The SPARTA ION CITYSEAT - intelligent electric-assist bicycle

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November 23, 2006 Bicycles are a part of European culture, particularly in the flat countries of Holland and Belgium, and with well known Dutch brand Sparta celebrating its 90th birthday next year, and 75 years of motor-assisted bicycle production, the brand’s latest model is a logical development, albeit, a stylish and very practical one. Created for Sparta by internationally-renowned Dutch design company FLEX/INNOVATIONLAB, the EUR 1945 (US$2500) SPARTA ION Cityseat has the same classic lines of other ION bikes before it, but is equipped with electrical pedal assistance which can be activated at will by the rider with an extra “push in the right direction’. The Cityseat has a slightly longer frame which incorporates the 9 or 10-amp battery, with the pedals moved slightly forward and the saddle lowered for maximum seat comfort. The ingenious design – multiple frame sizes are available and an adjustable handlebar column - ensures ergonomics can be adjusted for every rider. Similarly, the ION’s compact and completely silent motor is hidden in the rear wheel hub so it looks just like a normal bike but provides pedal assistance to 25 km/h for up to 55 kilometres, and as much as 90 kilometres with the EUR400 range extender battery fitted. The operating display on the handlebars handles all functions -, battery strength, pedal assistance setting lighting controls, speedometer, odometer and when removed, it disables the machine. You can switch to one of the three different power settings at the push of a button and the ION’s software even tells you when the bike is due to go to the dealer for maintenance.

Like the Aprilia ENJOY we raved about, the ION has three different levels of pedal assistance to choose from, depending on the situation: ECO – The first setting provides comfortable support at a constant cycling speed, enabling you to get the best yield from the pedal assistance for leisure cycling or travelling to work. NORMAL – In addition to comfortable support at a constant speed, the second setting provides extra power when you set off. POWER – The third setting provides the most power under all circumstances and is mainly suitable when cycling in more adverse conditions, so you need to put in much less effort when cycling against a strong wind.

The battery is guaranteed for two years and can be fully recharged at least 500 times and is good for 15,000 kilometres. It recharges in under three hours from any domestic 220V power point, and the charger switches off automatically when fully charged. The 10-amp battery offers a slightly improved range over the 9-amp unit, and as both offer substantial electrical capacity, the ION also has excellent front and rear lights, and when the battery is empty, the motor switches roles automatically and acts as a dynamo.

Range varies with the amount of power-assist usage, from 25 kilometres at the maxmum with 55 kilometres achievable and unlike all-electric machines, you can also use the ION without pedal assistance, so it’s no hassle to push the battery all the way to its limit when the machine becomes a normal, if slightly porky 25 kg bicycle. For those who want to really use the ION over big distance, there’s an additional Range Extender, which is a separate battery locked to the luggage rack in a bag big enough to carry other items. The EUR 399 Range Extender increases range by 70%.

Sparta’s ION is currently available in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France and the U.K. and international distributors are being sought for the product. Like the Aprilia ENJOY we raved about, the ION has three different levels of pedal assistance to choose from, depending on the situation:

ECO – The first setting provides comfortable support at a constant cycling speed, enabling you to get the best yield from the pedal assistance for leisure cycling or travelling to work.

NORMAL – In addition to comfortable support at a constant speed, the second setting provides extra power when you set off.

POWER – The third setting provides the most power under all circumstances and is mainly suitable when cycling in more adverse conditions, so you need to put in much less effort when cycling against a strong wind.

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