M55 aims to make the most sophisticated human-electric bikes
By Paul Ridden
November 11, 2010
Budapest mountain bike enthusiasts coming together as M55 have spent the last four years bringing their pedelec dream into existence. Now the Beast has risen. The first hand-built, luxury human-electric bikes out of the workshop doors will be restricted to a limited production run of just 55 and are said to feature the very best that technology has to offer. In addition to the fully CNC-machined aluminum frame and carbon fiber plates, the Beast 55 benefits from Formula One stopping power, a brushless electric motor that is claimed to make uphill climbs a relatively easy affair, and Fox suspension.
The company's aim is a lofty one – to "build the best hybrid bikes on the planet." To this end, input from numerous electronic and mechanical engineers, industrial designers, and avid cyclists was aimed squarely at the design goal. M55 decided early on that its end product would be the result of a no-compromise attitude, and gathered what it considered to be the very best components available into one place. Custom-made solutions would be developed to answer any troublesome technical issues.
Putting it all together
After four years in development – during which time various frame designs and materials were tested and numerous components tried out – the Beast 55 has now taken on form. At its center is the futuristic-looking 19-inch CNC-machined Monocoque 7075 aluminum frame. To this has been added a Fox fork and rear suspension, the latter with a "Nukeproof titanium spring." The 26-inch wheels benefit from Syncros rims with Syncros and Rohloff hubs and DT Alpine spokes.
The handlebar and stem have been cast and CNC-machined, and sport ESI grips and an integrated LED headlight. M55 has secured exclusive use of Brembo disc brakes, which would otherwise normally be found "on Formula1 cars but not on bikes – until now." The drive consists of a Gebhardt GP custom front chainwheel, Rohloff rear cog and a specially developed KMC X1 chain, with a Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 tandem version coupled with a Rohloff twist shifter gearing system.
The Beast 55 is a hybrid human-electric bicycle where "the electric-powered assistance is only offered during active pedaling." Located near the custom crank, within the frame, is a 1900W EB-PC brushless electric motor with a rated torque of 32Nm, although there's a mechanism included which is said to "increase the maximum assist torque to 104Nm." A drive-integrated sensor looks for moments when some assistance might be needed and kicks in the electric motor. M55 says that its e-bike has a maximum speed of 77 kph (47.8mph) at 120rpm pedal cadence.
The company reports that at full pelt, the 44V Tenergy Li-polymer battery pack rated at 20mAh will power the motor for about 44km (27 miles), but in ECO mode the Beast is claimed to run for 100-120 km (62 - 75 miles) on a single charge. If the battery dies mid-journey, then the bike simply loses the electric assist and the rider can complete the trip by pedal-power only. A "virtually maintenance free" experience is also promised.
Unleashing the Beast
There will be a couple of distinct product release waves. The first run to be manufactured in the new center in Budapest, near the Pilis mountains, will be limited to just 55 units. This represents the model featured in the gallery – the Beast 55 – complete with fully CNC machined aluminum frame with carbon-fiber plates. This special collector's edition has recently been shown off at the SEMA trade show in Las Vegas and will be available for purchase from February next year for US$35,300.
In April 2011, the company will make the first of its "standard edition" Beast e-bikes available. This model will feature much of the same technology as the limited "55" model but with "hydroformed aluminum not CNC machined." This is reflected in the reduced pricing of US$15,200. Every 55th e-bike produced will be a special edition model sporting a custom paint job.
M55 is currently working on an urban model called the Daemon, which will be available with optional one-sided front suspension and come in male and female tailored varieties. This model is also set for an April release and will cost US$13,300.
Personalizations and customizations can also be created on request.