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Rubbee turns any bike electric

By

July 22, 2013

The Rubbee's polyurethane roller engages the rear tire, making a motor-only speed of 25 km...

The Rubbee's polyurethane roller engages the rear tire, making a motor-only speed of 25 km/h possible

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There are likely quite a few people who think that an electric bicycle might come in handy sometimes, but who aren’t willing to buy a whole other bike or permanently convert their existing non-electric model. Well, that’s why the Rubbee was created. It’s an electric drive unit that attaches to a regular bicycle in only a few seconds, and that comes off just as quickly.

The waterproof Rubbee clamps onto the seatpost via a quick release lever, and extends over the bike’s rear wheel. A shock absorber-like arm keeps it pressed down, so that its powered roller is able to maintain contact with the top of the tire – hence the name Rubbee. It reportedly even works on bikes with rear suspension.

The roller is made from a “special polyurethane compound mix” that is said to allow for a good grip between it and the tire, without excessively wearing away at the tire in the process.

Power comes from an integrated 14.4-volt 280-Wh battery pack, that can be fully charged from empty in two hours. Although it can be used to augment the rider’s own pedaling power, in “motor only” mode the Rubbee is able to deliver a top speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) and an average range of 25 km. It offers 800 watts of peak power, and weighs in at 6.5 kg (14 lb).

Two Rubbees in use

Riders control the motor’s output level via a handlebar-mounted throttle that stays attached full-time. Should they wish to ride with the Rubbee on their bike but not in use (if they run out of battery power, for instance), it can be flipped up so that its roller isn’t touching the tire.

The device’s London-based designers are currently raising production funds, on Kickstarter. The early bird pledge level of £699 is already gone, but backers can still get a Rubbee for a pledge of £799 (US$1,227), when and if they reach production. More information is available in the pitch video below.

Cyclists interested in quickly adding electric power to their traditional bike might also want to check out the $699 Ridekick – it’s a small battery-powered trailer that pushes the bike to which it's attached.

Sources: Rubbee, Kickstarter

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
27 Comments

There was a gas motor on the United States market in the 1960s operated almost exactly as this unit. The major difference was that it powered the front wheel

Mike Stokes
22nd July, 2013 @ 03:59 pm PDT

I just got done with the first day of Ragbrai and lo and behold everyone was peddling using muscles and staying fit or getting fitter. Now make one of these things so that you can power your tv while you peddle and you might have something that is actually for the betterment of the human race. As is, I see the human race racing towards the future envisioned on WALL-E.

Buellrider
22nd July, 2013 @ 04:14 pm PDT

Awesome, but whats with that price tag? its huge!

asdf
22nd July, 2013 @ 04:14 pm PDT

I just visited their kickstarter page and I must say, I'm impressed!

These3 guys with determination have come some way. Keep it up :)

asdf
22nd July, 2013 @ 06:56 pm PDT

Buellrider, not everyone uses a bicycle for exercise/sport/leisure, it actually has other uses like transport, and when you cycle to work you don't want to get there hot and sweaty (not every workplace has a shower), or maybe you live in a very hilly area, or you're older and the body is less able, but you still want to enjoy the ride. Electric bicycles solve this problem and make it more feasible and enjoyable to get people out of their cars and onto bikes. Do you not see the connection with more people enjoying themselves on bicycles (regardless of how they power them) and less people in cars? = better for traffic, better for environment, better for health and wellbeing. I don't understand why people see bicycles so one dimensionally. You don't have to wear lycra and sweat to make use of bicycles in a way that's better for the human race.

Facebook User
22nd July, 2013 @ 09:13 pm PDT

The big problem with a unit that comes off in seconds is that it can be stolen in seconds. There doesn't seem to be any kind of lock on this to secure it against thieves, so you'd have to lug that 14 pound brick everywhere any time you leave the bike outside.

Personally, I would prefer the mid-drive units on the market like the Cyclone or the GNG. The advantage is running the electric motor output through the drivetrain allows the motor to run closest to its most efficient speed. That helps, even though electric motors are supposed to have pretty wide power bands when compared to internal combustion engines.

Gadgeteer
23rd July, 2013 @ 12:30 am PDT

Regular bikes are fine if you live in a flat area, but not if you have to climb hills to go to work in a suit.

Incidently, most bicycles (and scooters) sold in China today are electric.

Although it looks good from an engineering point of view, considering the price of a full electric bike, I found the price tag of the Rubbee too high, and it looks more like a solution looking for a problem: If people need a e-bike to ride around, they'll just buy one instead of buying a regular bike + a Rubbee for the same amount of money.

Freyr Gunnar
23rd July, 2013 @ 01:28 am PDT

From the images I can't see how to connect it to a European standard bike with a luggage holder on the back and/or a mudguard on that wheel.

Mounting it (if possible) on the front wheel will for the same reasons also be impossible as a lot of people have a basket on the Handle-bar and a mudguard

As stated before it needs a protection to keep it from being stolen when you're waiting for a traffic light

Idea = OK

Use = NOK

@Mike Strokes

We also had a version of that motor in Europe. They still run in collector groups called Solex and was originally produced a France. maybe you're talking about the same machine?

Vincent Bevort
23rd July, 2013 @ 02:20 am PDT

I like it. This could be a compact solution for temporary use. Riders could still decide to leave it at home if they want the exercise of pedaling. Easy to take along for charging under the office desk, so there is little risk of theft here.

Only, what if your bike has fenders? They would get in the way, would they? And the driving wheel would spread mud all over the place if you run through puddles? Room for a bit of improvement here, still not a bad concept as such.

martinkopplow
23rd July, 2013 @ 03:45 am PDT

Most people already own a bicycle that this device could be added to and decent eBikes still cost $3,000 or more so its still a much cheaper solution.

One thing I would like to see more of is rear motor mounts like this one: http://i.imgur.com/aqR56am.jpg

It allows people to bolt kind of what ever they want to the rear and not have to worry about aesthetics or width. Gas or electric is fine and the electric motor can be can be housed separately from the battery and there isn't a need for it to be compact so it is easy to upgrade etc.

Most of the ebikes and such I have seen lack "interchangeable parts" and that is really the larger problem that needs to be solved before we will see any real breakthroughs in ebike pricing.

Daishi
23rd July, 2013 @ 03:52 am PDT

@Gadgeteer: There is a lock. You can see the keyhole opposite the charger port.

I've seen eBikes for under $2k. The marketing strategy for this device seems to be taking advantage of being able to easily retrofit to your current bike.

Longevity is a concern though. How long will that battery last? 2 years? And how much is a 280-Wh battery pack? Probably like $500.

Stradric
23rd July, 2013 @ 06:56 am PDT

Ha ha

Basic e-bikes are available here for as little as 300 USD, and thy work just fine. Who's gonna buy this ?

Atul Malhotra
23rd July, 2013 @ 10:03 am PDT

I bought a Solex bike in France when I was there 25 years ago and still have it. Still works fine. it is a regular bike with a 49 cc two stroke engine that is very low RPM and quiet. Solex bikes are still in production but now are electric powered. The motor powers the front wheel by a wheel rolling on the tire, and if you want to just pedal power it the engine can be lifted off the tire. It was very handy I rode it to college and when I got there I would shut off the motor and could pedal it around campus. It goes 20 MPH and holds about a quart of gas which lasts for many, many miles. It is the most reliable machine I have ever had. It can be sitting out in the rain for six months and will start right up immediately. It cost me 900 francs which was the equivalent of about 200 dollars at that time. These guys have a nice re-invention but I don't think they are going to have much luck selling these things at $1227.

jeffrey
23rd July, 2013 @ 10:17 am PDT

Friction drive, even ones that look a LOT like this one, are not new. What appears to be new is the polyurethane wheel.

Bruce H. Anderson
23rd July, 2013 @ 10:28 am PDT

Like the concept and design. However, it is a bit pricey for the very short range it provides (5km = 2mi).

Michael Logue
23rd July, 2013 @ 10:49 am PDT

Why not my wheelchair?

Layne Nelson
23rd July, 2013 @ 11:05 am PDT

I remember something similar in Germany in the '60s. Sat on the back wheel and looked like a package carrier with a wheel that pushed down on the back wheel. It had a lever that would raise and lower the wheel onto the rear tire.

Ed
23rd July, 2013 @ 01:34 pm PDT

Yes, nice idea, too expensive. Get them made in China.

warren52nz
23rd July, 2013 @ 02:48 pm PDT

This is why — whenever I see what seems to be a great idea in gizmag — I always read the comments. Great job, everyone! (Not that I was about to drop $1,227 on it anyway!)

Fritz Menzel
23rd July, 2013 @ 03:43 pm PDT

Love the idea but while they look to be serious about it, but I don't think it stacks up (for me anyway).

The mountain bike I have sells new for about $500 and is perfectly suited to the daily commute and light off road riding. I have a relaxed riding style that averages about 22 kph on the 10km trip to work currently. So for me this unit would be neither significantly faster or even have sufficient range. Especially given the cost compared to my bike!

Do take the point regarding needing a shower at work though - we are lucky to have one. If we didn't have a shower I would probably just ride a bit slower.

Kiwi Jono
23rd July, 2013 @ 06:25 pm PDT

Stradric,

What keyhole? The round thing on the right side of the Rubbee? If you watch the video, that's just some kind of blue power indicator light and maybe a power button. It's nowhere near the quick release clamp, which is what secures the Rubbee to the seatpost. Besides, even if you can lock it to the seatpost, most seatposts are not secure. A few twists of an Allen wrench and seatpost, saddle and $1200 of Rubbee slide right out. Something like a Pitlock seatpost binder would help, but most people don't have those.

Gadgeteer
23rd July, 2013 @ 07:47 pm PDT

Good product.

But what happen when little rocks/pebbles are bound in the tire?

A bit to expensive.

Good logo design.

El Gabriel
24th July, 2013 @ 01:40 am PDT

The only real benefit I see her is if people have more than one bike or to share for the family. You can get a conversion kit at clean republic for less than 400 and the battery weighs far less than that. And if you purchase another bike you can just switch the motor which is the front wheel onto another bike. This is a terrific product but far too expensive when there exists more out there. Hell, clean republic and amazon have conversion packs that go up to a charge that provides 40 miles and weighs less than 6 pounds and its still less than 900 dollars.

Leina Rodriguez
28th July, 2013 @ 12:29 pm PDT

Friction drive was among the first bike motorizing solutions more than century ago. But its low efficiency cuts its prevalence, despite its "genius simplicity" &low cost.

Are there road tests proving that polyurethane roller having enough traction doesn't destroy tire (that is essentially composite structure) too fast with mechanical hysteresis?

Price doesn't seem competitive. It should be reduced on costs of extra tires &energy spent during Rubbee entire use out.

Still, design &craftsmanship I can't imagine better than that.

Mike Akulov
20th August, 2013 @ 09:52 am PDT

Only 15.5 mph and $1200? no thanks.

Schuyler19
30th October, 2013 @ 10:09 am PDT

RE: RUBBEE ELectric Bike adaptor.

It would be nice if you could recharge it somewhat while coasting down hills? or is it already that way... I think it would require a different motor/generator vs what they have.

InventPeace
13th June, 2014 @ 06:03 pm PDT

as usual,while the concept is practical, this type of device should not cost the consumer more than 250$!!!!

redjeff53
29th August, 2014 @ 11:03 am PDT
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