News Treehugger Voices The Envo Flex Is Two (or More) Bikes in One It's a cargo bike! It's an urban bike! It's a trike! It's even a snow bike! By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Published August 24, 2022 01:00PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email ENVO Flex Overland. ENVO News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive There was a hilarious "Saturday Night Live" skit back in 1976 with Gilda Radner and Dan Ackroyd playing husband and wife, arguing about a product called Shimmer. The two bicker about whether it is floor wax or a dessert topping until Chevy Chase, portraying a Shimmer spokesperson, enters the scene and says, "Hey, hey, hey, calm down you two. New Shimmer is both a floor wax and a dessert topping! Here, I'll spray some on your mop ... and some on your butterscotch pudding." I think of Gilda and Dan every time I see a product that tries to serve many functions and doesn't do any of them particularly well—I call it the "Shimmer effect." That's why when I saw the new Envo Flex e-bike from British Columbia's electro micro-mobility company ENVO, I immediately thought, "It's a floor wax!" It is a design with a single bike frame that you can convert from an e-cargo bike to an urban bike to a tricycle to—wait for it—a snow bike. But the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. Envo Flex Fleet. Envo "Our research found that some niche riding applications, such as snow cycling, utility and cargo, kids and passengers, seniors and adaptive cycling, are not getting the attention from the micro electric mobility industry because of the small market size," said Ali Kazemkhani, CEO of ENVO. "At ENVO, we strive to help people move differently with micro electric mobility solutions. Our engineering team dug into the mobility challenges and identified the common problems of these niche markets. Their creativity, innovation, and sustainable engineering mindset brought us FLEX, a state-of-the-art e-bike that not only caters to users' specific needs with one product but also advocates sustainable engineering in the industry." This is great for bike retailers because "the single frame and modular design allow dealers to triple their inventory and provide customers with vast customization with minimal investment in inventory." The product line includes: FLEX Overland: A high-performance and foldable cargo utility e-bike for off-road use. Designed for those who frequent paths that are rough and unpaved—mountain trails, jeep tracks, snowy terrain, or sandy beaches.FLEX Urban: A street-legal foldable cargo utility e-bike for urban use. It is designed for customers who need to carry their equipment with them like tools or a surfboard.FLEX Trike: Designed for customers looking for a very stable ride with lots of storage room in the trunk.FLEX Snowbike: Designed for customers looking to explore snowy trails and frozen lakes—perfect for ice fishing and winter trails. It is great for customers, too, because one frame can serve so many different needs. For instance, in my garage that I share with my daughter's family, we have my Gazelle, my daughter Emma's Electra with Swytch drive, and our big new Black Iron Horse cargo bike for my son-in-law Neil to carry my granddaughter and the fixings for his pop-up calzone business. My daughter rides her bike to work all year, and they don't plow the bike lanes very well. Flex Trike. ENVO Imagine if we had the Flex, which "can be converted into the FLEX Trike, and vice versa, for users who are looking for a reliable utility e-bike, but also stability and lots of storage space. The FLEX Overland and FLEX Snowbike convert between one another for a convenient off-roading e-bike at any time of the year." Neil could ride the trike for work, turn it into an Urban bike with a child's seat for fun and Emma could turn her Overland into a snow bike for Toronto winters. We would save both room and money; it's a brilliant idea that might give me some garage space back. I thought it was a shame that an owner can't turn the Urban into a Snowbike, but some have front hub motors, and others have rear hub motors. The company tells Treehugger that "ENVO is planning to have all 4 interchangeable models launch next year." Overland. Flex The bikes have the option of dual batteries that give you up to 920 watt-hours of capacity. They have 20-inch fat tires, an 8-speed derailleur, and the racks can carry 150 pounds and two child seats. The motor is a 500-watt, 60 newton-meter front geared hub drive, which makes sense if you change the bike's rear end. There are nice touches like an easily adjustable stem on the handlebars, comfortable seats, and integrated lights. The Flex Urban starts at $2,153 (3,799 Canadian dollars). So what about the Shimmer effect? Does it do all these things well? I have not tested the bike yet, but many of my preconceptions about e-bikes have gone out the window in the last few years. I used to think they should all be like my Gazelle, full-sized bikes with motors in the middle to Euro pedelec standards. But it turns out that when you have a motor, it makes sense to design things differently. The 20-inch wheels fat tires give you more maneuverability and comfort, and probably greater safety in a city with streetcar tracks and sewer grates, even though there is more rolling resistance. It doesn't matter when you have a motor. Some have front hub motors, which I used to worry were dangerous but seem to work quite well; you don't hear many stories of people flying over the handlebars. Having seen where Rad and Tern are going with their designs, the Envo Flex doesn't seem too wildly out of place. It's more likely that my Gazelle, like me, will soon be the outdated model. The idea that one frame could serve all of these functions is remarkable, and I look forward to driving it soon.