FIRST RIDE: Michelin Wayscral E-Drive BicycleJune 15, 2017
Cyclists are taking over many major European cities. The push for less emissions and the higher taxes on automobiles in major European cities are both causing many citizens to push for bicycles. While auto enthusiasts bemoan this switch, as cyclists often get in the way of, and annoy, them while they’re driving, it is the way of our world, now. Michelin, having been a bicycle tire manufacturer from the very beginning, has naturally been thinking of ways to make cycling better, faster and more efficient. So it’s now come out with a new electrification system, Michelin’s E-Drive, that can transform a normal bike to an e-bike in seconds.
At the recent Movin’On by Michelin Conference in Montréal, the famous French tire company showed off their latest invention and we were fortunate enough to sample it. The bike on hand was a Wayscral but Michelin wants to implement this system for almost any bicycle. The new E-Drive system is essentially a clip-on battery pack and electric motor all in one.
It’s the way it works that’s quite fascinating. It comes with a simple bike rack for the rear wheel that bolts on as does any other rack. However, the rack has a large opening that can fit the new E-Drive unit into it. This E-Drive unit is an electric motor and battery pack built into one simple unit that only weighs 3kg (6.6 lbs) and can be installed in just 3 seconds. It just slides in and clicks into place.
The electric motor that sticks down from the E-Drive unit has little teeth that connect with teeth that line one side of the special rear tire made by Michelin for this system. So when you pedal the bike, the rear tire engages the teeth on the motor and the E-Drive system will then add electric boost to your pedaling. Though, it can’t power the bike on electric power alone, as that would then require it to not be considered a bicycle on public roads in France, so it’s only an electric boost to the rider’s pedaling.
We got to sample it on a bike path surrounding some of the events at the conference. It’s remarkably light and feels no heavier than a normal bike. But as soon as you add some decent pedal power, the e-boost kicks in and the bike surges forward. It’s far quicker than I had originally anticipated and it almost made me fall at first. But backing off the pedals a bit backs off the assistance and I was soon able to figure out how to manage and control the system, rather quickly and easily. Once understood, it becomes very fun and surprisingly fast. Michelin claims it can allow the rider to go 25 km/h (15 mph). If you choose that you don’t want the electric boost anymore, just backpedal a bit and the system turns off. It’s turned back on by backpedaling again.
The E-Drive unit is also equipped with an accelerometer, speed sensor and crank sensor and is bluetooth compatible. So you can connect your smart phone to the E-Drive unit and monitor its speed, acceleration and battery life. The latter of which Michelin claims will last 50 km (31 miles). It also only takes around three hours to charge the 252 Wh battery.
This Michelin E-Drive system comes as an entire package, with the actual E-Drive unit, the rack and the special rear tire all for around 450 Euros. It goes on sale in March, 2018 in France and Germany but Michelin still hasn’t’ announced if or when it will go on sale in other countries. While cycling isn’t a popular subject among car enthusiasts, this really was a fascinating and interesting little bike that we had a lot of fun playing with in Montreal.