eROCKIT: Make way for the überbike

eROCKIT: Make way for the überbike

23rd November 2009, Comments 0 comments

An eye-catching new ‘bike’ has been whizzing around the streets of Berlin these days, even passing BMWs and Porsches.

At a Berlin stoplight recently, a Porsche, a Suzuki motorcycle and a strange looking bike wait. The light turns green and the odd bike with its rider pedalling furiously, takes off like a rocket. Motorists look on in amazement.

A revolution in transport has arrived or so Stefan Gulas, inventor of this 'electric super-bicycle,' the eROCKIT, likes to believe.

The new vehicle combines characteristics of the humble bicycle and the motorcycle, along with some technological innovations of its own.
eROCKIT in profile

In terms of handling, it is a bicycle: The rider pedals to accelerate and to keep the vehicle in motion, while braking by using rear and front wheel brakes mounted on the handlebar.

“You need to pedal in order to make it go,” Gulas told the BBC. “If you are too lazy, you will just stay in one place.”

But once you do, the bike will take off like a rocket: It has power comparable to that of a motorcycle, with top speeds of up to 80 kph (50 mph).

Racing on the eROCKIT
Stefan Gulas leaving the traffic trailing behind

Revolutionary propulsion

The secret is the machine’s revolutionary propulsion system. The bike's unique electronics monitor the rider’s pedalling and multiply their muscular effort by a factor of 50. This souped-up force is transmitted to the rear wheel, propelling it to speeds far beyond that of any conventional bicycle.
Its brochure sums it up nicely: “It’s cycling but way faster.” And, if the marketers’ yarn is to be believed, the feeling that comes from riding at high speeds driven by your own pedal power is really something special. With all the agility, intuition and familiarity of riding a bike but accelerating like you're on a motorcycle, you’ll feel you have supernatural powers.

The bike can be driven on public roads and, since its top speed is higher than 60 kph, it is even legal to ride one on German autobahns, in the fast lane.

Green machine

So why the ‘e’? A crucial feature of the new bike is its electric motor, which makes it an environmentally friendly alternative to carbon-fuelled vehicles: electric propulsion, no exhaust fumes and virtually no noise. In June, the design team participated at the eGrandPrix, the world's first zero carbon, clean emission grand prix on the Isle of Man, adding to the campaign for green alternatives.

The designers have also strived to make it as energy-efficient as possible. An electric brake, in addition to the conventional mechanical one, captures braking energy—usually dissipated as heat—and uses it to recharge the bike’s battery. The energy released by the rider’s pedalling is likewise captured for recharging the battery.


Yet Gulas thinks there’s something even more special about his creation.

“The thing I’m most proud of is that we have managed to make a cool electric vehicle,” he told NewYork-based New Tang Dynasty World News. “There are lots of vehicles with petrol engines that are cool. You just need to go and take a look at Ducatis or cars like Porsches and Ferraris: They’re cool vehicles but they all have petrol engines.”

The man behind the eROCKIT, Stefan Gulas, on NTD World News:

But cool comes at a price and it’s not cheap. Be prepared to part with a cool 28,900 euros which includes an initial deposit of around 14,000 euros. Gulas expects them to appeal to “creative, successful people.” At that price, certainly, not everyone will be rushing out to buy one.

On the other hand, the price tag reflects the eROCKIT’s exclusivity. Only four prototypes have been built so far, with a limited series of 15 vehicles going into production this year. And these machines are handcrafted in Berlin, not mass produced in China.

Meanwhile, nine of the series have already been snapped up, with orders coming in from across the globe: Austria, Monte Carlo, the Czech Republic and Canada, as well as Germany.

Ducati versus eROCKIT
The eROCKIT (right): as cool as a Ducati?

So it seems that there is a market for these eco- überbikes. But Gulas isn’t finished. He says the concept of “pedal power” could easily be adapted to motorboats and trucks: “I think many lorry drivers would appreciate it,” he told the BBC. “They could exercise rather than just sitting there for 10 hours. They would be much happier.”

Anna Ritchie/Expatica

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