A normal folding bike offers two modes: unfolded means ready to go and folded means ready to park. Not so the Convercycle. But hardly any of you would describe this bike as ” normal”.
Folded it’s a city bike, unfolded it’s a cargo bike – that’s the Convercycle’s clou. Whether this idea actually catches on with interested parties worldwide will soon become clear. After about two years of start-up time, the project received the green light to begin series production a few days ago. The standards EN ISO 4210 for bicycles, DIN 79010 for cargo bikes and DIN EN 15194 for electric motor assisted cycles (EPACs) have been passed. This means nothing stands in the way of the market launch any longer.
Urban mobility today
Many bicycles today want to serve more than just one purpose. Every additional talent on the one hand enlarges the potential target group and on the other hand ensures that the bike consolidates its place in people’s everyday lives. The team around designer David Maurer-Laube also followed this direction. The focus was on city dwellers who travel even short distances by car, even though they are travelling alone. Why? Because they want to transport things. Things for which no car would be needed. Not even a cargo bike. At least not every day, on every occasion.
So, Maurer-Laube has designed a bike that meets precisely this need. To put it bluntly: to the supermarket with an ordinary bicycle and back with a loaded cargo bike. And with the Convercycle “Electric”, it also has electric assistance.
Transformation in seconds
As clever as the idea sounds, it could easily fail. Much stands and falls with the question: Can this transformation between the two types of bicycle be carried out comfortably and safely? From everything that has been seen of the bike so far, the answer is yes. To fold and unfold the bike, take hold of the saddle and pull it upwards. At the same time, press one foot against a catch on the rear wheel axle. At that moment, the rear wheel is magically pulled back under the frame and slides into a holder. With a little practice, this can be done within three seconds.
In the space thus created between the seat tube and the rear wheel, a 40 x 60 centimetre cargo area opens up. Low frame triangles border the sides and form a basket-like structure. It can hold a euro standard box, a beer crate, a baby car seat, a sports bag with your ice hockey equipment, etc. There is also some leeway in terms of weight. The bike is approved for a total of 180 kilograms. A maximum of 80 kilograms may be carried on the loading area. However, the bike itself weighs around 38 kilograms. According to Hoyle, that leaves 62 kilograms for the riders. Probably only a few of you will be able to use the maximum load.
Even the mudguard turns
When unfolded, the Convercycle is 2.75 metres long. Folded, it is almost exactly two metres. Since the load is behind you in cargo mode, the e-cargo bike should ride pleasantly unobtrusively in this mode. The steering behaviour, for example, is not affected at all. Another advantage is that the rear mudguard can be swivelled. As soon as you have unfolded the cargo platform, it can be released with a quick release and rotated 180 degrees to the rear.
And the folks at Convercycle have come up with something else. You can park the bike vertically. Only when folded, of course. This saves space, for example, when you take it with you on the train or park it in the bicycle cellar or garage. In this case, the Convercycle rests on parts of the rear frame construction. From a distance, this looks quite confidence-inspiring. Only the preparatory fitness programme to lift the 38 kilograms buoyantly causes us some concern.
Play it safe with steel
The frame of the Convercycle Electric takes it all in its stride. Made of commercially available chrome-molybdenum steel, it can take a lot. For the manufacturers, this was the best choice to ensure the necessary stability for all the tubes, some of which are quite long. In the early development phase, Convercycle probably also tried its hand at aluminium. In the tests, however, the material did not achieve the desired results.
Currently there is only one size of frame available. According to Convercycle, it fits people with a body length between 160 and 200 centimetres. The cargo bike rolls through the urban environment on 28-inch wheels with Schwalbe Marathon tyres. You will benefit from this decision especially in the folded version, because this is very close to the nature of a city bike.
Asian power unit in the front wheel
Nevertheless, the Convercycle Electric will hardly feel particularly lively when you ride it. The aforementioned 38 kilograms of total weight first have to be moved. Fortunately, there are electric drives 😉 This ad features a front wheel hub motor from Bafang. Its greatest advantage is clearly its gentle handling of the other drive components. Chainring and chain, for example, are subject to much less wear than is the case with e-bikes with mid-mounted motors.
Another plus point: due to its weight, the motor ensures that the balance of the entire bike is somewhat more level. The cargo structure already means a larger mass in the rear. With its position on the front wheel, the motor compensates for this somewhat. Due to the decoupling of the motor and the rest of the drivetrain, there are also suddenly many more hub gears that can be fitted. With a mid-motor, the choice would be limited to a five-speed hub gear from Shimano. Only this is approved for e-bike operation. But this gave Convercycle more freedom. In the end, the choice fell on the Shimano Nexus with eight gears and a 307 per cent gear ratio.
Do not plan tours that are too long
As usual, the Bafang motor has an output of 250 watts and a torque of 45 Newton metres. Its power can be regulated over five support levels. The battery, made by Phylion, is also from China. Together, this package will take you about 50 kilometres. At least that is what Convercycle calculates. The basic assumption is that the riders weigh 85 kilograms and carry a load of 60 kilograms. Without a load, the range should increase to about 60 kilometres.
The bottom line is that the Convercycle Electric certainly arouses curiosity. The approach to switching between a normal bike and a cargo bike clearly sets the bike apart from the crowd. With a view to the components, we could also imagine somewhat higher-quality solutions. However, given the price of 3,199 euros for the e-drive model and the fact that this is a small company in its infancy, that’s perfectly fine.
From what we hear, this is by no means the end of the story. A separate child seat, a child seat bench and a lockable crate are in the planning stage. There are also ideas for an off-road version and a model with smaller wheels.
Pictures: Convercycle Bikes Ltd.