Feature-heavy Wau e-bike starts at an impressive US$749
Wau's eponymous e-bike is simple and tidy and packs in some impressive features for its price point, including batteries up to a kilowatt-hour, motors up to 500 W, integrated alarm and GPS tracking, and brake/indicator/headlight kits – with a ton of option-ups available.
One of the cheaper ways to get into the whole e-bike thing seems to be backing a startup's crowdfunding effort. Risky, perhaps, but then the startup scene is also where a lot of innovation is happening. One good example is the carbon-framed Nireeka ebike, which simply could never have hit the market at the price it did without crowdfunding.
Another is this slightly more conservative option, called the WAU, from a team based in London. At its core, WAU is a simple machine – an aluminum tube-framed roadbike with a rear hub motor (either 250 or 500 watts, and they've used a TruckRun motor) and a removable 36-volt battery taking up much of the space in the center of the triangular frame.
This arrangement allows the fitment of battery options from 10.5 Ah up to a whopping 24.5 Ah, which at 36 volts ends up offering around a kilowatt-hour of energy storage, giving you a pedal assist range up to 100 miles (161 km). That's a big ol' range, more than sufficient for daily commuting, and the average butt will get sore long before you trouble the reserves of the battery.
So the platform is pretty solid, but the real fun here is what goes on top, like the brake/indicator lights, which are a great idea. I'm not sure about where you ride, but the main arterial bike path in my part of town can get pretty busy at peak hour, and passing slower bikes has its own whole etiquette to it, complete with hand signals that require you to take a hand off the bars. The WAU bike has brake lights and indicators much like a motorcycle, meaning you can easily signal your intentions to riders behind you. There's also a high-intensity light bar up front for night riding. And why not? Might as well make use of that battery.
On top of that, there's a GPS security tracking system integrated into the battery box, which lets you locate your bike at any time through a smartphone app, and set geofenced areas so that if your bike moves, you'll get a phone alert. There's also an alarm, a remote key to wake the bike up, and a USB charge port.
Tires are Panasonic Pasela road hoops, with Comet off-roaders available as an option, while the drivetrain is an 8-speed Shimano kit and the brakes are Tektro discs.
There are option-ups aplenty. You can go for a full-color LCD display, a thumb throttle, heated handgrips, an upgraded Tektro brake kit, fenders, racks, suspension forks and seatpost, bigger batteries, an adjustable height handlebar stem, a fast charger, or a spunky 80s Vaporwave-style paint job with a gradient that goes from hot pink to electric blue.
The best news is the price; these things start from just US$749 with the 10.5-Ah battery and the 250-W motor, but you can move up to 500 W and a much more useful 15.5-Ah battery pack for US$949. Considering it's a hub motor – and thus less efficient than a mid drive – you'd probably want to opt for the bigger pack.
Take a look through the e-bike offerings of established bicycle companies, and you'll see that's a very solid undercutting of the kinds of prices you'd expect to pay in a store. If you're not the kind to roll up the sleeves and build your own e-bike, or roll the dice on an Alibaba Chinese special, this kind of deal is a cheap ticket into the world of emissions-free, dial-in-your-own-level-of-exercise commuting – assuming the WAU team delivers on their crowdfunding campaign promises.
The WAU bike is fully funded, hitting more than double its goal already, and will begin shipping in December if all goes to plan.
Check out the video pitch below.