This customizable e-bike is available in 200 colors, gets up to 50 miles per charge, & weighs in at 33 pounds, yet costs just over $1000.
Oh, no, you're saying, not yet another e-bike -- and a crowdfunded one, at that! Yes, it's another (very well) crowdfunded electric bike, and it promises to offer a lot more choice for riders, while simplifying the e-bike itself into just the essentials, and to do so at what looks to be a great price. The Elbike is the brainchild of Mike Glaser, who built his first company urbike to make and sell customizable singlespeed bikes, and who is now breaking into the electric bike market with a similar bid by offering the clean lines and simple look of a city singlespeed frame, but outfitted with a 250W motor.
The Elbike, which is billed as being the "most affordable and beautiful" electric bike, follows the same philosophy as urbike, as buyers will be able to customize their bikes with the choice of 200 colors, essentially offering riders a chance to have an e-bike with a unique look. While the color scheme on an Elbike might catch someones' eye, it's a stealthy e-bike otherwise, because aside from the slightly larger diameter downtube, where the battery pack sits, and a fatter front hub, where the electric motor is, it's just a sleek city bike.
"Every piece is unique. The Elbike is the worlds’ first fully customizable electric bike. Choose from over 200 colours to design your personal Elbike. The configurator is super easy to use and guides you through the entire design process. From frame to fork to front rim – you are your bike!" - Elbike
Where the Elbike differs from many other purpose-built e-bikes is the use of a front hub motor instead of a rear hub or mid-drive motor, which greatly simplifies the installation and operation of the electric drive system. It does add some mass to the front wheel, which some riders dislike, whereas a rear hub motor puts the extra weight on the rear wheel and under the rider. A mid-drive electric motor, while fast becoming the standard of higher-end e-bikes, offers additional advantages, such as driving the chain instead of the wheel (and allowing more effective use of the bike's gearing), and sitting lower on the frame, but they generally require a more complex frame design and come at a higher cost. According to Elbike, the choice of a front hub motor is one of simplicity, "Simple answer: because it’s easy as pie," and because it essentially allows for two-wheel drive, with the rear wheel being driven by the rider and the front one powered by the motor.
The bike's motor is a 250W Annsmann AG that adds about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) to the front end, and is capable of hitting a top speed of 20 mph (US). When paired with the removable 36V 11.6Ah battery pack, the electric drivetrain is said to have a range per charge of 30 to 50 miles, depending on the riding mode and terrain, with a full recharge time of about 6 hours. One thing that is missing from the information about the Elbike is the type of sensors in use to control the e-bike's speed and torque, so the question of whether or not the electric drive will kick in at the right time, and if it will be a smooth cut-in, is up in the air. However, with the Elbike's design taking more than a year of development, it's probably safe to assume that the company's choice of motor was made in part because it has effective sensors and a comfortable cut-in rate.
The aluminum-framed bike is available in three sizes, and buyers can choose the colors for the bike's main components (frame, fork, rims, handlebars, etc.) from more than 200 choices. The bikes come with front and rear Shimano disc brakes, leather grips and saddle, a small display, are built with a 44 teeth/17 teeth gear ratio, and run 28" rims. According to the FAQ, the Elbike will also be available later with the option of a 3-speed or 8-speed Shimano Nexus system, so as to dispel any singlespeed hill-climbing anxiety.
To bring the Elbike to the market, Glaser turned to Kickstarter, and although the crowdfunding campaign had an initial goal of raising just €30,000 (~US$35,000), the current total as of today, the last day of the campaign, is more than €475,000 (~US$544,000). Deliveries of the bikes are expected to begin in February of 2018. More information is available at Elbike.