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PHOTO CAPTION: Smart e-bike is equipped with 250W motor, which limit for electric-assist bicycles in Europe.

European Automakers Testing the Electric Bike 'Waters'

Sales of pedal-assist bicycles in Europe have been robust, more than tripling from 200,000 units in 2007 to 700,000 last year.

Published: 05-Sep-2011

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany -- Smart, a rectangular booth tucked away amid much more elaborate setups in one of Eurobike’s large trade halls, was a hive of activity Thursday morning as photographers jockeyed for optimal shooting position and a television crew conducted interviews.

The buzz was over the debut of the auto brand’s much anticipated electric bicycle, a sleek white frame accented with green accessories and clearly spec’d with quality in mind. A Gates carbon belt drive replaces a traditional chain and the bike is outfitted with Ergon pedals and grips, Magura MT4 brakes, Continental city tires and a Truvativ Stylo seatpost.

The rear-hub 250-watt motor and frame integrated battery is a proprietary design developed by Bionix for Smart. The bike culminates about two years’ work by Karl Nicolai, of Berlin’s Grace ebikes, who was hired by Smart to develop its first electric bicycle. The brand, synonymous with the zippy two-door city car owned by Daimler, will sell the bikes at about 600 of its automotive dealers in Europe and North America for around 2,900 euros starting next year. With its following of environmentally conscious urban dwellers, Smart’s entry into the e-bike market could be exactly the kick the category needs to gain traction in
lagging markets like the U.S., Nicolai said.

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