Swytch Technology is a British startup dedicated to making electric bike technology available to all. Its eBike kit transforms any normal bike into an electric bike.
Ahead of World Car Free Day, we talked to Swytch’s CEO, Oliver Montague, who told us that making cool technology is the key to driving change.
“People like cool stuff, and if that cool stuff is environmentally friendly then people will naturally end up living more sustainably!”
Montague told us how he came up with the idea.
“I worked in the City in London and then as a consultant in Cambridge after my degree, all the while running an online shop selling eBike kits in my spare time. In 2017 I quit my job to go full time on my own in the eBike industry, expanding the online store and sourcing new products. However, none of the eBike kits I was selling were actually any good, they were too complex, too unreliable or too expensive.”
Montague figured there must be a better way – so he set about making an eBike system that was light, compact and that could work on any bike.
Montague explains how the kit works.
“First swap your front bicycle wheel for the Swytch motor wheel (we deliver a complete wheel in any wheel size for any bike). Then, fit a nifty pedal sensor to your pedal, it detects when you’re pedalling. Then connect the motor and pedal sensor to the handlebar connector that fits to any handlebars (just tightens on with an allen key to tighten).”
He adds: “All the other parts (battery, controller, display) are in the hand held power pack that clicks on instantly to the handlebar connector. So you can ‘Swytch’ instantly between a bike and an eBike.”
Montague told us about the benefits of the eBike kit compared to simply just buying a brand new electric bike.
“The main reason is that you get to keep your bike, the bike you love. And you get to have a 2 in 1 bike and eBike. The motor adds just 1.5kg weight so when the power pack is off you don’t notice any difference Even when the pack is on it’s only a total of 3kg added weight so it rides much more nicely than a regular heavy eBike. Also, not to mention the money saving!”
He notes that the Swytch kit is half the price of a regular eBike kit.
Swytch was recently awarded a bursary from the UK’s clean energy company OVO Energy. It was one of three companies praised for their initiatives in helping the UK reach a zero carbon future.
Montague says he has plans to grow Swytch and expand into international markets.
“We want to convert 100,000 bikes into eBikes in the next few years, focusing on the EU and the U.S. That would then be 0.01% of the 1 billion bicycles in the world. We are also expanding into the sharing eBike market, bringing together regular sharing bikes and eBikes into one sharing hybrid eBike system.”
Ahead of World Car Free Day, we asked Montague whether he would like to see fewer cars on the road.
“Currently cycling is very under represented in the infrastructure planning so we are currently very PRO cycling infrastructure and very anti anything that increases the number of cars and trucks on the road. We can’t ourselves do anything about infrastructure planning – but we can influence the number of people cycling. We figure that if 100,000 more people are cycling around on Swytch Bikes instead of driving then the city planners will have to start making more infrastructure to accommodate then!”
So what’s Montague’s vision for mobility in the future?
“People are going to want to get around in more sustainable ways because innovators like us will make it too cool not to,” he told us.
Montague concludes: “I see myself driving a Tesla to go see family on the weekends, riding a Swytch Bike into work, and a OneWheel electric skateboard on the weekends when I cruise around the city or to the park to see friends. Then when I go on holiday, I’ll cycle there and cycle back. I’ll have the time to do so because I also imagine a future where everyone works less, takes more holiday, and we all focus more on social value generation instead of financial value generation.”
And you can’t argue with that.