America’s favorite oddball motorcycle engineer is focusing his chops on making a handsome, cohesive and convenient e-bike that people will actually want to buy.
KYLE HYATT, from RoadShow.com
It doesn’t seem that long ago that if you were the type of person who decided to strap an electric motor and battery to a bicycle, you were looked at like a crazy person. A few decades ago, a guy named Erik Buell started a motorcycle company with some pretty unique ideas and he was looked at like a crazy person too.
That motorcycle company is dead, and so are a few more he started afterward, but that hasn’t stopped Buell from directing his creative output and engineering genius at building a better, more intelligent e-bike.
Enter Fuell. Disregard any feelings you might have about the name, and look at the brand’s first proposed product: the Fluid e-bike, which the company launched via an Indiegogo campaign earlier this year thatconcluded on June 27, having raised nearly $1 million.
What makes the Fuell Fluid different from other e-bikes is its range. The company is packing it with a pair of swappable batteries that together are rated at just over 1 kilowatt-hour of capacity. This is just a little less than double the capacity of the battery used in the popular Evelo bikes, for example.
Fuell claims its battery when paired with its 500-watt middrive motor will deliver 125 miles of range. Now, when it comes to speed, there will be three versions on offer. The Fluid-1 will have a top speed of 20 miles per hour, while the 1S version will net you an additional 12 mph. There is a version only for the EU that will only do 15.5 mph.
The battery pack is a 48-volt unit, and Fuell claims it will charge to 80% capacity in 2.5 hours with its included 4-amp fast charger. That’s not bad, especially when you consider that the batteries themselves are easily swappable, so getting two and having one ready to go makes things pretty convenient.
The electric drive unit and assorted controllers and screen appear to be off-the-shelf units from a company called Bofeili, and versions of the hardware sans the battery can be bought from sites like Alibaba for a few hundred dollars. The rear-geared hub is a Shimano unit, and the carbon drive belt comes from Gates.
The bike’s front fork comes from Suntour, and the hydraulic disc brakes come from Tektro. Both of which are established and respected brands in the bicycle industry, if not super-high-performance. The bike comes equipped with lights, and there are a handful of available accessories as well.
Now, the Fluid-1S with two batteries is selling for $3,199 through Indigogo, which would put it in line with other top-tier e-bikes. Still, if it’s using predominantly average, off-the-shelf components, where does that money go? Design mostly.
The Fluid is a much more cohesive and elegant design than most e-bikes that we’ve seen. It looks a lot like a hard-tail mountain bike with extra beefy frame tubes. Nothing immediately calls out that it’s been electrified until you get up close, and we think that’s cool.
The Fuell folks say that the first Fluid models will begin to reach customers by August, but as with any crowdfunding project, that should be taken with a grain of salt.
Fuell didn’t immediately respond to Roadshow’s request for comment.