November 15, 2007 Electric/pedal power hybrid bicycles make a lot of sense as commuters. With a small amount of battery power to augment your pedaling efforts, you can achieve extra speed and distance while leaving a minimal environmental footprint and paying next to nothing per kilometer. The Electrobike Pi is a fine example of the state of the art, packed with nifty technology and slotting neatly under the maximum power and speed figures allowable in California without a motorcycle license.

The first thing that stands out about the Electrobike Pi is its enormous and distinctive monocoque arch frame. Sourced from 60% post-industrial recycled aluminum, the extruded tube houses the NiMH batteries, electronics and control cables giving the exterior its sharp, uncluttered appearance.

Speed is limited to 20 mph when powered by the 36V/500 watt electric motor alone and you can travel around 25 miles without troubling the pedals. Operation of the electric drive is through a thumb-switch throttle and the motor doubles as a generator so that pedaling or decelerating works to extend the battery life.

The small NiMH battery charges in about two and a half hours and by itself can take you about 30 miles per charge. An optional extra battery (about US$750) doubles that range, and most of the time you’ll be extending that range again by your own pedaling.

The gel seat can be adjusted forwards and backwards as well as up and down, giving you a fair range of seating position options, and the forks have 85mm of suspension travel.

Rather than standard gears, Electrobike have opted for the excellent NuVinci infinitely variable planetary transmission – which means that gearing can be smoothly increased or decreased either while pedaling, coasting or stopped by turning a switchgrip. Simple, intuitive and effective.

The Pi is one of what Electrobike’s range of models based around the arch frame. Other variants include the Pi2 electric recumbent, an upside-down version of the Pi that includes two wheel drive (Rohloff 14 speed transmission in the back and a Shimano Cyber Nexus 8 speed automatic in the front) and the Pi-E prototype – a souped-up electric motorcycle version that features a brushless 15 hp DC motor with 4-stage regen, PC throttle mapping, plug-in charging and an interchangeable battery pack. Twice as heavy as the Pi at 120 pounds, the Pi-E is expected to hit speeds of up to 85mph and will debut in full production livery at a major European exhibition next year.

As they say, you’ve got to throw green to go green – to the tune of USD$7500 for the base Electrobike Pi, with the Pi2 electric recumbent priced at USD $9500 and no pricing yet available on the Pi-E electric motorcycle.

It’s certainly an out-there design, it’s a pretty cool way to get to work, and it definitely won’t be mistaken for anything else. Stay posted for further updates or visit the Electobike site to learn more.

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