After tackling Segway-style smart transport last year, Xiaomi Inc. now has plans to expand further into smart bikes.

The company will release a new Xiaomi-brand smart bike in the coming months, according to sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. At the same time Xiaomi-backed smart bicycle company IRiding will also release a ‘smart’ bike called the ‘QiCycle’ this week, the same source revealed.

A Xiaomi spokesperson declined to confirm details about either upcoming project.

The IRiding project is aimed at the high-end consumer market, a departure from Xiaomi’s quality-on-a-budget marketing strength. The bicycle will retail for $3000 US, and will be assembled in Taiwan, the manufacturing centre for brand-name bicycles. The IRiding project will not carry the Xiaomi brand.

IRiding isn’t the only bicycle startup being groomed as part of Xiaomi’s investment machine. In October last year Xiaomi invested in an A Series for Hangzhou-based smart bike maker Yunmake. By December the partnership had unveiled their first smart electric bike, the YunBike C1, which featured a Xiaomi-like minimalist design. The model has a 180W gearbox can reach up to 25km/hour, according to the company.

“This new hybrid vehicle is intended to modify the concept of the electric bicycle,” said Xiaomi at the time.

It’s not clear which acquisition Xiaomi would potentially draw on for the release of their next smart bike model, though it is likely to be a design that is in keeping with the company’s budget-friendly branding philosophy.

In April 2015 Xiaomi-backed Ninebot acquired Segway, the brand synonymous with the two-wheeled personal transportation device. Xiaomi has since leveraged the design relationship to release the wallet-friendly Xiaomi Ninebot Mini, a $315 USD stripped-back Segway-style device with leg controls instead of a handle.

The smart bike, scooter and transportation device market in China is booming alongside other core hardware technologies including drones and VR headsets. A mass of startups have entered the space, however powerhouses like Xiaomi have driven down costs with high-level acquisitions supported by mass manufacturing.

Image Credit: The Xiaomi YunBike C1, released last December.

Cate Cadell

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or catecadell@technode.com

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