I was pretty excited over the sporty Trek Phase e-bike concept that was displayed at Trek World 2009. Like the carbon fiber version of the Sanyo eneloop for the Japanese market, the Trek Phase concept bike challenged the common belief (in the US at least) that e-bikes have to look clunky, utilitarian, and uncool. I closed my post a couple years ago about the eneloop with a simple question:
“Who is going to be first to market a performance oriented carbon fiber e-bike in the US… Sanyo, Trek, or someone else?”
OK, the bike shown above is alloy, not carbon, but the answer is definitely someone else…Specialized to be specific. They have toyed with interesting e-bike concepts in the past, but the new Turbo, just launched in Spain, is definitely an e-bike that is aimed at changing the category’s image problem. This is not an e-bike designed for aging riders who don’t want to pedal hard, but for young urban professionals who want to ride a bike that is fast, high-tech, and good looking (just watch the promo video if you don’t believe me).
Bike Hugger, Cyclelicious, and others were quick to mention the Turbo. All of the posts that I have seen this afternoon point back to the same source; Geir Anders’ Norway based Bysykling blog. Anders was at the launch in Valencia, Spain, and posted several good pictures of the bike. At the end of his post, he also lists complete specifications, for what sounds like, a pretty impressive bike. I suspect that we will be seeing a LOT more about this bike over the next couple days. I also expect to hear strong reactions in favor of, and against, the very idea of a hip, sporty, well designed e-bike. Regardless of what the e-bike critics say though, I can say without reservation that this is one new bike that I am very glad to see. I firmly believe that bikes like this have the potential to get people riding who have not considered doing so in the past…and that is what excites about design in the bike industry.
Update: I may have jumped the gun in my excitement about seeing a bike like this on the U.S. market anytime soon. Bike Radar reports: “In a letter to press and dealers, product manager Marc Faude admitted: Due to regulatory requirements, there are many markets, including the USA, where the Turbo (with a top assisted speed of 28mph) is simply too fast to be legal.” Perhaps an alternate legal 20 mph max version will be available here though. We will have to wait and see.