The electric bike we’re talking about in this article has a unique feature: it only weights 12 kg. How’s that even possible?
Ebikes are not the “heavy monsters” they used to be when lead batteries were still used. With modern lithium batteries, the average weight of an electric bike has dropped considerably.
However, ebikes are still heavier than regular bikes. The weight can be a problem for cyclists that need to lift the bike often (for example to carry it along the stairs). That’s why there’s a zealous and ongoing research to bring the weight of ebikes down.
A team of young Americans has been successful in creating an electric bike weighing only 12kg, the Maxwell EPO, which is currently collecting funds on Kickstarter.
Electric components are very nicely hidden, so much that at first sight it’s hard to tell that the Maxwell EPO is an ebike. Let’s see what technicalities made such a light ebike possible.
The first thing we notice is that this is a bike with only the essential components: all accessories have been removed.
No luggage rack, no fender, no lights, no chain cover. This bike is a singlespeed. so the front and back derailleurs have been removed, along with the second chainring, the cogset and the controls on the handlebar. The fork, having no damper, is lighter but less comfortable when you ride on uneven roads.
The wheels are also very light, with thin tires. All in all the Maxwell EPO is a city bike, convenient with good weather and even roads.
Let’s talk about the most interesting part: an ebike is heavier than a regular bike because of the battery, the motor, the control unit and cables… It’s on this very aspect that Maxwell’s guys worked the most.
Let’s start from the battery: where is the typical parallelepiped “box”? We already know that a battery is made of many smaller “cells”: imagine many AA batteries connected to each other (we’re putting it in a very simple way to make it easier to understand). Well, the ultralightweight electric bike Maxwell EPO integrates the cells directly into the frame’s tubes. This way, the weight is equally distributed over the whole frame, and the battery is completely invisible.
Reading the technical data sheet, the bike has a 250Wh battery, which is only slightly inferior to the average city bike’s battery. The battery can be charged to its 90% in 45 minutes.
The Maxwell EPO has a front hub motor. It’s a very small and light motor, nevertheless it offers 300W of power, taking the bike to a speed of 32Km/h (thanks to the extreme lightness of the bike too). Maxwell states that at this speed the battery has a 16-22 km range, with a moderate pedal input.
The control unit is placed at the bottom bracket, to keep the weight low and central.
It also looks like the bike only has a minimal push-button panel with no display.
The total weight of the bike should be 12kg or 14kg if you want a more powerful motor. We couldn’t test the bike so we retrieved the data from Maxwell’s data sheets. Sometimes a very light weight doesn’t come with an high quality standard. We’d like to test the Maxwell EPO to judge the quality of the components. Anyway it’s very interesting to analyze the technicalities that made it possible to create an ultralightweight ebike.
Ultimately, the Maxwell EPO is suitable for urban sections with no or few ascents and for cyclists who need a lightweight electric bike that looks like a regular bike.