The Lightest: A featherweight mid-drive ebike conversion kit
While there are now a number of kits for electrifying non-electric bikes, most of them place a motor against or within one of the wheels. The Lightest is different, in that it keeps the weight low and central by sitting against the bottom bracket.
As you might have guessed from its name, The Lightest is claimed to be the lightest mid-drive bike motor on the market. The drive unit itself tips the scales at a claimed 1.6 kg (3.5 lb), although that figure doesn't include the frame-mounted battery pack.
It was created by Italian startup Bikee Bike, which previously brought us the Bikee Best mid-drive motor. The Lightest is lighter (not surprisingly) and cheaper than that model, plus it's different in form. It's also a little less powerful, delivering a still-impressive 90 Nm (66 ft lb) of peak torque when triggered by an integrated pedalling torque sensor, as opposed to the Best's 120 Nm (88.5 ft lb).
Users bolt the drive unit onto the bottom underside of their bike's down tube, so that it's adjacent to the bottom bracket. The bicycle's chain is then routed around The Lightest's powered cog, while also staying engaged with the teeth on the bottom of the chainring. In this way, both the motor and the rider's legs deliver power to the rear wheel.
Should users wish to revert back to full human power, though, the drive unit can reportedly be removed within five minutes.
The system is being offered in four motor choices: 250, 500, 740 or 1,000 watts. These should deliver electric-assisted top speeds of 25, 35, 42 or 50 km/h, respectively (16, 22, 26 or 31 mph). There are also four Samsung lithium-ion battery packs, ranging in capacity from 250 to 840 watt-hours. Depending on what motor they're combined with, these should provide a range of anywhere from 30 to 180 km (19 to 112 miles).
Riders select between nine assistance levels, monitor the battery charge level, check their speed and perform various other functions via a handlebar-mounted LCD control unit. Some of system's optional features include regenerative braking, a smartphone-controlled antitheft drive-locking system, and the ability to automatically vary the amount of motor assistance based on the rider's present heart rate.
Should you be interested, The Lightest is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign. Pledge levels for complete packages range from US$538 for a kit including a 250W motor and a 250-Wh battery (planned retail $1,014) up to $949 for a kit containing a 1,000W motor and an 840-Wh battery (retail $1,607). Cheaper packages are available for backers who are willing to supply their own battery pack.
Assuming The Lightest reaches production, shipping is estimated to take place in September.