An electric bike won the esteemed gold medal at the 2012 Eurobike show in Germany. Made by Austrian manufacturer KTM, a cargo utility electric bike called the “Eshopper.” Here is picture of the Eshopper at Eurobike on the gold medal podium:
This bike features the well known Bosch 250-watt drive system (read review on Bosch powered e-bike), a reliable and robust (but low powered) mid drive. The reason it is equipped with a measly 250-watt motor is because most countries in western Europe have a 250-watt power limit on electric bikes. You will not see Bosch-powered bikes like this in the United States.
One possible reason for this is that the United States has a 750-watt limit which makes systems like this decidedly unexciting. With a 250-watt boost you have only a small advantage over a bicycle, and cannot compete with a car. (read our story “Is 250 watts Enough?“). For whatever reason, Bosch has decided to not offer any of its mid-drive equipped bikes in the United States. We would like to see bikes such as this one offered in the US market with a more powerful motor. Perhaps Bosch will develop a 500-750 watt motor system for the United States market?
The Eshopper is capable of carrying up to 300 pounds with rider and cargo. Because of its large cargo baskets this bike could be considered a cargo electric bike. The front basked is built into the frame (not the handlebars) so it can hold many pounds of cargo. The bike is only offered with a step through because when carrying for example grocery bags this e-bike would be very convenient to get on and off.
Also with cargo in mind, this bike comes equipped with quality disc brakes and extra stable 24 inch Schwalbe tires. Notice that KTM has made the smart decision to not waste time, weight, and money on cheap front suspension forks like most US e-bike manufacturers would. This e-bike was designed to be ridden on the street and therefore does not need cheesy suspension forks.
For convenience to the rider and the dryness of cargo, the bike comes equipped with fenders. It has a Bosch digital dash to let you know how much battery you have left and the speed you are going. The bike also features front and rear lights integrated into the bikes battery system.
The Eshopper decided against using a purpose built frame, and opted instead for the common big rectangular battery cage welded to the back of the bike. This allows for a removable battery pack, and extra battery packs can be carried in the cargo bins. `
Besides for utilitarian features of the Eshopper ebike it also has some asthetic design choices that are interesting looking. Check out the front handlebar stem spacers:
One big advantage of a mid-drive system like the Eshopper is that the motor runs through the pedal gears. To get the ultimate experience for the rider, KTM has opted for an IGH (internal geared hub) which has the transmission essentially built into the rear hub. What this does is eliminate the need for pesky external derailleurs, and it makes shifting a breeze even under power. The Eshopper uses the Alfine-8 which gives the rider 8 speeds and the convenience of twist grip shifter. Most of all, an IGH is extremely clean looking and eliminates the need for gear train maintenance.
Although this bike is not available in the United States, it is available in Europe for the price of 3000 Euros ( $3780). What do you think? Would a 250 watt E-bike such as this one sale in the US market at this price?
KTM, who has until lately been mostly focused on motorcycles (especially offroad motorcycles), has shown they are serious about the electric bike market. They not only announced the Eshopper, but also the high performance mid drive MTB called the Egnition (see story here) which uses a powerful Clean Mobile drive system (1200 watts) through a Rohloff transmission.