Audi
this week is following up companies such as Daimler AG's Smart division by unveiling a battery-powered bicycle for two-wheeled enthusiasts. And this one can do wheelies and has the power-to-weight ratio of an A4.

Audi's e-bike Wörthersee, named after the town in Austria, has a top speed of 50 miles per hour and can go as far as 44 miles on a single charge. The bike lets its rider choose from five different cycling modes ranging from pure human power to pure electric power to a varying mix of the two.

But the bike, whose price and broader launch date wasn't announced, also has some unusual traits, including flat spokes that cut the wind better than conventional ones and a smartphone hookup. The e-bike, which can be put in a mode that allows for power wheelies, also weighs just 24 pounds, and, with its 2.3-kilowatt motor, actually has a weight-to-power ratio of about 15 pounds per horsepower, or about the same as the aforementioned A4.

Last year, Daimler unveiled its Smart e-bike, and earlier this month said it would start deliveries in the U.K. by the end of May. That bike has a smaller motor – about 250 watts – as well as a battery that can provide 62 miles of distance on a single charge.

Smart said last year that Germany's annual electric bike sales jumped from 70,000 units in 2007 to about 200,000 in 2010. We have just one final question: Now that Audi officially owns itself a heralded Italian motorcycle brand, should this bike be branded an Audi or a Ducati?
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High-end sports machine – the Audi e-bike Wörthersee

Like in motor racing: fully focused on peak performance
Frame, swinging arm and wheels made of carbon


Head of Design Wolfgang Egger: "Stringent functionality and extreme sportiness foremost principles for the design."

Starting May 16, Audi will be presenting an extremely emotion-inspiring sports machine, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee – at Wörthersee in Carinthia, Austria. The prototype cycle combines an electric drive and muscle power. Head of Design Wolfgang Egger comments: "As a high-performance e-bike for sports and trick cycling, it features the Audi core competences of design, ultra, e-tron and connect." The Audi e-bike Wörthersee puts in its first major appearance at this year's Wörthersee Tour, the 31st meet for Audi, VW, Seat and Skoda fans; trial biker Julien Dupont and downhill specialist Petra Bernhard will demonstrate their stunts and streetbike skills.

The uncompromising dynamism of the bike prototype is fully visible at first sight. "When developing the Audi e-bike Wörthersee we drew on motor racing design principles for inspiration," explains Hendrik Schaefers, one of the designers at Concept Design Studio Munich. "The e-bike appears incredibly precise, highly emotional and strictly functional. Indeed, the design effort focused on its function as a sports machine. All design elements are thus firmly aligned to the technical features."

The airy frame boasts a low center of gravity and a compact overall volume. In this way, the e-bike is superbly agile at the sporty handling limits. The lithium-ion battery is incorporated into the frame and needs 2.5 hours to fully charge. On long trial tours, only a few simple steps are required to remove the battery and replace it with a charged one.

The frame and the swinging arm that holds the back wheel are made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The same material is used for the 26" wheels, which feature an innovative "Audi ultra blade" design with broad flat spokes for an optimized transmission of pedal power. "We were able to demonstrate with the choice of materials just how closely design goes hand in hand with expertise in ultra lightweight construction," Hendrik Schaefers comments.
Homogeneous LED light strips round out the frame and create the immediately recognizable Audi light signature. For extreme tricks and stunts the seat can be lowered to run flush with the frame itself. At the press of a button, the seat then rises up and the biker can adopt a comfortable position.

Cycling modes and countless other functions can be set using the touchscreen on-bike computer. The cyclist's smartphone hooks up by WLAN to the computer – when you start cycling, for example, the immobilizer is deactivated. Video images of the trial drive or of a trick, as recorded via the in-helmet camera, are uploaded to the Internet in real time via your smartphone. Each trick performed successfully is then awarded success points, and as the number of points awarded grows, the cyclist receives awards and the challenge level rises, too. The rankings table in the Internet means you can measure yourself against other bikers and your friends. And where they happen to be comes to you via Facebook status reports that pop up on the Audi e-bike Wörthersee display. The cyclist can choose between a total of five cycling modes – pure muscle power, the electric motor alone, or pedaling supported by the electric motor. In the "Pure" mode, the drive power is purely the product of the cyclist's legs, while in "Pedelec" mode you are supported by the electric motor that then makes speeds of up to 80 km/h (50 mph) possible and gives you a range of 50-70 kilometers (31-44 miles). If you select "eGrip", the Audi e-bike Wörthersee runs solely on the electric motor and can reach a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). The cyclist then controls forward momentum using a gripshift and can configure the power as desired using the computer.

When performing wheelies, an electronic control system support the rider when performing tricks and back-wheel biking. Different modes can be set using a smartphone or directly on the e-bike – either "Power Wheelie" mode, with adjustable wheelie angle for less skilled bikers or "Balanced Wheelie" mode for sporting challenges. In "Balanced Wheelie" mode, the electronic control system maintains the rider's balance, by compensating the biker's movements forwards or backwards via the electric motor. This means the rider can influence the bike's speed by shifting weight: if you lean forwards the bike picks up speed, and if you lean back it slows. You select "Training" mode if you want to keep your performance constant for training purposes.
The electric motor is located at the lowest point on the frame and drives the bottom bracket shaft directly. The maximum torque delivered to the rear wheel is 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft). The electric motor generates a maximum output of 2.3 kW, a new world best for e-bikes. The complete bike excluding electrical components weighs in at 11 kg (24.25 lb), equivalent to a power-to-weight ratio of 9 kg (19.84 lb) per kilowatt, or 7 kg (15.43 lb) per horsepower – another record-breaking value.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 7 Months Ago
      "The electric motor generates a maximum output of 2.3 kW, a new world best for e-bikes." No, my bike puts about 8kW to the wheel, with a 10kW input. A few other guys have gone all the way up to 30kW. The optibike ( $11,000 ) puts out 3kW peak to the wheels. I'm not saying the Audi bike is a slouch.. i'm just sayin.. that's a total utter lie :)
        Nick
        • 7 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Try the M55 electric bike, it looks STUNNING in person. http://www.m55-bike.com/en
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 7 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        The mentioned optibike is a production e-bike. Also, there is a company called 'hi power cycles' that sells converted dual suspension bikes with warranties. The prices are actually half decent. ( converting your own with a basic kit is always cheaper, but they will do the work for you for an extra ~$1000 )
        Letstakeawalk
        • 7 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        They most likely mean the best for production e-bikes. There's no way they can know what every garage builder is doing... Can you say if there are any other production e-bikes with a more powerful output?
      • 7 Months Ago
      it's got a cool design but it isn't usable during rain weather
      • 7 Months Ago
      The bike weighs about 46 pounds with it's battery and motor, not 24 as this articles misstates.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 7 Months Ago
      Here's a video - really like the LED headlight integration! Also shows the seat extended. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=edmH0Zx57JY
      Nick
      • 7 Months Ago
      No seat?
        Chris M
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Nick
        It's got a seat. As it says in the press release: "For extreme tricks and stunts the seat can be lowered to run flush with the frame itself. At the press of a button, the seat then rises up and the biker can adopt a comfortable position." Who'd a thunk it - a power seat on a bike!
          Nick
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Chris M
          It's a "designer" feature. It's more for looks than practicality.
      2012 ZR1
      • 7 Months Ago
      Nice design; would love to try it out!
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 7 Months Ago
      I wonder why they have that warning. Probably has to do with the fact that the batteries generate a bunch of waste heat by design ( they use allcell ), so if the battery cooling material they use is already quite hot, then it's not all that effective and you just end up with a cascade of heat. I know a lot of southerners who experience excessive motor/controller/battery heat down there in the south. Some additional thermal headroom has to be built into the design, because 110F+ doesn't make for good air cooling, now does it :)
      • 7 Months Ago
      Shouldn't this thing have a seat?
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        Good point! It looks like if you slide back a little bit then tire will catch your butt and push you forward such that the thin seat thing will impale your balls. No thanks!
          EZEE
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Spec
          We all cringed, then laughed, just a little bit.... :D
        Letstakeawalk
        • 7 Months Ago
        The seat folds up. Look in the gallery. http://green.autoblog.com/photos/audi-e-bike-w-rthersee-0/full/#photo-5025054/
        paulwesterberg
        • 7 Months Ago
        It is designed to look good, not to be sat on.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          If you haven't sat on it, how would you know? At any rate, the bike is designed for stunting and doing tricks, which mean the rider won't actually be sitting in the saddle all that much.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      While I don't think I will use this as my daily commuter that gets locked up outside, it is an impressive feat of engineering. I really like the wheels. But, this won't be cheap. And I wouldn't be able to carry much on it. And I'm not crazy enough to go over 25mph on a bike. Even my triathlon bike I don't really feel safe at those speeds. I'm sure there are practical e-bikes that don't make the news that you can hook up a trailer to the back of. Or that can be used to commute 10 miles in different weather conditions. I paid $350 for my mountain bike that I ride to work everyday, back in 1998. I have improved things, and added stainless steel washers and nuts in some places, but I can ride it all over the place. I just can't ride it over 50 miles in a day without hurting.
      paulwesterberg
      • 7 Months Ago
      24 pounds with an electric motor and batteries is very light. A lot of full suspension mountain bikes weight more than that.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 7 Months Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        "The complete bike excluding electrical components weighs in at 11 kg (24.25 lb)" Autoblog misquoted this pretty badly. The real world weight is going to be over 50lbs.
          paulwesterberg
          • 7 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          My wifes Yeti FS bike is 23lbs. My all mountain FS bike is around 25. And that is using normal bike parts mostly aluminum - not a lot of fancy carbon fiber. And my bike has a seat that you can ride for 50+ miles.
          paulwesterberg
          • 7 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          ...excluding electrical components... What are they excluding? The weight of the batteries? The weight of the motor? The weight of the controller? Their special exclusion pretty much bollocks their power to weight ratio claims.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 7 Months Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          ....yep They're probably talking about the frame, wheels, regular bike bits and pieces.. pretty deceptive. There are plenty of dual suspension bikes out there hovering in the mid 20lb. figure.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 7 Months Ago
      The Optibike looks really nice, but then I noticed this: "Do not store your bike in temperatures below -17C (0F) or above 27C (80F). Prolonged storage outside this temperature range may cause permanent damage the battery" Seriously? My bike spends 100% of its time out doors, and around here we've had 80F days for several weeks now. Come summer, it won't go below 80F even at night... So that automatically disqualifies me from buying an Optibike. Heck, our AC is set at 78F, so even if I did bring it in, it'd still be on the borderline.
      Andy Smith
      • 7 Months Ago
      As we say in England, "That's top bollocks!" What we also say in England, "my bike's been nicked" I need to save 4grand for one of these
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