Carbon fiber bikes are nothing new, but when the tech gets together with 3D printing, things get crazy. Crazy awesome, that is. A new northern California startup, Superstrata, is looking to disrupt the cycling world with a new line of made-to-measure 3D printed e-bikes.
Superstrata launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the production ramp of its first e-bike, offering the promise of custom e-bikes to the masses. Being made of an über-strong carbon fiber thermoplastic composite, these beasts are surprisingly light, thanks to the impressive weight to strength ratio of carbon fiber. Because they are printed to the exact specifications of the buyer, they are almost instantly going to be one of the lightest electric bikes on the market for each person.
“This bike was designed to leverage all the benefits of this new manufacturing technology to get the best of both worlds: strength and lightness,” said Bill Stephens, an award-winning bicycle designer and the creative force behind Superstrata.
Why buy a bike that’s just a hair too small and have to adjust the seat to get it to fit perfectly, when you can just print up the perfect bike from the get-go? That was basically the premise behind Superstrata, and if the nearly $4 million in preorders on Indiegogo are any indication, e-bike buyers are extremely interested in the proposition.
3D printing the entire frame in one pass means no additional seams, bolts, adhesives, or joints exist in the frame. That saves weight and increases the strength right off the bat. The customization of the bike stretches beyond just the size of the frame, as Superstrata is even offering buyers the ability to customize the stiffness of the frame.
“My Olympic race bikes were light, but would crack when pushed too hard or crashed. Having a bike that’s light like other carbon fiber bikes but really tough is a dream come true,” said Sky Christopherson, two-time former Olympian cyclist and world record holder for the velodrome sprint.
Traditional carbon fiber bikes have been around for ages, but are extremely brittle because of the seams required by the manufacturing process. The result is a bike that’s light and strong by itself, but extremely brittle and fragile if dropped or in the event of a crash.
In the campaign, Superstrata is offering two different versions: Terra (aka Superstrata C), a traditional bicycle, and Ion (aka Superstrata E), which sports an electric motor and batteries capable of supporting 55 miles of riding per charge. Superstrata is building smarts into both, with integrated wiring and data in both options.
Superstrata also has a range of customization options for buyers, such as carbon fiber rims, different handlebars for racing, street, gravel, or touring, and colorway customizations. In total, there are more than 500,000 possible configurations for buyers to tune and tweak to their satisfaction.
- Brakes: Mechanical Disc Brakes
- Brake Rotors: 160mm
- Gears: 8 Speed
- Frame Colors: Black & White
- Frame Material: Thermoplastic Carbon Fiber Composite
- Rims: 700c
- Frame Weight: 1.3 kg / 2.8 lbs (depending on the size)
- Total Weight: 7.5kg / 16.5 lbs (depending on the size)
- Battery Capacity (Ion-only): 7Ah, 36v, 252 Wh
- Battery Cells (Ion-only): Samsung/Panasonic/LG
- Charge Time (Ion-only): 2 hours
- Estimated Max Range Per Charge: 96 km / 60 mi
- Motor Output (avg): 250 watts
- Motor Output (peak): 350 watts
- Motor Torque: 40 Nm
- Motor Location: Rear Hub Motor
The Superstrata Terra Bicycle will retail for $2,799 and the Ion E-Bicycle for $3,999, but both are available for a fraction of those prices on Indiegogo right now. Check out the campaign page to see all the details or to place an order. They are scheduled to start shipping in December 2020.
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