Day of the pedelecs is near
More mountainbikers will look at benefits of having electric torque on tap to play and commute
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.
Checking the trends: Wheels editor Alwyn Viljoen at the 2013 Jims, testing the only electric bikes that later went on sale in Durban.