There’s a new entry into the world of e-bikes, and it’s not Raleigh; they’ve been offering a few models for a couple of seasons. No, the new player is Shimano. In 2014 they introduced their e-bike system, called STEPS, to the EU and are now rolling out in the U.S. The Raleigh model showed here is worth mentioning for a couple of reasons. The first is that this bike will retail for $3000, which is roughly $1000 less than a comparable bike using the Bosch system.
Like the Bosch system, STEPS places the motor at the bottom bracket which helps keep the center of mass for the bike low and balanced. It has no throttle; the only way to use the motor is by pedaling, and the assist is limited to 20 mph.
STEPS is a four-mode system: off, low, normal and high. Of all the e-bikes I’ve ever ridden this one felt the most like a normal bike with the system turned off. A little heavy, yes, but not impossible to pedal.
Shifting duties are performed by an 8-speed electronically shifted Alfine internal hub. And because this is a Shimano system, you can program the buttons to function however you want. I suppose that means that with every other shift, you can program it to increase the level assistance.
Shimano’s presence in the e-bike category is going to do a few things. First, it will make the category more competitive, bringing prices down. Second, elevate many consumers’ opinion of this technology in terms of reliability and serviceability; hell, it’s going to do that for many retailers. And given Shimano’s ability to produce in mass and it’s incredible reach as an OEM supplier, it means you’ll see these bikes at many more dealers.
The big news from Capo is visibility. Capo principals Gary Vasconi and Rob Carbone are always on the lookout for new materials to work with and while that’s great for comfort and fit, the big addition to their line are a number of fabrics that are highly reflective.
There’s rarely a week that goes by in which we’re not hearing a story either from friends or through the media in which we learn that yet another cyclist has been hit by a vehicle. Vasconi and Carbone are working Joes and family men, just like most of us. They need to get their rides in at the margins of the day and because they have people depending on them both at home and work, getting hit really isn’t an option. These new fabrics look great in normal light, not at all like the old materials from 3M, but hit the stuff with a light and it explodes in reflected light. So while Capo can’t sober up all the idiots on the road, they can at least make sure you’re not invisible.
Swagman is a rack company you may no have heard of. They are a Canadian company—Penticton, B.C.—that originated the hitch-mount rack and killed in the category until the original owners got distracted with other businesses. Swagman has been sold and the new owner is all-in. The company displayed a number of new racks, not to mention a number of different hitch-mount racks at different price points. The Semi 2.0, above, is a two-bike unit that caught my eye. It’s a sturdy rack that can accommodate carbon fiber bikes and is quick to load and a snap to fold up. They do a four-bike version of this rack as well.
On the left in the image above is a pickup truck bed mount. It features an expanding beam and a channel into which fork clamps fit. It’ll easily fit three mountain bikes or road bikes, or if the bars are fairly narrow, and the truck’s bed is full size, four road bikes are possible. Also interesting was the roof rack tray on the right which holds a carbon bike by the front wheel, just like a hitch mount rack.