Published June 13, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
BMW has come up with the Pedelec, an electric two-wheeler, as part of its electric-powered i series of vehicles.
Although strictly speaking, it’s electric powered, one could arguably define BMW’s i Pedelec (for Pedal Electric Cycle) Concept as a hybrid, given that its other power source is human – the rider inputs muscle energy in combination with the bike’s electric assist.
In any event, BMW portrays the bicycle as a complement to the BMW i3 Concept automobile. The BMW i Pedelec Concept can be folded up almost in the blink of an eye and, handily, there is room for two of them in the boot of the BMW i3 Concept. Plus, their batteries can be recharged while they’re in there as the i3 Concept has been designed with the requisite plugs in the trunk.
Advanced componentry – such as disc brakes at the front and rear, a three-speed gear hub integrated into the motor, a lightweight frame made (like the BMW i3 Concept) from aluminum and carbon fiber, a torquey electric motor complete with electronic management system and high-performance battery, and a clever folding mechanism – make this motor-assisted bicycle a practical transportation solution. As well as its impressive riding and packing characteristics, the BMW i Pedelec Concept can also be converted in a matter of seconds to offer a handy pushing mode, which allows it to be rolled and steered and therefore taken on public transport at no extra cost, saving the rider the effort of having to carry it around.
Because the electric hub motor only assists the rider’s pedaling up to 25 kph (16 mph), the BMW i Pedelec Concept does not need to be insured or registered, no license is required to use it, and the rider does not have to wear a helmet. Depending on the nature of the route, rider’s weight and degree of motor assistance utilized, a full battery charge will give a range of 25 – 40 kilometers (16 – 25 miles). Under braking and when riding downhill, the hub motor acts as a generator and supplies the battery with energy. It takes just four hours – or 1.5 hours on a quick charge – for the empty battery to be fully recharged, either from a domestic plug socket or inside the boot of the BMW i3 Concept.