Kipchoge (kip-CHO-gee) Spencer is Xtracycle’s president. Grist Magazine’s editors interview the man, then open it up to questions from readers. You should read it. Cleverchimp isn’t formally affiliated with Xtracycle, but that’s a technicality: we’re pretty much in the same small tent with aspirations for our creations’ place in people’s lives, and if Cleverchimp had to choose between power assist and Xtracycles as bicycle enhancements, for ourselves or for the world, we’d pick Xtracycles every time.
One reader gently suggests that Kipchoge would be greener if he didn’t use an amplifier for his guitar. Kipchoge aptly compares the energy use of his amp to that of a car. Pegged at peak output for a full hour, the amp takes as much energy as driving a 35-MPG car one quarter mile. A whole lot of environmentalists dance around the margins when it comes to driving, not facing the fact that driving ten miles for a compact fluorescent lightbulb pretty much eliminates any energy saving for hundreds of hours of use. I’d like to borrow Kipchoge’s math and point out that Stokemonkey uses less than 2% the energy of that car to go a mile. I’m not counting charging losses and the myriad other energy costs involved in making it all happen, but the car example isn’t counting Iraq and so on, either. Of course, if all you’re getting is a houseload of lightbulbs within a dozen or so miles, Stokemonkey’s extravagant, too: just ride.