Porsche serves up a couple of really nice-looking ebikes
Porsche, like many automotive companies, is diversifying into the "mobility" game. There's a very good chance the coming decades will see a rapid transition to a self-driving world in which owning cars ceases to make sense – particularly to younger generations who simply don't make the same connections between vehicles and self-image as us older fogeys. The badge on the back of a robo-taxi won't carry a lot of weight in such a world, so premium brands like Porsche need to find other ways to connect with customers.
One popular way for such companies to dip a toe into the "mobility" market is by making ebikes. Ebikes are great; they're a brilliant way to get around town, dodging tolls, eliminating traffic jams, speeding tickets and parking fees, and shoehorning exactly as much or as little exercise into your day as you feel like. They also give flashier brands a chance to make premium products, leveraging the halo over their sports cars to charge crazy prices and deliver beautiful machines designed as obsessively as their cars.
BMW's been at it since at least 2012 with this wacky fold-up. Audi dropped jaws in the same year with this carbon beauty, complete with electronically-balancing wheelie mode. Lamborghini ... Well, Lamborghini tried, I guess. And here's Porsche's effort.
For what it's worth, I think Porsche's new eBike Sport and eBike Cross look really nice. Designed by Studio F. A. Porsche and developed in co-operation with German ebike company Rotwild, these things don't deviate too far from a regular bike shape, but every shape and surface gets a touch of class.
They're dual-suspension bikes; forks and brakes are by Magura, shocks are by Fox. The latter lies almost flush against the top tube, whose angle extends right down through the swingarm when nobody's sitting on the bike. That gives it a super-sleek, almost hardtail look when it's parked. Porsche doesn't supply any images of people actually riding the things; their models are all standing around looking windswept and interesting, so I confess, I do wonder if a bit of weight on the seat makes it look like the bike's bending in half.
The motors don't really live up to the Porsche badge, but that's neither Porsche's fault nor Shimano, the supplier's. The Shimano Steps EP-8 motor will deliver a healthy 85 Nm of torque, but only up to a cripplingly low 25 km/h, or 15.5 mph, in line with European ebike legislation that continues to neuter what could and should be a magnificent green commuting option. Another 10-15 clicks and ebike riders would be much closer to the pace of the lycra brigade, instead of feeling like moving chicanes constantly being swamped from behind on the bike paths.
Either way, Porsche offers two models. The white one in most of the photos here is the street-focused eBike Sport with beautifully built-in LED lighting front and rear, an 11-speed Shimano Di2 electronic shift system, and 630 Wh of battery, representing a range up to 125 km (77 miles) if ridden gently.
Porsche says it's got an "integrated cockpit" by Magura, although it doesn't seem to integrate the small Shimano dash. Instead, the Magura MCi system moves all the brake lines and hydraulics inside the handlebar tube, completely out of sight until they pop out of the frame right next to where they're needed. Very tidy.
The black one is the offroad-focused eBike Cross. "Don't mind a little extra power?" enquires Porsche's website. "Then you'll love the eBike cross." I don't mind a little extra power myself, as it happens, but if you were hoping this one would be derestricted, you'll be disappointed. It makes the same 85 Nm as the Sport, and tops out at the same 25 km/h. So if there's any extra punch to be had, perhaps it's geared slightly differently, spinning a bit faster and providing 350 watts instead of the street bike's 250 watts. We don't know.
Either way the Cross gets a dropper seat post, dirtier tires and Shimano's 12-speed XT mechanical shift system. But it loses the Sport's integrated lighting, integrated cockpit thingy and internally run cabling, and runs a smaller, 504 Wh battery for a range closer to 100 km (62 miles), again ridden very gently.
The suspension appears to be the same for both bikes, as do the very sexy-looking Crankbrothers rims, which really don't seem like they've possibly got enough spokes to get the job done – but I'm sure Porsche has had the calculators out.
These bikes are "inspired" by the Taycan, and Porsche has even designed its own bike carrier you can use to stick up to three of them onto the new Taycan Cross Turismo. That's pretty neat.
How much? About what you'd expect. The Porsche eBike Sport costs €9,990 (equating to around US$12,120, although US pricing is often lower than the straight conversion). The Porsche eBike Cross without the fancy lights and Magura cockpit and that extra bit of battery is €7,990 (US$9,700). This is not wildly out of line with what people pay for top-spec premium ebikes; heck, there are bikes out there for twice that much that refuse to do any of the work.
You can put me down as a fan of everything except the price tag here; I think Porsche has done a good job making these things look special, and fitting them out with nice bits as far as Euro legislation allows.