Sub-freezing weather doesn’t derail promotional bike tour to CES

The year’s first publicity stunt using a bicycle is currently underway.

A long-distance cyclist is burning rubber across the US  to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to promote an electric-assist bicycle wheel that is controlled by Google Assistant. You can follow at

Max Lippe riding through subfreezing temps on Day 1; photo by Electron Wheel

Completing the 2,826-mile ride from New York City in 10 days would have been difficult enough any time of year. But when Max Lippe set out from New York City on Dec. 29, he pedaled into an epic cold wave that has gripped the East Coast and Midwest with below zero temperatures.

By New Year’s Day, subfreezing wind chill beat the electric assist wheel, as well as mobile phones, chargers, and anything else with a battery, according to a posting on the Electron Wheel Facebook page. Explained crew chief James Barringer:

“Some of the safety support features we had to help us keep track of Max and everything he was doing … started failing because of the freezing temperatures. For instance, we use phones a lot of run the apps that run the wheels … and the phones were failing. So it became a safety issue.”

They rerouted south to pick up some warmer temperatures, although Barringer said the total trip mileage will still be some 2,800 miles by bicycle.

By Monday, Max and his support team were passing through western New Mexico and entering Arizona on US 60. Temperatures were back into the relatively balmy 50s. He’s due at CES on Friday or Saturday.

The electric-assist wheel is made and marketed by Electron Wheel. It replaces a traditional 700c  wheel with one powered by a small electric motor.


700c Electron Wheel; Gen 2

This second version of the Electron Wheel uses Google Assistant to open the Electron Wheel app, increase or decrease the level of assistance, gauge the battery level, and read out your stats.

Google is paying for this gig. The cyclist is being tailed by a van carrying six wheels that are repeatedly being swapped out and recharged every 50 miles, which is the battery’s lifespan.

Max, the cyclist, is a long-distance cyclist who competed in the 2017 Trans Bike Race, finishing in the Top 10.

With Google entering the electric-assist market for bicycles, it makes me wonder how else Google is going to use its technology for bicycling.

They’ve already included the bicycling feature on Google Maps. Could there be a bicycle-version of the driverless car in the offing?

A video from showing a Google driverless bike a couple of years ago was a hoax, but a University of Washington prof is working on such a vehicle with some success.

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