Even before it unveiled the plug-in hybrid Wrangler, Jeep was already planning on going electric. Naturally, we assumed the first electric Jeep would be a car or SUV. However, modern mobility doesn’t only involve cars. And, as Fox has proven with its shocks, automotive off-road tech also works with other forms of transportation.
Although electric scooters have proven something of a dud, bicycles are a popular car-alternative. Especially electric bikes, or ‘e-bikes’, which can keep up with traffic in the city, or in the snow. Which is why the first electric Jeep is an electric mountain bike.
The electric Jeep…bike?
The bike is being made by a company in Colorado called QuietKat, which makes a variety of other electric mountain bikes. The electric Jeep bike is based on QuietKat’s existing aluminum-frame RidgerRunner, which is a full-suspension, fat-tire mountain bike. Like the RidgeRunner, the Jeep e-bike has 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes, but the drivetrain’s been upgraded from a 9-speed to a 10-speed.
‘Full-suspension’ means, in addition to the front shocks, there’s an additional shock at the rear. The ‘fat-tire’ part refers to the 4.8”-wide tires. That may not sound like much compared to a car tire, but that’s roughly 4 times as wide as the typical road bike tire, according to REI. As Bicycling Magazine explains, these tires help bikes traverse a wide range of terrain, including deep snow, sand, mud, and gravel. Which is exactly in Jeep’s wheelhouse.
The ‘electric’ part of ‘electronic mountain bike’ is handled by a 750W motor, linked to a 696-Wh battery. The electric Jeep mountain bike is what’s known as a Class 2 e-bike. According to Bicycling, this means the rider uses a thumb throttle to either activate pedal-assistance or power the bike directly. This means, in the latter case, the e-bike functions almost like a moped. Top speed, either way, is 20 mph, and range is quoted as 40 miles.
If a 40-mile range and 20-mph top-speed seems low, the latter is actually limited by federal law. And that range is actually on the high end of what e-bikes deliver. However, if an electric Jeep bike isn’t your speed, another motoring company also recently released an e-bike.
Jeep isn’t the only motoring company with an e-bike
Ducati’s first motorcycle was actually just a bicycle with a gasoline motor. Swap out the gasoline for a battery pack, and you have something like a modern e-bike. More specifically, you get Ducati’s MIG-RR electric mountain bike.
Like Jeep, Ducati partnered with an existing e-bike company, in this case, Italian firm Thok. Motorcyclist reports Thok was actually co-founded by Livio Suppo, a former Honda MotoGP boss, and Stefano Migliori, a several-time world-champion bike racer. The RR is based on Thok’s existing MIG.
Like Jeep’s e-bike, the MIG-RR has an aluminum frame, full suspension, and hydraulic disc brakes. However, Ducati’s e-bike is pedal-assist-only, although riders can shift between multiple levels of assist on the fly. And while the Jeep e-bike is designed to go even where no trail exists, the MIG-RR is a speedy enduro, meant for quickly carving up and downhill trails. That’s why the Ducati e-bike’s tires are narrower.
Due to the MIG-RR’s intended goal, its 250W motor and 504-Wh battery are smaller than the Jeep e-bike’s, according to Cycle World. But, in the lowest assist mode, Eco, the range is larger, at 62 miles.
Should you get one?
E-bikes are significantly more expensive than similar non-electric bikes, and both Jeep’s and Ducati’s e-bikes are no different.
The Jeep e-bike will go on sale in June 2020, with a $6,299 MSRP. That price will likely be higher for customers, as the bike is also compatible with a wide range of optional racks, lights, bags, and other accessories. As of this writing, the MIG-RR has only started becoming available at select Ducati dealers. In Europe, however, it retails for about $6,970.
Due to the motor and battery, both of these bikes are rather heavy. The electric Jeep bike weighs about 80 lbs, and the MIG-RR just under 50 lbs. And when the battery runs out, it’s your own muscles doing the pedaling.
However, having ridden several e-bikes, I can say that the motor transforms the bicycling experience. Hills and inclines become something you conquer while laughing, feeling like you discovered cycling’s cheat code. The weight of added cargo, like groceries or packages, disappears. And 20 mph is definitely enough to keep up with city traffic.
In addition, the added boost of the motor means older people, or those with joint issues, can get more exercise, or run errands quicker. And while e-bikes may be priced like motorcycles while being slower, they’re also significantly lighter and easier to handle.
Jeep and Ducati also aren’t the only motor companies to get in on the e-bike scene. The Verge reports that Audi, BMW, and Harley-Davidson are all in the process of debuting their own e-bikes. So, if you’re interested in checking out the first electric Jeep, just do as Queen said, and get on your bikes and ride.
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