A crazy new e-bike called Waldwiesel E is blowing up the Intertubes, and for good reason. The off-roader, which means something like “forest weasel” in German, is being pitched by its maker Urwahn Bikes as the first ever 3D-printed steel e-bike. It tosses out conventional frame design in favor of a curvalicious shape that looks like it was spit out of a 3D printer, which it is. So, why would you want one?
Absolutely, Get Yourself A High Visibility E-Bike
Looks alone make us want to wrap our legs around the sleek, curvy frame of the Waldwiesel E and never let go. If you want to get noticed on an e-bike, this will get you there, and that’s important if you spend a lot of time riding in traffic without bike lanes.
As the name suggests, Urwahn is marketing the Waldwiesel E for off-road use where visibility is actually not much of an issue. However, there is nothing to get in the way of piloting your Forest Weasel at top speed over nine miles of potholes. The attention-getting frame with a bend in the rear area has a name, and its name is Softride, and it is designed to help absorb the impact of uneven ground on your spine.
If you’re looking for the electric drive, keep looking. It’s integrated into the steel frame. The battery is also integrated into the frame, and if you have been dreaming of a range extender disguised as a water bottle for your e-bike, then the Waldwielsel E is the e-bike for you.
Speaking of steel, Urwahn is ready for the question of why use steel when everybody else is using lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber or what not.
“Thanks to 3D printing, affine gravel nauts are rewarded with a light system weight. The Waldwiesel Bio-Bike version weighs in at a slim 10.9 kg, while the Waldwiesel.E with electric support weighs in at 14.8 kg,” Urwahn explains.
That’s about 32.6 pounds for the e-bike, which is pretty decent for an e-bike.
How About Some Sustainability & Sleepless Nights With Your E-Bike?
Urwahn has made sustainability a centerpiece of its marketing through its “Fairframe” steel-based manufacturing model, which earned its urban e-bike the status of Winner of a 2021 Green Products Award.
The company also notes that the choice of a steel frame gives it a 100% recyclable supply chain. The regional manufacturing approach and the 3D printing angles also gives it an edge on sustainability, as it enables on-demand production and reduces or eliminates waste.
As for the Waldwiesel E, Urwahn would like to give props to the MAHLE ebikemotion electric drive, Shimano GRX 1-11-speed shifting group, and optional Lightskin LED lights.
“The world’s first 3D-printed Urwahn Gravel E-Bike is bursting with power with 40 Nm of torque at the rear wheel and makes many a squirrel look old,” the company enthuses, which seems rather mysterious unless they mean you can easily make a quick getaway if you happen to disturb an aggressive squirrel in the forest.
“We are sure that our Waldwiesel will give you sleepless nights. Fancy a wild adventure?” Urwahn adds.
E-bike Riders Should Get Ready To Rumble
Now that e-bike (and e-scooter) riders are a common fixture in many major cities, the next step is to conquer smaller cities and suburbs.
That could be a tough row to hoe, considering the lack of bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure outside of major urban areas. The last time cycling advocates tried to even up the score, wild-eyed conspiracy theorists came running out of the woodwork like, well, like aggressive squirrels with rabies to disrupt public meetings all over the country.
If you’re guessing that was all about Agenda 21, run right out and buy yourself a cigar. Agenda 21 refers to the United Nations’ recommendations for sustainable planning, which was created in 1992 on the heels of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
By 2012 the idea of a global “agenda” hit the US Tea Party movement like a ton of bricks and gave birth to a monster of epic proportions. Here, lets’ have Charles P. Pierce of Esquire magazine take over:
“They see the hand of Agenda 21 in everything from concerns about overpopulation, to town water regulations, to zoning-board decisions, to the ‘Green Teams’ that are formed in local high schools, to the smart meters on home appliances, which they believe are really monitors that transmit data to a kind of central command that, one day, will punish people who use too much power,” Pierce wrote back in 2012.
“There is a visceral, eminently exploitable feeling around the anti-Agenda 21 people that nobody really wants to be told what to do, even if what is being said to them is only a recommendation. Let me buy my own lightbulbs! Let me flush when I want to flush! It’s childish, but it’s real, and it’s powerful. These are fights that go on every day at every level of government, from the Congress to the local planning commissions,” he continued.
From transmitters in your lightbulbs it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to microchips in your vaccines, amiright?
All this is by way of saying that e-bike advocates should expect the unexpected when they show up at their local planning board meeting to discuss painting a bike lane or two around town, let alone taking out whole lanes of traffic to construct separated bike paths.
Agenda 21 Meets The E-Bike Revolution
The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has been muffled by the anti-mask, anti-vaccination mass hysteria of the COVID-19 crisis, but it has never really gone away. There it is, hiding in the Intertubes, waiting for the pandemic to ease so its adherents can step up to the mike and rant about “a nefarious plot to enact centralized rule across the planet, quashing individual liberty, and outlawing self-rule,” as Elspeth Reeve noted for The Atlantic almost 10 years ago.
Well, that was before the e-bike revolution hit. Affordable e-bikes are a dime a dozen, but high-end makers like Harley-Davidson are encouraging cyclists to drop thousands on a two-wheeled electric ride. The stripped-down, no-options version of Urwahn’s Waldwiesel E goes for about €5,499.00 including VAT and shipping, which means almost US$6,500.00.
The point is that once cyclists make an investment in cycles, they’re going to want to cycle, and that includes the suburbs.
Out in the suburbs, hills and distance have always tamped down the taste for cycling unless you mean the recreational cyclists who look at those elements as features, not bugs. The e-bike revolution has changed all that. Suburban commuters who hop on a bike share to get around a city are getting a taste of the experience, and e-bikes bridge the gap between the desire for a bike commute and the ability to do it.
That means advocacy for cycling is moving out beyond the fitness world and into the lives of everyday people who just want to get around and maybe help save the planet, too.
Maybe this time around the bike lanes will win.
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Photo: Waldwiesel E electric bike courtesy of Urwahn.