By on August 16, 2011

At the Frankfurt Motor Show (13 – 25 September 2011), Daimler will show a bicycle. A lot of manufacturers have shown two-wheeled design studies at shows. This one will go on sale. In Frankfurt, you will see a “near-series version of the smart ebike,” as Daimler’s press release says. The ebike will be launched in the first half of 2012 and will initially be marketed by dealers in Europe and North America.

The lady on the bicycle doesn’t come with the bicycle. She is Daimler’s smart CEO Dr. Annette Winkler. The bike will be sold under the smart brand. According to Frau Dr. Winkler,

 “The smart ebike is a true smart – but on two wheels. It’s not just an extremely well designed bicycle that is sure to draw admiring glances in the city – it’s also really practical and child’s play to ride. Anyone can zip through town on it with or without exerting themselves – depending on their fitness level and as the mood takes them. And it’s even easier to find a parking space than with the smart fortwo.”

Strictly speaking, the bike is a hybrid vehicle – in a way: the electric motor switches on as soon as the rider provides muscle power and starts pedaling as with a normal bicycle. The rider decides how much power he wants to send from the 400 Wh the lithium-ion battery to the 250 watts electric motor. Like a good EV, the bike will re-gen brake energy.

Range? “Depending on the power level selected and the manner of cycling a battery charge can last for more than 100 kilometers” (62 miles) says the press release.

It even comes with built-in biker’s distraction! A USB interface is a standard feature. An iPhone app is in the works.

Price? Says Annette Winkler: “The smart ebike is a real high-tech product and its price of less than €2,900 in Germany will make it a very attractive option.” That’s $4,169.91 at the current rate.

Oh dear.

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42 Comments on “Mercedes Too Expensive? Get This One...”


  • avatar
    rnc

    Actually Germans seem to love thier bikes, my ex-boss didn’t buy his first car until his mid 40′s and only purpose was for summer drives and assisting in his ability to get laid.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Jeez, with styling like that, it’ll be a runaway best seller!

    Cue 1954.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Mercedes is in the transportation business. A bicyle is transportation. Now, what they need to do is figure out how to keep the damn bike from being stolen in front of every pub, kino, kneipe, bar, and football stadium on the Continent.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      Considering it has an actual engine, you’d think it’d have an immobilizer.

      Still, if you are spending that much on a bike, you can get two of the best bike locks.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Hopefully it has a better shifting transmission . . . . . . .

    Seriously, I’d like to take a look once they come to the US. My 21-speed Schwinn (kept at work for lunch time errand running) could always use an upgrade.

    • 0 avatar
      blowfish

      i am sure any engineer can build much better & complicated transmission, but if it became more expensive then is only reserved for the haves.
      Dont forget to us is a toy, to most have nots its the only way of getting around, only few yrs ago folks move a big couch by a bike in Middle kingdom.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Yeah, this Smart-e-bike isn’t aimed at the developing nations market, either, where the asking price will get you a new compact car or used Hilux.

        Seriously, people, it’s for the same douchebag yuppie crowd as the Smart car. It’s not for developing nations who can’t afford a car, it’s not for the “Don’t Tread On Me” crowd to get when they would rather have a Harley but the damn gubmint regulators are somehow getting in the way, and it’s not for practical cost-effective transport, where a normal bicycle will do the job at about one fiftieth of the price. It’s a stupid, useless branding exercise.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    I am going to hold out for one with the large front wheel. Being up higher will make me feel safer…

  • avatar
    Garak

    Meh, too expensive. You can get a decent E-bike for 1000 euros or less.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Yep, found a kit with a 750 watt hub for a couple hundred bucks a couple years back. Got it when my commute was only 6 miles, finished assembling it after I took a job >20 miles away.

      Whoops! Still fun/fast as hell, even with the SLA batteries that weigh more than large children.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s the only way Mercedes can meet future CAFE standards and still be ‘Mercedes’.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    That much money can get you a new CBR250, a used CBR600, or a damn nice road bicycle where people won’t point and laugh at the electric assist.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      This++.

      No reason to buy this when it costs as much as a motorcycle, also has 2 wheels, can’t keep up with traffic (more dangerous) and is still counted as a “motorized vehicle” for park purposes….

      Who is Mercedes trying to sell this to?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I guess people who want to be unlicensed and uninsured. Gas engines are plagued by regulations. Electric motors are smiled upon by the same people who think you should wear a helmet in the shower.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        A scooter with less than 50cc of displacement is just as unregulated as an electric assist bicycle, and will be just as easy to park and far, far cheaper.

        But yeah, CJ, I’m sure people are just going to snap up this thing because of dem dere gubmint regulations! We all know that the people who complain incessantly about the government taking away their rights are the perfect demographic for a $4100 Smart-branded electric assist bicycle.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        aristurtle,

        Not sure what state you live in, but sub 50 cc motorized vehicles have all sorts of regulations when used on roads, and are banned from being used off roads in public areas. Segways, mobility scooters, and electric bikes all get a pass on the boardwalks around the bay I live by. Someone on a gas moped would be arrested immediately.

        From the California DMV:
        A “motorized bicycle” or “moped” is:
        •A two or three-wheeled device, capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground, and equipped with:

        – Fully operative pedals for human propulsion.
        – A motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission.
        – An electric motor, with or without pedals for human propulsion. (CVC §406(a))

        Driver must have a motorcycle license (M1 or M2).

        •A “motorized bicycle” is also defined as a vehicle with pedals and an electric motor (not more than 1,000 watts) which cannot be driven at speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground even if assisted by human power. (CVC §406(b)).

        If you operate a motorized bicycle which meets the definition of CVC §406(b), you:
        – Must be 16 years of age or older.
        – Must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
        – Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver license, and moped plate requirements (CVC §12804.9). •A motorized bicycle is issued special license plates and identification cards, which requires a one-time $18 fee. No renewal is required.

        So the gas moped requires a motorcycle license and insurance while an electric moped doesn’t require a motorcylce or drivers’ license or insurance. Hmm… Which one of our posts was based in reality?

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Heh, I thought your name stood for South Dakota, you don’t seem like the San Diego type. Here on the other coast (well, MD, anyway, can’t speak for elsewhere), a class M license is not required for anything that

        “Has a motor with a rating of 2.7 brake horsepower or less or if the motor is an internal combustion engine, with a capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less.”

        (Maryland Code Section 11-134.5)

        They don’t require title, registration, licensing, or anything, same as an electric. You can’t ride them on any road where the speed limit is 50 or higher, that’s all. If you’re on a public road you need a license of some class, but that applies to this electric moped as well.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. I had a moped when I was 13, and I can definitely say that it was illegal. That was a long time ago, but chances are that there are now more laws, not less. I can also say that where I live now is a huge market for motorized bicycles relative to Virginia or Maryland. Electrics do get a pass, just as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles are held to no safety standards while real cars carry hundreds of pounds and thousands of dollars of regulatory burdens to operate on the same roads.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Complaining about stupid laws in southern California is like complaining about the hot weather or the impending catastrophic earthquake; you should have realized before you went over there, and you know it’s not going to get any better.

        (And I’ve been seeing a ton of scooters and mopeds around here lately; probably the high gas prices combined with a sudden influx of good weather. Most of the riders are too stupid to wear helmets, though.)

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        I currently live in the Richmond, Virginia area. You can indeed operate a moped (defined as not more than 24″ high at the seat and less than 50cc displacement and slower than 35mph). I had a classmate in college that rode a miniature motorbike to and around campus and had to have all relevant sections of the Virginia Code memorized for the campus and town police that pulled him over. Mopeds are explicitly allowed to utilize bicycle lanes. Electric-assist and electrically-propelled vehicles are included in the definition of mopeds.

        Virginia Code 46.2-914. Limitations on operation of mopeds.

        A. No moped shall be driven on any highway or public vehicular area faster than 35 miles per hour. Any person who operates a moped faster than 35 miles per hour shall be deemed, for all the purposes of this title, to be operating a motorcycle.

        B. No moped shall be driven on any highway by any person under the age of 16, and every person driving a moped shall carry with him some form of identification that includes his name, address, and date of birth.

        C. Operation of mopeds is prohibited on any Interstate Highway System component.

        Violation of this subsection shall constitute a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of no more than $50.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        The point of a bike like this is to let people bicycle commute without blasting their legs and/or ending up drenched in sweat. You get the workout but you mitigate it to a reasonable level. You can get similar bikes for a couple of grand less; this isn’t a new idea.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        “The point of a bike like this is to let people bicycle commute without blasting their legs and/or ending up drenched in sweat.”

        The other nice thing is, you will never spot an e-biker wearing spandex. I think if bicyclists wore street clothes, people would find them much less objectionable. I know the last thing I want to encounter on a state road after a 10+ hour workday is a flock of dude’s asses riding 2-deep, clogging up the path between me and a well-deserved cold beer.

        You can factor in the electric motor as one of the many good, enjoyable things in life that CJinSD seems to have a beef with.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Hmmm … priced like a Segway (and we know how well that worked). What are its advantages over much less expensive e-bikes?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Uh, it says Mercedes-Benz on it?

      All of the upper class Euro brands sell branded bikes – the BMW one cost just as much as this and YOU supply ALL the pedal power. yes, they are all silly money, but they sell all of them they bother to make.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Anyone suffering from sticker shock should consider the Cadillac bicycle. It’s, well, it’s the Cadillac of bicycles!

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/a-new-cadillac-hybrid-for-under-200/

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Ah, that’s great, they designed an overpriced delivery bike that virtually all Chinese restaurants in NYC already use, which you can buy for under $400.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Best to try to stay well under $400 when you consider how often they’re stolen. A friend of mine was a champion of tiny gas engined scooters for bar duty in Newport Beach. Not Vespa style scooters, but more along the lines of weed-whacker meets Razor. I think they were about $150. After the first one got stolen, the next few were in his possession for between hours and days. I’m pretty sure he finally gave up.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “And it’s even easier to find a parking space than with the smart fortwo.”

    It would be easier to find your parked smart fortwo when you’re done drinking coffee though. I have a bike that wouldn’t cost too much less to replace than this electric. I try to avoid replacing it by never leaving it ‘parked’ anywhere. My next door neighbor had a nice citybike. Not an electric, but sort of a high end beach cruiser with a plantary gearbox and expensive components. Gone. Another friend had a nice high end citybike he used to commute to the firehouse. Gone. When I’m out for excercise, I ride my Trek 8500. When I have a destination, I ride a $99 beach cruiser. You can’t save much money on fuel by giving thieves an opportunity to make off with $4,000 of your transportation budget for the price of a bolt cutter.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      I wouldn’t lock up my found/rebuilt bike with a cable lock. Since theft has already been mentioned a bunch of times, I have to ask: do people in this thread know how to lock up their bikes?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        There is no lock sufficient to stop a motivated thief. If people start commuting on $4K bikes, thieves really will carry liquid nitrogen when they’re out stalking. Do you remember Kryptonite? Back in the day, they would pay your deductible if your bike got stolen. Then someone figured out that if you took a solid 6 foot bar and machined a deep pocket in one end of it with a gouge cut to go around the yoke, you could pop horseshoe locks like walnuts. They called it the New York Method, and Kryptonite had to reneg on their warranty to stay in business. Even when thieves can’t snap your locks, they’ll remove every component that can be taken. Could batteries have resale value?

      • 0 avatar
        tallnikita

        It’s a pain but I carry a kryptonite chain that weighs around 20 lbs, even had to buy a backpack to drag it around. Plus a cable lock for the second wheel. On a busy street, it’s would be a hassle to cut those up to take my bike. But, who knows, people are pretty desperate nowadays. I see some seriously sweet bikes riding food delivery, wonder where they got them.

      • 0 avatar
        Neb

        Tis a good point about bike thieves, but that’s still no excuse for having a cable lock. I used to live in the bike theft capital of Canada (Saskatoon). There may have been one or two thieves who actually knew bikes that they’d target the expensive ones, but most of the thieves were drunks and drug addicts who’d just steal anything. The upshot is that because drunks and druggies have poor planning skills, they only cut cable locks, so even with a cheap u lock your bike was safe. Wheels did get stolen, but only from bikes with disc brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Neb

        That said, it *is* a serious drawback with bikes, especially expensive ones. If you are supposed to spend 50% of the bike’s worth on a lock, then really when you get bikes like this Smart bike, you are screwed. Short of those bike lockers at metro stations, there’s no such thing as $2000 bike lock.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        I keep my Dura-Ace equipped bike locked up even when it’s in my garage. Out of the house, it stays with me. It’s a great bike, but not useful for errands or commuting.

        However, I think I found a great solution to for the theft issue. I’m thinking about getting a full sized folding bike along with a case for commuting and errands. The starting price is < $600 and they can be taken on Boston's MBTA public transportation system any time of day. My favorite is Montague in Cambridge MA. It doesn’t fold as compactly as some of the smaller wheeled bikes, but the size is manageable, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take one on a 50+ mile ride.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      “It’s a pain but I carry a kryptonite chain that weighs around 20 lbs”

      I have one of those for my motorcycle. Then one day I lost the key to the lock. I won’t say how, but it took me all of 10 minutes to cut through that chain using a very common tool that doesn’t require an outlet. I haven’t used that chain since, I have insurance instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      Cable locks are good for keeping somebody from walking away with your bike while you are getting coffee. Beyond that you need at least one U-lock and possibly a second lock or chain depending on the skill and dedication of the local tea leafs. The family fleet are all low-midrange bike shop grade but we only leave them locked in nice areas or garaged and we’ve never lost one.
      I’m still thinking of digging out my old U-lock for commuter/utility duty since all we use now are light cables.

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    Cheaper to buy a tandem bike and hire a front seat pedaler. Plus he/she can watch the bike when you go into a store, so it doesn’t get stolen (or, if you’re in Deutschland, when you go into a bakery for stollen).

    See what I did there?

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    “Like a good EV, the bike will re-gen brake energy.”

    That’s nice. Most electric bikes don’t do that.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Regen from the rear wheel is near-useless, regen from the front wheel (where all the weight is during braking) is very complicated to pull off. Looking at it right now, they’re doing regen from the rear wheel only.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Would probably sell better if for the PR photos she pulled her hair back, and dressed like the classy-MILF she probably is, and not in a pant-suit with a hair-do that reminds me of the permanent wave my 75-something mother wears (or that together remind me of Hillary Clinton.)

    Oh, would probably also help if it were a heck of a lot less expensive.

    Typical Smart, too expensive for something Toyota will beat you at a few years after you launch it…. (I’ve got nothing against Smart, I happily drive one, but I recognize I’m in the minority.)

  • avatar
    Extra Credit

    It’s great to see the good doctor is doing well for herself. I really enjoyed watching her father as the Fonz. :)


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