Europe for some sightseeing and adventure. If you own an electric bike, you’ve likely considered such a trip; flying to Spain or France to enjoy the wonderful cycling routes they have to offer. However, taking your electric bike on the plane with you won’t be as easy as you’d hope. Here we discuss the problems you’ll run into when trying to take an electric bike on a plane and ways to get around them. 

 

In short, the answer is no: you can’t take an electric bike on a plane. It’s all because of the battery. Any rechargeable lithium battery larger than 100Wh is prohibited from being taken onto a plane. Some airlines may allow batteries that are up to 160Wh, but you’ll need to ask for permission in advance. The reason being that lithium batteries can be a fire hazard; if their shell were to be damaged or overheat, the battery could short-circuit and cause a spark. Lithium is highly flammable, so this spark could set it on fire and could even cause a small explosion. Of course, most modern lithium-ion batteries are designed in a way so as to prevent such issues. However, aviation security cannot take any chances. 

 

A fire in the cargo hold could spread unnoticed and there’s a good chance that it will come into contact with other highly-flammable items such as aerosols and nail varnish. This is obviously a huge problem on a plane. And it happens more often than you’d imagine. In fact, between January 2006 and January 2020, there were 268 incidents involving lithium batteries on planes – that’s more than one every month! 

 

This regulation, however, allows for most personal items, such as phones, laptops, and cameras, to be taken on planes. The problem is that electric bike batteries tend to be a minimum of 300Wh – our smallest electric bike, the Etura, is 313Wh. Therefore, they’re banned from being flown on commercial planes. 

 

Alternatives to flying with an electric bike

 

Your hopes of taking your electric bike with you abroad shouldn’t be dashed just yet; there are ways of getting around the issue. 

 

Rent a battery once you arrive

 

A popular option is to remove the battery and fly with what is essentially just a normal bike. Once you’ve arrived, you can source a battery to use for the duration of your trip. There are a couple of things to consider here. Firstly, do your research before you fly and make sure you can actually find a lender. It’s not the most common of services, so be sure to check. If you’re flying to a popular cycling destination then your chances of finding a lender will be significantly higher. Secondly, you need to ensure that the battery is compatible with your particular electric bike. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all”, so you’ll need to do some research here too. 

 

While this may seem like a lot of effort, it’s going to be significantly cheaper than hiring an entire ebike for your trip. Biking trips can last several days, even weeks, so hiring fees for an electric bike can be pretty steep. 

 

Ship your battery separately

 

In some circumstances, it’s possible to send your bike’s battery to your destination, but it will come with a hefty fee. Certain couriers, such as FedEx and UPS, provide detailed information on how your battery must be packaged and how to go about sending it abroad. For example, it must be declared as “Dangerous Goods” and labelled as being suitable for cargo aircraft only. It must also be packaged in such a way that it is protected against short-circuiting. It can be quite a hassle, but if you’re really set on taking your own battery with you, there is a way. 

 

Use another form of transport

 

If it’s possible, the best option may be to use an alternative mode of transport. For example, there are no restrictions on taking electric bikes on ferries. You can take the ferry from the UK to mainland Europe, places like France or Belgium, and then continue the rest of your journey by car (or by ebike!). This does limit the number of destinations you can choose from, but it may save you a lot of hassle. 

 

Don’t let these regulations discourage you from the electric bike experience. We’re firm believers that parts of the world are best seen by bike, and electric bikes provide the assistance you need to conquer inclines that you otherwise might not be able to. Our Furo X is a powerful ebike, boasting a 314Wh battery, which can also be folded for easy transportation. It’s one of the most powerful folding ebikes you can buy and is perfect for any occasion. Get in touch with us if you have any ebike-related questions. 

Electric scooters vs electric unicycles

Personal transport vehicles are becoming more prevalent in cities around the world. Traditional bikes, electric bikes, and electric scooters are common sights, and this trend is only going to increase. One of the most unique modes of personal transport is the electric unicycle. These are far rarer sights than the other vehicles mentioned, but you’ve probably come across them – a single wheel with a flap on either side upon which the rider stands. It’s very minimalist, and riders appear to glide along, often with their hands in their pockets (which we wouldn’t recommend!). A natural comparison is made between electric unicycles and another electronically-powered device – electric scooters. Since we know a thing or two about electric scooters, we thought we’d weigh in on the debate of electric unicycles vs electric scooters.

Riding experience

The riding experience on an electric scooter is vastly different to an electric unicycle for one obvious reason – the handlebars. The scooter’s handlebars make riders feel more secure and in control which allows for better steering. With an electric unicycle, the rider must rely entirely on using their body weight to steer. The handlebars of an electric scooter also make for easier balancing and better stability, even over bumps and dips in the road.

All of this means that electric unicycles have a far steeper learning curve than scooters. Most people will be able to hop onto an electric scooter and be able to ride it immediately. The same cannot be said for unicycles. The sensation of having to take both feet off the floor to step on the vehicle without having handlebars to hold is unusual and takes time to get used to. As such, it alienates a large group of people who may struggle to balance or feel uncomfortable with such a manoeuvre. Electric scooters, on the other hand, are incredibly intuitive and inclusive in this regard.

Safety

The design differences also affect the safety of these vehicles. Of course, there’s a risk involved with riding any vehicle so it’s important to be careful when using either. The handlebars on most electric scooters have brakes on them, making it very easy to slow down and stop in an emergency. The increased control also helps riders to avoid potholes and collisions more easily.

Electric unicycle riders must lean back in order to activate the brake, which takes some getting used to. Some riders may prefer this to traditional braking, but it can be argued that it’s less safe. There is also a considerable lack of sideways manoeuvrability with electric unicycles.

Speed

The speed of an electric scooter or unicycle depends on the particular model you buy. Some can travel at approximately 15mph (24kph), whereas some suped-up models have clocked speeds of over 50mph (80kph)! For the most part, however, both e-scooters and e-unicycles will have top speeds of approximately 20mph (32kph).

That being said, the top speed that can be achieved is almost irrelevant since it’s hard to reach such speeds consistently within a city. Roads are bumpy, pathways twist and turn, and you have to stay vigilant at all times, especially when pedestrians are nearby. But it’s nice to know that your vehicle packs a punch – even if you rarely get to try it out.

Cost

Pricing-wise, electric scooters and electric unicycles are very similar. They can cost anything from £300 right up to £2000. It all depends on the power, design, range and extra features you want from your vehicle. For example, our very own Fuze scooter has regenerative braking. This means that excess energy that’s created while braking is stored and used by the battery, effectively charging it as you ride. It’s an added feature that most electric scooters don’t have.

Overall, unicycles are great fun for some users, but electric scooters offer a more complete experience for virtually everyone. Their design makes for an intuitive (and fun) riding experience. If you’d like to join in, check out our Fuze e-scooter. With its powerful 422Wh battery (or 576WH in the Fuze Max), a top speed of 25mph (40kph) and an elegant folding design, it’s the perfect personal transport vehicle.

Disclaimer: Currently, electric scooters are not legal for use on pavements and public roads in the UK. However, this is likely to change soon – we hope! 

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