When it comes to pioneers of personal electric transport, few names are as recognisable as Segway. The brand is best known for its self-balancing personal transporter, which was released in 2001. Fast forward to the 2024 CES in Las Vegas, and Segway has just unveiled two new electric two-wheelers for the US market - the Xafari is a full-suspension, step-through e-bike aimed at commuters and leisure riders, and the Xyber is a stylish cruiser which blurs the lines between e-bike and e-motorcycle, albeit with the emphasis on the latter.
When Segway introduced its self-balancing personal transporter (PT), it aimed to revolutionise personal mobility. Despite initial excitement, the company struggled with widespread adoption due to various challenges, leading to its acquisition by Ninebot, a Chinese mobility and robotics company, in 2015. This marked a significant shift in Segway's strategy, focusing more on the burgeoning e-scooter market. The PT was consigned to the history books in 2020 when production ceased.
These two new e-bike models mark a new chapter for Segway. Both models boast a range of innovative features, including Active Scene Perception, which adjusts power, lighting, and security settings based on road conditions and user interaction.
There is connectivity with health apps, Segway-Ninebot's networking platforms, and advanced data monitoring for tracking mileage, speed, and burned calories.
Anti-theft measures include hidden rear wheel locks, mobile alerts, GPS, and location-based alarms.
An all-in-one smart cockpit is designed to enhance user experience with integrated applications, electronic speakers, sensor headlights, music playback, and navigation on a colour display.
As ever, it's tempting to wonder whether all of this is really necessary on an e-bike. If all of this tech improves rider experience, security and increases rider safety, then great - but what happens when something inevitably goes wrong?
The Xafari is an all-terrain commuter/leisure e-bike with a step-through frame, dual suspension, 26” x 3” tyres, and hydraulic brakes. The gear system is an entry-level Shimano Altus 7-speed, and apart from the aforementioned Active Scene Perception technology, the spec looks fairly unremarkable.
There’s a 750W geared rear hub motor and a 913Wh battery (which is very common for US electric bikes). It does have a torque sensing pedal assist and a top speed of 28mph, making it a class 3 e-bike in the States.
All of this tech will also incur a substantial weight penalty, and we’d guess the Xafari is on the wrong side of 30kg.
The bike comes with a fast charger, and Segway claims it will charge from empty in around four hours. Regarding range, 40 miles is claimed, which seems reasonable for a battery and motor of this size.
Sizing, as always, is very optimistic. 4ft 11in to 6ft 3in. Looking at the dimensions of this bike, I’d say that’s way off at the lower end.
The Xyber is more of a crossover bike, straddling the line between e-bike and e-motorcycle. It’s a pretty cool-looking machine, and the styling hints at a 1970s flat tracker.
Power is provided by up to two batteries with a total capacity of 1,440Wh, giving a potential range of 95 miles.
It’s definitely more motorbike than e-bike; the pedals are an afterthought, and you can tell by the small front chainring that this isn’t designed to be pedalled much.
No information on motor power is available, but the performance speaks for itself. With a claimed 175Nm of torque and impressive 0-20 mph acceleration in 2.5 seconds, the big direct drive hub motor must be putting out at least 3kW.
For added comfort, there’s a big upside-down front fork with 120mm travel, and the mono-shock rear suspension also has 120mm travel. For braking, there are four-piston brake callipers with big discs.
I like the look of this bike, but it occupies a very specialised niche. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, and I’m sure it won’t be cheap. Segway’s X260 e-motocross bike had moderate success and cost in excess of $6,000.
Both of these bikes look interesting (and with names like characters from the Matrix, they need to be).
I do feel that some of the technology being used is over the top for what should be a relatively simple form of transport. Nevertheless, I’m sure the Xafari and Xyber will be popular among a certain demographic with money to burn and a penchant for tech gadgets.
At the time of writing, both of these e-bikes will only be available in the US, and given the motor outputs and top speeds, I think it’s unlikely they’ll find their way to UK shores anytime soon.