Hey, it may not be the coolest looking thing in the world, but the newfangled Rubbee electric-bike kit will get you across town without pedaling. Or at least, some towns. UK-based Rubbee is looking to raise funds via Kickstarter to expand production for a roller-like contraption that may be attached to any bike and kick its electric-only speed up to as fast as 16 miles per hour.

Rubbee consists of a polyurethane roller wired to a 14.4-volt battery pack. The doohickey presses the roller against the back tire of the bike, propelling it with the force of wheel-on-wheel friction. The rider controls the wheel speed via a handlebar-mounted throttle, and can "flip" the little wheel away from the back tire once they want to go au naturel. As it is, the company says Rubbee can supply 15 miles of pedal-free riding on a single charge.

Speaking of charges, there's no retail price for the Rubbee, but you can be the first on your block to have one by way of a $1,200 pledge to the company via Kickstarter. In the meantime, check out the 50-second video below to see how Rubbee works.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 56 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's a cool piece of packaging, but friction drive sucks and will always suck for many reasons. If you are interested in an electric bicycle, start with a hub motor. That technology is proven and will not slip or put excess wear on your tire.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I'm not 2WM either, but since you are in the UK, you have access to some options that we can't get here in the US. If light weight is important, then the lightest option I know of is the Vivax Assist that adds about 2 kg to an existing bike, and can be retrofitted into some bikes that meet their criteria for conversion: http://electricmountainbikes.blogspot.co.uk/2008/11/gruber-assist.html http://www.vivax-assist.com/en/unternehmen/ The downside is the huge price of £2000+ on top of the cost of the folding bike itself.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Thanks, raktmn. I don't think I need to pay £2k for an electric bike now. I have narrowed my choices if I decide to go for it to Battribike and Kudos. The first has everything I would need in a folding bike, but the Kudos uses the slightly heavier but longer lasting LiFePo battery, which I would prefer.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Hi 2WM: I was hoping to pick your brain regarding the possible purchase of a folding electric bike! Three models all from the same maker under consideration: http://www.batribike.com/folding-electric-bikes/breeze/breeze http://www.batribike.com/folding-electric-bikes/quartz/quartz-lcd http://www.batribike.com/folding-electric-bikes/dash/dash Folding- so I can stick it in the (small) car. I live upstairs in a flat, and don't breath too well, so getting it up the stairs easily is important - can you lug them by the saddle? The Breeze has a tilting saddle - I don't know if that helps to carry it? Range - not important. I would only travel a few miles. Must allow 100% power including from the start - again due to breathing. If the pricier versions are likely to be more comfortable, I don't mind paying for that, but as I said don't really need a lot of range. The accessories are included, the only other one I would probably buy is a bag. Any pearls of wisdom? I know you are likely unfamiliar with this UK assembled bike, but the specs mean little to me, although the website is the type I like, informative rather than sales oriented. I thought I could leave the car at home to pop around (hilly) Bristol a couple of miles to the shops or into the centre, and maybe occasionally stick it in the back of the car and go on cycle tracks. Getting it up the stairs is the main hassle - 28 steps altogether - such is life at the top! ;-)
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I have just phone Battribikes up and they are bringing out a soft case so that you can put the bike into that, and it has wheels on so that you can get it up the steps. They are not ready yet so I think I will wait to have a look at the design and see how easy it will be to get in and out of the bag. I suspect the bike will spend most of its time in the bag in the back of the car, and only the battery will go upstairs to the flat.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I should add that my heroism is limited, as there are 3 landings, so the most I have to climb at one stretch is 7 steps! ;-) I was hoping for something which is tuggable on the wheels so you can pull it upstairs like this: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-mando-chainless-e-bike-europe-video.html Unfortunately this lovely chainless design is £4k, which is a bit rich for my blood for a bike!
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          Review of the Breeze here: http://www.electricbikemag.co.uk/showStory.php?storynum=141
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ Dave Mart, I not wishing to get personal, but have you considered ground floor accommodation, or at least an apartment with an elevator ? I only say this because I've started to notice my own reluctance at climbing the stairs to reach my bedroom at the end of a long night.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I ain't moving. I like it fine where I am, and like having views over Bristol! In fact, I have pretty well managed to stabilise my health, so its all good. I had envisaged perhaps veing able to pull a collapsible bike up, running on one of the wheels, but it seems they do not do designs capable of that. Alternatively I suppose i could simply leave the bike in the back of the car most of the time, and jsut take the battery upstairs for recharge. It would have been better had I bought a larger car though for that, one with a boot I could shove it in, but I rarely ot never use the rear seats so a bike on the back, assuming that the car is not broken into to steal it, would not make much difference.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I'm not 2WM, but you're trapped between a rock and a hard place. In order to cut down on pedaling, you're going to have to lug a 22kg bike up 28 steps? That's going to be strenuous. Maybe you can get a bike locker near your house so you can leave the bike near ground level. Then the 22kg isn't such a huge issue.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          I've got a Montague Paratrooper. Great folding mountain bike. Full size too. 26" wheels. It uses standard parts. I wonder if I could put a hub motor on mine. ??
      William Flesher
      • 1 Year Ago
      Friction drive? They must be joking! Hub motors are far superior, relatively affordable. and are equally easy to package and install. When it comes to adding electric assistance to an existing bike, there is nothing to compare to "mid drives". A mid-drive utilizes the transmission of the bicycle to maximize the power and efficiency of the electric motor, driving the chain rather than the wheel. EcoSpeed does so with incredible results, but is also incredibly expensive. I would be first in line to pledge $1200 to a company that offered me a mid-drive to replace my hub motor, and "kickstart" the company that helped bring it to market. But $1200 for ANOTHER marketer of antiquated technology? NEVER.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @William Flesher
        Hubs are way cheap. You can find $200 kits sans battery out there, and roll along at 25-30mph easy on those kits, if the right voltage is used. It's amazing how cheap they are since that's a lot of magnet and iron and copper.. Mid drives are sweet, but holy $$$$ are most of them expensive. Go on a forum called 'endless sphere' and look up the bafang crank drives. Those come in at about $600. I think they're only 350 watt, but you know that 350 watts in a mid drive goes far, ya? There are GNG drives and Cyclone drives, but shy away from those.. they truly are junk.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @William Flesher
        Ever try a MAC/BMC geared hub motor? by far one of my favorite hubs. 10 pounds, will do up to 35mph for short periods of time. I've had one for 3 years, it's my daily commuter. I've got some high power stuff that i take out for a thrill here and there ( 47mph blasts? climbing steep hills at 40mph? hell yeah ), but the MAC is who i come home to at night, hehe...
      • 1 Year Ago
      Few people seem to "get" what a great product this is. All the commentators sound a lot like all those people who were quick to bash the iPod as a bad idea and say how expensive it was. They didn't have much vision either. Firstly, it takes less than a minute to install and remove a Rubbee. If you start messing about with hub or mid-drive motors then you cannot install and remove these anywhere near as quickly, and in many cases, once it's installed you'll be loathed to remove it. So, if you want some powered assistance on your bike during a weekday commute and then remove it at the weekends for some serious, unassisted mountain-biking, forget it. Also, swapping your hub or mid-drive motor to another bike isn't going to be particularly quick, either. Anyway, this product is not aimed at people who want to spend ages tinkering with their bikes. It's aimed at people who just want to fit it on their bike and go. Next, people seem to have an issue with the price, saying that it's too expensive and you can buy an electric bike for that much. Well, you can, but they're pretty much all junk at that price point. If you want something decent you are going to be spending at least 2 or 3 times that sum to get something half-way decent . There seems to be an utter lack of appreciation of the initial one-off capital costs for things like tooling that need to be paid whether you make one item or 10,000. It is utterly ridiculous and totally naive to compare the cost per unit for the first, small production run against what you envisage the price should be several years and tens of thousands of units later. No doubt a Rubbee would cost £350-£450 at that point, but to get there, some folk need to fork out a higher price to get the ball rolling. That's why it is seems expensive. With time and more units sold, the price will come down. While I can appreciate the concern that friction drive is inefficient at transferring power to the wheel, particularly in the wet, it all depends on how good the Rubbee is at maintaining a good contact and the material used. The company claim the efficiency in the dry is 96%. They claim it also works in wet and muddy conditions, but then the efficiency will likely depend on the tyres on your bike and how good they are at clearing water. With regards to increased tyre wear, you should offset that against decreased wear on the chain and bearings in the bottom bracket if you were to apply the same amount of power for the same length of time via the pedals. Ultimately, there's probably very little in it when you factor that in when it comes to cost of replacing parts. The Rubbee will suit some people and not others. Personally, I am going to get one to make my cycle commute a little more enjoyable.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        "While I can appreciate the concern that friction drive is inefficient at transferring power to the wheel, particularly in the wet, it all depends on how good the Rubbee is at maintaining a good contact and the material used. The company claim the efficiency in the dry is 96%. They claim it also works in wet and muddy conditions, but then the efficiency will likely depend on the tyres on your bike and how good they are at clearing water." I'd bet it looses some energy with knobby tires. With some wide smooth road tires or beach tires, I'd bet it doesn't loose much energy at all. This gives me an idea. For people who want knobby tires, you could sell a rear tire with a special roller as a matched set. The roller would be a female impression of the tire. It would work like a gear or toothed belt. It may not be quite be as efficient or quiet as a smooth tire and roller, but it would work great in wet and muddy conditions.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          You've obviously not seen the video they have of it being used on a fully sprung suspension bike with knobbly tyres.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          2 wheel "A female impression of the tire in the roller is a really good idea, but keep in mind that the inflation and alignment of the tire must be perfect if you do that." I'm glad you appreciate the idea. I don't think, though it would need to be perfectly aligned because both the tire and the roller would be flexible rubber. The knobs on both roller and tire should have sloped sides like a gear. The knobs would just fall into each other and self correct. There should be a slight bit of gap or slop in the impression. Therefore changes in temperature, inflation or tire wear or even a little bit of soil in the tread would be overcome with a little material flexibility and slop.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          Friction drive somewhere between hilariously awful + loud OR impossible to do with knobby tires. I have never ever heard of a friction drive system working properly in wet conditions. A female impression of the tire in the roller is a really good idea, but keep in mind that the inflation and alignment of the tire must be perfect if you do that. That's just going to be a pain in the ass. And there'll be more friction and more noise. Friction drive is just a bad idea, period..
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          The female impression idea would work poorly unless you had sufficient lead to mesh, align, and power (like a chain that wraps around a chain ring, or a toothed belt that wraps around a toothed drive). These both work because the new tooth that is engaging is perfectly aligned by all of the previous teeth that are already aligned. This keeps everything moving smoothly (until the chain "stretches" badly). And the power is distributed across all of the multiple teeth that are all in contact with the driven surface at the same time. No single tooth is ever holding all the load and doing all the work. You would need more like a conveyor belt that wrapped around at least a quarter of the tire, or a set of multiple rollers to get that effect. Not the single roller like this product. That would be a single tooth to single tooth gear if you were to add male and female interlocking patterns. Single tooth to single tooth gears, (like a starter against a flywheel) require very tight alignment tolerances and strong engagement in order to keep the teeth from skipping. Everything depends upon one tooth at a time delivering 100% of the power, and doing the work to align everything at the same time. Once you get teeth skipping on a single tooth to single tooth engagement, failure is not far behind. The drive gear will either start to ride up, and start chewing apart the tire's contact face. Or it will miss the contact face, and the drive gear will spin on the top of one of the tire's blocks and chew the free spinning teeth off of the drive gear.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        Stuart, If the appeal of the product is supposed to be a small market niche within a small market niche, within a small market niche, then it might find it's niche. Definitely don't let people who aren't in your same niche within a niche within a niche keep you from being 100% happy with your future purchase. Heck, the whole ABG site is a niche within an auto-enthusiast niche AB website. But of the niche of people who ride bikes every day, who are in the niche of bike enthusiasts who only own one bike, who are in the niche of people who want an electric motor for one bike just some of the time, this is a very small niche.
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        Let me know when Rubbee is as successful as iPod.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          It will never be as successful as the iPod. Few products are.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        I'm glad that an employee of the company finally came and chipped in....... :D
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Oh, i get why you are defending them. You supported the kickstarter and you have a bit of a stake in the idea since you bought one. Well, the hub motor kits are out there when you need them. They're not going anywhere. ;]
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Do you own one? do you realize that friction drive is noting new and is the worst drive method possible with the most problems?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I don't work for the company. I just like the product and think the constant bashing from ill-informed people as being unwarranted.
      Archonic
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's neat and all but $1200 is robbery.
      Grendal
      • 1 Year Ago
      Rubbee. C'mon, you know you were thinking it.
      Reggie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great idea would be great to cycle to work when you are fresh use the electric to get you home when you are tired. Used something similar to this a few decades ago to power the lights, they tend to wear the tyres down a lot quicker. $1,200 is very expensive you can buy whole new electric bikes a lot cheaper than that now in the UK.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like this products!! but it is little costly!!
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Year Ago
      William and 2WM, if 'mid drives' don't exist or are exceedingly expensive then maybe it isn't quite as good a solution as you think.. Mid drive is actually the worst approach because pedals are geared even higher than the large wheels. Friction drive however lends itself much better to the high rpm where an electric motor is more cost effective. That's why they can use the relatively tiny motor. While a touch coupling doesn't seem ideal, don't kid yourself that other solutions are loss free. This might be the most efficient of all current solutions. It's also relatively elegant that it's in one package with no significant retrofitting required with one significant caveat. There is no fender on that bicycle nor cargo rack. That will be a problem in the wet so they would have to solve that. It's not a perfect solution but it's a lot better than you give it credit for. A front hub motor wheel is a decent retrofit solution but typically no good for existing drum brakes or disc brakes. I believe a properly done friction drive could have its place on the market but ultimately the best solution has to be from scratch as part of the bike design. The sweetspot appears to me to be a bicycle (or pedalless) with a quite small wheel with a hubmotor at the back. A small wheel lends itself to higher rpm thus requires less torque of the motor. Thus cheaper both for motor and wheel. A solid spokeless wheel would be best since spokes suck donkey balls. Such a small wheel already exists from goldenmotor. Then you just need a minimal bike for the rest and you got an optimal solution. Getting rid of the pedals would be better for cost and comfort. You can have a nice comfy seat like on mopeds instead of the torture seat a normal bike has. The seat could have a bit of suspension.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        Mid drives exist, just not here in the US. The Bosch eBike system has over 50 companies across Europe using their mid-drive solution. Most companies offer multiple models, make hundreds of options for Europeans for electric mid-drive bikes. http://www.bosch-ebike.de/en/products/brands_products/all_brands/all_brands.html Aside from a geared hub motor, mid-drive electric bikes are the only way to get gearing to help the electric bike take off from a start. Otherwise you need a whole lot more electric power to get much electric assistance from a standstill.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          I took another look at the Optibike. I didn't realize it was center drive. When I first saw a picture of it, I must have mistook the Rolhoff rear geared hub for an electric motor, because somehow I had it stuck in my mind that the Optibike had hub drive. And I've been ignoring it ever since. Thanks for the info. I might have to see what they have for refurbished units. Their website says they sell used ones for as little as $3000. That's less than I spent on my last pedal bike (2011 Trek Fuel EX 9.9), so that's not too bad.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Sorry I wasn't specific enough there 2WM. I meant mid-drive fully built bikes sold by the bike maker brand new with the mid-drive already installed, like the hundreds of models available in Europe. Like in the link I provided.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Nah, there are about 5 different mid drive systems that an American can purchase and install.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Oh okay, gotcha. There are a few in America, but they are ungodly expensive. The optibike is one example.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        No, you're missing the fact that mid drive setups use a tiny motor with a huge gear ratio down to pedal speed. It's not the most efficient way of doing things, but the variable gearing is a big plus when climbing hills or just you know, showing off :) Check this video, this guy did a 66mph ebike with just a 5lb RC motor... :} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcyKhL6sb4A Front hub is the worst, hubs belong on the back. Front forks can't take the torque so well and steering feels funny with the weight up front, plus your tire can slip under torque since bicycles put the rider's weight out back. Yes, a small wheel ( 20" is ideal ) rocks with a hub motor. That's how i was able to climb hills at 30-40mph on a motor rated for only 1000W. Spokes aren't bad at all, they just need to be of good quality etc. I've got one hub motor that i've used for 3 years and has never been trued. I'm not a light rider and i don't ride my bike in a fragile manner either :)
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          The problem with non-spoked wheels has always been what to do once they get bashed around and aren't straight anymore. They are pretty much a throw-away at that point, where a spoked rim you can just true or replace the rim. The problem with smaller wheels is that the smaller the wheel, the worse they behave on the slightest bump or stone. Larger wheels travel better, which is why larger wheels are the trend on mountain bikes, and why road bikes have been using them forever.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          That's funny, that's exactly the same trend in mountain bikes right now too. Everyone is going to larger volume tubeless tires to increase the diameter and to better deflect bump resistance. Same science behind it.
          Giza Plateau
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          You forget the many chains and their maintenance. Spokes are foolish when you can make a wheel in one piece that's sure to have the right shape and much more robust. I would go smaller than 20, like 16.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          yes, small wheels do have that problem. I got around that on my power builds by installing a small motorcycle tire out back, made the wheel more like a 21" and all the extra rubber helped smooth out the bumps quite a bit. It's not perfect, but on a hub motor you get more RPM per MPH, which means more power and sometimes better heat dissipation too.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          You can use high grade rubber timing belts and/or planetary reductions and they do not require maintenance. ( this is common in high end mid drives ) Spokes are no problem in being robust at all, the ability to flex under load is a positive. Ever seen a cast aluminum hub motor break? It's not pretty, and not serviceable either :/
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        You seem to be describing a scooter. Like a Zap.
          Giza Plateau
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          Sitting down, not standing up looking dorky. But scooter yes. It's a generic term for light 2 wheeled powered vehicle so naturally it's a kind of scooter
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          There is a fine line between scooter and a powerful ebike. But the defining characteristic of the ebike compared to an electric scooter is generally the ability to pedal around on your own power when not using the electric assist.
      PeterScott
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Solex is reborn? When I was a kid one of my friends had a Solex, which had a friction drive motor, you could lever onto the front tire.
        William Flesher
        • 1 Year Ago
        @PeterScott
        Exactly. This is a "new" company trying to capitalize on an obsolete technology.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Friction drive bike assists have existed for quite a long time. It hasn't worked well in the past.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        It never will work right. They've tried every material to get it right on the forums i'm on.. because you could make really awesome friction drives with RC motors.. but nobody has perfected it. Wonder why? :)
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      only $1,200 I just swap one wheel for much less, and get a nice brushless motor, that will work when my tires are wet. additionally I get a nice lifeo4 pack for it and still saved a fortune.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        Right.. i think my first ebike kit ( motor, battery, everything else i needed ) came in at $700.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          There are quite a few EV enthusiasts who have built their own cars (converted their own drivetrain).
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I replaced my bike's rear wheel with a hub motor and installed a battery in a rear bag. It was not rocket science, Stuart. If that is too hard for you, i don't really know what to tell you.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Most people don't want to build their own e-bike. Did you build your own car as well?
      P Visvanadin
      • 1 Year Ago
      super electricbike!
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