Some inventions are absolute genius, like the Segway, while others are utterly absurd, like this expensive Japanese walking bicycle. It’s a lot like an elliptical cross-trainer that moves. It’s called the Walking Bicycle Club (WBC), and it moves when you pump your legs straight up and down, kind of like walking. It has three wheels and it’s also fitted with an electric motor that assists the user while travelling uphill.
The WBC is available in a range of attractive colors – Brilliant Red, Moegi Green, Champagne Gold and Sakura Pink. It is 1.2 meters long and weighs about 36 kg. The makers – automotive parts manufacturer Katayama Kogyo – said their goal was to create an experience that combines the joy of walking with the speed of riding a bike. The WBC, they claim, can go up to 15mph (24 km/h) and the built-in power assist motor can travel up to 12 miles (20 km) on a single charge.
The product is being promoted as a part-mobility, part-fashion vehicle. The pedaling action is said to be similar to walking, making it the best possible intuitive pedestrian vehicle in the market. Since vehicle calls for a more relaxed muscle action, it’s not as tiring as pedaling a regular bike. It’s safer too, they say, because you’re always in an upright position, so you can easily jump off in case of danger. And, best of all, you don’t need a license to ride it (or walk it, if you will).
Unfortunately, the online reaction to the WBC launch video wasn’t as enthusiastic as the makers would have hoped. The company recently put out a promotional video that is as boring as they come. You wait for several minutes for something to happen, but the girl in the video simply traipses around the WBC without actually getting on it until the last 10 seconds.
Understandably, YouTube commenters have slammed the video, calling it ‘annoying’. Some were suspicious too – if they don’t show it working, it probably doesn’t work. “The video is really tranquil and stylish but she looks incredibly goofy riding that thing,” wrote one user.
“Don’t people ride a bike because they don’t want to walk? This is absurd,” wrote another.
“It’s like a piece of gym equipment,” one user pointed out.
There have been a few encouraging responses as well. Some people have indicated that they might buy a WBC if the price is right. But the company looks all set to disappoint – at 290,000 yen (US $2,800), the product isn’t exactly a steal. The first WBC showroom is scheduled to open in July in Tokyo’s Omotesando area. The store will offer test rides and take pre-orders before the grand launch in October. Hopefully, they’ll make a better commercial by then!