Trekworld: Electric Innovation

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post challenging the industry to innovate with electric bikes. Not just power a comfort bike, but develop a performance bike. Well, Trek did that and also powered a comfort/fitness bike.

Bishop and Phase Concept

The day before the demos, Jessica Braun hinted we’d see something electric and cool. We saw three bikes actually: Phase, Bishop, and Valencia+. The Bishop is a steampunky concept while the Phase looks like a modern-art Madone with a battery pack and integrated electronics.

phase_one.jpg

Taking on all Commuter Challengers, with electric power.

bishop.jpg

Ridden best with Tweed and leather – so badass comes with its own shoes.

Neither of those concepts will ship, but the thinking and creativity is there. If Trek’s Ride+ (electric line) does well, expect something more like the Phase, a powered Madone.

Ride+

Watching the dealers ride this Ride+ bike, there’s definitely a “wow” factor and grins when the power kicks on. Ride+ is the line and they are Trek’s Fitness bikes with electric motors. Trek licensed and overhauled the Bionx system – it’s smaller, more efficient, and runs automagically. The system detects torque/speed and delivers power. Get that, makes sense, but also results in disconnecting the cyclist from the drivetrain. With a full set of gears, what I was supposed to be doing? What cadence and gear ratio to maximize battery life and speed?

Maybe that’s just me or other power users of ebikes, but with time I’d think other cyclists would want to become efficient human-hybrid machines and maximize their rides. Yes, like you, my mind went to Di2 + electric. We’ll get that right after cars start flying.

valencia_plus.jpg

You could mod the controller with a trigger from Bionx and I’d look at replacing the drivetrain with an internally-geared hub.

Price

Expect a 2K price for the Valencia, the mid-range bike. As concepts, the Bishop and Phase have no price or plans to ship.

Features

  • Syndrive – Trek’s electronics that adjust timing and power based on torque, resistance, and speed.

  • SilentDrive – Trek’s version of Bionx with direct drive, bushless hub, li-on battery, and 350 Watts of power.

  • Detachable battery – with cues from Toshiba’s sytem (on Giants, Schwinn, Torker), the battery pops out of the rack and upstairs to a plugin. The rack also has a built-in light.

  • Three Trim levels – FX+ Platinum has upgraded parts, carbon fork, lighter weight; Valencia has disk brakes, fenders; 7200+ is a step-through frame with an upright position.

Goodness

Ride + offers more electric bike choices on best-selling fitness category bikes. Good for transportation and getting more people on bikes. Trek’s redesign of Bionix technology is more than that, it’s a total overhaul. Logical for them, the dealers, and us.

Meh

Trek’s version of powered-fitness bikes is ok and all. We hope they sell well. They did in Europe and that’s why they’re here. Besides the rush of the electric motor, the fitness bikes themselves are rather blah and not that exciting – meh. The Phase? Now that’s exciting.

As Zap mentioned while we walked to our respective gates at the airport:

hope this isn’t another ebike fad, they come and go.

That’s the challenge at the dealer level to rock these bikes – they deserve it and we hope ebikes aren’t like corduroy pants and Ska. They shouldn’t come and go with fashion and gas prices. The future is innovation and high-performance electric. Trek has the design smarts to do it.

Riding the Trek Electric


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2 Comments

It’s a shame that “hybrid” lost all its (bike industry) marketing power in service of crappy “fitness” bikes with 700c wheels. Otherwise, these could be marketed as the Prius of bikes, running even cleaner and better for the environment.

good one. The prius of bikes.

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