If we talk about electric recumbents, most of us will imagine electric trikes. These are perfect for adding an electric motor. All you have to do is replace the rear wheel with a version with an electric motor or replace the front boom with one with a mid-drive. Of course, it is not so simple, it is still necessary to mount the battery somewhere and, especially in the case of folding trikes, to solve the routing of cable harnesses inside the frame so that frequent folding does not break them. However, unlike upright bikes, recumbent bike manufacturers have it all a little easier. At least as far as frame construction is concerned. There is no need to adapt them to electric motors and to create new models of purely electric recumbents. And this is what you can see in the offer of most large manufacturers. You can have one and the same model with or without the engine.
However, this does not apply to LWB (long-wheelbase) recumbents. If you want to have an LWB recumbent bike with a mid-drive motor, you can add one of the ugly-looking after-market e-assist sets or you need to create a completely new frame. On its basis, a purely electric recumbent can be created later. And it was such a project that people from RANS, started to work on two years ago. More specifically Jonathan Garcia and Jerrell Nichols. The very popular Phoenix model with both 700c wheels became a basis of the project and it has been modified to have a more acceptable 20x700c wheel combination and to be complemented by the Bafang M400 engine formerly known as MaxDrive. The motor has a power of 350 W and a torque of up to 80 Nm. I know it myself, for example, from Tern folding e-bikes, and I would almost say that in some respects it surpasses even such giants as Bosch. At least that torque is tremendous. Also, the behavior of the engine itself is very cultivated and nothing will surprise you. That’s why Jerrell and Jonathan don’t expect this bike to be equipped with a throttle. Simply because it is not necessary. Another reason is the expected sales in Asia and Europe, where the use of the throttle is prohibited in many markets. Otherwise, the bike would require certification. Also, a driver’s license and insurance would be required to ride it. The E-Phoenix will thus be a classic pedelec, on which it will be necessary to pedal. What power will you use, will be up to you. The electric motor can help you a lot or only minimally.
Jonathan says of the E-Phoenix: “It is quiet, smooth, weight centered, nearly zero tiller and absolute perfection in the handling department.” And it was the geometry of the complete bike that was a big task for the team that participated in the development of this recumbent. The original Phoenix has both wheels with a size of 700c and therefore it was necessary to adjust the geometry for the front 20 “wheel. The head angle has been compensated for a smaller wheel. The head tube is taller by 48mm (almost 2″). Standover height is 19.25″ / 49 cm on E-Phoenix vs 20.5″ / 52 cm on the Phoenix 700. Wheelbase is 66.25″ / 168,3 cm and X-seam range is 35″ to 44.5 ” / 89 to 113 cm. If the project will be funded on Kickstarter there will be an XL frame size as well. Production will have a thru-axle for frame and fork and a tapered head tube. The frame weighs 1.6lbs more than a Phoenix 700. The maximum width of the tires is 20×2.2″ and 700x40c. In RANS, they tried to keep the center of gravity of the bicycle as low as possible. That’s why the battery is located very close to the motor and it does not tilt upwards, as usual, but rather slide to the side.
The beautiful green bike you see in the photos is the first sample that came from Taiwan. The production of the complete bike is also expected there. Mainly because the price can lower. Even lower than the non-electric version, which is produced in the USA. At least that’s the goal they set at RANS. Thanks to cooperation with Taiwanese manufacturers, it is also possible to produce a smaller series of bicycles. The MOQ (minimum order quantities) of e-assist manufacturers are huge and range from hundreds to thousands of pieces. However, because the Taiwanese manufacturer supplies e-bikes with the same engine to different brands of upright bikes, it is able to combine the orders together and supply also some small brands, so they can order only, for example, 50 bikes at a time. And this is also the case with RANS. After testing E-Phoenix, they plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to collect orders for at least 50 bikes. “The price is not known yet, but if we can make the minimum my current forecast is just under the 4k (USD) range. The non-electric hand-built US-made Phoenix is 4.5k I would like to keep below that, if possible. That could change based on the current market and as our dollar may lose value by the time we can get them made. ” says Jonathan Garcia.
Let’s hope that the production of this bike will be financed through Kickstarter. It would be amazing to see the first purely electric bicycle in the offer of an important recumbent manufacturer, such as RANS.