32-lb Detroit DB-E rolls out as one of the skinniest ebikes out there
If there's one thing that immediately gives an ebike away as an ebike, it's a bulging down-tube or separately attached battery pack. Italian brand Zehus has long been helping manufacturers buck this trend with its Bike+ all-in-one rear hub drive. Sure, you can still tell a Bike+ bike is an ebike the minute your eyes land on the center of the rear wheel, but the rest of the bike is every bit as smooth, sleek and lightweight as a traditional bicycle. The new DB-E from Detroit Bikes is the latest (and maybe best) example, combining thin, classic tubes with a Bike + and a Veer belt drive. At 32 lb (14.5 kg), it's also one of the lightest ebikes that doesn't cost anywhere near five figures.
Ebikes continue to get sleeker and sleeker with the help of impressively compact, lightweight integrated electric drives like the TQ HPR50. The Zehus Bike+ was one of the forbearers of the compact e-drive genre, introduced a decade ago as a fully integrated package with motor, battery, kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and accompanying hardware weighing just 6.6 lb (3 kg). It's no accident, then, that ebikes utilizing this solution are among the lightest and sleekest out there.
Detroit's DB-E reminds us a little of the Zehus-powered Velocipede Fogliaverde, albeit with a more conventionally stretched diamond frame and without the fancy throwback adornments. Its thin, light powder-coated tubes are on the opposite end of the spectrum of the bulging oversized tubes common on other ebikes and help maintain an estimated weight as low as 32 lb, a pound (0.45 kg) lighter than the Fogliaverde.
The 250-W Zehus Bike+ works to deliver pedal-assisted speeds up to 15.5 mph (25-km). With its integrated KERS hardware, the drive is able to recharge on the fly during braking, helping the rider maximize assisted range. Detroit estimates a range up to 35 miles (56 km) when the drive is switched to low-power eco mode or 20 miles (32 km) in full-power mode. Given the bike's low overall weight, it's also quite feasible to ride without pedal assistance – not the case with many larger, heavier ebikes. The Bike+ connects wirelessly to a smartphone, so users can control it via an accompanying app.
The DB-E saves additional weight with a single-speed powertrain and Veer belt drive. Detroit claims the latter cuts roughly 200 g (7 oz) compared to a chain.
At $2,599, we wouldn't dare call the DB-E cheap, but that's not a bad price for a sleek, lightweight city ebike ... especially considering it's welded together in the USA, not a bike factory on the other side of the world. The bike is available for a $500 preorder deposit now in two colors and three frame sizes. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in mid March.