While electric bikes may still be trying to find their place in the American marketplace, with newer technology like the Bosch Centerdrive motor, the bikes themselves are as ready as they’ve ever been. The debate over e-bikes, especially on trails has a lot of valid points on both sides (something we hope to address in a later article), but like most anything that is controversial, first hand experience is important when it comes to E-understanding. When viewed in a negative light, e-bikes are typically viewed as electrified monsters with a throttle that miscreants will use to terrify pedestrians and thrash trails. Actually riding the bikes on hand from Currie Technologies changes that view a bit.
Thanks to the pedal assist nature of most of the bikes, you actually have to work to get it to move, and yes it is possible to get a workout on an e-bike even at full boost. Most of the bikes’ motors cut out at 20 mph – which is completely possible on a non-motorized bike. Only the Haibike Superrace has a faster top speed of 28mph, but you won’t be seeing it on any trails. Depending on the mode, the e-bikes provide 50-250% additional power which does make for pretty rapid acceleration. But even with all of that extra power available, out on the trail in the right hands you won’t even notice someone is on the juice as was the case when Mike from Currie Technologies came along with us on a mountain bike ride. Other than not breathing as hard as the rest of us at the top of the climbs, Mike proved that it was completely possible to use an e-bike in a group ride setting.
It may be a while before e-bikes are fully understood or even accepted on local trails, but there are also a number of commuter bikes and cruisers to consider after the jump.
Sitting at the top of the Currie Tech portfolio, the Haibike Xduro range carries the latest technology from Bosch for impressive e-performance. Since 1995, Haibike has been the performance brand of the Winora group with something like 130 different bikes including the new Xduro ebike range. The Xduros are all equipped with the Gen2 Bosch Centerdrive performance system which uses a 350w motor that puts out 60nm of torque – compared to around 35-45nm for most hub motors. The Bosch system is also more advanced than others in its sensing capabilities monitoring torque, cadence, and rear wheel speed to calculate the added power to the rear wheel. This makes for a seamless transition between you and the motor – it’s you, but faster.
The Xduro NDURO Pro 26 uses an aluminum frame with a gravity cast motor mount with the battery mounted on the downtube. The battery itself runs about 7 lbs and can be locked to the bike or removed to ride the bike manually without the extra weight. Charging takes about 4-6 hours for a full charge which should provide anywhere from 30 miles on turbo mode, to nearly 100 miles on economy mode,which if true marks a huge increase in ebike battery life. The XX1 and Crossmax spec’ed Pro retails for $8,600 and with 180mm travel front and rear is practically a downhill bike you can use to skip the chairlift.
The Xduro AMT Pro 27.5″ is more of an all mountain bike with 150mm rear travel and 120-160mm front travel out of the Fox 34 Talas CTD Adjust Fit fork. The AMT retails for slightly less at $7,800. Other mountain bikes are offered as well like the Xduro AMT RX 27.5 for $5,500, the FS RX 27.5 for $4,900, and the RX 29er at $4,000, each with the Bosch Centerdrive system.
If performance road is more your thing, the Xdurro Superrace has it in spades. Using the same cutting edge tech in the mountain bikes, the Superrace packages it in a hydroformed 6061 aluminum frame and throws in Reynolds carbon wheels with disc brakes for good measure. Since this is built for the road, the motor will run up to 28mph, at which point you can keep pedaling to go faster but only under your own power. The Superrace runs SRAM X0 10 speed with Magura MT4 hydraulic brakes, and Reynolds Assault SLG disc wheels wrapped in Schwalbe Durano E 28mm rubber. Built into the electric system are front and rear LED lights to keep you visible as well.
Haibike is also offering a trekking model complete with fenders, rear rack, lights, and a pump. The Xduro Trekking RX is also the only bike in the line up that offers a 3x drivetrain which is accomplished with a SRAM Dual Drive rear hub thanks to the lack of a front derailleur or gears. Worried about lugging a ton of gear up the hills to your office? The Trekking RX would be a good option, and one of the cheapest Haibike Xduro options at $4,000.
In addition to Haibike, Currie Tech are also distributing ebikes from eFlow and IZIP. Both brands use a more traditional rear hub motor for most of the bikes, but use innovative technology like the eFlow seat tube mounted battery pack. Placing the battery in line with the seat tube results in improved bike handling according to Currie Tech.
When you park your bike with the eFlow Nitro or flight, simply remove the head unit which locks the bike and prevents anyone from stealing it. Keen observers will notice that the eFlow Nitro above has a throttle. That’s due to the fact that as Rob Kaplan from Currie Tech mentioned, they’ve found that with the entry level ebikes, a throttle is actually something that the customer is usually looking for. Once they purchase the bike with pedal assist as well, Rob says they usually transition to the pedal assist mode only. Between eFlow and IZIP, eFlow is considered the higher end urban bike with a full integrated platform for the perfect commuter. The E3 Nitro above goes for $4,000 with a lower spec’ed option available in the $3,500 E3 Flight as well as a sleek folding ebike, the $3,500 E3 Fit.
The IZIP line offers what Rob sees as the sweet spot in ebike price points with 7 bikes from $1,500 to 3,000. Bikes like the $2,600 E3 Dash offer high performance without the price tag with a 500w gearless high speed rear hub mounted motor. New for 2014 is a seat tube mounted battery for the Zuma, while the $2200 Path Plus gets doubled power and battery life.
Even down to the lower bikes you’ll find integrated LCD displays with handlebar mounted controls for selecting modes.
The future of electric bikes may be unclear, but one thing is for sure – I didn’t see anyone riding one at Press Camp without a big smile on their face.
Big thanks to my friend Mike at West Chester Cyclery for helping us recover these posts from internet oblivion! Thanks to a small glitch in the machine, we lost a bunch of posts and all the comments associated with them in the past day and a half. We have worked hard to restore all that we could, but if you comment is not showing, please note that it is likely due to the website error. We apologize for the inconvenience.