At last week's EICMA bike show in Milan, Italy's Piaggio Group unveiled a new range of technology-packed electric-assist pedal bikes designed to satisfy the needs to today's connected cyclist. The Wi-Bikes come in two classic styles, one designed for comfort and the other aimed at sporty types. All models feature a centrally-positioned motor and battery pack for user selectable assist up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph) and a range of up to 120 km (75 miles), the ability to pair with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone running a companion app, and an always-connected satellite anti-theft system that lets owners know exactly where their ride is at all times.
All flavors of the Wi-Bike are built around a 6061 aluminum frame, with the Comfort models available with or without an upper crossbar, and the Active models having a low or high upper crossbar. Sitting between the pedals is a proprietary 250 W electric power unit, and models feature either belt drive with electronically-assisted automatic transmission or a more traditional nine-speed chain drive setup.
At the base of the down tube, under the saddle, is an IP65-rated (waterproof), removable 418 Wh Li-ion battery pack by Samsung that offers between 60 and 120 km of motor-assist range, depending on rider style, travel conditions and mode of operation, for every 3.5 hours on charge.
Ride information is displayed on a waterproof, backlit Bluetooth LE-enabled LCD instrument panel, which can connect wirelessly to its cradle thanks to NFC technology. This panel is home to a USB port for charging a smartphone battery or for loading in system software updates.
The control system allows riders who choose between three assist modes. The City mode makes the most of the motor's 50 Nm of torque to provide a boost as the bike moves off, useful for getting ahead in stop and go city traffic. The Hill mode adapts to the incline, providing more power as the slope increases, and the standard mode adds motor assist proportional to rider effort.
The bike's dashboard control unit, batteries and electric motor can only function if connected and communicating with one another. This allows the rider to effectively secure the vehicle when parked by simply removing the display module, rendering the Wi-Bike unusable.
However, should a light-fingered opportunist manage to make away with a Wi-Bike, there's a GPS/GSM module integrated in the battery pack so users can keep track of their ride's location. Owners will also receive an alert via a dedicated companion app running on a Bluetooth LE-paired smartphone, and the bike's position will be shown in real-time on a map. The app also shows current charge status, offers navigation functionality, collects route data and stats, and allows users to share trip details, ride performance and fitness targets with friends via social media.
Elsewhere, the Wi-Bikes feature Shimano hydraulic disc braking, 180 mm disc to the front and 160 mm to the rear, Continental 28-inch tires and integrated front and rear lights.
The video below overviews some of what's on offer.
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