The concept of Electric Bikes as a mobility solution is relatively new compared to cars, bikes, or motorcycles. While electric bikes may be the new kid on the block, they hold a huge potential to replace all the traditional modes of transport that have dominated since the mid-20th century. Electric bikes come in all shapes and sizes, and over the years, they have evolved, the first wave of electric bicycles were traditional urban bicycles and mountain bikes, then came the foldable designs that saved on the cargo space and recently we are starting to see the designs that are challenging the notion of “traditional bicycle” itself. These new designs include cargo bikes, utility bikes, and fat-tire bikes, all of these new designs are fulfilling a certain type of requirement and catering to a different segment. These new concepts are improving the functionality of bikes and redefining the expectations one might have from their bike.
We at ENVO believe that this is just the beginning of the journey for ebikes. In 2018 we launched ENVO D35 as an urban and leisure trail ebike, this ebike was designed specifically keeping north American customers in mind. It has an 8 speed cassette transmission, hydroformed frame, and an advanced e-assist system. D35 has one of the most efficient hub motor available which makes it the lightest ebike in the market.
After the successful launch of ENVO 35, our customers and dealers showed interested in a step-through version and that led to the development of ENVO ST (Step-Thru). ENVO ST had almost the same design parameters as D35 with an added benefit of step-through design. This made it popular with the segment of customers looking for an easy way to hop on and hop off of their ebike.
We at ENVO believe that this is just the beginning of the journey for ebikes.
In the next iteration we launched ENVO Lynx, a foldable bike targeting the segment of customers for whom transportability and compactness matters. This ebike could fit most car trunks, and can be easily stored in a condo. At the same time, ENVO launched its pedal assist electric powered SnowBike kit, that could convert any bike into a SnowBike.
But even with this comprehensive line of products, we were missing something. Steve, our sales manager can recall showered with requests from customer who were looking for something that these bike could not fulfill. There were customers who wanted to carry their better half with them on a bike journey, there were those who wanted their two children in child seats with them, then there were those who wanted a high performance off road bike or a bike that could carry their cargo or equipment. This made us sit down on the design table and identify what segments of customer we were not yet serving and we came up with the following four applications that a new line of product needs to address:
- High performance off road ebike: designed for those who frequent paths that are rough and unpaved. These could be mountain trails, snow laden ground, or a sandy beach.
- Cargo utility ebike: designed for customer who need to cary their equipment with them, this could be a surf board or some handy man tools.
- eTrike: designed for customers looking for a stable design along with a lot of storage space in the trunk.
- Integrated SnowBike: designed for customers looking for an alternative to the DIY snowkit.
This lead to the development of ENVO Flex, a line of products featuring 500W front hub motor version, a 750W rear hub motor version, a eTricycle, and a SnowBike. We wanted this new line of product to be compact which gave rise to the foldable design, with 20’’ rim size. These features would make the design to be compact enough making it easy to store and transport.
The smaller rim size has many benefits like easy maneuverability but at the same time there are challenges with this design. A smaller rim size makes the bike more sensitive to road conditions like potholes and debrie, additionally the smaller wheel of the bike has a smaller rotational inertia which makes it easy to turn the bike but makes it less comfortable and stable. To overcome these issues we decided to have a bigger 3” tire, this tire would act as a suspension against bad road conditions and at the same time have high enough traction to work well on sand or snow. The bigger tires would also increase the rotational inertia of the bike, leading to a more stable performance. We decided on 3’’ tire as it was fat enough to provide benefits of the fat tire but without added rolling resistance of fat bike.
The second major feature we wanted from this new line was the interchangeability of parts, we wanted to provide customers with easy transformation of their bike to serve different needs which is why all the ENVO Flex have same chassis. We don’t want someone to buy two different bikes for two different functionalities.
For example a customer living in Alberta, where snow covers the ground for half the year, do not have to buy a separate SnowBike for winters. They can easily convert their ENVO Flex 750W into a ENVO Flex SnowBike by changing a few parts, allowing them to ride their bike even in winters. Another example can be of a customer who use their EVNO Lynx 500W to commute between home and work but can easily convert it into an eTrike to carry a large load of groceries from superstore on the weekends.
We believe with ENVO Flex we only only have a line of products to address all the current expectations from an eBike, and at the same time we offer the flexibility to customers.