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Electra puts the “E” into its first electric bike

Published August 30, 2012
Electra Townie Go

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN)—Electra is putting the “E” into its name with a new SRAM-powered electric bike that U.S. dealers can test ride at Interbike.

Electra unveiled its newest creation—a ballooned-tired Townie Go—sporting a custom rack for the battery mated with a SRAM automatic shifting rear hub. The system SRAM developed is simple—one wire between the battery and the hub, no speedometers, battery meters or other handlebar devices to clutter and confuse customers. The hub fits all 135-millimeter rear triangles. The bike will be priced under $2,000. 

For customers, the automatic hub senses the amount of torque applied to the pedals and kicks in the electric motor. Depending upon terrain, the battery could deliver more than 30 miles of riding before needing a three-to-four hour charge.

For SRAM, it’s a win-win decision to work with Electra, which will be the first major OE customer for the system. The SRAM system has been under development for a number of years. Prototypes were available at Eurobike last year for test rides. Other customers adopting the system include Ohm Cycles in Canada and Yuba Cycles in the U.S.

Electra’s Mark Pippin said the company decided to move into e-bike sales now after watching other companies and systems enter the market. “We were sitting on the sidelines as the dust settles, waiting until the right product came to market that was simple, made for casual riders, and with a global support system,” he said.

The company also wanted a system that would pose few issues for Electra dealers and their customers. SRAM’s customer service program will handle all warranties and replacement parts—a key factor for Electra’s management.

If the battery malfunctions or the rear hub fails, a dealer can send it back for a replacement within 72 hours. Driving the Electra-SRAM partnership was Electra’s CEO, Skip Hess. Hess had done work as a consultant for Britain’s UltraMotor and is well versed in the complexities of e-bike products. 

“He's got extensive experience working with SRAM during the multi-year gestation period for this (e-bike system). He's perfectly aligned to take this to the finish line,” Pippin said. 

Rob Cappucci, SRAM’s category manager for electric bike products, said the battery pack has a two-year warranty. SRAM has also arranged a recycling program with Call-2-Recycle. 

While the internal batteries could come from companies like Samsung, Panasonic or Sony, SRAM will rely on Taiwan’s Hi-Tech Energy to assemble the battery packs including circuitry, sensors and the aluminum box the battery fits in. Hi-Tech has extensive experience in battery assembly, Cappucci added.—Marc Sani

Topics associated with this article: Eurobike, Electric bike

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