Swiss E-Bike Startup Offers High-Powered Café Racers, Board-Trackers, & Enduro Models

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©. Düsenspeed / Model 2

Düsenspeed's electric bikes feature lightweight carbon fiber monocoque frames and powerful motor & battery options.

Although the majority of e-bikes on the market are rather tame and traditional in design and performance, which is great for people looking to make the transition to electric drivetrains, some electric bike companies are breaking new ground with unique designs and top-notch components, which could attract new riders to the e-mobility scene.

Let's face it, not everyone wants a plain vanilla e-bike, and not everyone is satisfied with having a limited top speed, regardless of the regulations surrounding e-bike powertrains and maximum speeds for biking on the road, so there's definitely interest in powerful electric bikes that go above and beyond the current status quo. And when coupled with the trend of retro designs, these so-called monster bikes are a niche unto themselves that could breathe some new life into the e-cycling scene.

E-bike regulations are a necessary evil, in the sense that their intention is to keep high-powered machines off the bike paths and trails for safety's sake, but they are also an attempt to regulate behavior by regulating the equipment. After all, it's the behavior of the rider that can make an e-bike unsafe to other riders and pedestrians, not the size of the motor on the e-bike. I've been nearly blown off my bike, and the road, by a speed demon on a road bike looking to set a new downhill speed for himself, and have had to ride into the bushes several times to avoid a head-on collision with another mountain biker who felt that he was in the right when bombing down a singletrack with a blind turn in it. If you've spent any time in the saddle whatsoever, I'm sure you've got your own horror stories of reckless cycling and riders who don't obey any of the rules of the road, and I'm also quite sure that most of those stories involve conventional bicycles, not e-bikes.

Even though e-bikes and cars are radically different, not just in design and function, but also in the lack of a requirement for license, registration, and insurance for bikes, I find it interesting to compare the two. Car manufacturers can produce massively overpowered cars and run them legally on the roads, with the only thing governing their speeds being the posted speed limit (which is often ignored). With tens of thousands of fatalities from vehicular accidents happening in the US each year, many of which may be a result of driving too fast or driving while distracted, there's no push to install speed governors on new cars to keep them at or under the speed limits, or to lock out mobile devices while driving, and some car companies (Can you say Tesla, boys and girls?) put great pride in the ludicrous acceleration rates and top speeds of their vehicles, even though both aspects of those cars are almost certainly going to help the driver break the law. I'm not suggesting that we need more Big Brother on our highways, or that we don't need any sort of regulations about e-bikes, but I am proposing that we think about high-powered e-bikes the same we do sportscars and hot rods, which are road-legal if driven 'by the book'.

I have heard the argument that e-bikes should be subject to licensing, registration, and insurance (due to their more powerful designs), and while I wouldn't mind a bike registry for other reasons (theft), I can't see that requiring e-bike insurance would make them safer to ride. Insurance is for after-the-fact, and can help keep the offending driver financially responsible for their actions (and of course for reducing the financial risk of the bank that holds the title to the vehicle), but no amount of insurance is going to make someone a more conservative driver, or more likely to stay under the speed limit and follow the rules of the road.

All of that is a long way of saying that I think that high-powered e-bikes, especially those with an off-road mode that unlocks higher speeds, get a bad rap sometimes, and because they're more of a niche product (like a sportscar is), I believe the supposed dangers are a bit overblown. And with that, I give you another line of unique bikes that may get you pulled over and ticketed, or that will allow you to blaze down off-road trails at speeds that only adrenaline junkies can enjoy.

Switzerland's Düsenspeed ("jet speed," according to Google Translate) makes limited runs of eyecatching e-bikes, each of which can be customized with motor outputs as high as 2000W and battery capacities as large as 4,500 Wh. The bikes are all built around carbon fiber monocoque frames, which are both light and strong, and which allow for a completely new kind of bike-building, with no tubing or brazing or welding necessary. Going carbon fiber also enables bike designs that have only a passing resemblance to bicycles, and which seem to have more in common with motorcycles than bikes.

Düsenspeed Model 1 e-bike

© Düsenspeed Model 1
The Düsenspeed Model 1, also called the "Sled E-Boardtracker," takes after its namesake, the turn-of-the-century motorcycles that raced on tracks made from wooden boards, and it incorporates a similar riding position as a boardtracker, which the company says lowers the center of gravity for more stable handling. The bike, like the other models from the company, uses a rear hub motor for propulsion, and buyers can choose between motors rated between 250W and 2,000W, and pair it with their choice of battery pack (500Wh up to 1,800Wh). The Model 1 is said to have an electric riding range of somewhere between 40 and 200 km (~25 to 124 miles), depending on the motor, battery, and riding style, with an overall weight ranging between 22 to 31 kg (~48.5 to 68 lb).

Düsenspeed Model 2 e-bike

© Düsenspeed Model 2

The Model 2, or Café Racer model, is probably the most distinctive of the three e-bikes, and it is also available with a motor rated at up to 2,000W, and can be paired with a battery pack with up to 4,500Wh in capacity for a range of up to 250 km (~155 miles). It weighs in at up to 48 kg (~106 lb) with the largest battery pack and motor, so it's probably not a bike you'd enjoy pedaling when out of power, but then again, you actually could pedal it home, which is not something you can do with an electric car, so perhaps it's not an issue.

Düsenspeed Model 3 e-bike

© Düsenspeed Model 3
The Model 3, or Enduro / Freeride model, more closely resembles a conventional downhill bike, but with the addition of a 500W motor and 1,200Wh battery pack, is likely to lead to fast ascents as well. Its fully-suspended frame is designed to roll with, and over, the obstacles on the trail, and the range of this 25 kg (55 lb) bike falls somewhere between 50 km and 150 km (31 - 93 miles), depending on how it's ridden.

Düsenspeed also builds customized versions of the bikes based on the customer's request, including custom colors, and buyers have the option of carbon fiber rims, an 88.8V battery pack rated at 4.5 kWh, and a "special high-power motor" capable of hitting speeds up to 120 kph (74.5 mph). According to Düsenspeed, the Model 1 will only be manufactured "as a limited edition of only 222 pieces," and the Model 2 as a run of 164 pieces. No further details are available on the numbers for the Model 3, but the website says it can be ordered as of March of 2017. No prices are listed publicly for any of the Düsenspeed models, but perhaps it's as they say -- if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

h/t New Atlas