UBCO updates its 2WD electric utility bikes, launches monster ebike
We've been fascinated with this Kiwi company and its 2x2 utility bike since we first saw it in 2015. With hub motors in both wheels, and a lightweight body designed to both carry and power a heap of gear, it's a unique and charming machine.
At the recent Queenstown launch of the 2020 UBCO range, the company showed off two versions of its fifth-generation 2x2 – one stripped back as a "work bike," the other done up with enough bits and bobs to make it road registerable in the US, Europe and Australasia, among other places.
As before, it uses a simple, 1-kilowatt (1.3 horsepower) motor in each wheel hub, with a 2.4 kWh battery cradled in the frame. Pop up the seat, undo one bolt and a velcro strap, and that battery lifts out easy as you please, for off-bike charging or to power something else. Range is up around 75 miles (120 km), and top speed around 30 mph (48 km/h), so they're an all-day workhorse around a farm or decent sized property.
New for 2020 is a telematics system incorporating 9-axis accelerometer (there's 9 axes?) gyroscopes, GPS and GSM connectivity that's designed to work with fleet management software. The company says the entire bike's been worked over in response to customer feedback over the last 18-24 months, but hasn't provided any further details. The 2x2s start at US$6,999.
New for 2020 is a set of standalone battery modules that can either be used solo in a protective frame or pulled out to function as the bike's battery.
The final surprise is something a little sportier: the FRX1 e-freeride bike. Much like the Stealth bikes of yore, and more recently things like the Sur-Ron Light Bee, it can be viewed as the missing link between a mountain bike and a fully fledged electric dirtbike – totally not street legal as an ebike, but ready to rip up off-road trails. But its 15 kW (20 horsepower), 280 Nm (207 lb-ft) mid-drive motor makes it nearly three times feistier than the Light Bee.
The FRX1's battery holds 2.2 kWh, for a max range around 62 miles (100 km), but it's clearly meant to be ridden hard and dirty in ways that won't preserve the battery. Top speed is around 50 mph (80 km/h) and at a weight of just 115 lbs (52 kg) ready to roll, it'll be a hilarious machine to throw around in the bush, a quiet but capable alternative to a trail bike. Drain the battery down, and you've still got 9-speed pedal power to limp home with, and the bike can be set to work as a pedal assist or on a twist throttle.
These machines sure do look like a sublime way to get around the spectacular hills of Queenstown, NZ.