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Modular Virtus e-drive transforms a regular bike into an e-bike and back again

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August 28, 2014

Sunstar is debuting the Virtus system at Eurobike 2014

Sunstar is debuting the Virtus system at Eurobike 2014

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Electric bikes are an intriguing transportation alternative, but four- and five-figure price tags are just too much for many people to spend on a limited-utility, low-range electric vehicle. That price looks even steeper for those that already have a perfectly functional pedal bicycle sitting at home. Japanese-Swiss company Sunstar hopes to make e-bikes a little cheaper and more versatile with its modular Virtus electric drive that transforms a regular bike into an e-bike, then detaches in minutes, effectively giving you two bikes in one.

The Virtus joins the growing list of aftermarket e-bike add-ons that includes the likes of Rubbee and the Velospeeder. As a mid-mounted e-drive fitted around the bottom bracket, the Virtus is a more cleanly integrated power option that's similar to e-drives used on permanently electric bikes.

Sunstar says that the Virtus is designed to fit any conventional bicycle frame, transforming a standard bike into an electric bike with up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h) of e-assist speed potential. Knowing what we do about the sheer breadth of the bicycle industry, we're sure there are a few "conventional" frames on which the Virtus will fit about as well as a square peg through a round hole. However, the potential versatility of the system is an attractive quality; instead of having to buy an all-new, multi-thousand-dollar electric bike, you can transform the bike you already own into a seamless, mid-motored e-bike.

The two main components of the Virtus are its 250-watt, 55-Nm motor and a multi-sensor controller that controls motor output and tracks torque, cadence, crank angle and speed. The multi-sensor unit can be used without the motor, providing performance-tracking on a standard pedal bicycle. The Virtus hardware also connects wirelessly to a smartphone to support performance-tracking and control features.

The Virtus offers a dual down tube battery option for added power and range

Sunstar has developed three battery options; an 11 Ah, 400 Wh rear rack-mounted battery; an 11Ah, 400 Wh battery mounted atop the down tube; and a dual battery system with the 400 Wh down tube battery plus an 8 Ah, 300 Wh battery secured to the underside of the down tube. The system includes an LCD computer for adjusting between four modes, tracking battery level, and getting read-outs of speed, mileage and other metrics.

The Virtus hardware is designed to be removed from one bike within minutes and then installed on another bike. So if you have a quiver of different bikes – maybe a mountain bike, race bike and in-town commuter – you automatically have a low-hassle quiver of e-bikes, assuming the Virtus works smoothly with the different designs.

Sunstar is showing a Virtus prototype at this week's Eurobike show. Outside of listing a weight of 7 lb (3.2 kg), it has not announced further specs or pricing information. It sounds as though the system will be available both over the counter and integrated into full bikes.

Hopefully, we'll have more on this one as it makes its way toward production.

Source: Sunstar

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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7 Comments

Less expensive? How nice!

So then, dear journalist,

What might be the price?

Loving It All
29th August, 2014 @ 08:45 am PDT

No price tag I see! I rather think that a purpose built e-bike will always be preferable to an add on / retrofit effort.

Good quality e-bikes can be bought for little more than an ordinary pedal cycle and they are generally far more robust.

Stuart Wilf Wilshaw
29th August, 2014 @ 09:01 am PDT

Going of Sunstar previous e-bike kits, it will be more expensive that a lot of complete E-bikes :)

Gary Bonney
29th August, 2014 @ 05:48 pm PDT

would be good if the battery could be in snug back-pack with a quick connect system. This would allow the bike to perform better and maintain the riders COG.

aajay
30th August, 2014 @ 02:30 am PDT

"Electric bikes are an intriguing transportation alternative, but four- and five-figure price tags are just too much for many people to spend on a limited-utility, low-range electric vehicle."

Judging by the 3D renderings, this will have a four-figure price tag. Just a wild guess will put it in the $1500-2000 range. The big problem with a system that's designed to be easy to remove is that it's also easy for a thief to remove, unless you're willing to carry it with you whenever you get off the bike. Same problem the Rubbee has.

@aajay,

That makes no sense. Mounting weight as low as possible and on the bike rather than on the rider is always the best way to go.

Gadgeteer
30th August, 2014 @ 03:25 pm PDT

Having decided that an E bike is exactly what I needed I looked on the site of my local cycle supplier ( national company) and found that the start price was £1,100 !! I will need 2 of these and I am not spending the price of a car on 2 bikes! I paid this much for my car, which has faultlessly carried us both over 50,000 miles to date in comfort without a pedal turning. Come on engineers, WTF are you messing about at?? Never mind trippy toy transport for the rich folks to leave in the garage until something siezes up, get on with it!! A sub £500 e bike should be easily attainable Let's see it!

Roger Dutton
31st August, 2014 @ 10:46 am PDT

Passing over the usually too-dear cost, I can imagine one 'priceless' use for this version -

Freaking out workmates, who know you live a fair way away!

Imagine, ebike most of the way, stop a block away and strip off the attatchment, putting it in a gym locker, backpack or whatever, then riding into work, claiming it was a 'hard ride today, lots of traffic' but not sweating at all!

LOL

The Skud
31st August, 2014 @ 08:08 pm PDT
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