December 10, 2009
By Thomas B Haines
A new folding, electric bicycle promises convenient ground transportation for pilots, all in a 54-pound package—and a tax credit to boot. The Wildfire 20-inch bike can be ridden like a conventional bicycle. Or flip the switch on the handlebar to the “assist” mode and the bike’s electric motor kicks in to help propel it while you pedal. Or for an even less-strenuous workout, flip to the “auto” setting and let the electric motor do all the work, propelling you along at a comfortably brisk speed.
The electric power comes from a lithium ion battery mounted in the frame beneath the seat. The battery can be recharged up to 2,000 times and powers the bike in the assist mode for up to 50 miles between charges or 30 miles in auto mode. The electric motor itself is housed in the hub of the rear wheel.
The heavy-duty steel frame folds in half with the quick flip of a fastener. The handlebars fold down, too. Folded, the bicycle easily fits into a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 or Piper PA-32 and other models as well. The folded dimensions are 42 inches by 29 inches by 15 inches.
The bike lists for $899, but Maryland’s Braddock Mountain Outfitters, owned by a pilot, is offering a pilot special of $699. The bikes qualify for the 10 percent electric vehicle tax credit, reducing the price by an additional $69. For more information and complete specs, see the Web site.
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
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