Day of the ped­elecs is near

More moun­tain­bik­ers will look at ben­e­fits of hav­ing elec­tric torque on tap to play and com­mute

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

SOUTH Africans have not taken to elec­tric bikes, mainly be­cause one can buy an old Toy­ota Con­quest or a brand new scooter for the price of one of th­ese ped­elecs (for pedal elec­tric bike).

But the tech­nol­ogy is rapidly get­ting cheaper and sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers are bet­ting more moun­tain­bik­ers will in­creas­ingly look at the ben­e­fits of hav­ing elec­tric torque on tap to both play and com­mute with.

The list of big names cur­rently sell­ing such ped­elecs in­clude BMW, Grace, Kia, KTM, Mercedes-Benz, Peu­geot Qoros and smart.

BMW’s e-bike folds up to fit into the boot of the con­cept i3 and can be charged in four hours us­ing the car’s bat­tery or from a do­mes­tic plug socket. Like most it has a range of 25 to 40 kilo­me­tres.

Most ped­elecs have a cruis­ing speed of 35 km/h and a range of about 40 km, although pre­mium names like Qoros claim to cruise this dis­tance at 60 km/h.

The elec­tric mo­tors on of­fer range from 360 Watt mid-mounted mo­tors to help turn the chain, to 8 kW hub mo­tors that drive the front or back wheel, or both. The power out­put of the mo­tor is only limited by the size of the bat­tery pack the cy­clist is will­ing to lug around.

De­sign­ers are hav­ing a such a field day in fit­ting bat­tery packs into frames, and elec­tron­ics that auto parts maker Bosch has a whole di­vi­sion to sup­ply parts to them.

Bosch is Europe’s mar­ket leader in pedal-as­sist elec­tric bike tech­nol­ogy and last week opened a head of­fice in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to ex­pand the reach of the Ger­man business into the U.S. and Canada.

e-Bike business unit leader Clau­dia Wasko said Amer­i­can buy­ers re­sponded very well to the first Bosch-equipped e-Bikes that went on sale in the U.S. in 2013. “We’ve seen fan­tas­tic re­sponse to our prod­uct. We’re ex­pect­ing a big year in 2015 as even more brands be­gin to of­fer e-Bikes with our tech­nol­ogy,” Wasko said in a state­ment.

The Bosch’s e-Bike Sys­tem will com­pete head on with the Cal­i­for­nian branch of Golden Mo­tors, a Chi­nese elec­tric mo­tor sys­tems man­u­fac­turer that cur­rently sets the stan­dard in ped­elecs with sys­tems that in­clude re­gen­er­a­tion of bat­tery power ev­ery time the bi­cy­cle slows down.

Like all big Chi­nese com­pa­nies, Golden Mo­tors ex­ports any­where and is al­ways look­ing for new deal­ers. Its web­site ex­horts cus­tomers to “kick start your sim­ple prof­itable business safely” by be­com­ing a Golden Mo­tors dealer, adding the web­site at­tracts and redi­rects over 5 000 po­ten­tial buy­ers a day to deal­ers world­wide, in­clud­ing three in South Africa.

The group also pro­vides door-todoor global shipping ser­vices. Read­ers who are in­ter­ested can learn more on www.gold­en­mo­tor.com.

PHOTO: FILE

Check­ing the trends: Wheels ed­i­tor Al­wyn Viljoen at the 2013 Jims, test­ing the only elec­tric bikes that later went on sale in Dur­ban.

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