eSpire – the SUV of electric bikes


October 7, 2010

Third Elements' eSpire hybrid drive electric bicycle

Third Elements' eSpire hybrid drive electric bicycle

Image Gallery (14 images)

One of the more unique two-wheeled wonders at this year’s Intermot show in Cologne is Third Element’s eSpire. This German bicycle features “hybrid drive,” meaning that it can be pedaled ebike-style with electric assist or driven with a throttle, like an electric motorcycle. Its mountain bike-like frame and wheels allow for off-road adventures, but it reportedly also makes a good commuter... and oh yeah, it looks pretty cool, too.

The eSpire has a BLDC 1.2kW/48V electric motor that delivers 150 Nm of torque. It’s powered by a removable 820 Wh Li-ion battery, which is good for over 1,500 charges. Like most ebike batteries, it reaches full charge in three hours. Range is around 65 km (40 miles) on battery only, and 90 km (56 miles) using pedal assist.

The bike is available in two versions, Street Legal and Off-Road. Street Legal is limited to a top speed of 45km/h (28mph) – in some countries, at least, this allows it to qualify as a scooter. The Off-Road version, however, tops out at 65km/h (40mph).

The frame is tubular aluminum, with a polycarb motor housing. Front and rear suspension is handled by Marzocchi shocks, and gearing is taken care of with a Rohloff 14-speed internal hub. The complete vehicle weight is 30 kg (66 lbs).

The eSpire will set you back 7,000 euro (about US$9,750), and is so far only available at stores in Germany.

The bicycle’s Clean Mobile drive train was recently tested in a tour through the Alps, which can be seen in the video below.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I think the battery/motor is in a rather precarious position, first big rock or log and bang!

Nice road tires for an off road bike!


Would you pay $10k for a fat (66 lb) bicycle or a light (66 lb) scooter? Good luck to them.


very nice indeed !Difficult to see where else they could have put the battery or motor, looks logical to me


I\'d pay up to $999.99 US for the off road model and not a penny more!

Paul Anthony

\"Would you pay $10k for a fat (66 lb) bicycle or a light (66 lb) scooter?\"

$10k to ensure I don\'t look like an old woman sitting on the toilet (which is what everyone on a scooter looks like)?


Keith Reeder

Paul, the rear wheel alone is worth more than that -- used!

(Seriously -- it\'s fitted with a Rohloff internally-geared hub; putting one of those on a bike can easily be a $2-3K project).

Charles Duffy

E-bike specs are like candidates in a political race. Most will not tell you all the \"nits & grits\" specs as they actually are along with suggested price. They leave some factoids out or use words like \"up to\" or \"about\" or \"can be as high as\". Pretty much you get what you pay for. All those nice options, good batteries vs better batteries, etc. and the list go on. If your used to mountain-biking and now you have two categories of electric Mt-bike, one on-road and one off-road, it can get frustrating. Having said all that, This bike seems a little high-priced but also delivers more than most. Maybe down the road more manufacturers will start comparing features and performance in a standard kind of way that average customers can relate to! This reminds me of cellphones and plans. Hard to compare them as well!

Will, the tink

I am from Malaysia. Any dealers in Malaysia ????? for the eSpire??? Does this need a roadtax, license? How much would it cost to freight it to KL?

Thank you



You call this tech!? China has been selling this exact same thing for YEARS now and it costs 200USD. Inventors need to do their due diligence.

Are O'Bee

Love the idea - was sketching similar concepts some years ago myself. I saw electric and small, heavily silenced petrol engined mountain bikes as a good way to get people out of cars when commuting and to allow people with lower fitness levels to enjoy off road cycling. Problem is that these, like the smart car, are too expensive. I am in Australia where a hatch like a Ford Fiesta is about $16K. The Smart Car starts at over $20K when it should have been designed to be well under $10K. Back to this bike: As a proof of concept, fine, charge those sort of dollars but this style of bike won\'t take off until it is around the $1500 to $2000 mark. Ok, it won\'t have top shelf components, especially suspension etc. But you can build a soft tail bike for around $1000 wholesale so the tricks are to remove as much of the normal drivetrain as possible and to get the electric drivetrain components in there for less than $1000.


It\'s good that it\'s found only in Germany, because otherway it would crash to often and where is the service...?

Iosif Olimpiu

There's something very similar made by Stealth Electric Bikes in Australia. The Stealth Bomber is a superbly engineered machine in the bush-bashing sense. Solid, ridiculously powerful (4.5kW) and very well balanced so you hardly notice the weight (~50kg). You do notice it if you are pedaling uphill without power. If only I could convince my wife that it is a necessity for me to own one.

It too is about $10k (fully upgraded). It would be great if these things were cheaper, but if you compare it to a decent mountain bike the value proposition improves.

Ryan Hulley

Do they sell it with the flat tire?


Just what the general public overall, needs! Get then working, exercising by pedalling and gyrating over the seat to develop stomach and back muscles and a lean, hard ass! What the general public doesn't need, is reliance on a piece of equipment that eventually will need maintenance, which rarely is engaged in, in these current times of throw-away and obsolescence! More landfill material when the novelty is gone! My advice: Support your local Gym and health care facility by becoming an active, participating member!

Robert Gillis
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