When Spanish motorcycle manufacturer Bultaco announced its return to the market last year, we were expecting some new electric motorbikes. What we weren't necessarily expecting was an electric bicycle. For the first product launched in its second life, Bultaco has shrunk its electric powertrain technology down and put it to asphalt and dirt in the form of a full-throttle electric-assist mountain bike: the Brinco e-bike.
Bultaco calls the Brinco the world's first "moto-bike" – half motorcycle, half bicycle. Super e-bikes like the Trefecta DRT, Stealth B-52 Bomber and EMX argue against the Brinco being the first electric bike with serious motorcycling DNA, but it's definitely a member of that growing crossbreed. It's faster and more powerful than a simple e-assist commuter bike but short of a full-blown electric motorbike like the Lightning LS-218.
At the heart of the Brinco design is an electric drive comprising a rear wheel-mounted 2-kW motor and a downtube-secured 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery. That motor puts out 44 lb-ft (60 Nm) of torque, and its output is governed by three riding modes. Eco mode gives the rider up to 800 watts to work with and up to around 50 miles (80 km) of electric-assisted pedaling. Tour mode provides up to 31 miles (50 km) of range, capping motor output at 1,500 watts. Sport mode unleashes the full 2,000 watts of motor power, providing a fast ride that gets faster the harder you pedal. All modes offer the full 44 lb-ft of torque.
The battery can deliver the rider up to 18.6 miles (30 km) without any pedaling, and the motor can propel the rider to a top speed of 37 mph (60 km/h). That top speed is comparable to some super e-bikes, but it falls short of competitors like the 50-mph Stealth B-52. Frankly, it's a bit disappointing for a "category-shattering" bike built by a motorcycle manufacturer looking to remake its name in the two-wheeled speed industry. Then again, it's really just a number on paper, and 37 mph will likely be more than fast enough for most Brinco riders.
The rider controls the motor via the grip throttle and can also lay off the throttle and rely on the power control system to maintain a constant level of output. The Brinco includes nine speeds and an overdrive function that essentially doubles that number to 18. The rider uses his heels to press the overdrive button mounted to the pedal axle, and the epicyclic gearing system increases or decreases gear ratio as selected.
Bultaco designed the Brinco's all-aluminum frame and swingarm to meet enduro motorcycle standards. The saddle adjusts via the telescopic tubular subframe hardware. The 86-lb (39-kg) bike puts plenty of cushion between rider and hard ground – 8.5 in (217 mm) of travel in back and 7 in (180 mm) up front. Front and rear disc brakes bring the bike to a stop.
In place of the 26-, 27.5- or 29-in tires that are standard in the mountain bike industry, the Brinco wears 24-in wheels. Those 24s hold onto burly, 3-in-wide tires.
The Brinco rider keeps abreast of bike and performance measures by way of a centrally mounted LED computer. The unit reports speed, motor temperature, distance and battery life remaining. It starts up via a keyless activation system that reads the accompanying wireless bracelet. That system serves as a security feature that locks the bike when the bracelet isn't present.
Owners can also choose to add a SIM card and use the accompanying iOS/Android app as a geolocation-tracking, anti-theft measure. Additionally, the app connects to the bike computer via Bluetooth to keep the owner up to speed on information like remaining battery power.
The lithium-ion battery detaches from the frame in a matter of seconds and takes about three hours to charge. Bultaco plans to offer Brinco buyers an optional second battery for quick-swapping, double-range riding.
The Brinco will retail at a Spanish-market price of €4,800, which includes VAT. Bultaco is offering 175 early bird reservations via its Brinco website. The bike will be manufactured at Bultaco's all-new Barcelona factory and Bultaco will release availability and pricing for other markets as it establishes a distribution network.