The Eneloop, debuting at 2009 Interbike and shining at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show(CES), is Sanyo's latest foray into the ebike market. Citing their bike/electronics origins and experience with battery technology (indeed, "Eneloop" is also the brand name for their line of rechargeable batteries), they describe it as "a cross between sustainability, stability, freedom and flight". Sanyo recently donated an Eneloop for use in the city motor pool, so having heard the hype, I was very excited recently when I got a chance to test ride one. First, the product details, then a few impressions.
A lithium ion 26v 5.7 ah battery mounted amid-ships drives a 250 watt front hub, a rider powers a 3 speed internal hub in back. There is a torque sensor at the rear hub that supplies power proportionate to rider effort - the more you work, the more it helps. A curvaceous step-through frame on fairly narrow 1 3/8" tires makes for a fairly light ride. Thoughtfully, a full complement of lights come standard, as does an over-sized rear rack and (removable) full metal fenders. The Eneloop is one of the rare ebike models that uses regenerative braking; I don't have a lot of experience with regen - it will be interesting to see how it works! Top assisted speed is 15mph.
Maybe its because they're the 2 test rides I've done (yeah, I'm kind of new at this), but it seemed to ride very similarly to the e-moto model I recently tested. I found smooth engagement of pedal assist across all 3 levels of assist - very little/no lurching as the motor engaged. The riding position was farther forward than I prefer/am used to on an ebike, and I found the handlebars a bit narrow. Granted, some of the riding position issues I had could be addressed through seat height/handlebar adjustment. The hand grips were very comfortable, and braking was strong. I'm used to a thumb throttle; at first I tried to "fool" the sensor into giving me the amount of power I'd use with the throttle, but I quickly found it was best to let the system work the way it was designed. The 15mph top speed left me comfortable on quiet bike boulevards, but when merging into a bike lane during rush hour traffic I'd have liked a couple more mphs.
Elegant frame design
Sanyo's commitment to building market awareness
Smooth power delivery
"Um, yeah, about that..."s
Personal quirks re: riding position
"Can I let you know later?"s
The Sanyo Eneloop currently retails at $2,300 on Amazon.com. I couldn't find any local bike shops carrying them.
Best Buy at Cascade Station is carrying the Eneloop, as well as some other ebike models. List price, $2200. Here's a poorly composed picture of said bike: