In July 2013, Smart bike manufacturers Daimler donated the current Pope with an Ebike. Whether this generosity will prompt sightings of the Pope on two wheels around the streets of Rome has yet to be seen but it makes a change from the â€˜Popemobile' of latter years.
In the USA, sales of the Ebike reached 30 million units but worldwide sales for this machine are expected to reach 47 million by 2018.
The Ebike was first launched in 2009 as a concept vehicle. As any filmmaker will know, the time difference between concept and production can extend from months to years and the Ebike was only officially released in 2012.
It's difficult to get lost on an Ebike, as the machine comes fitted with a smartphone cradle which provides access to GPS and maps through an app. The bike does also have additional security provisions through this app as it can be unlocked the moment the smartphone is placed on its cradle, and you can also transport your bags on the bike's luggage rack.
The bike is quiet and compared to the mobilletes so beloved of French students, this relative silence is something of a relief. The same could be said about the drone of Italian Lambrettas and Vespas that dominate Italian streets.
To date none of the biggest Hollywood stars have been spotted riding an Ebike on screen but given the use of a lawnmower in The Straight Story who knows what the future will hold.
Steve Coogan resurrecting his Alan Partridge persona in his recent film, Alpha Papa could easily have navigated the flat lands of Norfolk on an Ebike and let's face it, if the Pope is expected to ride one of these machines, cassocks flowing in the wind, then surely other luminaries will follow?
The bike does need recharging every five hours so any trendsetter will have to take this into account. Perhaps Domnhall Gleeson in About Time could have carried out his time travelling exploits on an Ebike? Then again, Bill Nighy is quirkier and it would be interesting to project how he might have folded his long body onto one of these vehicles.
These bikes are currently more popular on mainland Europe with the Dutch and Germans the biggest enthusiasts to date. The bikes are eco-friendly, quiet and will most certainly be coming to a street near you very shortly!
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