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Bike’s Peak

Text
Regina Brand

Photos
Myrzik und Jarisch

Audi e-bike Wörthersee 

This magnificent piece of hi-tech defies categorization – It is more than a bicycle and more than a pedelec. DTM driver Miguel Molina takes the power two-wheeler of tomorrow for a spin today.

The blacktop is still wet from the overnight rain. This morning, heavy clouds are hanging between the green mountains around the race track in Spielberg, Austria. Preparations are fully underway for the DTM race scheduled to run in two day’s time on the Red Bull Ring. In the midst of all this hustle and bustle, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee is being unpacked. Miguel Molina, Audi driver in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) is already on the track and takes advantage of the opportunity. He grabs a hold of the futuristic two-wheeler, catapults the front wheel in the air, hops around for a moment on the rear wheel, balances for a few seconds and starts to grin. “A wheelie is child’s play with this bike. Where’s the applause?” he calls to his fellow race drivers.

The high-end sports machine has some extraordinary functions that facilitate an array of tricks and stunts. The wheelie mode makes riding on the rear wheel a piece of cake. During a wheelie, in-built sensors analyze the position of the e-bike and the driver’s weight in relation to gravitational force. Within just a few milliseconds, a control unit then regulates the power drawn from the electric motor. As if by magic, the e-bike holds the rider’s balance. Forward or backward movements can be evened out by the electric motor. “This control unit is an existing series-production part from the electronic stability system in the Audi A6. We modified it specially. In order to incorporate it into our e-bike, we had to reduce the size of the sensors,” explains Heinz Hollerweger, Head of Development, Total Vehicle at Audi. “This wheelie function gives us a USP that has never been seen on a two-wheeler before.” Molina is impressed by the technology and its ease of use. “I’m a total wheelie fan. I’ve never had this much fun with a bicycle before,” laughs the 23 year-old race driver as he lifts the front wheel into the air again. Then he leans his weight forward and disappears into the distance.

Be it a race course, steep mountain or rocky path – the Audi e-bike Wörthersee is at home everywhere and a dream-come-true for trail bikers. With its lightweight frame structure and low center of gravity, it is very compact and exceptionally agile, even in extreme situations. The ultra-light CFRP frame weighs just 1,600 grams. The linkage that supports the rear wheel is also made from carbon-fiber and weighs just 2,600 grams (without damper). In line with Audi’s ultra-lightweight design principle, every single component is designed to be incredibly lean. Material reinforcement is used only where absolutely necessary. At an overall weight of just 21 kilograms and a power-to-weight ratio of 9 kilograms per kilowatt, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee is a record breaker. As a sports bike, it breaks out of every possible category – it can’t be classed as either a pedelec or a bicycle. “We have created a new vehicle class with the Audi e-bike Wörthersee. It’s a two-wheel technology concept designed for tricks and stunts. Thanks to its height-adjustable seat and low seating position, it’s suitable for all kinds of acrobatics,” explains Hollerweger.

Technical Data Audi e-bike Wörthersee

Motor power 2.3 kW peak output
Power-to-weight ratio 9 kg per kW
Torque at the rear wheel 250 Nm
Top speed in “Pedelec” mode up to 80 km/h (motor assistance)

Range

Battery only 50 km, depending on weight of rider
With pedal assistance 70 km, depending on weight of rider
Overall weight 21 kg (including battery)

The lithium-ion battery is integrated into the frame. At a rating of 48 V it has a capacity of 530 Wh. At a 230 V outlet, the approximately 5-kilogram battery is fully charged in two and a half hours. For long trail tours, it can be easily removed by hand and replaced with a fresh battery.

Audi e-bike

Wheelie For less experienced riders there is the “Power Wheelie” mode with adjustable wheelie angle. With “Balanced Wheelie” the electronic control system counterbalances the movement of the rider via the electric motor.
Pure In “Pure” mode, the drive comes from the rider alone.
Pedelec In the “Pedelec” operating mode, the electric motor provides assistance; a top speed of up to 80 km/h is possible and a range of 50 to 70 km.
eGrip In the “eGrip” mode, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee is powered by battery alone, with a top speed of up to 50 km/h. The rider controls the drive via a twist grip and can configure the power as desired via the on-board computer.
Training mode If the rider wants to pedal at a constant power level, he selects the “Training” mode. In a head wind or on a gradient, the motor then compensates for the added force required in order to maintain the same power output while training.

Meanwhile, Miguel Molina doesn’t pass up the opportunity to take full advantage of the 2.3 kW peak power output on the winding race track. Using the onboard computer touchscreen integrated into the frame, he selects the “pedelec” mode and starts pedaling hard. He shoots along the race track, returning a short time later. “It’s a whole new experience to ride at that kind of speed on an e-bike. The on-board computer display showed 80 km/h.” With up to 250 Nm of torque at the rear wheel, the Audi e-bike Wörthersee reaches high speed very quickly indeed. Its hydraulic ninespeed gearing delivers an incredibly fast shift action. At full tilt, Molina can depend on the hydraulic disc brakes and the air suspension on the front fork (130 millimeters spring travel). Those wanting to line up fancy tricks while riding can adjust the seat height smoothly and easily by pressing a button on the handlebars.

To enable the DTM driver to share his e-bike adventures with his friends, his smartphone is connected via WLAN with the on-board computer using an antenna in the front-wheel brake line. Outlandish trick sequences can be recorded by a small helmet camera and immediately uploaded as a video to the Internet via smartphone using a special app. Every successfully completed trick is then rewarded with success points. As his score increases, Miguel Molina would receive awards and his level of difficulty would rise. Via an overall ranking in the Internet, a rider can, if he wishes, measure his performance against other trail bikers. Their locations appear as Facebook status posts on the display of the Audi e-bike Wörthersee. “My friends won’t believe their eyes when they see the videos,” grins Molina. He is delighted with his outing on two wheels: “It’s really daring me to go for a ride off-road,” he calls, seeking out the nearest grassy hill in the center of the Red Bull Ring. He comes face-to-face with a gigantic bull. The stainless steel sculpture is the race track mascot and it’s rare for an uninvited visitor to venture into his territory. The colossus gazes at Molina from a height of 17 meters. “He doesn’t scare me – not on this bike,” laughs Molina.