Formula-1 Comes to Bikes

Last Fall I had the opportunity to see one of the global Formula-1 races — this one held in Austin, Texas.  Turns out Austin is home to the only F1 track in the US – and every year in November (I think it is usually about that time) – a bunch of advanced automotive fans converge in the city to see the latest in super car racing.

The 2014 race was based on 6-cylinder gasoline engines with surprisingly SMALL displacement – only 1.6-litter volume (which is about 1/2 of my car’s engine displacement) but between the gasoline engine and the electric assist motors, the 2014 F-1 race cars were achieving in the range of 780-hp !!!

Turns out this technology — the electric assist motors — is now finding its way into bicycles – specifically electric bicycles.  The UK based and manufacturing in the UK company Brompton is leveraging partnership with F-1 engineers to design and produce pedal assisted electric bikes.

Electric bikes are no new news for sure.  You can see below statistics of the sales of those in several key regions:

Statistic: Projected worldwide sales of electric bicycles in 2018, by region (in million units) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista;

As you can see China specifically has huge sales of electric bikes – but from my personal experience (having lived in China for a number of years) those bikes are pretty bad – they are more of a scooter – and something to use as a moped rather than a bike…

Now with the entry of the F-1 and Brompton designs

Brompton Bike  Brompton bike

Given the amazing technology in terms of carbon fiber body elements and electric assist motors that were driving the overall power plant for the F-1 racing cars, I think this particular bike designs will be nothing but boring.

So now the combination of cool design, (although somewhat uncomfortable ride given the small wheels) and F-1 technology, I am very curious of the upcoming capabilities and would love to be able to test ride one very soon.

Bike Innovations at CES – Summary

Every year the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) generates tons of hype and excitement (yes, those happen simultaneously — for all cool new gadgets there are also a number of half baked ones). 

This year there are also some hype and some interesting new concepts and some not so new ones in the bicycle world.  Of course – the delineation of "innovative" and "not so much" are purely mine…Some of the companies mentioned may have different opinions wink

  1. Samsung announced that they are partnering with TREK and displayed handlebars integrated docking station for their Galaxy 3 tablet.  I do agree the idea is a good one.  The tablets and smart phones alike pack significant amount of compute capabilties which could be used for series of health and bike monitoring tasks / applications.  Well, but how new is this ? In my view — NOT so much… I have had a braket for my iPhone on my bike for about 2 years now and my iPhone with the assistance of several apps has been tracking my speed, exercise specifics..etc.   Image of my smartphone mountHere is the Samsung one Samsung and TREK
  2. Samsung also announced the ability to charge the Galaxy 3 tablet while pedaling.  Now that is cool!
  3. Schwin announced a simple navigation system which I think is a nice and low cost gadget for many bike enthusiasts.  Schwin NAVthe product interfaces and works with any Android or Apple iPhone device; gives voice turn by turn directions; attaches to the handlebars with an included/provided mount; and uses a 10-hour rechargeable battery;   The NAV system is available for US areas;   
  4. Finally, (for now) Faraday announced a brand new electric bike for use around the city.  The new model is Porteur 2014.  Faraday 2014 Porteurat price tag of $3500.  The company has been taking pre-orders at CES;   The bike is really neat and stylish — key aspect – where are the batteries? 

Electric Bicycles Abound – Next One…

We continue the introductions to new electric bicycles — Earlier in the week I posted a summary on the new Specialized Electric Mountain Bike – the Turbo S – and mentioned another bike that has been rolled out – the Polaris Vector.  The Vector uses the 450W motor drive system — which can be positioned as either a mid-drive or rear hub placement.  Similar to the Specialized Turbo, Polaris has placed the battery in the frame of the bike.

Polaris electric bike  

The drive system on this bike is very interesting as it offers multiple modes although the mid-drive positioning is a potential problem if you are going through a rough terrain – where rocks can hit the assembly.   Another potential issue you may find is that this bike offers top speed of only 18mph!  I was very surprised at that rating as the Specialized for example was rated at 45mph…so all in all if you are looking for a speed bike — well, the Polaris may not be your choice.

Finally, the price of this bike — well it is not low, given its characteristics – set at a MSRP of $2499.99 – I love this, such a big ticket item, yet, it is being priced to the second decimal place 🙂  go figure!

The bikes coming up next for a quick review are the Felt electric bikes – the mountain bike series Nine-E… Here is the video to get you started before any further reviews:

Electric Bicycles Abound…

Well folks, it is true – I am coming across increasing number of bicycle designers and manufacturers that are bringing out electric bikes.  The more recent ones — that have been brought in the market — are models from Specialized, Polaris, to name a few.  Previously, I had posted on several new brands that were early to market — as in many other industries – the startups bring the new products to market first.  At any rate, here is the link to my earlier posting with several bike manufacturers being listed.

The new models in the market are:

                      Specialized                                                       Polaris

Specialized electric bike      Polaris Electric Bike

The Specialized Turbo S bike uses a Direct Drive rear hub motor and a battery that is integrated in the frame.  The motor provides drive and achieves speeds of up to 45miles-per-hour.   (Side note:  I have been able to get to ~42 miles-per-hour speed with my Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 SL bike going downhill)

Here, I need to point out that the Specialized Turbo was specifically designed as an electric bike. The frame / battery are designed for this model, special charger was designed as well.  So a very large investment for the company.  The bike is pedelectric only – i.e. power is applied via the motor only when you are pedaling.  By using a torque sensor the bike system then applies varying degree of assist based on how hard you are pedaling rather than how fast.

I wonder how fast really this bike will go and of course what is the range of battery powered assist it will offer.  I could not find much of that on the web site.  One thing is for sure though — the price of the bike is very high — set at $5900!!!

In the next article (later this week) I will pull together a summary on the Polaris bike as well.

Rimac Automobili Greyp G12 Bike

Rimac Automobili has launched a bike that is both a motorbike and a bicycle – per the manufacturer…Here comes another interesting product that is supposed to give us both great thrills in being on the trail as well as provide a realtively long range on the road combined with ways to reduce polution — yes, it is another electric bike.

On September 4th 2013, the Grey G12 was announced in London.  It can achieve speeds of 40-miles per hour and a range (not counting on a human peddaling) of 75-miles.   Very good combination…

Grey G12 Bike 

To quote the manufacturer:  The Greyp G12 is designed from the ground up to combine the best of both worlds – motorcycles and bicycles. It is a bicycle when you want it, or a motorcycle when you need it. With stunning performance for an electric bike – 65 km/h top speed and a range of up to 120km without pedalling, you will enjoy riding with Greyp. It can easily be recharged from 0 to 100 percent in only 80 minutes – from a standard 220V outlet.

No question this is appears to be a very useful combination of features.  And of course a bike that you can take to work and then have your exercise on the way home….or just get home faster with the help of the electric motor…