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Mando Footloose IM by Mark Sanders

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Mando Footloose IM chainless electric bike by Mark Sanders
Thought it has been nearly three years since I first shared Mark Sanders’ design for the Mando Footloose chainless hybrid e-bike, that 2012 post still remains quite popular today.  After the successful introduction of the original Footloose, Mark was asked to design a new non-folding (and more affordable) version of the bike called the Mando Footloose IM. Like the original design, the IM has already won a few design awards, including the 2015 Red Dot and Good Design awards , and today (May 18, 2015) Mando announces availability of the Footloose IM in the UK.

Like the original Footloose, the IM employs “chainless Series Hybrid Technology that powers the wheels with its internal 250 watt motor.”  There is no mechanical connection between the cranks and rear wheel and instead they are connected by an alternator.  The company further leverages its heritage in sophisticated automotive technology through its Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that monitors the bike’s condition and manages the system to optimize the bike. “
Mando Footloose IM chainless electric bike by Mark Sanders
A smartphone sized color LCD computer module called the Human Machine Interface (HMI) mounts to the bars and acts as the dashboard for the bike, displaying information and controlling integrated features:

 “It provides the user with power, speed, maintenance and even health/fitness information. The HMI also allows the user to select preferred modes including acceleration mode (eco, normal, sporty, health) and pedal resistance mode (soft, medium, hard). The HMI communicates with the bike’s other systems to notify the user of changes in terrain, maintenance issues and battery level via its intuitive and bright display. In addition to being a useful source of information, once the user removes the detachable head, the bike is rendered unusable, thus providing an efficient security system as well.”

The new model adds significant advances such as a removable battery for easy charging; a streamlined design to provide a sleeker look; and a durable plastic-covered aluminum frame that comes in a wider choice of colors (red, white, yellow/green, dark blue and dark grey).  Front and rear wheels are cast aluminum with high-performance disc brakes. The suggested retail price starts at 1,999 GBP (just over $3,000).
Mark Sanders talks a bit about the design of both Footloose bikes in his presentation at DEVELOP3D LIVE 2015 (his entire talk is quite interesting, but if you want to skip to the part about bicycles, it starts at around 17:08 with his discussion of the Mando designs beginning around 18:50). The video gives great insight into Mark’s design process, and his positive experience collaborating with the Mando engineers. I won’t give it away since he explains it better than I could, but I was particularly interested in his explanation of the inspiration behind the folding joint in the middle of the original frame.  Quite fascinating!

As Sanders’ mentioned in the video, the idea behind the new design was to keep the DNA of the original, but to make it more affordable. With the brightly colored injection molded shells (kind of like earlier Nokia phones, he mentioned) the bike also targets a younger audience. Overall, Mark is pleased with the results.

“I feel like we’ve raised the bar again with the Mando Footloose IM,” he says. “We’ve tweaked some of the design and performance features to make it even more ergonomically appealing and user friendly. It’s an ideal combination of form and function and we are confident its high-tech elegance will be quite popular in Europe.”

Again, I encourage you to watch the video of Mark’s talk if you haven’t done so yet. In addition, you can visit the Mando Footloose website for more information about both versions of the bike.

Mando Footloose IM chainless electric bike by Mark Sanders


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1 Comment

  1. pierre September 21, 2015 at 6:27 am -  Reply

    This new version of the bike was available for test rides at Eurobike 2015; I had much expectations as I was very impressed by the sophisticated design and engineering that went into this bike, with such famous names as Mark Sanders and Pacific Cycles involved… but this ride was a total disappointment.
    It has an unpleasant motor noise, (Just like the Gocycle) but even worse, without any chain between the crankset and the rear wheel the pedaling resistance is totally disconnected from “reality”, which could be OK if the software and motor controls were properly designed, but it turns out that this is not the case. The Mando Footlose offers the most unpleasant pedaling experience that you can imagine: the resistance that you get on the pedals feels weird and “slippery”.
    One could think that it was because of a wrong setting but others who test rode it experienced the same.

    Even though the outside shell is appealing it seems to me that everything inside the Mando Footlose should be retought. As it is, and when I think at how much money has been invested in this “innovative” bike, Ican only see it as a high tech industrial failure.

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