E-bike boom takes on many unique forms at Taipei Cycle Show

Brands are becoming more adventurous as the popularity of electric bikes continues to soar, leading to rare designs and new innovations

Clock10:00, Tuesday 12th March 2024
E-bikes have taken on many different forms

© GCN

E-bikes have taken on many different forms

It’s always difficult navigating the seemingly endless number of stalls at a cycle show. There’s so much to see, it can be overwhelming trying to pick things out and it’s impossible to discover everything.

That was the case at the recent Taipei Cycle Show which delivered on its billing as one of the biggest and best cycle shows in the world, serving up over 950 exhibitors across 3,500 stalls - there was certainly plenty to see.

It made for a busy few days as we scurried around the different booths in an attempt to sniff out any unique, interesting or new tech in the cycling world. When the time came to hunt for e-bike tech, our task became much simpler. 

Every twist and turn seemingly delivered a row of e-bikes, many of which had taken on rare forms. Many stalls that didn’t have e-bikes instead showcased their electric technology, and it was hard to find many areas in the three vast halls that didn’t contain a strong e-bike influence.

If it wasn’t apparent within a few minutes of entering the show, it was abundantly clear by the end that we are firmly in the era of the e-bike, and if what we saw is anything to go by, there’s still plenty of room for further growth, although perhaps not in the ways we might expect.

Here’s a look at five niche e-bikes we spotted at the show, plus some more regular designs.

Specialized enters e-cargo bike market

One of the newest e-bikes on show belonged to Specialized which has hopped aboard the increasing cargo popularity and added an e-bike twist in the form of the Turbo Port.

An e-cargo bike isn’t a new invention but they’re still fairly uncommon, although that could be set to change in the future. A recent study has highlighted the effectiveness of e-cargo bikes in urban settings, finding that they ship goods faster than vans in London. If only 10% of London’s van journeys were replaced by e-cargo bikes, it would prevent 133,300 tonnes of CO2 and 190.4kg of NOx entering the atmosphere each year, according to the study. So, e-cargo bikes could lead to some significant environmental benefits if they catch on.

Specialized’s offering is a mighty beast and pictures don’t quite do its size justice, but that size goes hand-in-hand with practicality. It’s what Specialized calls a ‘long-tail’ design which provides additional loading capacity at the rear of the bike. Including the rider, the bike has a maximum load capacity of 200kg. On a regular push bike that would be a hefty bulk to drag up any inclines in the road, which is why Specialized’s decision to take the e-bike route makes perfect sense.

Hiland’s e-bike defies a category

Hiland’s offering is definitely an e-bike, although we’re not sure what category it falls into - not that a bike necessarily needs a category, although it does help.

According to the tag that was displayed on it, it’s a fat e-bike, giving a clue to the bike’s first noteworthy feature in the form of four-inch wide tyres. As we'll see, this bike’s use of fat tyres is far from the most outlandish we’ll encounter, and there were far more intriguing design choices, namely the frame and seat.

We’ll start with the saddle which the frame is clearly tailored for, although we’re not sure ‘saddle’ is the right term here. A seat maybe? Or a bench? Whatever it is, you’d have no problems squeezing a few extra passengers on which we’re presuming is the purpose here.

We didn’t measure it, but the ‘saddle’ must be getting on for a metre long and a traditional seat post wouldn’t be up to the task of supporting such a mighty component. That’s why it sits atop a long, straight top tube, which is supported by a bulky seat tube - virtually every tube on this bike could have the ‘seat’ tag applied.

Whatever it is designed for, Hiland’s e-bike certainly stood out from the crowd.

OOECAGO cargo e-bike with a twist

Specialized’s take on an e-cargo bike was along the lines of what we expected, but C-Tech’s certainly wasn’t. Its OOECAGO electric bike offers an interesting new approach to cargo bike design, but one which it says delivers “flexible mobility day in and day out, with comfort, simplicity and freedom from hassle”.

It is easy to see what the thinking behind the design is, with the extended frontal area of the bike providing space for storage. A need to support this front-loaded design is presumably why C-Tech opted for a reverse tricycle design.

We didn’t find out how adjustable the set-up was but the saddle to handlebar height doesn’t appear to provide the most comfortable set-up, but we’re presuming it can be raised.

MATE’s electric bike of many talents

We’ve struggled to define some of the bikes in this list, but we have the opposite problem with MATE’s full suspension, folding, electric, fat bike - that’s a lot to cram into one name.

Okay, this arguably makes it just as hard to define - one for the off-road specialists who want to hop onto public transport at the end of their ride, maybe?

Whatever the bike’s purpose is, there’s no denying that it invokes the inner child hidden within all of us and it looks like it would be plenty of fun to ride, if not also sometimes a little scary.

The bike’s design is headlined by 4-inch tyres, a pivot on the top tube to fold the frame in half, plus a rear hub motor.

Hyena Air’s compact design for road bike performance

From the outlandish back to something more ordinary. Hyena’s Air isn’t included on this list because of its strange design, just because we thought it looked great.

On first appearances, you may be questioning why it is even included on this list at all. After all, there are virtually no signs that it’s even an e-bike. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, it’s just that the Air rear-hub motor system is so compact that it’s completely hidden by the cassette.

Visually it looks great but it also comes with performance benefits too, tipping the scales at only 1.3kg. Road bikes are more geared towards performance and hefty motor weights can be a big obstacle to overcome for brands, but Hyena’s only adds 1.3kg to the overall weight of the bike. Sure, on a regular bike that would be a significant amount of added bulk, but for an a-bike that’s barely anything, especially since the said motor will provide assistance to help carry its weight over any climbs.

Explore more tech news, features and pro bikes on the GCN website.

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