Test ride: B4 Bikes e-cruizer
Among the cars at last week's London Motorexpo were some curious looking bikes. Striking in design, the B4 Bikes e-cruizer was drawing nearly as much attention as the nearby McLaren. The e-cruizer is a new take of the electric bike from the Netherlands and Gizmag took one for a spin.
Gizmag has featured some pretty great-looking electric bikes recently, including the Kia Electric Bicycle and the Gi Bike (which has just missed its Kickstarter target, but may well go into production anyway according to its developers). But I don't think either can hold a candle to the B4. Perhaps the electric bike that we've featured that comes closest to looking as slick is Toto Design's Mosquito.
The B4 e-cruizer was designed by Janpeter Eilander for everyday use as a stylish and sustainable alternative to the car and aims to give a relaxed cruising experience. The first prototype was built in November 2011 and a total of 15 prototypes were made before the production design was finalized and the bike was launched in May 2014.
The bike frame is made out of steel and weighs in at 42 kg (93 lb). It is influenced by the style of the iconic Harley Davidson marque and has a similar splayed seating position as some of those hogs. Each B4 is hand-built in the Netherlands and is custom made to the wishes of the client. It takes 3 months from when an order is placed to deliver a B4 bike.
The e-cruizer has a Crystalyte high-torque brushless motor that is powered by a 36 V, 19.6 Ah lithium battery pack. The battery is charged using a 5 A charger and a power management system balances the consumption during use. Charging time is about 4 hours and a full charge will give a range of around 100 km (60 miles). The bike is front-wheel drive and has a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). Hydraulic front and rear disc brakes help to control speed, along with a NuVinci Harmony gear-system.
When it came to riding the B4, I found that getting going was the most difficult aspect. With the weight and gear-system, the bike requires a pretty strong pedal to get it moving. It may be something for which you learn to accommodate the more familiar you become with the bike, or indeed something that B4 irons out in its ongoing develop, but certainly there were a few wobbles from me and other testers in the first few meters.
Once you're up and running, however, the B4 is great fun to ride. The electric motor kicks in quickly, with acceleration easily controlled by the speed at which you pedal and your gear selection. A steady and slow pedal will keep you accelerating gradually, while more vigorous pedaling will have you pick up speed quickly. In my brief jaunt around the block at Canary Wharf, the B4 hit 30 km/h (19 mph) without breaking a sweat, and that was only using three of the five available gears.
Cornering on the e-cruizer feels safe even at speed. The bike's design means that you have a relatively low center of gravity and a reasonably long wheelbase, which helps with this. There's a bit of a knack to coming to a stop, however. As any forward pedaling makes the e-cruizer's motor kick in and propel you forward, it's important to have your feet in the right position for coming to a halt well in advance. Absentmindedly moving the pedals forward as you come to a stop will give you a worrying jolt forward at a stop sign or traffic lights.
The B4 e-cruizer is a thoroughly enjoyable ride and has the added benefit of looking exquisite. For short journeys to work, it will be quick, enjoyable, and benefit from low running costs. Among the potential developments for future models include solar-charging capability, range extension and designs based on old motorbike designs.
Prices for the B4 e-cruizer start at €5,499 (US$7,455).
Source: B4 Bikes