Matthias Steinig, a programmer who focuses on Bitcoin Lightning Network technology, has developed the Lightning Payable e-bike, which can perhaps be called the Lightning Bike. Users send micropayments via the Bitcoin Lightning Network to turn on the bike’s electric motor, with 1 minute costing 250 satoshis, which is USD 0.01-0.02 depending on market fluctuations.

This is made possible with a Raspberry Pi, a network card which provides an internet connection, and an e-paper display. Users select how many minutes they want the electric bike to drive for, and are presented with a QR code on the e-paper display. The e-paper display uses very little energy, which is important since any energy used is drained from the electric bike’s battery.

The user scans the QR code with the Lightning Mobile App, a Bitcoin wallet that is Lightning Network enabled, and sends the payment. The electric bike then starts driving and shuts off once the period of time that was paid for has expired. The user of the bike can keep peddling under their own power, which makes this bike a good option for someone who wants to work out, but then gets tired and can have the electric motor drive them home.

Micropayments for the Lightning Bike could be done with normal Bitcoin payments, but since Bitcoin transaction fees are around USD 0.10 on good days, and can sometimes approach USD 1, it would be nonsensical. Users can send micropayments via the Lightning Network with transaction fees of practically zero, so users can buy a minute of riding time on the Lightning Bike without burning up far more Bitcoin in transaction fees.

Steinig has made the code for this project open source on GitHub, allowing anyone in the world to use this technology. Perhaps, bike rental companies will start using Lightning Bikes. Beyond that, with simple modifications, this code can be used to sell any goods or service with the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Vending machines and laundromats could perhaps use this technology in the future to facilitate instant and secure micropayments, ending the problem of needing to find quarters to do laundry.

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