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Xiaomi’s newest gadget is a foldable electric bicycle that costs $450

TechCrunch TechCrunch 23/06/2016 Jon Russell

Is there anything that China’s Xiaomi doesn’t sell? The company best-known for its affordable but high-quality smartphones recently announced its first drone, right after launching a smart rice cooker, and now it has unveiled an electric bicycle.

The Mi QiCYCLE Electric Folding Bike is — as you can guess from the name — also foldable. It comes with a 250W, 36V motor and packs 20 Panasonic lithium-ion batteries — the same type you’d find in a Tesla — alongside Xiaomi’s own battery management system that, the company said, all told will take you 45km on a single charge.

The bike looks like an interesting option for anyone who has an urban commute, and doesn’t fancy an electric skateboard — we’ve seen them in China and the U.S., but not from Xiaomi — or one of Xiaomi’s own electric scooters to cover the last mile/miles home or to the office.

As you’d expect from any Xiaomi product, it is ‘smart’ — which means it has a companion app that displays information about your ride (speed, distance, calories burned, etc), GPS data and the status of the bike. There’s a little more than that. Xiaomi said it has a system — IDbike Torque Measurement Method — that uses sensors to optimize the effort you are putting into pedaling so that you don’t have to overdo it to get to your desired speed.

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Like the Mi Drone, the bike will initially be crowdfunded inside Xiaomi’s Mi Home app. That essentially means that the product won’t be fully released until a target number of users have signed up and agreed to buy it first, in a similar to way to how Kickstarter projects have a threshold before they are fully funded.

The initial price Xiaomi is touting is 3,000 RMB, which is around $455, and — as Xiaomi fans will be expecting — the bike is limited to customers in China at this point. This product is part of the company’s new Mi Ecosystem, which is designed to help Xiaomi market products — generally hardware — from partners. Xiaomi has traditionally tapped third parties to provide products that it rebrands and sells via its own channels, including its Mi.com site, but Mi Ecosystem is designed to broaden that program to accommodate more products, just like this bicycle.

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