Hard-edged ebike brings beefy MTB specs to your daily urban commute
A full-suspension electric 29er built for the urban jungle, the Belgian-designed Åska may look like the latest electric light motorcycle, but a Gates carbon belt drive and Pinion gearbox keep your feet and calves engaged. The rugged, mountain bike-inspired build is designed to eat up anything the city and surrounds can throw at it, while the modular design lets you gear up for your day and swap in new components as old ones wear down and become obsolete.
Powering straight through manhole steam, leaping a pothole, weaving through the early-morning bumper-to-bumper and hard-turning onto a loose dirt shortcut that leads right to the back of your office – if your commute has any elements even vaguely similar to that, the Åska ebike was built for you. The 29 x 2.4-in Schwalbe knobby road/off-road tires, full-suspension setup, hydraulic disc brakes and burly, sharp-angled aluminum frame just scream "high-powered e-mountain bike," but the bike isn't built so much for full-throttle off-roading as taking on the potholes, curbs, stairs, out-of-repair concrete, park paths and other rough obstacles of city living. In the words of its creators, it's a "super-commuter all-road adventurer."
In terms of drivetrain, Åska splits up the motor and transmission, tasking the 1,200-W Neodrives hub motor with driving the rear wheel directly and installing the Pinion C 1.6 internal gearbox in the meaty mid-frame to blend in pedal input through a Gates Carbon belt drive with spring-loaded tensioner. Pinion designed the C 1.6 for use with a rear motor, which it says cuts down on powertrain wear and tear while delivering optimal power by converting pedal force through the transmission ahead of motor boost. The 950-Wh battery block in the down tube keeps the motor running for over 60 km (37 miles) of full-blown 45-km/h (28-mph) top-speed commuting and much more when dialed back to more modest pedal-assist levels.
As for the suspension, the Åska packs in 130 mm of front travel by way of a Formula Selva C enduro mountain bike fork and 70 mm of rear cushion through a single-pivot dual-bearing setup with Öhlins TTX1 Air trunnion shock. The rugged Schwalbe tires clinging to 29-in enduro rims roll over smaller obstacles with ease, while the Formula four-piston enduro hydraulic disc brakes provide confident stopping. Fenders over top each wheel prevent unidentified road muck from becoming breakfast.
The bike shines through winter and extra-early/late commutes with a dual-lamp Busch & Müller light system that throws 100 Lux per lamp out in front of the bike. The available luggage rack on the other end lets riders secure briefcases, messenger bags, panniers or whatever else needs to come along on the ride ahead.
Åska says that while its aluminum frame is built to be the hard-wearing dual-wheel tank it looks like, the components are meant to be swapped and upgraded as needed or desired. It imagines that as technology advances and better, more modern components become available, buyers can upgrade with the latest parts rather than having to replace the entire bike to keep up. In particular, it notes improving battery technology that could lead to more powerful packs of the same weight delivering much better range and performance down the line.
Åska plans to build its frames and assemble its bikes in Europe, sourcing European-made components wherever possible. It is only offering the single spec with aforementioned components at launch, along with three color options and the optional rear rack. Preorders for the €8,999 (approx. US$10,525) bike are available now, and Åska intends to begin delivering the first bikes in the second quarter of 2022 through a European network of speed-pedelec dealers. It does offer test rides but currently only in home country cities of Flanders and Brussels.