EAZY Bike aims to make it simple and affordable to convert a bicycle to an e-bike with its $160 system.
Another day, another electric bike project.
It has been a wild ride these last few years, watching a host of different approaches to electrifying bicycles -- and personal transportation in general -- from both startups and established companies alike. The magic of crowdfunding has enabled the successful launch of more than a few products in the electric mobility scene, and those tend to get a lot of press, but the far bigger share of the projects (and the ones you rarely hear about) either don't succeed or find it challenging to parlay that success into staying in business beyond the first few years.
That tendency is a concern when considering purchasing an e-bike from a new company, not only in terms of customer service and support after delivery, but also a few years down the road, when the battery pack on that electric bike starts to reach its end of life. Assuming that the size and shape of the battery and the mounting method for securing it was specific to that bicycle or model, it's not so easy to get a replacement if the company's not around anymore. Although this is an issue that will affect every electric bike owner eventually, established companies are more likely to have the required replacement parts, such as batteries, than those 'one and done' e-bike projects with no business infrastructure in place. Granted, if the cells inside the battery pack were standard, such as the 18650 lithium ion cells, and replacing them was simple to do, it's not that big of a concern for a DIY or tinkerer type, but it might be for others. All of that is not to say that people should avoid these new products, but rather to consider the potential financial risks along with the potential benefits before purchasing them.
But speaking of crowdfunded electric bike projects... There's a very tempting offer on Indiegogo right now from EAZY Bike, in the form of an electric bike conversion kit that costs just $160 and attaches to most bikes ("99%")in minutes. It is said to have a 30-mile range per charge, a 3-hour charge time, a top speed of 20 mph (US), and to weigh in at just 5 pounds, which means that riders will have the advantages of electric drive on a bike that's much lighter than an e-bike (unless you're talking about a 50-pound cruiser bike).
However, there's a crucial difference between the EAZY Bike and most other e-bike conversions, which is that instead of an electric motor driving the wheel from the hub or through the chain, it relies on an old-school technology to deliver the power to the tire itself. EAZY Bike states that friction engines "have better power to weight ratio" and avoid the need for additional weight on the wheels. Using a roller to propel the rear bike tire makes the installation and integration much simpler than other electric bike conversions, while also allowing it to be installed or removed quickly -- and it most likely accounts for the low price of the EAZY Bike.
According to the campaign page, "the increase in tire wear [due to contact with the motor] is minimum" because a coating on the roller "is optimized to minimize" tire wear. One other difference to the EAZY BIke is its mounting place just under the bottom bracket, where it applies downward force to the tire, rather than the 'conventional' method of placing the motor and battery on the rear rack, which seems to be a better placement in terms of the weight of the bike.
Here's the promo video:
The EAZY Bike comes in two basic configurations, the 350W version for the US (top speed 20 mph), and the 250W version for the EU and other regions (top speed 16 mph). The US configuration also comes with a throttle for the handlebar, while the EU version is pedal-assist only (rider must be pedaling to get the motor to engage). The two models appear to have the same battery pack, a 36V 6Ah unit, which is both removable and lockable. More information is available on the Indiegogo page and website.
As always, when it comes to 'pre-ordering' through a crowdfunding campaign, buyer beware.