Against gravity: riding uphill with the FRIKAR e-bike

by Podbike | July 31st

The road gets steeper and pedaling becomes more difficult. With an e-bike, riding uphill becomes much more pleasant, but it could be even better. If you want to ride an e-bike on bike paths, EU law allows you to be electrically assisted with a maximum of 250 watts up to a speed of 25 kilometers per hour.

On the flat, this is perfectly adequate, but on steep mountain roads, it is often too little. Even with the FRIKAR e-bike, we are not exempt from this regulation. In a short video, we show you how FRIKAR behaves on long uphill rides and our Podbike test pilot Christoph Kress reports on his experiences.

Riding uphill for a long time

An empty FRIKAR weighs about 90 kg. That is much lighter than a Tesla, but a lot heavier than a bicycle. The FRIKAR can haul a maximum load of 200 kg up an 18 percent incline. And in case, you don’t know, 18 percent is VERY steep! That will suck a fair amount of energy out of the battery pack. But the good news is that the battery will recharge itself going downhill.

See how it works in this video:

Despite its four tires and the weather protection of a car, the FRIKAR belongs to the vehicle class of pedelecs (bicycles). Therefore, it is allowed on the bike path, but must comply with EU legislation and the maximum allowed power of 250 watts is a limitation.

In the video below, the FRIKAR is ascending a hill with an average incline of 10 percent. It gets slower as the incline bites, but, as you can see, it conquers the hill with ease.

Riding uphill: Experiences of a test pilot

Christoph Kress has been riding one of the first test bikes to and from work every day since December 2019. He really appreciates the fact that he can ride the FRIKAR on a separate bike path: “I ride along the fjord here in Stavanger every day and am right by the water for long stretches, while the cars on the road are stuck in traffic jams during rush hour.”

Christoph rides 17 kilometers to work and another 17 km back home again every day. His route has some climbs on it, but even on the steepest one, he can still travel at 14 km/h as long as he pedals the whole time.

Christoph has also taken the FRIKAR for some official test rides in hilly terrain to see how the electric-assist motor would fare.

FRIKAR on snow next to the river
Test pilot Chritoph Kress rides the FRIKAR all year. On his way to work, he rides along the water.

The ebike for every weather

Before he switched to the FRIKAR, he rode a classic e-bike for nine years in good weather. He was able to ride faster on the steeper parts of his daily commute because the bike was noticeably lighter. However, he had to switch to the car when it rained or snowed. Today, he rides the e-bike all year round: “I also get on the FRIKAR when it’s pouring down outside. That’s no problem.” In one and a half years, Christoph Kress has covered around 7,000 kilometers on the Podbike FRIKAR. Whether he sweats on the way to work or not is up to him. “The way I want to arrive at work is the way I get on the FRIKAR in the morning. I don’t have to get changed.” But he would still be happy to have more engine power. That’s why we at Podbike are working on continuously improving the software to get even better results with the FRIKAR uphill. Because we can’t rely on possible changes in the law.

Conclusion: A change in EU law would be helpful

Riding with cars on the same road is rarely pleasant on a bicycle. Besides, bike paths are in most cases more beautifully situated than roads. For Christoph Kress in Stavanger, they even run right along the water of the fjord. For us at Podbike, it therefore makes no sense so far to offer the FRIKAR as an s-pedelec. Then twice as much power and speed would be possible, but we would no longer be allowed on the bike path and the e-bike would need an insurance license plate. The best thing would therefore be a change in EU law. Especially in hilly landscapes or alpine regions, more power would also ensure more safety and this is exactly what the LEVA-EU trade association is campaigning for.

LEVA-EU is the only trade association in Europe dedicated exclusively to light electric vehicles (LEVs), and it has already been able to make a difference: “In July 2020, TRL, the global center for innovation in transport and mobility, announced that the European Commission had asked them to revise the rules for all forms of light electric vehicles,” the trade association writes on its website. Whether and what the revision will change remains to be seen. Until then, we’ll have to settle for a maximum of 250 watts. We will of course keep you up to date! 🙂

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Pricing of FRIKAR E-Bike for Europe