Published: October 2008Breakthrough Ideas, People, and Gear
Leading Edge

The Best of What's Next

Big thinkers, innovative ideas, and game-changing products—consider this your guide to an ever shifting world.

Text by Greg Melville
1. Clean Machine
Memo to Ed Begley: hope you look good with helmet hair. Brammo’s Enertia rechargeable motorcycle, which hits the pavement early next year, is 90 percent cleaner to drive than a sedan and can go from zero to its top speed of 50 in 3.8 seconds. It kills the electric car too, since it’s twice as energy efficient as a Tesla Roadster and four times more so than a Toyota Prius. The Enertia’s six small lithium phosphate batteries take three hours to charge in a regular wall socket and last some 40 miles, costing about one cent a mile to run. It ekes out such high performance because it weighs only 280 pounds, thanks largely to the forged aluminum chassis. Too bad the Enertia doesn’t come in the color green—or would that be overkill? ($12,000; enertiabike.com).

2. High Times
First there was skydiving, then BASE jumping, then, in the late 1990s, wingsuiting—using a wingsuit to fly forward through the air while dropping more slowly. Now there’s a new sport: proximity flying. Instead of moving away from objects, as before, proximity fliers head toward them. Recently, they’ve buzzed the Jesus statue in Rio de Janeiro, flown a high-five away from gawkers on an alpine outcropping, and even docked onto moving sailplanes. (Don’t just take our word for it: Search for Loïc Jean-Albert on YouTube.) You could hardly get more birdlike, save for one thing . . . flapping.—Michael Abrams
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