Best known for its automotive pedigree, BMW hasn't been afraid to dabble in pedal-powered rides either, having previously crafted everything from carbon racers to convertible kids bikes. Its latest effort in this area is a flashy new e-bike that packs an electric motor neatly away inside the frame in an effort to maintain an elegant "sporty silhouette" and can switch its pedal-assist on and off at the touch of a button.
Hiding heavy batteries and motors away inside existing components is a common theme when it comes to electric vehicles, especially when it comes to bikes and skateboards. For a long time e-bikes would conjure up images of backyard DIY projects with clunky components attached seemingly as an afterthought, but companies are getting pretty good at concealing the parts that make them electric.
And a luxury brand like BMW isn't about to miss this beat. Its Active Hybrid e-bike stashes both the 504-Wh battery and 250-W motor inside its hydroformed aluminum frame. This setup offers enough energy for pedal assistance for up to 100 km (62 mi) with 90 Nm (66 lb-ft) of torque, and keeps the Active Hybrid within the power output laws for e-bikes throughout much of the world.
Something a little different about the Active Hybrid is that it is in fact a hybrid vehicle – BMW says the electric motor can be switched on and off as desired. This could come in quite handy when the pedal assistance is unnecessary, as with some of the e-bikes we've tested an "always-on" direct drive motor creates a noticeable drag when trying to pedal freely.
When switched on, riders will have four power modes to choose from, with each offering a different degree of pedal assistance. These are selected via a controller on the handlebar grip, which also includes a display. There's also a USB port for charging a smartphone, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for connecting a smartphone wirelessly to the bike.
The bike comes complete with mudguards, with the rear also sporting an integrated LED light for safety. It also comes with the eZone saddle designed specifically for e-bikers, which has a fiberglass handle integrated into the underside to help make lifting the bike easier. And although the battery lives inside the frame, the company does point out that it is removable, which should make recharging and replacing it a little more convenient.
The BMW Active Hybrid is available from selected BMW dealers today and is priced at €3,400 (US$4,000).