The forthcoming Eclair e-bike from France has just been revealed - or rather teased might be a better way of putting it. Tantalisingly, it promises easy to recondition batteries, a good dose of European manufacture, a low overall carbon footprint and a pledge to integrate AI.
With so little info avaialble on the Eclair website, what can we divine from the info that is out there? Most of it has to come from images but one reassuring touch, for those potentially interested, is the emergence of a photo that appears to shows a real live Eclair.
The Eclair looks to be an e-bike that wants to occupy the same sleek, high tech space inhabited by the likes of Cowboy, most notably in the enlarged seat tube where the battery is housed.
Despite the high tech image, Eclair will certainly want to avoid the mistakes made by Van Moof, say, who aspired to produce the ultimate sleek, easy-to-use city e-bike at a competitive price, but were ultimately declared bankrupt earlier this year. The brand has since been acquired by Lavoie and there is talk that sales will recommence 'soon'.
Potentially reassuring news for future Eclair buyers is that the French brand appear to have sidestepped the complexities of Van Moof's auto-shifting hub by keeping gearing ultra simple, with what looks to be a single-speed belt drive. We have tried several impressive examples of single speed belt drives, the Tenways CGO 600 being one of our favourites.
One aspect that Eclair do mention and that makes them stand out from the crowd is the use of steel. The exact reasons why aren't stated. If they use a fully steel frame, you might assume that would add weight, but the Eclair is described as 'agile and light'. They also mention a reduced carbon foorprint and relatively easily recycled steel could be part of that.
A new model for sustainable batteries and AI integration?
So far so (fairly) conventional, but Eclair also says that, "Thanks to patented technology, the French batteries of our e-bikes are removable and easy to recondition or recycle."
Eclair have been reported as saying that they will be using the PYMCO system - a new name to us at ebiketips but according to the firm's website their batteries use a patented "solderless constant pressure contact that ensures a mechanical, electrical and thermal coupling between all the cells of a battery pack." That, apparently, makes them serviceable and means they produce less waste.
PYMCO claim their batteries are used by Paris's 20,000 strong Velib public e-bike hire system which is contracted out to Smovengo.
The AI aspect is said to come via a partnership with eBikeLabs and the eBike OS app for smartphones. Initial info suggests that it will centre on predictive power level shifting having 'learned' individual riding behaviour and the preferences of the rider.
Although this is as yet a largely unproven technology as far as e-bikes go, Smalo are one company that appear to be banking on it. Perhaps less convincingly, Urtopia have used AI for an e-bike voice recognition system. A different aspect of AI has also been utilised by the likes of Forest and Dott to try and encourage correct parking of hire e-bikes.
Whatever form future e-bikes might take, it's clear that Eclair want to be a part of that world.