What happens if you put a 4000W motor -- nearly five horsepower -- on a bicycle built of strong, lightweight materials? I'll tell you: pure craziness, heart-filling joy, and power pedalling at high speeds you could only dream of before.
This is what the Trefecta e-bike provides to anyone brave (and wealthy) enough to take it for a ride.
Or me. Despite having never ridden a motorcycle nor an electric bike, I was fortunate enough to get to try the Trefecta and hang out with its creators Haiko H. G. Visser and Frank Hartman for a few days.
We met at the Austrian Grand Prix, in Spielberg, Austria, at the red and yellow truck of Spanish GP2 team Racing Engineering for which Trefecta is a sponsor. You may wonder: why does an electric bike company support a high-tech racing team? After a few days of closely examining and testing this bike, it makes perfect sense to me.
This bike belongs to Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, president and owner of Racing Engineering GP2
Haiko (who is the Chairman of the Board at Trefecta Mobility, and a rolling salesman and inspired advocate of his own product at the same time) could talk for hours about the development of Trefecta, during and between two publicity bike tours around the Red Bull Ring. He had to talk a lot about. Everyone who saw the three almost unreal vehicles wanted to know, what the actual hell were those? Stealth motorcycles? Batbikes? Military equipment?
"This is Trefecta, a powerful electric bike, designed by Dutch, German and Swiss engineers. Wanna try? Then be careful with the throttle, unless you want to do a wheelie!" He said something like this dozens of times during the three days of the Austrian GP.
Haiko demonstrates how easy it is to do a wheelie
And when he talked about doing a wheelie, he was not exaggerating. When turning the throttle built into the right side of the handlebar, it was able to lift me right off the ground. "Am I able to handle all this power underneath my fat arse?" I asked myself. And then: "Woooooowowow, oh my god."
Riding a single-fork Trefecta
Not to say the bike is necessarily hard to control. The hydraulically controlled and automatically shifting HSP2-14 drivetrain lets the eMotor react in a surprisingly smooth and quick way, and it sent me screaming down a road at unusually high speeds while the vehicle between my legs remained stable. And when I say unusually high speed, I mean it: During the test rides I reached 60-70km/h speeds, often without pedalling. When you add human power to the performance -- using the so-called Smesh Gear Pedelec System -- one can comfortably reach and maintain 100km/h. Fast enough that it might be illegal in your country.
With that much power you can burn some rubber
Off-road is just as awesome. We -- Haiko and I -- rolled out of the GP2 paddocks onto one of the fallow lands nearby, and pedalling on soft, muddy, weedy soil was surprisingly fun. The active suspension system on the wheels, combined with some serious torque, made it super easy to cross the field. I could also do tight turns which felt impossible for a conventional mountain bike on such terrain.
How does it handle hills? I am not a very sporty man at all (I commute every day by bike, but always avoid uphill streets whenever possible because I hate to sweat and wheeze) but I found Trefecta could carry me silently up its back on any upward road or off-road section like a friendly superhorse.
Just imagine an almost 30-40 degree grassy slope in front of you. If you're riding Trefecta, the only thing you have to do is to switch from low to high gear, by pushing a button on the left grip, and spin the throttle on the right grip. It will pull you up like a mountain goat on wheels.
Trefecta in its natural environment
The man-machine hybrid has a pretty slick design, too. The Trefecta's 20-inch frame is actually a dust and waterproof exoskeleton housing the battery pack, the electric motor, and the gearbox.
It's machined from injection moulded 7075 high-grade aluminium alloy, which is primarily used in the aerospace industry, and often referred to as the strongest aluminium alloy, as strong as many steels but with aluminium's lightweight qualities.
Plus, the bike sits on extremely tough but also lightweight five-spoke carbon fibre wheels, and several other parts are manufactured of carbon fibre as well. The result is a sturdy vehicle that can hold up to 160kg of rider and cargo.
And did I mention the Trefecta can fold? Not something you'd do every day, perhaps, considering the bike weighs nearly 85 pounds, but handy for long-term storage.
Here is an incomplete -- although still lengthy -- list of the Trefecta's features:
- Range: 100 km (without pedalling)
- Seat: Ergon SM3-L Pro Carbon with Dropper Seatmast
- Suspension: upside down fork 180mm (twin fork), Trailtronic electronically controlled suspension
- Battery: quick release interchangeable 60-volt Li-ion battery pack, can regenerate during braking and downhill riding
- Standard charger: 3 hours charge
- Fast charger (optional): 1 hour charge
- Controls: Trefecta - ALU steer with Ergon GP1 Grip built in Trefecta Fly-by-wire controls and throttle, combined with Trefecta Integrated backlit Display
- Hybrid system: Smesh Gear Pedelec System, integrated Rohloff 14 speed gearbox, electronic gear shifting, automatic gear shifting
- Brakes: Hope V4 callipers, Hope EVO Tech V3 Levers, Hope Floating Ventilated 203mm discs
- Wheels: interchangeable 26" carbon fibre leightweight wheels
- Connectivity: wifi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Trefecta iOS App
- Customisation: single fork or twin fork, 3 Pedelec support modes (Normal, Power, Custom), Trailtronic suspension setup via Trefecta iOS App, Custom pedelec mode setup via Trefecta iOS App
At this point you can probably guess the main problem with this bike. It's expensive. Even the basic Trefecta bike -- the urban version with lower performance -- costs nearly $US25,000 USD. Clearly it is not marketed for me, but for those who possess two or three Ferraris, Lamborghinis, or Aston Martins, a few yachts and often go to their offices by helicopter... they might feel the itch to have such a special vehicle in the garage. So far the company has assembled and sold about 20 Trefecta bikes, and received more than 500 pre-orders.
If you get tired of yours and would like to donate it to Gizmodo, please let us know.
Pictures: Attila Nagy/Gizmodo