Smart eBike Ride: Electric Bike The Best Vehicle Smart Makes?

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After testing the 2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, we were given the opportunity to try out another of Smart's electric vehicles.

Unlike the city car however, this vehicle has only half the number of seats, and half the numer of wheels. It's also, technically speaking, a hybrid--using an electric motor on the rear wheel, and... your legs.

It is of course the eBike, Smart's pedal-electric bicycle. And it could be the most convincing vehicle Smart makes.

Perfect fit

On the face of it, the eBike is a perfect fit for the Smart brand, far more so than other car companies which offer branded mountain bikes, skiis, and other assorted corporate-logo'd 'lifestyle' junk.

After all, Smart started with the express purpose of revolutionizing urban transportation, by making parking easier and reducing running costs.

Bicycles may not be a revolution, but they're hard to beat as tools for cutting rapidly across a crowded city.

The bicycle, improved

The main issue with bicycles, to those of us who prefer our transport to have four wheels and a roof, is that you get hot and sweaty when it's dry, and hot, sweaty and wet when it rains.

The eBike won't stop you getting wet when it rains, but thanks to four levels of electric assistance, a large proportion of the physical exertion is removed from every journey.

In fact, it makes all but the toughest inclines a relative pleasure to ascend. You still need to pedal, but the electric motor adds to your own efforts to make the whole process much easier.

It also feels a little more sophisticated than your average bike, with a silent, maintenance-free carbon belt drive between pedals and rear hub, a small LCD display to track your progress, assistance and speed, and built-in front and rear LED lights for safety.

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Comments (12)
  1. Does it have a suspension?

  2. Nope, rigid. You do feel the bumps but it's not too bad.

  3. China has been building cheapo Electric bikes for decades.

    Most of those Chinese E-bikes only cost about 1/5 to 1/7 of the $3,700...

    And it is silly to have a 62 miles assisted range. Nobody want to bike for that long in "commute" situation.

  4. The price of the bike is high. On the other hand, it seems like non-electrified commuter bikes are often at $1000 these days (at least the ones I am longing for). And the bike I ride every day was $800.

    So I am not too surprised when I see ebikes at $2000. But $3700 is really really expensive.

  5. Well sure, an "entry level performance" bike (MTB or Road) an easily be $1,000 to $1,500. But they are expensive b/c the quality of the components and "weight saving" parts. You are talking about couple hundreds per ounce in cost vs weight saving...

    But at $3,700, you can buy a motorcycle...

  6. My first car was only $350 and it wasn't that long ago...

  7. @ Xiaolong - I agree that 62 miles seems a bit much, but although it hasn't been made clear, I expect that 62 miles is on minimum assistance.

    If I were to guess, I'd hazard that 20-30 miles is more likely on maximum assistance, which is a more sensible maximum range for commuting. And if you only commute 10 miles per day, for example, you'd probably get the best part of a week's worth of riding on a charge.

  8. I used to commute 17 mile each way, with a couple of big hills in between, I reckon the 62 miles would be a lot lower once you started going up hill. In my case I would have been able to charge it, but not everyone can so the commute range would be half in that case. As for cost, my road bike (no suspension and probably hurts more than this on the roads it's designed for) cost 50% more than this bike. The only problem for me, I average 22 mph on my road bike, and it weighs nearly 20kg less, but if I wasn't a fit 40+ years old, I'd seriously consider it (oh and if I didn't now work from home :-) ).

  9. I test drove one of these last month.

    No suspension and no accelerator... the electric power assists your pedaling.

    I'd rather have the possibility to accelerate, even not having to pedal.

  10. There are several electric bicycles that allow you to do just that. Smart left out that feature partly I expect to ensure the battery isn't drained too quickly, and partly to dodge rules in some countries that would require you to register the bike as a motorcycle - as it technically is if it can move under its own power.

    As for suspension, the lack of it didn't bother me too much on the test ride. My own mountain bike has suspension and I regret buying one with it - I don't take it off-road enough to justify the extra cost! Suspension is also a bit power-sapping on bicycles - Some of the effort you put into pedaling compresses the suspension, so you need to pedal harder to maintain pace. I expect the Smart is more efficient without.

  11. "partly to dodge rules in some countries that would require you to register the bike as a motorcycle"

    That's the problem with all the bike that will be coming from the car companies: they're using the lowest common denominator, which is generally the stupid EU laws. I sold my car 2 years ago and have been commuting on a Pedego Interceptor since then. The Smart looks nce and has some excellent features, but if I was forced to use a pedeltec and a max motor power of 250w and max speed of 15 miles/hour, I would have to give up and go back to a polluting car since it would make my already long commute time just too much.

  12. Hi there, where can I buy one of these in New Zealand?

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