Rapid evolution is something that’s almost guaranteed in the electric bicycle market.
With advancements in battery technology and framing composites, electric bikes are modernizing. As a result, we’re beginning to see the next generation of clean commuting machines materializing out of their concept drawings and onto the showroom floors.
Here we’ll take a look at 7 pretty impressive specimens, and see how manufacturers are upgrading our expectations.
As with many ‘concept’ designs, you’ll notice that some of these models are designed beyond current road-legal limitations. But along with design aesthetics, energy storage and scientific developments in propulsion systems, maintaining momentum in eBike evolution might involve rethinking what it means to have an ‘electric’ bike.
Let’s take a look at a few models doing just that.
Škoda Klement – Massively Powerful eBike
The Škoda Klement is the most recent electric concept bike to be unveiled, with excited users enjoying the innovative aesthetic and design features.
Unlike a ‘normal’ electric bike, Klement’s regular pedals have been replaced with flat footplates that operate both the throttle and the brakes – just one of the many innovations that may begin to pop up on electric bicycles of the future.
Acceleration is controlled by tilting the pedals. The more you push your toes downward, the more the footplates tilt forward, and the faster you go.
Pushing your heels down, tilts the pedals backward and activates the regenerative braking. So, not only do you slow down, you’re pumping electric charge back into your battery as you do.
Pushing the footplates down completely, with your heels, to tilt them back as far as they go also engages the hydraulic front ABS brake.
Now, here’s where we go beyond the current eBike laws for what is legal to ride without licences, registration and the like. The rear wheel of this beast is driven by a chunky 4-kW hub motor.
The highest wattage of the most common commercially available eBikes tops out at 750W (1hp compared to Klement’s 5.4hp). That’s quite a bit of oomph powering your daily commute!
With a sleek looking single fork on the front and single stay at the back, rather than trying to include suspension in their elegant design, Škoda has opted for fat tyres instead. These certainly go with the aesthetic and combine to give the impression of a sturdy, powerful ride.
Rayvolt eXXite X One – Crowdfunded Concept eBike in Production
The X One is a streamlined electric bike concept that has gone above and beyond with its integration and claims to be the ultimate 21st Century eBike.
Available for backing on Indiegogo until just before Christmas 2019, with delivery expected by June 2020, this is one concept design that has proven itself worthy of production. Having reached 400 percent of its fixed goal long before the campaign ended, there are obviously some commuters out there keen to benefit from the X One’s features.
Girosensors are one inclusion on this electric bike that could make a big difference in cycling comfort and would be great to see on more electric bike models of the future. With the ability to intelligently increase the powered assistance when climbing hills, you’ll find yourself barely breaking a sweat.
And this technology also senses the gradient of descent and will increase the regeneration function of the hydraulic disc brakes. This feature slows you down more quickly on steep slopes and also charges your battery as you brake.
An integrated Android-powered touchscreen not only allows you to monitor speed and battery power, but the software also allows for the bike to be locked or geofenced – with facial recognition. A security feature that we definitely think will be making its way onto more and more eBikes in the future.
Something Rayvolt’s eXXcite team calls Back Pedal Proportionating, allows riders to add charge to the battery simply by pedalling backwards. Something that could come in handy if you’re expecting a long day in the saddle.
Peugeot eDL-132 & Audi Wörthersee – Aerodynamic eBikes
Both the Peugeot eDL-132 and the Audi Wörthersee first debuted in 2012. While little has been seen of the eDL-132 outside of a few optimistic articles and hi-res images, Peugeot does have a generous range of electric bikes in road-, city- and mountain-biking styles.
Audi has recently been popping up in videos and speculative articles all across the internet. Many of which are naming lofty prices that would prohibit this sleek modern bike becoming a commuter’s daily ride.
Both bikes have aesthetically pleasing lines, with aerodynamic carbon fiber frames. Although it has been difficult to confirm, the Peugeot seems to be content with a 250W motor. The Wörthersee, however, is going for 2.3kW, allowing for more torque and higher maximum speeds.
An integrated touchscreen control panel or smartphone app seems to be a feature making its way from concept bikes out onto the road, and the Audi is no exception.
Not only does the Wörthersee’s app allow for GPS travel assistance and geofencing, but it can also lock and unlock the bike. Another hi-tech inclusion is the in-helmet video camera with connectivity that enables you to upload footage of your ride, straight to the internet – in real-time.
With a push-button dropper post to drop your seat for safer stunt riding, the powered wheelie mode takes your tricks to a new level. Giro-balancing helps maintain the eBike’s stability and with any luck, improves the ranking you receive when you upload footage of your skills to the Audi database.
Definitely one for the enthusiast, we’re not sure how many commuters we’ll be seeing on the roads on Audi’s concept bike. But there’s sure to be more Wörthersee’s than Peugeot eDL-132’s.
Rool’ in Sun-E – Solar Powered eBike
Rool’in’s Sun-E claims to be the first solar-powered bicycle on the market. In general, it looks a lot like a regular, chunky eBike.
With solar panels integrated into its frame and front wheel, French manufacturer, Rool’in, asserts that the high-efficiency photovoltaic cells will help charge the battery even as you are riding around.
Adding to the list of improvements over other electric bikes, it is suggested that this solar-powerhouse can achieve a range of up to 50km more than it’s fossil-fueled counterparts.
With battery technology improving every year, we are already experiencing power lasting longer and charge times decreasing, so seeing how this iteration compares to more standard models, especially with long-term use, will be interesting.
Clean and green as it may be, the bike can still be charged conventionally. So, it looks like there are no excuses left not to get out there and ride.
Pragma Industries αlpha 2.0 – Hydrogen Fuelled eBike
Pragma Industries proudly lays claim to a next-generation development in the electric bike industry. The αlpha 2.0 is the first commercially available electrically assisted bicycle that’s powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Reducing your carbon footprint seems achievable when you have a commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell at the heart of your commute.
What began as a concept and clunky prototype in 2013 is now a production breakthrough, declaring a lightning-quick 2-minute charge time! When all other electric bicycles – concepts or production models – are fighting over winning the shortest hourly charge time, Pragma has blown them out of the water.
Unlike lithium-ion and other types of batteries, the hydrogen cell isn’t adversely affected by low temperatures. So range and performance aren’t changed in the winter or with adverse weather. This is a great advancement in electric bike concepts, as it removes one of the chief complaints of battery-fueled riders.
Pragma Industries also manufactures the charging stations that are necessary for ‘recharging’ this bike. While currently a disappointment – or huge additional cost – for a commuter looking forward to carbon-neutral travel, Pragma insists that it is always looking at ways to make these costs smaller and charging stations more available to the public.
Suggestions have been made that the future of this type of cycling will include being able to travel with spare compressed hydrogen canisters in your backpack. That way you can swap them in as needed.
With filling stations capable of being powered by renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc.), there’s always the hope that we’ll have a genuine clean alternative for commuting and micromobility. Perhaps we’ll even start seeing hydrogen dispensers alongside gasoline pumps and electric car charging stations.
Canyon Eco Speed – Hydrogen Cell Concept eBike
Tipping our hats to the future, we wanted to make special mention of Canyon’s Eco Speed hydrogen-fueled concept bike.
According to the concept brief, the Eco Speed will use technology that mixes hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel cell to power its electric motor. It is estimated that this will provide 500W of power.
With lines reminiscent of a fighter jet and a fully integrated style, the concept images speak volumes for what is possible in the electric bike industry. No doubt, it is only a matter of time before we see these clean, green commuting machines taking to the roads.
No longer are electric bicycles the chunky, bolted-together Frankenstien’s they used to be.
Frames are now light and streamlined, and batteries are smaller, last longer and take less time to charge. We can now be pedal-assisted longer and further than we could have less than a decade ago.
With major car manufacturers and companies like Tesla coming on board to perfect electric transportation solutions, we’re sure to continue to see the improvements carry through to electric bikes.
A real disruption in electric bicycle concepts, however, would be to see new science coming on board. Who knows, maybe anti-gravity or electromagnetic propulsion will make our Back to the Future hoverboard dreams a reality and bleed over into the eBike industry.
With the US Navy recently filing a revolutionary room temperature superconductor patent, it might only be a matter of time before we have piezoelectricity-induced superconductors powering our eBike motors and providing next-generation eco-friendly travel.