Bosch is one of the big players in the eBike space, but it isn’t known for its bikes. Bosch chose to focus on building a robust set of eBike components for bikes that existing bike manufacturers could then take and integrate into their own bikes where it made the most sense. CleanTechnica connected with Bosch’s Brian Sarmiento, who is taking a unique journey with a Bosch-based eBike.
You see, Brian is a cyclist. He’s passionate about biking, and whether that is an eBike or a fully mechanical bike, he’s on board. Brian shared that he loves getting out on a bike to take longer journeys as a new way to experience the world. His passion has led him on adventures far and near, including a journey of several hundred miles last year.
Through his work at Bosch, Brian came up with the somewhat crazy idea to bike from Bosch’s North American Headquarters in Irvine, California up to the Interbike show. “When I think of cycling, I think about it more of a sport. When I think about eBiking, I think about it like a more fun way to get where I’m going,” Brian shared. For years, Interbike has been hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada – just over 300 miles from Irvine – but this year, it was moved to Reno, Nevada, putting the show just over 500 miles from Irvine. That’s a much larger undertaking, but one Brian felt he could take on with the right Bosch-enabled eBike rig.
Brian shared that it always seemed odd to him that nobody biked to what has come to be know as the bike event of the year and hopes that his ride will help change that for the better. “Long term, I hope this becomes more of an industry thing where people can bike to the event,” Brian said. The shift is more than just a desire to see more people get on bikes, it’s clearly a pent up desire to encourage more people to get out of their cars and planes on a mode of transport that keeps them connected with the world around them.
eBikes lower the bar even further, with the motors and batteries serving to amplify the power output of the rider, shortening the time required to cover longer distances or reducing the effort required to travel. This is one of the reasons eBikes seem primed to disrupt the commutes for millions of people around the world – they lower the cost of commuting while also lowering the bar for fitness required to travel long distances by bike. As a special bonus, they clearly use much less power than is required for a car, slashing transportation-related emissions at the same time.
Brian shared that there are 3 classes of eBikes:
- Class 1 eBike – Class 1 bikes utilize pedal assist technology up to 20 miles per hour | 32 kilometers per hour. They amplify the power contributed by the rider, increasing the speed of travel or reducing the effort required.
- Class 2 eBike – Class 2 bikes add a throttle to the bike which gives riders the option to completely eliminate the whole ‘effort’ part of the equation. Class 2 bikes are limited to a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour | 32 kilometers per hour.
- Class 3 eBike – These bikes also utilize pedal assist technology, but with a higher top speed of 28 miles per hour | 45 kilometers per hour. These bikes come with a different set of laws that must be followed including losing the ability to use the bike lanes in most areas.
Local rules and regulations vary by country, state, county, and sometimes even by city so be sure to check the local regulations to see how eBikes can be used in your region before making a purchase. The NCSL has a great breakdown of these regulations for the United States, which also notes that regulations are evolving quickly to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation that’s happening in the eBike space.
For its part, Bosch focuses primarily on Class 1 pedal assist bikes that use the electric motor and battery to amplify the energy put in by the rider and simply make the bike go faster.
As if the ride to Reno weren’t enough, Brian is literally strapping a mountain bike to the back of his rig and hauling that with him for a stop off at the Northstar Free-Ride Festival which is the ‘get your hands dirty’ demo portion of Interbike. The Northstar Free-Ride Festival powered by Interbike is being held up at the famous Northstar ski resort which, during the summer, is transformed into a famous downhill mountain biking resort.
Brian shared that he’s excited to stop off at the Northstar Free-Ride Festival as eBikes tend to have a negative reputation with mountain bikers, but he expects that to change. As an aside, a good friend of mine shared that eBikes have been a saving grace for him as they enabled him to keep mountain biking through a sickness that sapped much of his own reserves. The ability to lean on the motor and battery to get up hills has allowed him to continue biking with his friends while getting as much of a workout as he can handle at the same time.
The road to Interbike will not be easy, though Brian is taking the lessons he learned from a test trip last year with him this year. One important lesson was to install tire flat protectors and to install self-sealing tires on his eBike, as riding along the side of the arterial roads that connect Irvine to Reno is a guaranteed recipe for flat tires given the inevitable road debris that otherwise finds its way into tires. I’m writing this as I sit next to the set of tire protectors that I purchased after talking with Brian, as my eBike sits in the garage with a flat tire incurred as a result of many miles on subpar roads.
As for the bike itself, Brian is using a model that features dual batteries to maximize the amount of power he can pull from the batteries before swapping them out. He plans to swap them out once per day, then fully charge them each night. eBikes not only amplify the rider’s power, Brian shares that his eBike has “given me so many more opportunities to get from point A to point B in a healthier way.”
Bosch currently sells its eBike systems to more than 35 brands. The kits typically include the battery, charger, motor, display and importantly, a diagnostic tool for shops authorized to work on them. That ensures that owners are not left out to dry if something happens to a part of the bike that’s not typically serviced by traditional bike shops.
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