Frame material is an old chestnut for discussion in the bike and e-bike world, but despite lots of exciting new tech appearing on the horizon (and sometimes disappearing back beneath it) the vast majority of e-bikes and bikes are still made from steel and aluminium alloys. New alloy mixes and new manufacturing processes like aluminium tube hydroforming (pioneered on bike frames by Giant in the early part of the 20th century) have given a new twist and new possibilities to frame design. But, at the heart of it you are still left with the same metallic core properties of steel and aluminium on the vast majority of bikes and e-bikes available today.
EBR has reported on many of the new developments such as 3D-printed frames, magnesium cast frames and even bamboo-framed e-bikes. Despite being around for quite a while on road bikes, carbon-fiber has remained relatively rare on e-bikes but this week we look at two e-bike startups looking to bring carbon fiber frames to more affordable e-bikes, price being traditionally one of the big sticking points of mass adoption. Is this really a new dawn for e-bike frame materials or another false one?
Ride1UP’s new affordable, single speed gravel e-bike
Urtopia and CrownCruiser carbon fiber e-bikes
Automatic suspension from SRAM
Orion look to popularise low cost e-bikes
Amazing e-bike and Brompton US growth
Dott to launch 10,000 share e-bikes across Europe
RIDE1UP GRAVEL OPTION
Ride1UP are a California based e-bike company that specialise in producing simple and very cost-effective designs with an emphasis on fairly lightweight rather than heavily specced machines.
Internet reports suggest that there is soon to be a Gravel edition of their Roadster V2 single speed model. Unlike the city version of the bike it is said to feature mechanical disc brakes and a Gates belt drive (unlike the non-Gates belt on the original V2) as well as wider gravel style tyres.
Touted price for the Roadster V2 Gravel is $1295 vs $1045 for the original city version, though there no details on the Ride1UP website of the new bike at the time of writing. For a review of the latter check out the video below.
IS CARBON FIBER, HIGH TECH THE FUTURE?
Urtopia and CrownCruiser are two young e-bike brands looking to extol the virtues of carbon fiber e-bikes with high tech features – not a particularly common approach, perhaps due to the fact these are going to be expensive e-bikes before you even start to look at other factors that might influence the price. But their planned price tags might suggest things could be changing.
Both take very different approaches though; Urtopia has opted for a single speed and lightweight looking design with a claimed weight of just 13kg / 28.5lbs. Fork, frame and handlebars are all apparently carbon fiber and the display is integrated into the handlebar stem. There is the inevitable app that says it offers turn by turn navigation but even more unusual is the claim that some aspects of the system can be voice-controlled. Another claim is rear radar sensing to warn you of motor vehicles approaching from behind.
More conventional is a rear geared hub motor rated at 250W (Euro spec as a Euro launch is planned), 360Wh frame-integrated battery, hydraulic disk brakes and a Gates carbon belt drive.
Claimed launch price is a barely believable $2500 with Jan 2022 the current projected shipping date.
UK-based CrownCrusier have taken a full-on, motorbike-inspired approach as their IndieGoGo funded e-bike claims a top speed of 31mph (even though the UK still currently follows the EU definition of an e-bike with a 15.5mph assist limit), but there will be international shipping to countries with more liberal speed regimes like the US. The company secured nearly £150,000 from Innovate UK’s sustainable funding pot to set up its headquarters in Sheffield in the north of the country.
Despite the carbon monocoque frame the stated weight is nearly 25kg / 55lbs but the unique looking single piston front suspension no doubt adds to the weight as do the 26 x 3” tyres and appropriately wide wheel rims. It looks to feature a rear hub motor with only one gear.
Control of the bike settings are via your smartphone and the bike claims to charge it wirelessly via induction from the main bike battery.
Even if neither bike ever makes it to production they do offer a glimpse into some of the features future e-bikes might serve up.
AUTO SUSPENSION ON THE HORIZON FOR E-BIKES?
Talking of smart tech, one of the world’s biggest bike transmission and suspension manufacturers recently announced the RockShox Flight Attendant – the ‘predictive’ smart spring system, part of the SRAM AXS family of products.
In the manufacturers words Flight Attendant is ‘The only automatic suspension system that listens to the rider and responds in real-time. Flight Attendant uses a suite of sensors to read rider and terrain inputs to anticipate the perfect suspension position—enabling you to ride faster, ride longer, and spend less energy adjusting your suspension and more time focusing on what matters most: the unbridled joy of riding.’
It works using wireless communication between sensors on front and rear suspension units and within the pedal axle. The idea being that the system monitors feedback from the suspension and adjusts it in real time, stiffening up on smooth surfaces where it is not needed and only saps energy and becoming softer to suit whatever kind of rougher terrain you ride over. On paper it promises no need for on the fly adjustments or manual lockout when riding.
So far it has only just appeared on non-ebike full-sus mtbs, but if it proves a hit with ‘analog’ riders it’s surely only a matter of time before it becomes a feature hardwired into full-sus e-mtbs.
E-BIKES FOR $10 A MONTH? THAT’S WHAT OHIO’S ORION AIM TO DO
‘The millions of essential Americans who make less than $35k a year are the most in need of micro-mobility options but are being left out and overlooked..’ adds Perkins. His solution? – By using the ORIONGo (OGO) App, riders can reserve a bike for as little as $10 per month or $60 a year for unlimited access, distance and time. He says he’s working to partner with residential communities, corporations and educational institutions to provide users “free” access to the bikes for a contractual fee.
The bike will also retail at $899 (currently available for preorder) and Perkins is looking to roll out the low rate rental scheme in Columbus in 2022 and in Cincinnati and beyond in 2023.
‘In the most recent 12 months, compared to two years ago, sales of mountain bikes increased 70%, children’s bikes rose 57%, and e-bikes grew by a whopping 240%, which made it the third largest cycling category in terms of sales revenue. This number is remarkable because it makes e-bikes a larger category than road bikes, which has traditionally been one of the biggest categories across all of cycling.’
EBR previously reported how, in the words of guest-post writer Ed Benjamin, ‘ We (the US) are on our way to becoming the most profitable and largest western market for electric bikes.’
BRAIN tells us ‘Fueled by incredible demand across its New York City store and regional retailers including REI as well as the launch of an e-commerce storefront, the bike manufacturer has experienced a greater than 50 percent increase in total units sold in the US over the past 12 months, a 76 percent increase over 2019. The manufacturer now sells over 70,000 bikes globally each year.’
TERN TARGETING BUSINESSES WHO WANT TO GET STUFF STUFF DONE
EBR have already looked at several models from folding and compact bike and e-bike maker Tern. In particular we were impressed with the all round practicality and load hauling ability of such small e-bikes, highlighted in our look below at one of their GSD models (GSD stands for Get Stuff Done);
Now Tern are looking to make businesses aware of the benefits of using their e-bikes with a dedicated site BikesForBusiness and are clearly looking to showcase all the advantages of the e-bikes and the company’s global reach to persuade businesses in the cargo, retail, delivery and hospitality sectors to take a hardheaded look at their bikes and the benefits they could bring.
DOTT’S NEW SHARE E-BIKE
To date European-based Dott has been best known for its e-scooters some 30,000 of which are available to hire across five countries. Now, according to Silicon Canals, it plans to launch a new e-bike in some of Europe’s largest cities, with a fleet of 10,000 available by the end of the year, initially in Paris followed by Rome, Brussels, and London.