Electric bicycles, e-bikes, pedelecs — regardless of what you call them, they're a great alternative to using a hulking hunk of gas guzzling (or even electron-sipping) metal to get around town. They're smaller, cheaper, good exercise and a lot of fun. They're not without their faults, though. Batteries are heavy, and some e-bikes just don't share that simple, slender look of the road bikes many of us love so much. Now, though, Maxwell Motorbikes is offering its lightweight EP0 electric bicycle through a Kickstarter campaign, and it stands to really please even the pickiest of pedalers.

The Maxwell EP0's 250 watt-hours worth of batteries are packed into the tubular frame, so there is very little to visually suggest this bike is anything out of the ordinary. It also helps even out the weight distribution and keep the packaging nice and tight. Maxwell has done its best to minimize the weight — particularly through omitting unnecessary componentry — and the bike weighs just 26 to 31 pounds, depending on the configuration. This makes it a heck of a lot easier to carry the bike up flights of stairs to your apartment or office. Charging to 90 percent takes just 45 minutes, so the EP0 is ready to go again when you are.

The benefits of the electric power are found in the riding of the EP0. For longer commutes or hilly routes, the 300 watts of electric power from the front hub motor help lighten the load. It allows the rider to easily carry speed with less effort, getting them to their destination more quickly and comfortably (sweaty isn't a good look at the office first thing in the morning). The motor can help push up to a speed of 20 mph, and there's enough juice for 10 to 15 miles of assistance. A pedal assist sensor lets the EP0 know that you could use a little help, but the rider can choose to ride strictly under human power with no assistance — especially helpfully when riding with others who might not be able to keep up with your superhuman pace.

The EP0 is offered in different configurations: from a single-speed base version, to a two-speed rear-hub setup with cork grips and a Brooks Cambium saddle, to a Shimano Alfine nine-speed rear hub-equipped bike with Avid BB7 disc brakes. Kickstarter supporters can score the lightest, most basic version of the EP0 from its first production run for $1,300. Maxwell is looking to raise $150,000 to ensure timeliness, finish testing and help make sure the bike can be shipped safely. The fundraising campaign ends July 22.

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