Britain's FuroSystems make some excellent e-bikes and e-scooters that are right on the cutting edge, and they've now pulled off a bit of a first when it comes to buying one. They're following in the footsteps of Tesla and letting electric bike and scooter purchasers pay for a new ride with Bitcoin, Etherium and various other forms of crypto. Can a news story get any more zeitgeisty than that? Only if it somehow involved a TikTok dance challenge, I fancy.
Clearly this could be a bit of a gimmick, and there are some obvious down sides to accepting crypto currencies, but on the other hand, it is quite a cool idea. Demand for electric bikes and scooters has gone through the roof in the last year, partly as a result of lockdowns, with FuroSystems claiming a fivefold sales increase for its own bikes and scooters during that period. And this is another way to buy a new one, further democratising access. Personally, I'd be more inclined to use the Cycle To Work scheme or a credit card, but maybe I'm old fashioned.
It's what FuroSystems is calling 'a micro-mobility industry first' – that's the over-arching term for low-speed, non-taxed, electrically powered vehicles. The complete list of crypto currencies accepted is not clear but it 'includes' popular choices such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash, and is powered by Coinbase's payments platform, 'to ensure customer funds can be transferred from wallet-to-wallet safely and securely.'
E-bikes and e-scooters, including the Aventa, X and Fuze plus 'a host of new products due for launch later this year,' will be available to purchase in this way.
FuroSystems will not charge customers for price changes between transactions beginning and completing. Interestingly, any refunds will be in cash, to the value spent in crypto at the time of purchase. Essentially, Furo is taking on both the risk and potential reward of dealing in crypto currencies. Quite enterprising.
The last time I made an investment in crypto it shot up by 50% in a few weeks then plummeted 20% in a few days, so the value of the bike and/or the refund could vary quite a lot for FuroSystems.
Another issue with crypto is the huge energy consumption involved in mining much of it. Those wanting to buy an e-bike or scooter in order to be eco-friendly – admittedly that is not every potential buyer, but it must be a sizeable proportion – could be put off by this.
Furo is aware of this and says, 'recent advancements made in crypto technology, including the growing interest in proof of stake cryptocurrencies instead of proof of work ones like Bitcoin, will help to improve the carbon footprint of digital currencies.'
I'm not sure you can just wave away ecological concerns about cryptocurrencies right now by saying that, but there we go.
That being said, if you are a crypto fan in search of a new e-bike you could definitely do worse than the company’s hero product, the Furo X. T3's Derek Adams took this folding e-bike for a spin and described it as 'bloody fantastic,' no less!
Designed in the UK, it has a carbon fibre frame, folds up very quickly and neatly and weighs 15kg, which is light for an e-bike. The removable battery has a range of about 35 miles (55km) and there's no skimping on the components. With Shimano gears and hydraulic disk brakes, FuroSystems says, quite legitimately, that the Furo X 'competes with Gocycle and Brompton at a more affordable price' – it's a more-than-reasonable £1,799 ($2,500 or AU$3,400) at the moment.
FuroSystems' new urban electric bike, Aventa is made with 'aerospace-grade alloys' and offers similarly good value for money with hydraulic disk brakes, nine gears and 'a high performance clutch', all for a starting price of just £1,399 ($1,900 or AU$2,700).
FuroSystems CEO and co-founder Eliott Wertheimer says: “We see many similarities between the shift to micro-mobility and the interest in cryptocurrencies. E-bikes and e-scooters are the next-generation transport modes and are key to creating healthier, less congested cities. At the same time, demand is rising for cryptocurrencies and we think they will play an important role in the future of payments. We want to empower everyone to participate in the micro-mobility revolution which is why we’re now accepting cryptocurrencies as payment.”