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The new Velib’ unveiled!

Projects, Technology

The new Velib’ unveiled!

BY   Alexandre Gauquelin   

Today was held in Paris the presentation of the new Velib’, that will launch on january 1st, 2018. The press conference happened along the Bassin de la Villette, and gathered Anne HIDALGO (mayor of Paris), Patrick OLLIER (president of Métropole du Grand Paris) and Catherine BARRATI-ELBAZ (president of Autolib-Velib syndicate).

The project will spread next year to the larger suburb of Paris, increasing the number of potential users to 7.5M in over 68 cities (formerly 30 cities)! No big news on the project side (except the late subscription of St-Ouen, Champigny and Bois Colombes that avoids a hole in the map), I was more interested in technological evolutions from the existing Smoove bike…

 

Both bikes also integrate a new Smoovebox, renamed V-Box for the parisian project. Physically, the body remains, the only change beeing the larger screen and the buttons location. Along with the nominal client identification, server communication, trip data recording functions, the new Smoovebox integrates a Bluetooth module, which allows the user to turn his phone into a remote screen. It offers quite a lot of possibilities, let’s wait for future functions to be unveiled. No confirmation so far about a  GPS module, but we can suppose it is present, only considering the securisation of the Ebike fleet.

A huge argument for Smoove in the tender was the overflow technology: already in use on Helsinki’s scheme, operated by Citybike Finland (consortium of Smoove and Moventia, also present in Smovengo), it allows to double the standard capacity of station by creating virtual docks. The bikes will be securised in between the present bikes, thanks to the specific Smoove securisation system and offers different possibilities:
– to allow the user to return the bike in a station where all the docks are busy
– to over-fill a station with bikes before rush hours in busy stations.

Both mechanical and electrical bikes have the same frame and equipment. One big argument of Smoovengo is to be able to turn a conventional bike into an electrical one in only 30 minutes: insert the battery in the diagonal tube, install sensors, cables, battery controller, change the front wheel and let’s go! The maintenance staff will have to be well trained to perform it in only 30 min, but still, that allows the operator to adapt its ebike rate easily.

 

The saddle clamp is also new and very well designed. It uses the same mechanism as the Btwin and JCD (for the one I know), and is improved with a rubber spring that makes its manipulation really smooth.

 

A specific basket has been designed, and integrates a bungee cord to secure bags.

Haaaaa, the Ebike, round of applause. Whoaaa! It is the main attraction of the conference, Anne HIDALGO presenting it as a “revolution” in public transportation. It looks the same as its conventional brother, the front hub beeing the only visible difference. Looking closer, the differences are minim: a USB port is available in the basket to charge a phone thanks to the bike battery. A smartphone case is attached to the bungee cord… and well, let’s hope it’s a prototype, as we can be sceptical about its durability and stability with the weight of the phone,as long as its orientation/position with a bag inside the basket…

The motor is a Bafang front hub one, no specifications has been communicated so far. Its works along with a battery fitted in the diagonal tube and providing a 50km range, which might be well enough for the common use. One innovation is the setting of the assistance on 3 different levels through the app and customer account. You can adapt the bike to your ride, that’s a big thing!! The cable integration is also well-groomed, with multiple plastic caps hiding the electrical and brake/gear cables.

 

The work for the stations is in progress until march 2018, and the new bikes will hit the streets on january 1st 2018. Can’t wait to try it!

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