Friday, March 26, 2010

First Look: The (wireless!) Shadow Ebike

Ebikes are generally recognizable by the wires that, well, carry the "e". This can be a weak link in the system, given the conditions the wires are subjected too - weather, temperature fluctuation, UV radition, flexing, etc. I've only seen a few wires fail, but the opportunity is certainly there.

Enter the Shadow Ebike. Designed by Daymak out of Toronto, Canada, its a completely wireless bike - braking, throttle, and pedal assist sensors all transmit to a controller/battery/motor encased in a dished wheel. Spec'd with a 500w 36v motor, it also features regenerative braking and a USB port for charging your electronic necessaries on-the-go. Unclear from the website are front or rear hub, and battery amp-hour capacity.

As a concept bike, I love this! A friend and I recently speculated that the next step forward in ebike technology would be wireless, and lo, here it is. This design is similar to the lauded Copenhagen wheel, and could suffer a similar potential issue.
I'll admit only a basic understanding of wheel physics, but a quick perusal of Wikipedia provides a good overview of the concept of rotational mass - its not only the weight of the wheel that matters, but also where that mass is located distance-wise from hub, eg a lighter rim is better than lighter spokes. I'd have to actually ride one of these to see if its true, but from this armchair its seems like putting the heaviest item on an ebike, the battery, that far outboard of the hub would make for a less efficient wheel.

Unrelated, I'd be nervous riding a bike with electric brakes. What happens in case of a dead battery in the lever? Throttle and pedal sensors dying I'm OK with - its still rideable, but brakes. I'm sure they've thought through this eventuality; but I'm still skeptical.

In short, nice concept, a couple open questions about execution. Available in a limited run of 300 units for June delivery. Listed at $1499 (unclear if this is USD or Canadian; Google says $1499 Canadian is currently $1471 USD).

1 comment:

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