Do you know the hydrogen bike, the future of electric two-wheeled vehicles

In France, Pragma markets the first powered bicycle
Electricity with a recyclable fuel cell converts hydrogen into electricity. Pragma / Photo Press

A French company is marketing hydrogen bikes for the first time in the world. What are the advantages compared to their cousins ​​with lithium battery?

It’s rocket fuel! Hydrogen is considered today to replace fossil fuels in airplanes or cars, and is now used to drive bicycles of a new type. Pragma, a company that specializes in building hydrogen fuel cells, has been developing hydrogen bikes since 2013. Based in Biarritz, it is the only company in the world that produces and markets this type of bike in large quantities.

Hydrogen bikes belong to the family of electric vehicles, and they differ from traditional electrically powered two-wheeled bikes in the way they generate power. There is no battery, but a fuel cell that converts the hydrogen stored in a tank placed under the handlebars into electricity. No greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, just a few drops of water and a bit of heat.

Despite its weight of 30 kg, the bike can reach 25 kilometers per hour without being forced, and it can travel about 150 kilometers on a single charge, which is within the high mid-range of bikes with a battery. But unlike this, recharging is very fast: a tank of hydrogen fills up in just two minutes at a convenient station, compared to several hours of charging lithium batteries.

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more environmental

The hydrogen bike is also more environmentally friendly than its lithium battery-equipped cousin: the fuel cell has a lifespan three times longer than batteries, is much better recycled and contains 1,000 times fewer rare metals. Therefore, the environmental impact is low, provided that green hydrogen is used, that is, it is produced without fossil energy. Herein lies the problem: Most hydrogen production today consumes natural gas and sometimes uses polluting processes. A situation that the French government wants to change thanks to an investment plan of nearly 9 billion euros to produce carbon-neutral hydrogen by 2030.

Currently, the second generation of the “Alpha neo” bikes are available for rent this summer from about a dozen rental companies in France. Pragma / Photo Press

I am always told that hydrogen is the energy of the future when in fact it can work today ”, confirms Pierre Forte, president and founder of Pragma, a company specializing in hydrogen fuel cells that has been marketing hydrogen bikes since 2017. Currently, the second generation of “Alpha neo” bikes is available for rental this summer from about a dozen rental companies in France. Equipped with charging stations, as at Azay-le-Rideau in Indre-et- Loire, Aix-les-Bains in Savoie or Porticcio in Corsica.” We have good feedback from rental companies who have ordered a fleet of our bikes. Many people today struggle to manage the batteries of their electric bike fleet. Often you have to charge them all at the same time in the middle of the day, and some have to leave it half empty. The charging of hydrogen bikes is much faster and therefore easy to regulate ‘, he pleads.

Available for long-term rental in 2023

The third generation of bikes with improved autonomy and longevity should be marketed by the company in 2023, which it wants to offer to long-term rental from individuals. ” We plan to deploy a network of charging stations next year in Montpellier, Toulouse, Nantes, Bordeaux and southern Paris. Individuals will be able to purchase a model (around 5,000 euros) or sign up for a long-term rental (89 euros per month for rent for 4 years with built-in maintenance and unlimited hydrogen at the stations).


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