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By Diane Small
Italians are known for their love of Vespas, the buzzing, colourful scooters that were featured in iconic films from La Dolce Vita to Roman Holiday.
Though better than cars, Vespas are still something of an urban pest–their noise keeps city dwellers up at night, and many run on nasty diesel, spewing fumes into the air. Yet, they’re still extremely popular for their style, ease of getting through traffic, and low running costs.
Fortunately, two talented Italian men–Alberto Bellotti and Ludovico Santasilia– have created a means of cheap transportation as fast as an urban Vespa, yet without the emissions and sounds: the Velorapida.
Velorapida is now the darling of all lovers of eco-friendly design, and will be highlighted at the 1.618 Sustainable Luxury showcase in Paris this April 4-6. It takes the power generated by the largest and strongest of the body’s muscles, those of the legs, and unites it with a 250-watt motor. With a nearly friction-free chain drive and its reduced weight, this bike is believed to be the most efficient vehicle ever invented.
The bike is equipped with an electric battery that can take you to speeds of up to 25 km/h for up to 60 km, and its frame is one of the lightest of all electric bikes. It uses SRAM automatic internal gear hubs on the back wheel, so that the chain is always perfectly in line, and comes with both front and back brakes.
All it takes to get going is a good breakfast and one Euro every 500km. Maintenance costs are extremely low compared to any other vehicle, and of course there are no parking costs.
Maybe best of all, Velorapida provides excellent cardiovascular exercise, but when you’ve had enough, you can simply take a break and rely on the help of the electronic motor, which is neatly hidden in a small picnic basket at the front of the bike.
You may not be able to pack a lunch with Velorapida, but you’ll certainly be able to burn one off!
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