We designed Stokemonkey to different ends than other electric bike products. In this sense Stokemonkey doesn’t have any direct competition. This list of design values can help you compare Stokemonkey with other products you may be considering.
- You can’t see through it, but Stokemonkey blends in to the normal bicycling experience better than other electric bike products. Stokemonkey won’t turn you into a passive energy consumer with a “powered coasting” mode, letting you get cold in the saddle and sending misleading signals to other road users, nor does it rely on pedal sensors and some algorithm to guess how and when to assist you. Stokemonkey adds no resistance or rotating weight to your normal pedaling. You can forget it’s there.
Most importantly, Stokemonkey won’t change your bicycling habits or dull your skills: it reinforces them, and can even improve your spin by supporting your stroke over the dead spot. You pedal and shift exactly as without Stokemonkey, just in several gears higher or with heavier loads than you could without. Thus, there’s no jarring shift in technique or mentality between riding assisted and on your own, on your Stokemonkey-equipped ride or on your lighter bikes.
- Powerful and efficient
- Most electric bikes that can cruise along on the flat at 18-20 MPH just fine don’t climb or accelerate very effectively, often wasting more energy as heat than applying it in motion. Poor range, overheating, and plain incapacity are common complaints whenever the course is hilly, the load is heavy, or starts and stops are frequent. Stokemonkey solves these problems by using all of your bicycle’s gears the same way you do: to keep working at a powerful, efficient rate as the load, grade, and speeds vary widely. Stokemonkey’s patented design is the only one on the market to exploit not only your wheel’s gears, but also triple front chainrings. Some electric bikes advertise more power than Stokemonkey, but without as broad a gear range, they can’t apply it over as useful a spread of speeds. Stokemonkey will out-climb, out-run, and out-last many heavier, nominally more powerful systems on real-world courses. Read more about this in “Motors and bicycles.”
- Hackable, simple, robust
- Stokemonkey’s drivetrain resembles that of time-proven tandem bicycles, with the motor in the stoker role (hence the name). All drivetrain components are standard bicycle parts, available from several manufacturers in any bike shop for service or performance tuning. The motor has no internal gears or brushes to wear out. Most service and adjustment can be performed with a bicyclist’s multi-tool. Installations are reversible and non-destructive.
Unlike many other electric bike products that lock you in to special batteries or other wearing parts with uncertain long-term supply, with Stokemonkey you can use any type or amount of batteries you like, experiment with solar panels, fuel cells, or whatever turns you on.
- Many electric bikes have high-speed moving parts to buzz and whine. Stokemonkey doesn’t. Bicycles should be virtually silent, because hearing odd noises from your bike and the approach of heavy vehicles immediately is important to safety. It’s also peaceful. Stokemonkey’s low thrum is more felt than heard, and some have called it silent. They weren’t exactly lying, just exaggerating.
The crisis can be solved only if we learn to invert the present deep structure of tools; if we give people tools that guarantee their right to work with high, independent efficiency, thus simultaneously eliminating the need for either slaves or masters and enhancing each person’s range of freedom. People need new tools to work with rather than tools that “work” for them. They need technology to make the most of the energy and imagination each has, rather than more well-programmed energy slaves.
— Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality