EGO-Kits give downhill mountain bikes a boost
By Ben Coxworth
February 15, 2011
While electric commuting bikes are currently experiencing a surge in popularity, electric mountain bikes such as the Conway E-Rider and the KTM eGnition are also showing up on tradeshow floors with increasing frequency. Most of these are designed as cross-country and/or trail bikes, with the idea that the motor can extend their range above the reaches of pure human power – of course, they might also appeal to couch potatoes who want all the fun of mountain biking, with a minimum of the exercise. The EGO-Kit, however, is an electric motor that can be added onto an existing downhill mountain bike, with the specific purpose of replacing a chair lift for getting bike and rider to the top of the mountain.
The high-torque brushless motor puts out 1200W of nominal power, and 2400W maximum. It’s fed by a 48V lithium-iron phosphate battery, that is carried in an included backpack. That battery charges in 1.5 hours, is good for 1,500 loading cycles, and provides a range of 40 kilometers (25 miles) – although that figure depends highly on the grade of the mountain that’s being climbed.
The motor mounts on the bottom of the down tube, near the bottom bracket. This midships low-center-of-gravity configuration is said to have little effect on the bike’s handling. Its output is determined via a control unit and throttle, mounted on the handlebar. All of the gear, excluding the rider-worn battery, has a combined weight of 4.4 kilograms (9.7 lbs).
The kit is reportedly compatible with about 70 percent of downhill mountain bikes currently on the market. Riders can choose between completely forgoing the motor, using it to assist their pedaling, or using it on its own. At maximum output, it can manage a top speed of 70 kph (43 mph). It is also said to be able to handle inclines of up to 80 percent, although that depends on rider skills, motor temperature and soil conditions.
The EGO-Kit can be purchased through the company website for EUR1,870 (about US$2,520), plus shipping from Germany. A 500W version is also available for EUR1,650($2,225). Sales are slated to begin on April 1st ... no joking.