Were you ever biking along when you see a huge hill looming ahead and just felt like turning around? I have. I'm not an avid get-out-there-with-pro-bicycle-shorts biker. I get out on the weekend and tool around with the kids.
This past weekend at Carrboro's Earth Action DayI visited Cycle 9's booth. They had the most amazing thing there and better yet they let me try it in the parking lot! (Not too smart of them....)
What I got to try is called the BionX assist system. I was going to say it is like riding a bike with someone jogging next to you occasionally pushing, but after reading their description I have to agree it is more like "riding your bike with Bionc legs."
Let me explain. I went in the booth thinking that what they had were bikes with motors where you have a throttle you twist or push to make it move the bicycle. Instead this thing requires you to only pedal. When it senses the pedals are being pushed hard, like when you stand on them to get up that nasty hill, the motor turns on and gives you a bit of a nudge. Help if you will. Help that is surprisingly strong and effective.
How does it know you need help? Who cares - it just works (if you really want to know check out the BionX web site for details).
The system is totally adjustable for things like amount of assist and the threshold for when it determines to give assist. There is even an engine breaking mode for that long downhill - yep it will recharge the battery on the way down the hill.
Just amazing. Try one out for yourself at Cycle 9 - you'll be amazed too.