A small and stylish-looking electric motor that clips to any bicycle in seconds aims to revolutionise the electric bike market.
Most conversion kits available currently weigh in at 10-15kg and require a toolbox and some skills in electronics and mechanics to install them. According to the designers of the Rubbee, most electric bike conversion kits make your bike look like a DIY experiment. The Rubbee X takes only seconds to clip into place and applies friction drive to the rear tyre. It boasts a wireless cadence sensor that tracks the rider’s input and adapts the level of electric assistance accordingly.
The friction wheel that drives the bicycle’s rear wheel is cast from a special polyurethane formula developed to provide maximum grip by rubbing as opposed grinding; hence the name, Rubbee.
The only sticking point for British users is the Rubbee’s power output – electric motor integrated inside the roller is capable of 350W, which is slightly higher than the 250w you have to keep to if you want your bike to remain a bicycle in the eyes of the law.
Electric bicycles…what’s the rub?
The price, range and practicality of electric bicycles makes them the most viable option for those wanting the benefits of a battery-powered vehicle today, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the market is already worth £5.5 billion a year and forecast to grow. There are a few possible explanations for why sales of electric bicycles in Britain remain relatively sluggish. We routinely overlook bicycles best suited to ‘utility cycling’ in favour of beautifully-styled racing and off-road designs – even cyclists who might really benefit from the occasional push from an electric motor are likely to be reluctant to swap their sleek hybrid, road bike or MTB for an electric model that is heavier and more cumbersome. In other words, a well-designed occasional electric motor like the Rubbee may find a ready market.
Spiritual successor to the Velo Solex
The simplicity, practicality and style of the Rubbee make it the spiritual successor to the Velo Solex. As iconic an image of traditional France as the beret or baguette, the ‘Velo Solex’ is the distinctive moped with a petrol engine over the front wheel of a bicycle that it’s still possible to spot in rural backwaters. The moped, which was available in any colour as long as it was black, recently underwent a dramatic makeover at the hands of Pininfarina, the designers best known for designing Italian supercars including Ferraris.
The need for cheap and reliable transport in the post-war years gave birth to the Velo Solex, Piaggio Vespa scooter and the Honda Super Cub; with over 60 million sales to date, the world’s best-selling motorised vehicle. The ungainly-looking original Solex was launched in 1946 worked surprisingly well and became hugely popular in France.
In its latest incarnation, the Velo Solex has swapped its small petrol engine for a rechargeable electric motor that can be charged via a standard 240v socket. The new Solex range comprises the Velosolex folding ebike, the Solexity low-step ebike and the e-Solex e-scooter. Prices range from £1,300 to £2,000.
An insurance company like no other
Not only are we Britain’s most ethical insurance company, we campaign for sustainable transport. Sometimes that means protesting until a school gets the zebra crossing they’ve been refused, or running 60 roadshows this year to encourage people out of their cars, or fixing bicycles for free. Supporting this work is easy – you simply have to take out cycle insurance with us, cover that just happens to be excellent.
Unlike other insurers we never devalue your bike. And if you ride a carbon bike, rest assured we will never have a cracked frame repaired – we will always replace your bike with a new one. How many other insurers can say that? Find out more
..and it’s not just cycle insurance that we offer. We provide home insurance, cycle insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover – all while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.