The first thing you noticed about Civilized Cycles' first electric bike is these huge, fully integrated rear armrests. It's impossible to miss: huge, double weigh down bags, enclosed in a seemingly hard carbon fiber shell. You could carry a whole load of groceries on those things while simultaneously carrying a passenger (or two) onto the stuffed back panel. But this is not a cargo bike. It's something else.
One of the things that excites me the most about electronic bikes is experimenting with form factors: mini bikes that look like motorcycles, bikes that look like mini trucks, bikes with thick tires with a power tone and maybe a indicate.
The first Electronic Bike of Civilized Cycles features the functionality of a cargo bike in the context of a Dutch bicycle. Company founder Zachary Schieffelin says he first started thinking of designing his own electronic bike while in succession the Vespa dealership in Manhattan's Tony Soho neighborhood. Even then, he knew he had to do something "moving in the direction of cars."
"People have expectations of cars," says Schieffelin. "They guess to be comfortable. They guess to be able to bring a companion, a friend or a child. They guess to be able to bring things in. They guess a familiar driving encounter."
This is a comment I hear from e-bike companies more and more: how we point a bike with the aptly specifications, excellent power and enough flexibility to lure people away from their cars. This is a hard proposition, especially in a country so attentive of the terrible external effects of car ownership. Civilized Circles is the last one trying to strike some sense in us.
The first bike of the company is called Model 1 (Elon Musk!), And it has many fascinating features that I will get to in a minute. But first Schieffelin has an fascinating analogy unfolding how he approached the point of a bike that strives to be both unique and intimate at the same time.
"How do we do something that is simple and enjoyable?"
"How do we do something that is simple and enjoyable? It's kind of like how the iPod changed things from the Zune, aptly," he says. "I feel like most electronic bikes are a bit in the Zune phase aptly now. They are built by technologists or enthusiasts of super bikes, who are fully familiar with all the compromises coming from the normal pedal cycling world."
I'm not sure I really choose. there is an increasing number of electronic bikes that are accessible, enjoyable and do not require you to know the difference between a gear shift and a cartridge. The Model 1 certainly falls into this category. This is not a bike for spandex bike warriors. It was designed to interact with both city-dwellers looking for an simpler way to get to Uber or the subway, and suburbs looking for a way to lower their car use but still need space for passengers or cargo .
Schieffelin does not come from the bicycle world. It's a type of scooter, and this point influence comes through. Like a Vespa or a Lambretta, the Model 1 has a generous step-by-step, which it believes will significantly extend the appeal of the dirt bike. It's also about two inches smaller than the average long-haul dirt bike, which means it can fit in an apartment building elevator, Schieffelin argues.
According to the specification sheet, the bike can carry a maximum weight of 400 pounds, counting the rider – which is just incredible. The bike itself is clocking in at 75 pounds, which is not the heaviest electronic bike I've come across, but nowhere near the lightest.
It has a high-torque, mid-range engine available in three different types depending on your local environment: 350W, 500W and 750W. The 10.5 amp / hr / 48 volt (or about 500Wh) lithium-ion battery is located inside the rear tank, with the option to add a second battery to the other side. It's a unique placement for the battery, but I'm not quite sure it's simple or intuitive. Schieffelin says it gives the frame a cleaner look, without a large dubeube battery.
A battery equals about 25 miles of range, while adding a second gives you (surprisingly) twice that amount. The panniers will eventually open automatically at the touch of a button, but the pre-release version I got for testing doesn't have the functionality yet.
Schieffelin says he got some inspiration from a discount electronic bike project called Stokemonkey that developed something of a cult following earlier this year, though it was to some extent risky. For his bike, Schieffelin mounted a hub motor to the frame and then used a chain to integrate the power with the crankshaft passing through the center of the rear suspension axle. The result? A high-torque engine from the line that is more "economical" than the standard Bosch midrange. "So we reckon it's the best of both sewers," he says.
Another thing that surprised me about this bike was the automatic double suspension. Schieffelin knew that double suspension would be a key component of a bike built for more than one rider. Without it, "customers would just take a shot at the ass, and it would be like, 'We're done with that. "" But he also didn't want to burden his clients with coordinating and resetting his suspension every time they went for a ride. His solution was to incorporate an air compressor into the bike with a level feeler that allows you to reset the pressure and shock absorber to match the weight on the bike in "real time".
"Customers would just get a bottom shot and it would be like, 'We're done with that. "
I got to encounter this feature in my brief test of Model 1, and it worked exactly as advertised. Holding one of the buttons on the bike spectacle activates the compact air compressor and the presto: a impeccably aligned suspension.
There is much more to Civilized Cycles, counting a bike-correlated application via Bluetooth that can detect the resulting service and repair wants as well as Tesla "over-the-air" software updates. But of course, the company has to start shipping bikes that it hasn't done yet. Schieffelin says the first "Founders" motorcycles will start shipping in the second split up of 2020, after which the company will start to increase manufacture – probably in the fourth split up of the year.
Like most excellent things, Model 1 of Civilized Cycles will not be cheap. Schieffelin says the bike will retail for $ 5,999, putting it at the top, luxury level of electronic bikes. The founders' bicycle versions, of which there are about 15 currently available, will be supported with three years of free routine service, two years of free hardware and software upgrades, and one year of road help.
For this much money, anything less would be inconsistent.
Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge