E-bike News: Econic One US Arrival, Speed E-bikes and Lots More!

Electric bike news 15th September

It’s an interesting time for an EU bike company to launch an e-bike in the US and Econic One are a little different to most EU e-bikes coming there. Many US brands are based on a ready supply of competitively priced Asian components and systems, whereas classic EU brands like Riese and Muller and Gazelle opt for premium motor systems like Bosch and Shimano and charge a premium price, choosing not to compete on price with most other brands, but to stand out for their quality, longevity and practicality. Econic One, though EU-based, use motor systems from Bafang but spec higher quality gearing and brakes than most budget brands that use the ikes of Bafang and also feature GPS tracking and locking features. It’s an interesting approach and it will be fascinating to see if they succeed.

Elsewhere we look at the question of speed pedelecs and even faster e-bikes, prompted by three announcements hot on each other’s heels on e-bikes that will assist you up to at least 28mph. Class 3 e-bikes assist you up to 28mph but you need to be pedalling and there are restrictions on where you can take them – some bike paths may be off limits for example. In contrast class 2 e-bikes assist up to 20mph and you can use a throttle. Class 2 are a little more popular, but it’s clear from three recent launches that e-bike companies believe plenty of potential riders want the extra speed.

In this week’s e-bike news:

  • Econic One – a new e-brand for the US
  • High speed e-bikes from Volcon, KK and Aventon
  • Swytch’s new lightweight kit now available to order
  • Electra launch Polynesian-inspired e-bike
  • Other news from Boston, Buffalo and Japan

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Ebike News: Okai and Rivian May Expand E-bike Choices, New Lime Auto-Gear Bike and More!

This week’s news is looking to the future slightly more than usual. First we have the news of what looks to be a very powerful yet reasonably light e-mtb from e-scooter specialist Okai followed by the revelation electric truck specialist Rivian might just be getting into e-bikes. There are no dates or prices from either company (in Rivian’s case just a tantalising trademark application) but it does hold a glimpse of possible future trends.

More in the here and now is new fat tire brand Magicycle and we take a look at just how light you might be able to make Brompton’s iconic folding bike if electrifying it yourself plus a look at where e-scooters might (or might not) be heading in the UK.

In this week’s news:

  • E-scooter and e-car specialists Okai and Rivian head towards e-bikes
  • Magicycle, the affordable fat tire e-bike
  • Brompton looks headed for a lightweight future
  • Lime’s new auto-gear changing e-bike
  • E-scooter delay and debate in the UK
  • A novel new way to keep that cycle lane a puncture-free delight

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Guide to E-Bike Conversion Kits

E-bike conversion kits are a solution that allow you to add a motor, battery and electric controls to a non-electric bike to make it into an e-bike. Chosen with care and installed correctly, the resulting e-bike lets you ride with electric assist just like a ‘regular’ e-bike. With the range of readymade e-bike designs larger than ever, kits have some competition from off-the-peg, ready to pedal e-bikes. However, they still offer positive advantages as well as some drawbacks which are considered first-off.

E-Bike Conversion Kit Pros

You Like Your Current Bike: You might want a bit of power assistance on a cherished non-electric machine that fits you like a glove.

Unique Bikes: The type of bikes you prefer may not be available in electric versions (folders and recumbents are cases in point, though more are appearing on the market, especially e-folders). Electric bike conversion kits can be useful at the ends of the power envelope less catered for by off the peg e-bikes, that is to say moderately powered but very ‘bikelike’ machines or at the other end of the scale, power hungry beasts.

Swapping: E-bike conversion kits can be swapped between bikes, giving the option of trying electric-assist on several different machines. Similarly, if the kit is a very easy to remove front hub wheel kit (for example as is the case with Leeds, Cytronex,Swytch etc.), you can use your bike unassisted at any time by simply swapping the wheel back to the original and leaving the battery off (the bike then weighs just a few hundred grams more than before). With such systems you can also choose at any time to electrify more than one bike and fully utilize your battery, just by swapping it between bikes.

Greener: If you already have a bike you want to make electric, e-bike conversion kits are generally a ‘greener’ option than a brand new e-bike, for the obvious reason they don’t need another brand new bike to be manufactured to replace the one you have bought!

Tinker or Do Something Totally Different: Those who love fiddling with bikes may be intrigued by the endless permutations of motor kits and bikes – the performance of a kit will be affected by the bike it is fitted to. Hub motors are usually geared for a specific wheel size to ensure they stay within the speed limit set for electric bikes in the territory in which they are sold. However, to take one example of how you can play with the design characteristics of motors and bikes, if you fit a hub geared for a larger wheel into a smaller one it will give excellent pulling power at low speeds, producing an excellent hill-climber or load-hauler.
You even have the chance to design an e-bike radically different to anything any mainstream manufacturer offers. To give one example, Canada’s Grin Technologies have a range of solar panels and associated devices that allow for solar charging of your e-bike conversion kits bike as you ride along.

swytch E-Bike Conversion Kits

Great Value: E-bike conversion kits can be great value for money. If you have a ‘recipient’ bike languishing in the shed or have picked up a decent quality steed at a good price, it can be converted quite cheaply when compared to the cost of a new e-bike of similar quality. Do note the Fitter’s Responsibilities section below about the quality of the recipient bike you might want to fit a kit to.

Lightweight: Kits also make it possible to put together an incredibly lightweight electric bike – a total weight of 22 pounds or 10kg is actually possible, and if money really is no object even lighter! There are an increasing number of off-the-peg lightweight e-bikes available now however, though these are generally mid to high priced e-bikes, so e-bike conversion kits can still be an economic way to a lightweight e-bike. E-bike conversion kits that add a little over 3kg to the weight of a non electric bike are now widely available and there are even lighter options out there, though these tend to be rather light on the amount of power assist you get.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Kits containing illegal motors and control units are in the market, and many people are using them on the road, either innocently or otherwise. A fast and/or powerful kit can be a lot of fun, but bear in mind that once you exceed the parameters set in the regulations, you are on your own. In most territories, your bicycle will be treated as a moped in the eyes of the law, and subject to the much more stringent penalties that come with motorcycle use. If you are found responsible for injuring someone, you will be in very serious trouble. The electric bike legislation is a safety net for your protection, and you leave it at your own risk.

E-Bike Conversion Kit Cons

May Be Complicated: Some e-bike conversion kits are easier to fit than others, but most require at least basic bike DIY skills. However, the simplest, such as the Leeds system and the rather more sophisticated Cytronex system really only require you to install a wheel, mount the battery on your bike and attach a basic cable run, so don’t really require any specialist bike knowledge. Even then you might need to do some unexpected mods in supposedly ‘universal’ fit systems, for example filing out fork dropouts that are a little too narrow.
All-In-One Wheels like the Zehus and Smart Wheel can offer an easy install option, though they have their performance limitations.

Somewhat Limited: If you want a mid-drive system your choice is very limited and they are more difficult to fit than most hub motor systems.

Aesthetics: Often kits will not look as neat as off-the-peg electric bikes. External cable runs secured with cable ties are the order of the day, whilst most complete electric bikes nowadays come with cables hidden within the frame.
Having said that, the smallest and neatest e-bike conversion kits out there do integrate very well onto the bike and it may be hard to tell it’s an e-bike.

May Not Fit: Not all e-bike conversion kits will fit all bikes. Attention needs to be paid to getting the correct speed of motor for your size of wheel (although most hub motors come ready spoked into the correct size of wheel) and finding a suitable battery mounting point amongst many other factors. Front hub motor e-bike conversion kits are generally easier to fit than rear hub e-bike conversion kits simply because they don’t involve interfering with the gear system. Some e-bike conversion kits must be fitted by a qualified fitter whilst with others it is only recommended unless you are a very competent bike mechanic.

Quality: As with complete electric bikes, quality varies from kit to kit: Heinzmann for example stand out in this regard because of its high quality connectors and cabling, giving you the confidence to produce smooth tight cable runs, minimising the kit’s visual impact.

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E-bike News: Shimano E-cargo Mid-drives, Ribble Lightweights, Olympia 900Wh Model, Hydrogen Cargo Hybrid and Much More!

Whilst Shimano have often gone toe to toe with Bosch mid-drives in the city, trekking and e-mtb areas they have not been forthcoming in other areas where they might have wanted to match Bosch’s increasingly extensive offering of mid drives, such as cargo bike specific systems….until now!

There’s also some intriguing new tech this week in the form of carbon composite, injection moulded e-bike frames on the immediate horizon (2022) and further experiments with e-bikes and hydrogen. Which technologies will become mass adopted, which will remain specialist applications and which will disappear is as hard to tell as ever…

In this week’s news:

  • New Firmware from Shimano Makes EP8 and E6100 Mid-drives Cargo Compatible
  • Ribble Introduce Two New Superlight E-bikes
  • Brompton Electric Apple App Now Available
  • Carbon Composite Injection-Moulded Frames for 2022
  • Olympia’s New 900Wh Model
  • Italy’s Military Police E-bike
  • E-tech Developments with Hydrogen Hybrid and UK’s New ‘Self Driving’ Laws
  • Bike Share Companies Going Public and More E-bike Biz

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