Bicycles

New e-bike combines classic, leather-and-wood style with hybrid electric drive

New e-bike combines classic, l...
The more expensive La Specialita Ruggine includes a hand-prepared rust finish for a one-of-a-kind look
The more expensive La Specialita Ruggine includes a hand-prepared rust finish for a one-of-a-kind look
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The Velocipede Fogliaverde bikes come complete with all equipment and accessories
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The Velocipede Fogliaverde bikes come complete with all equipment and accessories
The Piacevole Corsa comes in five color options
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The Piacevole Corsa comes in five color options
VF includes things like the dynamo-supported lights and bike lock as standard
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VF includes things like the dynamo-supported lights and bike lock as standard
While it's fully dressed in accessories, careful selection and attention to detail keep weight down to a claimed 41 lb
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While it's fully dressed in accessories, careful selection and attention to detail keep weight down to a claimed 41 lb
A leather carry handle makes VF's bike a little easier to haul
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A leather carry handle makes VF's bike a little easier to haul
The more expensive La Specialita Ruggine includes a hand-prepared rust finish for a one-of-a-kind look
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The more expensive La Specialita Ruggine includes a hand-prepared rust finish for a one-of-a-kind look
Closer look at the La Specialita Ruggine details
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Closer look at the La Specialita Ruggine details
Front and rear porters add built-in cargo capacity
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Front and rear porters add built-in cargo capacity
A headlight and taillight come standard
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A headlight and taillight come standard
A wooden chain guard and wood-platformed pedals enhance the bike's look
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A wooden chain guard and wood-platformed pedals enhance the bike's look
The heart of the Velocipede Fogliaverde design is the Zehus Bike+ electric drive
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The heart of the Velocipede Fogliaverde design is the Zehus Bike+ electric drive
Leather pouch for the folding bike lock
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Leather pouch for the folding bike lock
Bike lock
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Bike lock
The leather saddle bag includes a toolkit 
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The leather saddle bag includes a toolkit 
Leather spring saddle
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Leather spring saddle
The included toolkit and bag covers
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The included toolkit and bag covers
Pedal closeup
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Pedal closeup
Internally routed cables add to the bike's clean look
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Internally routed cables add to the bike's clean look
A hub dynamo powers the lights
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A hub dynamo powers the lights
VF is running a Kickstarter now
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VF is running a Kickstarter now
VF uses Columbus tubing
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VF uses Columbus tubing
Velocipede Fogliaverde closeup
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Velocipede Fogliaverde closeup
The fully outfitted Piacevole Corsa
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The fully outfitted Piacevole Corsa
VF calls this 33-lb version "stripped down to the essentials," but we still see a few non-essentials that could be dropped for weight and price savings
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VF calls this 33-lb version "stripped down to the essentials," but we still see a few non-essentials that could be dropped for weight and price savings

There are interesting electric bikes popping up nearly every day, but arguably the most interesting are the ones that provide electric power without looking like two-wheeled battery packs or design student projects. We're thinking light, unassuming bikes like the Freygeist or Maxwell EP0. The all-new Italian-designed, Swiss-built e-bike from Velocipede Fogliaverde takes the idea of a classically styled e-bike even further, featuring a low-profile design dressed up with leather, wood and even rust.

"Velocipede Fogliaverde" (Italian for "green leaf velocipede") has to be one of the most fun company names we've seen in years - it just rolls off the tongue, though we may very well be mispronouncing it terribly. Its bikes also look pretty fun to ride, especially if you're the type that likes to attract a little attention, which the VF (that name isn't as fun to write) models do instantly with their classic, carefully accessorized looks.

As he explains it on Kickstarter, founder Peter Grünblatt sort of stumbled into the e-bike business with a journey that started about two years ago. In looking for a stylish, classy city bike to ride with his daughter, Grünblatt found the modern market lacking. Unimpressed by what he qualifies as pedal bikes without the right accessories and heavy, clunky e-bikes, Grünblatt turned to a quarter-century old racing bike he found in his in-laws' basement.

He stripped that old bike down and sunk money into building it back up to his own spec. After getting all kinds of positive feedback, Grünblatt decided to pursue a commercial version, complete with electric assist. He teamed with an Italian designer and Swiss mechanic to make the bike a reality.

"Inspired by the elegant, high quality cult bicycles of earlier days," VF's single-speed bike design includes a 22-in (56-cm) steel frame with double-butted tubes. It relies on the lightweight, streamlined electric power of the Zehus Bike+ rear hub drive to keep the design looking natural and not as "electric" as typical e-bikes with their big battery frame tube or water cage battery pack. The all-in-one Bike+ unit has an integrated battery, sensors and electronics, so everything's in the hub.

The heart of the Velocipede Fogliaverde design is the Zehus Bike+ electric drive
The heart of the Velocipede Fogliaverde design is the Zehus Bike+ electric drive

The 250W Bike+ e-drive provides assistance for speeds up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h). What's really interesting about the Bike+, in addition to its compact, integrated design, is that it offers a hybrid mode that provides electric assistance when it's needed, such as when climbing hills and accelerating, then recharges with kinetic energy recovery during braking, cruising and descending, eliminating battery drain and the need to plug in.

And if you don't like how the hybrid mode rides, the Bike+ drive has a total of seven modes, so you can always opt for more traditional pedal-assist operation that entails external recharge. VF estimates a two-hour charging time for the 160Wh lithium-ion battery.

Instead of a built-in computer, VF relies on the Zehus app to connect the rider with the electric drive. The iOS/Android app provides mode selection, trip data and a locking function, with the app relying on a Bluetooth connection with the Bike+.

The Bike+ hub drive is pretty inconspicuous on its own, and VF outfits its bike with some attractive components, drawing the eye in other directions. Examples include the spring leather saddle, leather handlebars, wood-platformed pedals and bamboo fenders. There are also anti-puncture tires and front and rear lights powered by a compact, lightweight Shutter Precision hub dynamo.

VF calls this 33-lb version "stripped down to the essentials," but we still see a few non-essentials that could be dropped for weight and price savings
VF calls this 33-lb version "stripped down to the essentials," but we still see a few non-essentials that could be dropped for weight and price savings

That basic setup weighs 33 lb (15 kg), which VF suggests makes it "the probably lightest e-bikes on the market." We know VF bikes are not the very lightest because of sub-30-lb (sub-13.6-kg) models like the aforementioned Freygeist and EP0, but 33 lb definitely puts it on the lighter, sleeker end of the e-bike market, especially when you factor in components like the fenders, dynamo and lights.

VF already has a damn stylish, elegant e-bike in that basic configuration, but it doesn't stop there ... not even close, in fact. It accessorizes the bike with front and rear racks, a wooden chain guard, a leather saddle bag with tools, a folding lock in leather case and a leather carry handle connecting the seat tube and down tube. There's also a kickstand, bell and reflectors. So right out of the gate, VF's bike is ready to carry gear on its racks, ride day or night, take care of mechanical issues and look pretty great doing it all. The listed weight jumps to 41 lb (18.7 kg) with all those added accessories.

The fully outfitted Piacevole Corsa
The fully outfitted Piacevole Corsa

VF offers two styles of bikes, and both models feature the same build and accessories, the difference being in the styling. The Piacevole Corsa base model comes in a variety of two-layer, pearl-effect color options, including midnight blue, cream, light blue, maroon and green apple.

The La Specialita Ruggine skips the paint and wears actual rust. VF explains that the frame undergoes a controlled rusting process before getting sealed with a transparent coating that suspends the rusting in a superficial state, giving each bike a one-of-a-kind rusty look without any actual frame degradation. Rust isn't typically something we think of as aesthetic, but it looks pretty good in the photos.

Closer look at the La Specialita Ruggine details
Closer look at the La Specialita Ruggine details

Velocipede Fogliaverde is hosting a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funding it needs to move from prototype to series production. It intends to perform safety testing, build up its team, finalize its production processes and put together distribution.

The Piacevole Corsa is available for pledge levels starting at CHF3,200 (approx. US$3,275), which is a 20 percent discount on the intended retail price. The La Specialita Ruggine is available at a CHF3,900 (US$3,990) pledge level, a 10 percent discount. Shipping is not included and varies by country. There are also a variety of lower-priced pledges, including a non-refundable CHF500 (US$510) reservation that secures 10 percent discounted pricing on bikes purchased within a year. Estimated delivery is April 2017, but the Kickstarter doesn't look like it's bound for success just yet, given that it's only raised about 1 percent of its CHF300,000 (US$307,000) goal with 25 days left to run.

While we love the look and component selection on the Velocipede Fogliaverde bikes, and understand that offering a fully outfitted bike is part of the company's vision, it seems like the company would be well-served to offer a stripped down base model in addition to the fully equipped versions. It could cut out a lot of price and weight by making both the accessories and certain components within the 33-lb "essentials" version, such as the lights, dynamo and fenders, optional. Perhaps it will do that in the future to lower prices and appeal to more people.

Source: Velocipede Fogliaverde

6 comments
sutski123
I cobbled together a hard-tail Montague folding mountain bike, 250w Bionx ebike-kit, chopper handle bars, skateboard deck pedals, Brooks leather grips and a full suspension Brooks seat. Oh and a Hammerhead Elektra bell and a Monkeylectric-Pro full wheel LED video....and I would say I get quite a few comments..... Can I get $300k too please? ;)
gybognarjr
Any bicycle no matter what, that costs over $1,000.00 is no news and the electric bicycles are many times more expensive now. Stop writing about outrageously priced electric bikes, supposedly designed to commute, while saving money and energy. The concept of an electric bicycle costing more than a good motorcycle and/or a used economy car is a total paradox a futile effort and lacking even minimal logic thinking. Electric bikes make sense, become beneficial, when they cost under $500.00, but not before.
Paul Anthony
I see that this has only one gear and I question that decision, then I remember that they probably live in a flat area and not the canyon and hills that I deal with on any ride. I read the title of the article and was surprised that the word Hybrid is used after reading the article. I thought there would be some sort of battery power combined with some other power supply other than human. The regeneration on braking and the "Zehus Bike+" battery/controller/sensors/bluetooth all residing within the hub is impressive and I may want to investigate that piece of the puzzle further. As far as the Dynamo goes, I wouldn't want to put anything on there that would cause drag, especially with only one gear, however perhaps there are rechargeable batteries in the accessories and you only activate the dynamo as you are going down hill? gybognarjr, I am with you, I look forward to the day when you can get a completely fuctional electric bike for under $500 (not including batteries). I also look forward to the day that you can get 20 AHr Lithium 24VDC battery for under $100 delivered to your door, then for $600 you too can have a decent ebike and use it for short rides around the neighborhood and even long commutes to work, shopping, the park etc. It will happen!
amazed W1
That bike is worth buying minus all its electrical assist simply because it makes the best of an evolved style of design but uses some of the best features that were often lost previously in the search for absolute minimal cost. Most modern bikes are so-called "designed" which means that the artists and sellers preferences for something that looks fast or chunky or macho take precedence over engineering practicalities, and have overdesigned brake linkages and gear shifters. On this bike the attachments of the carriers directly to the frame and NOT to the axles, means removing a wheel to mend a puncture is comparatively simple. Hopefully the frame is designed around standard wheels and tyres so that the benefits of the new puncture resisting, minimum leakage and maximum wear resistance are adopted.
tacheonabike
gybognarjr although you make a valid point , cheap bikes are not good and good bikes are not cheap , same could be said for cars . I commute most days on a £1000 bike or a second hand £5000 car . Most fun and more rewarding is the bike! the retro styling of this bike looks quite good and the semi disguised look of the electrics i quite like. However most bikes reviewed on here are form over function and because they are prototypes or special builds commesuratley expensive , we' all looking for the model t ford of electric assist commuting bikes , this is not it .
Peter@velocipede-fogliaverde.ch
Thank you all for your valuable comments. What makes the difference in price is - many parts tailor made for us, not off the rack - look at a Bionx hub and our hub - this is day and night in looks - Italian Columbus tubes - No China factor. For quality reasons we work in Switzerland. - Many useful and stylish accessories of highest quality. So please stay to the hard facts and do not become emotional about the price. Best regards, Peter Founder of velocipede-fogliaverde