The entry-level Pioneer model is able to save costs with
its simpler design and Asian manufacture. It still relies on
Jim Turner’s patented Motorized Bottom Bracket drivetrain technology combined with a 500 watt battery and
Shimano 24 speed drivetrain.
The Optibike dashboard unit has been a
mainstay on Turner’s bikes and they serve
the dual purpose of providing an easy to
read and use control panel plus a headlight cowl.
The undercarriage of the RB gives a hint about what’s involved
with the design and manufacture of the bike. Inside the frame
structure is where the 26 amp-hour Lithium Ion battery is housed.
Jim’s patented Motorized Bottom Bracket location helps maintain
a low center of gravity.
product that comes along and proves to
be a win on so many levels. The e-bike
speaks to improving someone’s health,
improving the environment and improving transportation. Although e-bikes are
attractive on a multi-generational level,
for people getting older, I have to say
that it would be hard to find something
like an e-bike that not only helps keep
them healthy, but also something that
they have so much fun doing.
EBA: How would you assess the
e-bike market now?
Jim: There’s a rush to it, which
is a little troublesome as companies
are focusing on the race to enter the
market. As an industry, we have to be
careful about what kind of message
we’re doing. Making unrealistic claims
and misleading people, especially about
what kind of range the bikes have, can
have an adverse effect on growing the
category. At Optibike, I can say that we
measure the range on all our bikes by
riding them without pedaling. Range is
one aspect of an e-bikes’ performance
that needs to be accurate.
On the consumers’ end, they also
need to be honest with themselves
about what kind of bike they want
and need. They need to make sure
to understand if the bike they are
considering is the bike that’s right
for them—a townie is not a high-performance bike. I think there also
needs to be a wider recognition that
20 mph is pretty fast, and maybe not
everyone is suited to ride a bike at
those speeds, especially in traffic.
EBA: Where do you see things
going from here?
Jim: The big leaps in design have
been made, and I think the future will
be filled with a more nitpicky type of
evolution. I mean, we’ll most likely see
the batteries get lighter and smaller,
but the basics of e-bike design are
there. One of the things having a bigger
impact will be the changes made in
the government regulations on what
defines an e-bike and where they can
be ridden. ■
For 2014, Optibike will be importing the less expensive
Pioneer model that uses a downtube-mounted battery along
with some of Turner’s patented technology. The $2700 bike
offers a range of 23 miles and tops out at 22 mph.