Clas­si­cally styled e-bike — with rust

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING - CC WEISS

THERE are in­ter­est­ing elec­tric bikes pop­ping up nearly ev­ery day, but ar­guably the most in­ter­est­ing this month is the Ital­ian-de­signed, Swiss-built e-bike from Ve­loci­pede Fogli­averde.

Their de­sign­ers took the idea of a clas­si­cally styled e-bike even fur­ther, fea­tur­ing a low­pro­file de­sign dressed up with leather, wood and even rust.

“Ve­loci­pede Fogli­averde” (Ital­ian for “green leaf ve­loci­pede”) founder Peter Grün­blatt ex­plains on Kick­starter he sort of stum­bled into the e-bike busi­ness with a jour­ney that started about two years ago.

In look­ing for a stylish, classy city bike to ride with his daugh­ter, Grün­blatt was unim­pressed by the bikes avail­able.

He turned to a quar­ter-cen­tury-old racing bike he found in his in-laws’ base­ment, stripped the old bike down and sunk money into build­ing it back up to his own spec. After get­ting all kinds of pos­i­tive feed­back, Grün­blatt de­cided to pur­sue a com­mer­cial ver­sion, com­plete with elec­tric as­sist.

He teamed with an Ital­ian de­signer and Swiss me­chanic to make the bike a re­al­ity.

The 65 cm frame now packs bat­ter­ies that drive a 250 W Ze­hus Bike+ rear hub mo­tor that is good for 25 km/h. Ki­netic en­ergy is re­cov­ered dur­ing brak­ing and on de­scents, elim­i­nat­ing bat­tery drain and the need to plug in. Recharg­ing the 160 Wh lithium-ion bat­tery takes two hours.

In­stead of a built-in com­puter, VF re­lies on the Ze­hus app to con­nect the rider with the elec­tric drive. The iOS/An­droid app pro­vides mode se­lec­tion, trip data and a lock­ing func­tion, with the app re­ly­ing on a Blue­tooth con­nec­tion with the Bike+. Other de­sign el­e­ments in­clude the spring leather sad­dle, leather han­dle­bars, wood­plat­formed ped­als and bam­boo fend­ers. The ba­sic setup weighs 15 kg, which VF sug­gests makes it “prob­a­bly the light­est e-bikes on the mar­ket”.

VF of­fers two styles of bikes, and both mod­els fea­ture the same build and ac­ces­sories, the dif­fer­ence be­ing in the styling — the Pi­acev­ole Corsa base model comes in a va­ri­ety of two-layer, pearl-ef­fect colour op­tions, while the La Spe­cialita Rug­gine skips the paint and wears ac­tual rust. VF ex­plains that the frame un­der­goes a con­trolled rust­ing process be­fore get­ting sealed with a trans­par­ent coat­ing that sus­pends the rust­ing in a su­per­fi­cial state, giv­ing each bike a one-of-akind rusty look with­out any ac­tual frame degra­da­tion.

The Pi­acev­ole Corsa starts at about R47 680, and the Rug­gine at R58 100, sans ship­ping.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The var­nished rust costs ex­tra on the old school La Spe­cialita Rug­gine, which cur­rently pledges for about R60 000 on Kick­starter, with ship­ping.

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