Electric assist hubs are not exactly what most of our readers are into, but for given applications and riders they can be the difference between car and bike trips. For mass acceptance of bikes as transportation in American cities it is my personal belief that electric and electric assist bikes will be an important bridge point for segments of the population, even if I don’t know where best to draw the line on power in separated bike facilities. No matter, it will get sorted out, electric assist is here and SRAM is entering the fray in 2013 with the E-matic system.
The automatic E-matic system is meant for getting around town with less exertion—perfect for casual riders not looking to break a sweat on the way to pick up groceries, who would also rather not rely on car transport. It’s a hub with a two-speed planetary gear system inside along with a specialty rear cargo rack with a built in slot for accommodating the rider’s choice of 6, 8 or 10 Ah batteries depending on needed range and weight. The hub is part of an otherwise single speed drivetrain—the first electric assist speed helps get up to speed and up hills, the second is for cruising along at a 15 mph limited speed in the USA models. Shifting happens automatically, as does the application of electric assist. No throttle, push to start.
In a quick spin around the SRAM test track, the power was immediately noticeable yet controlled. Pushing it into the second gear in the midst of an office building is fun in its own right, and the actual boost is pretty impressive. It definitely makes me want to try one for a longer period, even if I think I’ll be sticking to the purely pedal powered for the foreseeable future. Going fast with minimal effort while still having to pedal is a cool feeling, and I could see it being the thing that gets more people to ditch their car for short trips.
No word on system pricing or original spec yet, but expect to see the E-matic spec’d on some major brands come next year. Check out www.sram.com