Polaris jumps into the electric bike market
By C.C. Weiss.September 24, 2012
When it comes to wheels, Polaris is already a well-recognized brand thanks to its line of off-roaders. Now the company is making the move into a new segment: electric bikes. Polaris has partnered with electric drive manufacturer EVantage in launching its own line of e-bikes. In fact, it dives into the market with lines for three different types of cyclists.
Polaris may be best known for its gas ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles, but the manufacturer also offers an electric option with its GEM line of four-wheelers. The new Vector, Strive and Meridian e-bike lines expand Polaris' electric footprint to the cycling market.
In developing e-bikes, Polaris teamed up with electric bike drive system manufacturer EVantage. It uses EVantage's DuoDrive system, which automatically switches between high-speed (SpeedDrive) and high-torque (TorqueDrive). SpeedDrive lets you cruise swiftly over flat, smooth terrain, and TorqueDrive kicks in when things get hilly or rough. Switching is handled automatically by the Smart Control hardware, so when the terrain changes, the bike adjusts, providing a smoother ride.
Polaris' e-bike powertrain combines pedal-assist and throttle drive. Cyclists can stop pedaling completely and use the throttle-controlled motor alone. In pedal-assist mode, built-in BioSync sensors measure the cyclists output and work with the smart controller to match or exceed that output with motor power. The system varies the power output to match the highs and lows inherent in a cyclists natural pedal rotation, which Polaris says makes the ride smoother and less jerky.
All Polaris e-bikes use a 450-watt brushless motor and a 29.6-volt lithium ProRide battery. The motor delivers speeds up to 18 mph, and the battery stays live for between 15 to 30 miles of range. Bicycle specs shared by all Polaris e-bikes include a 6061 aluminum frame, SRAM shifters and Suntour front suspension.
To get the most out of the battery, the Arc Regen system captures power lost from braking and when speeds exceed 19 mph and redirects it back to the battery. When regeneration is activated, the motor reverses course and serves as a generator, sending power to the battery.
An IC Dashboard mounted on the handlebars serves as a cyclist control unit and display. The cyclist selects his desired ride mode using the dashboard. The dashboard also displays trip information like speed, distance and battery range. A "carbon footprint savings" function calculates how many pounds of CO2 is saved by using the Polaris e-bike in place of a gasoline-driven car. The display also shows information about regeneration and bike maintenance when applicable. The throttle is located underneath the IC Dashboard.
Polaris' Vector line is a sort an off-road/urban hybrid designed for versatile performance. The Strive line is designed for touring comfort. The Meridian has European styling and extras like fenders and a front LED lighting system, aiming at urban commuters. All bikes are priced at US$2,500.