design goals without showing favor. Our
goal is simply to get more people out on
bikes and to let the consumers choose
the bikes they think will work best for
EBA: Do you guys get pressure to
build a more powerful system?
Rob: First of all, we’re not a motor
builder; that’s not our game. SRAM’s
objective is first and foremost to get people on bikes, not to worry about how fast
they go. For SRAM, it’s not about maximizing speed as much as it is minimizing the pedal effort, and we feel that, in
conjunction with designing systems that
are simple to use, is the best way to get
people off the couch. From some of the
conversations I’ve heard about attaining
more speed, it seems to have less to do
with an e-bike, and I’d just tell a person
to buy a motorcycle.
EBA: Is there anything you would
hope to see take place in the e-bike
Rob: I think more system integration
would be cool. Right now most of the
e-bikes are based on standard bike platforms, and the fit between the two isn’t
always smooth. I think the bike industry
has its own history, its own quirks, which
much of the e-bike stands apart from.
Some of the designs I’ve seen from the
carmakers speak to this; there are some
pretty cool designs coming from less traditional [bike] designers.
EBA: What do you think it will take
for the e-bike market to grow in pop-
ularity in America, maybe even match
the movement in Europe?
Rob: Obviously it’s two different cultures. In Europe, the bike is seen less as
a recreational tool and more for transportation. For that to happen in America,
there needs to be a greater effort put into
building bike lanes. The urban infrastructure needs to evolve before e-bike popularity gets to the next level—that’s still
the missing piece to the puzzle. Ironically,
as much as the carmakers are jumping
into the e-bike market, they are the ones
with the influence to make those kinds of
changes happen. Wouldn’t that be interesting to see Chevy and Ford lobbying
for more bike lanes!
Of course, it’s also about the culture.
They say kids don’t care about cars
anymore. When we were growing up, it
was all about the day we could own our
first car, but apparently that is no longer
the case. Fashion is another part of it. I
think that’s where brands like Electra and
Paul Frank are making in-roads with kids
Inside the enclosed hub you’ll find the brushless motor
and a two-speed automatic drive system.
The battery slides easily into the rack and is almost unnoticeable.
EBA: What does the future of the
e-bike market look like to you?
Rob: I don’t think we’ll be seeing
the huge leaps in design and technol-
ogy that have occurred in the last few
years. I think that just as we’ve seen
with other technologies that the batter-
ies are shrinkable, but because of their
chemistry limitations, you can increase
their density, but not in a ten-fold way.
I do think the potential for new software
is still a blank slate, and that’s exciting
to think about. The bottom line, I think,
is that when really capable e-bikes with
good range can sell for around $1200,
that will be a whole new world. ■
Wouldn’t that be interesting to see
Chevy and Ford lobbying for more bike lanes!