Usually, it is considered a certain privilege when hobby and profession can be combined. Those who agree will think of Martin Fleischhauer as privileged. The 50-year-old has done so. Or something like that. Actually, he has combined one job with a second, new one. In his project Maniac&Sane, he creates cargo bikes. And in doing so, he mixes experience from more than 25 years of cycling with his expertise in lightweight construction as a doctor of engineering.
Most of the day, Martin Fleischhauer runs a company in Darmstadt. This supports other companies and institutions in the development of lightweight structures made of fibre composites. As a service provider, he deals with how special parts might look in the first place and how they can later be manufactured as efficiently as possible. In his spare time he takes part in events like the Austria eXtreme Triathlon, collecting metres of altitude like other gentians. And in the remaining time – apparently there is some – he makes one of the lightest cargo bikes that have come onto the market in recent years. Two versions – with and without e-drive. In for a penny, in for a pound. Sounds crazy. Fleischhauer probably has a similar opinion and that’s probably why he called himself Maniac&Sane.
The electrified craziness, i.e. the motor-assisted cargo bike, is called “Sane”. If this longjohn were a horse, it would probably be called scraggy at first glance. Translated into the world of bicycles, this means minimalistic. In any case, obviously weight optimisation has been one of the most important criteria in the design. The Sane looks as sporty as an endurance athlete. On its website, the manufacturer also openly admits that the focus of the cargo bike was unmistakably on the essence of the BIKE.
Not surprisingly, the frame is made of carbon. In regard to the currently still manageable number of pieces, this is done by hand in Germany. According to Maniac&Sane, it weighs only 4.4 kilograms in the end. That’s almost two kilograms less than the Kàro from Velo Lab. With its internally routed cables and flat frame design, the result is a striking, almost futuristic appearance.
Various freedom guards
In contrast, the dimensioning of the e-cargo bike is quite classic, with the 26-inch wheel at the rear and the 20-inch wheel at the front. For a Longjohn, these are familiar figures. The Sane also features a suspension fork with 80 millimetres of travel from the US manufacturer Spinner. Despite this concession to increased riding comfort, the bottom line is a total weight of just 22.8 kilograms. Almost any trekking ebike would be proud of this value.
The Sane is not dedicated to any explicit purpose. In principle, the flat bed with its 82 centimetres in length and just under 48 centimetres in width allows for all sorts of things. Airline rails run along the long sides on the left and right. There you can securely fasten belts, racks and other constructions. Given the maximum permitted load of 100 kilograms, this also opens up sufficient leeway for commercial use. At the same time, one thing is certain: due to its flatness, you will have to help yourself to a certain extent with this cargo bed if you want to transport loose parts on it.
Manoeuvrable through everyday life
Regardless of the load, the Sane should be very pleasant to ride. Its steering angle of up to 90 degrees, for example, supports this. This results in a turning circle of 2.42 metres. With an overall length of 2.62 metres for the bicycle, this is quite respectable. The turning circle of the only slightly longer Cluuv model is almost 30 centimetres more. And its handling already impressed us during the test ride. Like the Cluuv, the Sane also employs cable-operated steering. You won’t see any of it, though, as it is fully integrated into the frame. In order to keep maintenance to a minimum, there is nothing to be said against it.
Powerful thrust from behind
So, you can check the box for agile manoeuvring when the road is somewhat crowded again. For rapid progress ensures the rear wheel hub motor Z20 from Neodrives. With its torque of only 40 Newton metres, it always seems a little modest at first compared to the values that are usually called for on e-cargo bikes. However, since the power is applied directly to the rear wheel axle without much loss, it is definitely on a par with the mid-mounted motors from Shimano, Bosch and others.
The battery is located directly under the cargo bed. This low position also contributes to a balanced riding experience. To charge the battery, remove it from underneath and charge it wherever you like. Alternatively, you can connect the charger while the battery is still attached to the bike. Due to its capacity of 626 watt hours, the range should be comparatively long. Especially when there is nothing to transport and you only have to move yourself and the 23 kilograms of the ebike. A small drawback of the drive is the rather unimaginatively designed display by Neodrives. It doesn’t really fit in with the otherwise very stylish Sane.
Choice between chain and belt
The standard version is equipped with Shimano’s Deore XT derailleur with eleven gears. The brakes belong to the same group. At least at the beginning of the project, Martin Fleischhauer also simply went for a singlespeed with a carbon belt. It seems that such wishes can be fulfilled as well.
As far as the other equipment is concerned, you can choose components and parts as you wish. Maniac&Sane follow the custom-made approach. Consequently, the bike is not pre-configured down to the last detail, but much can be arranged flexibly during the purchase. This includes, for example, having the frame made in a colour of your choice.
Next model already in sight
Maniac&Sane has a lot planned for the coming year. The second cargo bike in the range, the Maniac, is to be upgraded with an electric drive. Two variants are conceivable. Either analogue to the Sane with the system from Neodrives – or with a system from Mahle. Then perhaps even with a fully integrated battery. The latter sounds quite exciting from our point of view.
With the Sane, the current version could possibly be joined by an S-pedelec. In this case with a Z20 RS motor. However, these plans do not seem to have been finalised down to the last detail. At least Maniac&Sane have already built a test bike with this configuration. The price would probably rise again compared to the current 11,995 euros for the current Sane.
Does expensive also mean too expensive?
So, in the end we can’t avoid talking about the price. Around 12,000 euros is a hell of a lot of money for a bike. Certainly, too much for many people. There is no getting around that. At the same time, it doesn’t seem excessive. After all, Maniac&Sane is a small project that calculates with very small quantities. Under these conditions, the respective suppliers will not grant any great discounts. The large carbon frame is not available for free either. In any case, it is easy to understand why such a large sum is involved in the end. But who knows, maybe there are enough positive maniacs out there who have been waiting for a bike like the Sane.
E-cargo bike Sane by Maniac&Sane at a glance
- Frame: Carbon
- Motor: Neodrives Z20
- Battery: Neodrives V8
- Display: neoMMI 20c
- Suspension fork: Spinner 300
- Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT
- Brakes: Shimano Deore XT
- Tyres: Continental Contact Urban
- Length: 262 cm
- Weight: 22.8 kg
- Maximum load capacity of cargo bed: 100 kg
- Maximum permitted total weight: 200 kg
- Price: from 11,995 euros
Pictures: Maniac&Sane GmbH