Electric bikes: do they have a future (and an overview of the most interesting models)

In the vast majority of electric bicycles, the electric motor is not the main engine: it only provides assistance with pedaling, that is, you still have to pedal the pedals. If you want electricity to do everything for you, then you need an electric scooter.

Man instead of ICE

Most electric bikes are not very deep alterations of ordinary bikes. The easiest way is to install a motor-wheel, where the electric - tro-motor and planetary gear are mounted on the sleeve. A classic example is the Klaxon Speedster. That this is an electric bike can only be guessed from the enlarged rear hub, where a brushless electric motor, a sensor - a pedal rotation analyzer, an accelerometer, an electronics kit and a lithium-ion battery are hidden. All this weighs about 3 kg. The electric motor is connected only to overcome the rises or with a sharp acceleration. With such a scheme of operation, recharging from the outlet is not required: the battery is charged due to regeneration during braking, moving downhill, or simply during a quiet movement in a straight line. Almost a hybrid car, but instead of an internal combustion engine - a man.

Klaxon Speedster Weight: 14 kg; Motor: Zehus Bike +; Frame: Lugged steel-full chrome; Tires: Schwalbe Durano Plus 28 x 1 1/8.

Riding a Speedster, I came to the conclusion that soon ordinary bikes will remain only in sports. The pleasure of riding an electric bike is much greater. The engine will help at the right time to relax or overcome a difficult stretch of road. And transmission control on electric bicycles is much simpler - it’s like a “machine” on cars.

Two buttons on the steering wheel

A rarer scheme is implemented in Biomega OKO. Its rear end is quite classic, if you can call the classic eight-speed planetary hub Shimano Alfine and carbon fiber belt transmission instead of the usual chain. An electric motor is integrated in the front hub, and batteries are integrated in the upper frame. In fact, the Biomega OKO is an electric moped: it can be driven by electric traction, on the steering wheel there are two buttons instead of the gas throttle familiar to bikers - to increase and decrease the power of the electric assistant.

Drive from the mountain

Another scheme is based on the development of Bosch, which created in 2011 a central electric motor aggregated with a pedal assembly - Bosch eBike Systems. This technology is used more often in mountain bike hybrids. The central location of the electric motor and batteries does not impair the weight distribution and does not add excess unsprung mass to the front and rear suspensions, which is especially important for downhill. In the Bosch pedal drive system, you have to pedal all the time, the motor only assists (but assists powerfully) during lifts and loads - this is exactly what fans need to drive from the mountain. Almost every mountain bike manufacturer demonstrated electric models based on Bosch solutions at the main Eurobike 2017 European exhibition.

Biomega OKO Weight: 18.6 kg; Frame: Biomega carbon frame; Transmission: SRAM automatic 2 speed; Brakes: Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brake.

A true Mercedes among bicycles - both in terms of workmanship, materials and travel sensations. On it, you can easily travel around Moscow in a comfortable mode and not get tired. The electric motor assists unnoticed and enters the game exactly when it is necessary - on the climbs.

Bike of the future

All of these solutions are more likely electric modifications of ordinary bicycles. Much more interesting is the Gocycle G3, which was originally developed as an electric bike. This kind of iPhone among electric bicycles deserves to dwell on it in more detail. It was invented by British engineer-designer Richard Thorpe, who worked for McLaren Formula 1 for 25 years. In 2002, he left work and began to work closely on designing his bicycle. The first model - G1 - was released only after seven years of hard work, and now Richard produces the third generation of his electric bikes - G3.

To say that it is a folding bike is to say nothing. It folds almost to the size of the wheel, and its wheels are small. When you look at the box, it's hard to believe that inside is a full-fledged bike. It is designed specifically for the city, so the chain is hidden in the casing and can not stain trousers. The bike is somewhat similar to the Biomega OKO - and here on the handlebar is an electronic gear shift. At first glance, by the way, you can’t even guess that you have an electric bike: a small but powerful 250 W motor is integrated into the front wheel hub, and a rather capacious battery is integrated into a magnesium alloy frame. It’s hard to believe, but the weight of the G3 is a little over 16 kg. It has many interesting solutions that will surprise you for a long time. For example, you will not see traditional cable brake actuators: they are hydraulic and hidden in a frame. The lighting equipment made in the form of a strip of LEDs on the steering wheel looks fantastic - this is not even on modern cars. But the main thing is how the Gocycle behaves on the road. As the British magazine Electric Bike wrote, “This bike rides the way it looks.” And the magazine’s editor-in-chief added: “The G3 is simply the best I've ever ridden.”

Gocycle G3 Weight: 16.3 kg; Motor: Gocycle 250 W; Transmission: Patented Cleandrive Shimano Nexus 3-speed; Tires: Gocycle Performance Tire.

If you do not look at the price, this is the best city bike of all that I rode. Ideal for any configuration, easy to operate and carry, electronics work clearly. The fact that this is an electric bike, you understand by the ease with which the pedals are spinning, doesn’t matter if you go straight or uphill. Well, the fact that when folding it fits into the dimensions of the wheel, makes the Gocycle G3 a miracle.

The article “Electric Locomotives” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 7, July 2017).


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