It doesn't seem like it was all that long ago that if you decided to strap an electric motor and battery to a bicycle, you were looked at like a crazy person. A few decades ago, a guy namedwith some pretty unique ideas and he was looked at like a crazy person too.
Sadly, that motorcycle company is dead, and so are a few more he started afterward, but that hasn't stopped Buell from directing his creative output and engineering genius at building a better, more intelligent e-bike.
Enter Fuell. Disregard any feelings you might have about the name, and look at the brand's first proposed product: the Fluid e-bike, which the company launched earlier this month via an Indiegogo campaign. That crowdsource campaign has since pulled in over $1 million.
What makes the Fuell Fluid different from popular Evelo electric bicycles, for example.is its range. The company is packing it with a pair of swappable batteries that together are rated at just over 1 kilowatt-hour of capacity. This is just a little less than double the capacity of the battery used in the
Fuell claims its battery, when paired with its 500-watt mid-drive motor, will deliver 125 miles of range. Now, when it comes to speed, there will be three versions on offer. The Fluid-1 will have a top speed of 20 miles per hour, while the 1S version will net you an additional 12 mph. There is a version only for the EU that will only do 15.5 mph.
The battery pack is a 48-volt unit, and Fuell claims it will charge to 80% capacity in 2.5 hours with its included 4-amp quick charger. That's not bad, especially when you consider that the batteries themselves are easily swappable, so getting two and having one ready to go makes things pretty convenient.
The electric drive unit and assorted controllers and screen appear to be off-the-shelf units from a company called Bofeili, and versions of the hardware sans the battery can be bought from sites like Alibaba for a few hundred dollars. The rear-geared hub is a Shimano unit, and the carbon drive belt comes from Gates.
The bike's front fork comes from Suntour, and the hydraulic disc brakes come from Tektro. Both of which are established and respected brands in the bicycle industry, if not super high-performance. The bike comes equipped with lights, and there are a handful of available accessories as well.
Now, the Fluid-1S with two batteries is selling for $3,234 through Indigogo, which would put it in line with other top-tier e-bikes. Still, if it's using predominantly average, off-the-shelf components, where does that money go? Design mostly.
The Fluid is a much more cohesive and elegant design than most e-bikes that we've seen. It looks a lot like a hardtail mountain bike with extra beefy frame tubes. Nothing immediately calls out that it's been electrified until you get up close, and we think that's cool.
The Fuell folks say that the first Fluid models will begin to reach early customers by August, but as with any crowdfunding project, that should be taken with a grain of salt. New Indiegogo supporters are said to be looking at an October delivery timeframe, and all campaign backers are now eligible for a full-refund guarantee if they don't like the Fuell after riding it for up to 72 hours.
Originally published July 6.
Update, July 18: Updated with current Indiegogo total.