Is the DryCycle the Dorky, Four-Wheeled Assisted Bike the World Needs?

Is the DryCycle the Dorky, Four-Wheeled Assisted Bike the World Needs?

08/02/2021

Electrically assisted bicycles are having a moment. Their onboard motors and battery packs give riders a superhuman power boost for—well, they were useful for commuting, until commuting sort of stopped during the pandemic. Hey, e-bikes are still good for an old-fashioned ego boost—who doesn’t want their two-wheeled fitness activities taken to higher speeds and assisted during the hard parts (i.e., hills)? But are e-bikes enough of a thing these days to make anyone consider the DryCycle, an enclosed, car-like e-bike?

The name is a combination of “dry” and “bicycle” that describes the obvious, which is that the DryCycle keeps its users dry and out of the elements—unlike a regular bike. It also has four wheels, making it far more like a microcar than bicycle.

One caveat with the car comparison? The DryCycle isn’t self-propelled. Instead, the rider—er, occupant—pedals the vehicle forward, receiving an assist from an electric Shimano hub motor fed by a 1-kW battery pack, just like your typical e-bike. Top speed is limited to 25 kph, or just under 16 mph, and when fully charged, the DryCycle can deliver up to 50 miles of pedaling assist.

A full set of lights, including turn signals and brake lamps, ensure the DryCycle is visible on city streets, and the thing’s relatively tall height doesn’t hurt, either. The company behind DryCycle even says it’s crash-tested the vehicle, but video of one of those tests depicting the bike being T-boned made clear you’d probably rather not test that claim yourself.

“Driving” the DryCycle is relatively easy, and its makers remind potential customers that, as an “e-bike,” the DryCycle requires no driver’s license, insurance, or registration. A full floor ensures the elements stay outside of the DryCycle, with the user underneath a cool bubble canopy that articulates up and back for access to a full-size car seat. The seat cants the rider in a reclined position not unlike what you’d see on a recumbent bike (which the DryCycle basically is). Steering is handled via a pair of handles on either side of the seat, which operate bulldozer-style: Pulling back on one (or pushing forward on the other) turns the DryCycle’s front tires right or left.

A full suspension ensures some level of comfort over even pitted pavement, and it bolts to what appears to be a fairly elaborate yet lightweight aluminum tube frame. There is an open differential on the rear axle—the drive axle—that allows for bind-free turning under power, and there is a Shimano computer on the dashboard for keeping tabs on speed and charge. There are some surprisingly decadent options, including power locking and release for the canopy, an alarm, GPS tracker, windshield wiper, an air heater, heated seats, heated steering handles, and heated side mirrors. Those yellow handles on the dash are sized to match universal bicycle handlebar specs, meaning any normal bicycle accessory can be mounted there, including a phone mount.

The starting price for all this bike-tastic car-adjacent enjoyment?So far the DryCycle is only being offered, it seems, in Europe, where it retails for £14,995—or nearly $21,000 at current exchange rates. While it’s true that many e-bikes cost thousands of dollars and don’t shield you from the rain or let you sit in a carlike position, you could—hear us out—choose from among a (shrinking) number of affordable cars for similar money. Whether the savings in insurance, registration, and gas costs are worth it, or you’ve just gotta have the sort of maneuverability and freedom to weave through stopped traffic like a bicycle might, is up to you. We know what we’d choose.

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