Electric bikes are increasingly falling into two categories. Most attempt to disguise the fact that you’re getting a speed boost from the rear-wheel motor, squirrelling the battery away in a discreet water bottle and leaving all around you to think that – as you zip off into the distance – you might just have really powerful legs. These are subtle ebikes, for cyclists with a strong sense of shame at the traffic lights.
Then there are those bikes that wear their electrification on their sleeve, announcing themselves with futuristic materials and space age design. The Trayser, from ETT in New Zealand, couldn’t turn more heads if it emitted a high-pitched human scream every time it moved. It looks like it hatched out of a robot egg laid by a beautiful Meccano swan. It looks like something Robocop would chase you down a canal path on.
Rather than bolting an electric motor onto a roadbike, ETT started with its existing electric moped design (the Raker) and worked backwards, resulting in a divisive look that, depending on your tastes, is either a monstrosity or an art piece. After some time to consider it, I’m relatively certain that I love the Trayser’s almost farcical science-fiction design.
The idea is that it’s modular, with the central bulk of the frame taken up by a whopping battery capable of powering you for 60 miles. Smaller battery units are available, and likely more practical for short London commutes. You can download and 3D print parts, such as mudguards, racks or phone holders. You can design entirely new parts to customise and adapt your bike.
If you’re unfamiliar with electrically assisted pedal cycles, they’re battery-powered bikes that give you a boost as you start pedalling. On low-assist settings it feels like riding with the wind at your back. On higher-assist settings it’s as if a vengeful ghost is pushing you along an airport travelator. The motor will stop accelerating at speeds of over 15mph – otherwise you’re entering moped territory – but you can always use your human meat-legs to go faster.
A quirk of the law means that the motor can only kick in while you’re pedalling, but unlike many ebikes Trayser allows you to pedal with minimal effort and still receive the full 250W force of the motor. Of course, you’re supposed to put some toil in yourself, but it’s way too much fun letting the motor do most of the hard work and zooming around London like some cyber-dandy from the year 3000. On the flipside, it’s near impossible to ride when the battery’s flat.
The five hour charge time is mitigated by that roaming 60 mile battery range – which will be useful in the future wastelands of ruined Britain when the only functioning electricity sockets will be hidden deep within a bunker beneath Downing Street.
This is an ebike that takes as much cycling out of cycling as it’s legally been able to. An enticing glimpse into a new generation of bikes, Trayser isn’t ashamed to be, and look, a little different.
Range: 60 miles (with minimal rider input)
Motor: 250W (0.33 hp)
Powered Top Speed: 15.5 mph
Battery: 42V lithium-ion
Charging time: 300 mins
Belt: Carbon Drive CDX Belt System
Frame: Aluminium Monocoque
Brakes: Dual Piston Calliper
Tyres: Duro 28 x 2.35 tyres