Woman jumps in the air holding an Equal e-bike

The Equal Bike. Finnish. Affordable. Inventive.

An e-bike for only 100 euros? For some people this might be a dream come true. The Equal Bike is not quite that cheap. But for just this 100 Euros you can now reserve one of the first pieces of this completely new e-bike for the city.

Interview with background information on the Equal
What we noticed
Technical details at a glance

If the name Equal Bike doesn’t ring a bell, don’t be confused. Behind it is a start-up from Finland’s capital Helsiniki. Both visually and conceptually it is based on what competitors such as Cowboy, Vanmoof and Modmo are offering. So we are talking about a rather purist e-bike for everyday use in an urban environment:

  • A battery with relatively low capacity, which is inconspicuously integrated into the bike due to its low weight and small dimensions
  • Ranges of around 50 kilometres, which requires regular recharging
  • Completely equipped with lighting system and mudguards
  • Small motor installed in the rear wheel hub, which requires relatively little maintenance
  • Extremely resilient and durable belt drive
  • Minimalist control unit for the electric drive without a separate display
  • Total weight of the e-bike of significantly under 20 kilograms

In short, the Equal Bike wants to be one of those hassle-free e-bikes that are reliable, almost intuitive to ride, but always have that little bit extra that makes them unique. This is a segment within e-bikes that is currently growing noticeably and is expected to be highly competitive in the years to come. Talking to us, Andriy Sytnyk, co-founder of Equal Bike, explains how his bike is going to compete in this segment, how far his team has come with the development and how the name of the bike came about.

Andriy Sytnyk founder of Equal Bike

Andriy Sytnyk, founder of Equal Bike

Andriy, the first thing people notice about your bike is usually its name. You have chosen “Equal”. How did this come about?
When brainstorming different ideas, we noticed that the word “equal” popped out many times. For example, it’s equally comfortable when cycling uphill or on flat terrain. At the same time, we think that our key innovation is the software. We love this symbolism a mathematical sign like the equals sign expresses. The name of our bike goes hand in hand with our product vision, which guided us through the design. Due to our approach to preserve the purity of a regular bicycle, there is another way to interpret the name: Its sleek design attracts attentions, the bike is lightweight, affordable, simple to use and to maintain – all these characteristics connect our e-bike with a regular one. Just as they are equal.

Despite the name, you certainly want to stand out from the pack, like VanMoof, Cowboy, Modmo, etc. Which details qualifies your bike to do so?
It might sound a bit vague, but I believe Equal bike is the most balanced e-bike for an everyday commuter. It’s the best-looking pedelec, which includes a removable battery. It’s the most affordable one with an intuitive pedal assist. Vanmoof and Modmo aren’t even using torque sensors and rely on outdated cadence sensors. Vanmoof and Cowboy cut corners, for instance with offering one-size-fits-all frames. That’s a word existing only in marketing and not in realistic cycling. We go an extra mile paying attention to small details. Not all of them are noticeable at first glance, but contribute to an excellent user experience.

 

Can you give us an example of what you mean?
Think about the StVZO-approved integrated lights. Riding Cowboy, Modmo, or Vanmoof you need to have separate approved lights in Germany. Our charging dock-station which enables charging when the battery is removed as well as when it is installed. The mobile connectivity, even though you can use the bike even without the app. We do share a lot in common: hydraulic disc brakes, belt drives, even if we offer them only as an optional upgrade. At the end of the day, our price starting at 1.490 Euros makes the Equal bike appealing to quite a broad range of consumers.

You’ve founded your company in spring 2019 and finished first prototypes of the bike in summer 2020. How did you manage to progress that fast?
My co-founder Serhii Yatsuk and I started working on Equal in summer 2018. In the beginning, on a part-time basis. After registering the company in October 2019, we switched to full-time, expanded our team and spent a year finalizing our engineering prototype.

How many people have been working on major components of the bike like the adaptive pedal assist and the removable in-frame battery you developed by yourselves in-house?
Currently, we are a team of six, mostly engineers.

What is your professional background to get these things done on your own?
My co-founder is a brilliant electronics engineer and the guy behind the development of our controller with a proprietary assist algorithm. Our design engineer Vladyslav Serhiienko developed a lockable clamping device that makes it possible to easily remove the battery. This device combines a handle with locking and clamping mechanisms and was invented, engineered and patented by us. The mobile app is also developed in-house by our software engineers. Additionally, we are partnering with industry-leading vendors, which complement us with their expertise.

Can you give us some insights on the algorithm, which you’ve mentioned is the key to your adaptive pedal assist?
We don’t yet disclose how exactly our algorithm works. Since we are filing a patent application, we can’t publish those details. But in general, that is a type of adaptive assist where the motor automatically adjusts assistance to intuitively support the rider. And we believe our algorithm offers a smoother and more energy-efficient ride.

 

Where are the different parts of the manufacturing realized?
Design, engineering, final assembly and quality control are implemented in Europe. However, individual components come from all over the world, mainly from Asia. We use hub-motors from a Chinese company named Aikema. Our custom batteries and controllers are manufactured in Vietnam. Raw frames come from China’s biggest frame manufacturer. It is the same one, which supplies all the other major bicycle manufacturers.

At the moment, is the Equal Bike ready to go for mass production?
We have released our engineering prototype and are now working closely with our partners to set up the production. There are specific steps left before mass production can start. This includes engineering validation tests and production validation tests. That is why we expect to not deliver the bikes before summer 2021.

As a business you probably have a very concrete goal you want to reach with your pre-order. What number is it?
We expect to sell at least 1.000 bikes in 2021. The pre-order model helps us a lot in managing production and supply chains. Remember, we don’t sell one-size-fits-all bikes. Knowing the demand for each frame size is crucial for us.

Seeing how far you’ve already come indicates that you and your team share much quality. Why take the risks of designing your own bike instead of joining one of the already existing brands and manufacturers?
First of all, even though this sounds like a terrible cliché, we are truly passionate about cycling and technology. Apart from that, we know there are many ways to earn money more easily than founding your own e-bike brand. But being absolutely convinced by the existence of this huge gap between premium and cheap e-bikes, really drives us. There’s a demand and we want to satisfy it. We wouldn’t start this journey, if we were happy with the existing solutions.

What we noticed on the Equal Bike

  • Frame: very similar to the Vanmoof S3
  • Weight: in some cases, significantly below that of competitors
  • Seat clamp: also serves as tail light and lock for the “battery compartment”
  • Range: announced 50 kilometres is a good deal less than the competition
  • Motor: Concept of adaptive pedal assistance sounds promising, proof in practice is still pending

 

Seat clamp on E-bike Equal with tail light and safety lock for integrated battery

The seat clamp of the Equal is a tail light and safety lock for the integrated battery at the same time.

Technical details at a glance

  • Frame & Fork: Aluminum Alloy 6061, sliding dropouts, disc brakes compatible
  • Sizes: S (165-175 cm), M (175-185 cm) L (180-195 cm)
  • Color: Dark grey
  • Weight: 14,7 kg (size M)
  • Bottom bracket: Sealed BB with a torque sensor
  • Drivetrain (standard): KMC chain, 46T front, 16T rear
  • Drivetrain (optional): Gates CDX Carbon Drive, 55T front, 20T rear
  • Cranks: Alloy 165 mm (S frame), 170 mm (M, L frames)
  • Pedals: VP – Bauhaus
  • Stem: 90 mm
  • Handlebar: 610 mm
  • Brakes: Shimano, MT200 rear (hydraulic), UR300 front (hydraulic), 160 mm
  • Wheels: Alloy rims, 28 inch, 13G, 36H
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Road Cruiser, K-Guard, 37-622
  • Fenders: 45 mm, Aluminum, matte black
  • Seatpost clamp: Proprietary lockable seatpost clamping device
  • Lights: Integrated front and rear lights, StVZO-approved
  • Motor: 250 W / 40 Nm rear hub motor
  • Assist speed: 25 km/h
  • Battery: 225 Wh Li-ion battery, hidden inside the frame, removable for charging
  • Battery range: 50 km on average
  • Charging time: 3,5 hours for a full charge
  • Charger: Custom dock station, allows charging both when the battery is removed or installed
  • Connectivity: iOS and Android mobile apps
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Price: 1.490 Euro

The manufacturer has announced summer 2021 as delivery date. At the moment you can’t test the bike anywhere. If you still decide to reserve and pay a deposit, your money will be offset against the later purchase price. According to the current status, Equal delivers the bikes to all countries of the European Union as well as to Great Britain, Norway and Switzerland.

 

Pictures: Urban Cycles Oy

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