Aprilia's Electric Assist Bicycle - sensible inner city commuter
By Mike Hanlon
June 4, 2004
The prospect of testing an electrically-assisted bicycle appealed to no-one at Gizmo. A bicycle weighing 29kg is positively obese and the top speed of 27kmh can be achieved easily by most relatively fit humans. Yet, by the end of our two week test period, there wasn't a single person who rode it who didn't rave about the experience. The Enjoy is aptly named.The Aprilia Enjoy is the most convincing argument we've yet seen for hybrid vehicles. Elsewhere this issue you will read about Honda's latest concept cars which use a combination of electric and conventional power units. The Aprilia uses a combination of electricity and human power and until you feel the way in which the microprocessor blends the electric assist with one's own endeavours, you won't understand how compatible the two power sources are. The "electric assist" is a computer that determines the amount of assistance required based on the mode the rider selects - there are three settings - slow, medium and "hills."
Electronic sensors monitor the speed at which you are pedalling and the force being exerted on the pedals, sending real-time data to the micro-processor to activate the motor when it is needed - most noticeably when starting off or negotiating a hill. Electric motors make their torque at the bottom of the rev range.
They are great for starting from a standstill, and this is one of the secrets of the Enjoy. Simply put some grunt into that first push and the Enjoy accelerates up to speed like some giant hand is pushing the bike from behind. This single aspect takes a huge amount of effort out of riding the bike.
Once that initial push has been given, maintaining a reasonable speed is easy - encounter a sharp rise and the 200-watt motor kicks in, offering assistance when you need it.The Enjoy's motor has a range of 40 kilomtres, which was perfect for Gizmag's inner-city location - downtown is just a few kilometres away, though a bit longer and it might have been a problem - it takes three hours to recharge using mains power. The battery slips out at the turn of a key, so it can be charged indoors.
Quality is evident in every aspect of the machine - entirely understandable when the Aprilia racing heritage in pushbikes and motorcycles is known. The brakes are excellent, the front and rear suspension is superb, the running gear is almost all Italian design, and the six-speed gears are Shimano. The Enjoy City is priced at $2530 inc GST For details of the nearest Aprilia dealer, visit aprilia.com.au.