Eurobike Show Daily 2021
Reading time 3:30 minutes

The Big Wobble Is Back

The poor riding characteristics of e-bikes can be solved.

Poor riding stability. Highly prone to wobble and oscillation even at low speeds. Unsafe riding behaviour with one hand on the handlebar as of 10 km/h.

Just a low step-through frame, a front or rear motor and a pannier rack battery – and the e-bike was ready. The other side of the coin was disastrous riding behaviour. Many of these early e-bikes were basically unrideable with luggage, characterised by poor directional stability when changing direction, oscillation on faster descents, and even handlebar wobble when the rider did not have a firm grip on the handlebars with both hands. Falls resulting in serious injuries led to court cases, compensation payments, articles in the special-interest press and, as a result, to a rethink on the part of the manufacturers and finally to significantly more stable e-bikes.

A decade later, it seems that manufacturers are putting the users at risk again. Today’s frame designs with integrated batteries, combined with rapidly changing user behaviour, are causing problems. In a sense, the story is starting again from the beginning. As if the industry had not learnt from its mistakes, the design is being changed just like that in an almost negligent manner and, what is more, the fact that luggage is carried much more frequently is being ignored.

In addition, sporty road racers or mountain bikers used to be alone in the mountains. Today, thanks to powerful drive units in combination with large batteries and charging possibilities at nearly every mountain inn, e-bikers climb far uphill. Only a few days ago, the author saw a group of older people with low step-through e-bikes at Bielerhöhe, the highest point of the Silvretta-Hochalpenstrasse (Silvretta High Alpine Road, one of the most popular panoramic roads in the Austrian Alps), all of them with full pannier bags.

High riding stability. Safe riding behaviour even with only one hand on the handlebar at 35 km/h and faster.

It’s not only our industry that wants a higher share of cycling in traffic and travelling. For this reason, the use of e-bikes should no longer be related to the skills of active athletes only. As an industry, the electric drive not only offers a great chance for us, but also means that we have to face the challenges.

Complex interrelationships – solved by testing

It is not a simple matter to cope with the complex oscillation behaviour of electric bicycles. Nevertheless, it can be solved. It basically makes sense to increase the frame stiffness, but this is not yet a guarantee for a good ride. The centre of gravity position, the frame geometry, the pannier rack connection, the fork and the wheel stiffness are further factors which must be optimised in terms of interaction.

Read the entire article here.

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