What a difference a year makes. At this year’s Interbike conference in Las Vegas, by one count there were more than 45 new e-bike companies offering scores of new models. But what struck me most is that, in the course of a year, many of the e-bike makers have made a strong move to go after the 50+ market with newer, more approachable e-bikes, many with so-called step-through frames.
The models span the price range from under $1,000 to upwards of $5,000. And it wasn’t just the bikes that got our attention – it was also a slew of new drive systems, software integration, and yes, automatic transmissions. I will admit that in the course of three days of walking the show floor I still didn’t see everything there was to offer, but here are a few of the e-bikes that caught my eye, beginning with some of the full sized offerings:
Corratec Life – This German made e-bike was developed in conjunction with a sports medicine doctor as an health device , it’s aimed directly at the 50+ market and for people up to 400 pounds system weight. It has an easy step-through frame which includes a bridge (fusion tube edge frame) and has weights in the handle bars which enable a very smooth riding experience and prevents vibration. The bike can be operated in a set-it and forget-it mode. Using the available NuVinci Harmony Advanced transmission system, you can set either your preferred cadence or speed and never have to worry about shifting gears. It uses a performance Bosch Drive mid-drive motor system with the Bosch Intuvia Display. Overall a very impressive bike, but with an impressive pricetag as well. With all the bells and whistles it’s priced at $5099 and be available in the US this spring.
Raleigh Retroglide IE Step Thru – This new offering from Raleigh is a comfort-designed cruiser that’s ideal for casual recreational riding. It has a 350 Watt Currie Electro-Drive center drive motor and uses a Shimano 7 speed gear set. With its upright handlebars and spring loaded cushy seat, it’s made for a comfortable day of cruising in a retro style that harkens back to a simpler era of biking but with low maintenance modern technology. Price is just about $2000.
A2B Entz Deluxe – A2B was one of the early players in the e-bike space, but each year its models have become sleeker with a package full of technology. The Entz Deluxe also features the NuVinci Harmony Advanced transmission system and boasts a cruising range of more than 60 miles. It has a suspension and a comfortable seat to make a long day of biking comfortable. The center-mounted Continental motor is rated at 250 Watts. It has a charging time of about 3 hours. Price is roughly $4000.
Tempo Santa Barbara – When I first saw the Tempo line a year ago, I was impressed with its design and its engineering. It was one of the first e-bikes with the NuVinci Harmony system. It also has a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system (no greasy chains to mess up your pants). But I felt the bike was a little short on range. This year the company has added a larger battery, roughly doubling its range to about 40 miles. That takes it from the realm of up and back to the grocery store and moves it to some serious biking. It has a step-through frame, available in three sizes, and comes with a rack and fenders as standard along with disc brakes. Suggested price is $3995.
Vintage Electric Bikes – Cafe – Vintage is a boutique e-bike maker that specializes in making high end e-bikes that are reminiscent of classic motorcycles. For 2017, Vintage is introducing an entry level bike with much of the same styling as their more expensive bikes but with a more approachable price.
Riese & Muller – Nevo NuVinci – This German e-bike maker has a complete line of step-through e-bikes as well as cargo bikes. At Interbike, R&M was showing off its Nevo NuVinci which has a Bosch motor, the Gates Carbon Belt Drive, and the NuVinci Harmony gearless hub no-shift transmission. Price in the U.S. will be about $4000.
Emotion Evo Street – This is an all-around step-through bike with on-demand or throttle power, as opposed to the pedal assist or pedelec systems we’re seeing on many of the new e-bikes. It has a rear hub 350 watt Dapu motor with a top range of about 45 miles. It has a comfortable upright configuration and comes with built-in carry rack and adjustable fenders as well as dynamo powered front and rear lights. It has an 8 gear rear hub and a 3 gear front derailleur for a total of 24 speeds. The Evo Street has a front suspension fork. Price is just about $3000.
SmartMotion eCity and SmartMotion Pacer – Two bikes from New Zealand’s SmartMotion caught our eye at Interbike. The eCity is a classic step-through design urban bike with a 300 watt rear hub motor and an 8 speed Shimano gear system. It has both 5 levels of pedal assist as well as a throttle for getting you up hills and away from red lights. And it has integrated front and rear lights. Price is expected to be around $2000 with the larger of two available batteries. The SmartMotion Pacer is a low frame, though not step-through. It has 10 speed gearing, but what really caught my attention was the unique integrated LED lighting system. No pricing posted on this one yet.
Boar Surface 604 – Rook – This is a cruiser-style comfort bike with a big 500 Watt motor. The Rook has both pedal assist and a throttle. It has a front suspension fork and integrated lights. Top range is about 45 miles. It has a heavy duty rack, fenders, and a chain guard. Price is just about $1900.
Elby – This is one of the more interesting e-bike designs, and great for tight spots. The Elby uses a Canadian made BionX rear hub and a 500 watt motor that will get you up just about any hill. It has four levels of pedal assist as well as a throttle. It uses regenerative braking to help charge the battery when you’re going downhill, and it has integrated high intensity front and rear lights. It boasts a range of a whopping 90 miles, best we’ve seen. Pricetag is $3700.
Faraday Cortland – When I saw the original Faraday bike last year, I was really impressed with its simple styling and light weight. This year the company has introduced a low bar model, the Cortland, which is available in two versions with starting prices of about $2500 and $3500 respectively. There are a variety of options and accessories that can drive the price up considerably, including front and rear racks and a GPS tracking system. The bike features an internal 8 speed gearing system and a front hub motor. Perhaps its biggest advantage is that it comes in at about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than many of the other full-sized e-bikes on the market.
In our next Interbike segment, the e-bike industry shows it knows how to fold ’em – with a host of folding bikes.