- Friction drive electric bike kit designed to work with major bicycle share programs
- Quick and easy to install, operate and charge, includes LED headlights for safety
- Optional mounting bracket lets you use the kit with Brompton folding bikes and others
- Adds a bit of weight to steering and operates a bit noisier than some hub motor kits
The ShareRoller electric bike kit is a friction drive system designed to work seamlessly with bike share programs all around the world. In short, these bikes have a triangular metal bracket protruding from their head tube which lock into a computerized rack. This is how the bikes are checked in or out, the metal bracket is used to secure them… With the ShareRoller system, this metal bracket is repurposed for mounting a briefcase sized battery, control unit and motor that propel the bike forward. It’s an impressive system because it’s actually smaller than a briefcase at 11″ x 8″ x 2.7″, relatively light weight at 6.5 to 7.5 pounds (depending on the battery size you choose) and feature rich (integrated LED lights and USB charger). The thing folds and unfolds quickly and looks pretty unassuming when it’s not mounted up.
The unit shown here is a V1 prototype that’s a bit larger and louder than the new ones. It was used in a Kickstarter campaign and sold to a limited number of customers in 2013/2014. The really neat part about this and future iterations is that in addition to bike share programs they can also be used with Brompton folding bikes and kick scooters, which is shown in the video. I’m told that the standard mounting bracket is almost ready and should allow the ShareRoller to be used with ~50% of bikes. Beyond that, they can design custom brackets for a bit more. The bracket is designed to replicate the triangular metal piece mentioned previously and you also get a handlebar piece that supports the throttle clip. When testing the system I was amazed to find out that different clips can enable different top speeds… it goes slower with kick scooters because they tend to feel wobbly at 20mph. That kind of attention to detail and integration can be found throughout the product which is really something special in my mind.
The motor driving this thing offers 750 watts of power which is at the upper limit of what’s legal in the United States. That doesn’t mean it goes extra fast (it adheres to the legal top speed of 20mph), it just means it’s capable of moving heavier bikes and riders. That’s a good thing because the bicycles used in the bike share program weigh about 50 pounds! By contrast, most normal bikes weigh between 20 and 30 pounds… Instead of using a hub motor mounted inside the wheel or mid-drive motor design to pull the chain, the ShareRoller uses a friction drive. Basically, it’s a small outrunner motor (a bit smaller than a can of soda) that’s mounted horizontally. When it spins, the outside canister (which is rubberized to provide grip in wet or dry conditions) rubs against the top of the bicycle tire and propels you forward. In my experience it works pretty well.
The battery powering the ShareRoller system offers ~30 volts of power and ~14 amp hours of capacity (depending on the size you get). It’s enough to ride ~20 miles without pedaling which is pretty impressive! The cells are all contained inside the rectangular plastic case and are made with a Lithium-ion chemistry that’s designed to be light weight and long lasting. You don’t have to worry about taking the batteries out to charge because the entire ShareRoller unit is so small… You can take the whole thing inside and plug it in using the two-hour fast charger. You also don’t have to worry about bringing your bike inside or even owning a bike because the unit is so easy to install and remove. This is a really disruptive concept here… In the same way that people who live in a large city don’t have to own cars (they can rely on cabs or rentals instead) the ShareRoller means you no longer have to own a bicycle because you can rely on share programs.
The control panel interface on the ShareRoller is minimal and easy to use. Once the unit is mounted to the front bracket of your chosen bicycle you just clip the trigger throttle to your handlebar, toggle the on/off switch at the back of the main unit and you’re ready to go. There’s no speed or range indicator here as with some purpose built electric bikes, just a small trigger that provides variable speed output. Before it will activate however, you’ll have to pedal one or two strokes (for legal reasons to qualify as pedal assist). When I was testing the unit I found the throttle easy to reach and use which made riding feel relaxed because I wasn’t distracted. I used it mostly to get up to speed before resuming pedaling on my own at a more comfortable cadence.
In a world where bicycle share programs are popping up all over it’s awesome to have a way to add some electric assist. These bikes are designed to be rugged and durable but they just aren’t very nimble or light… the ShareRoller makes riding them easier. Sure, there may be electric bike share programs someday but the big challenge is keeping the units charged and dealing with even more maintenance issues at the program level. With the ShareRoller you bring your own electric drive system and you take it with you meaning the battery isn’t exposed to potentially damaging cold or hot conditions or persistent severe weather. It’s a brilliant idea executed very well in my opinion. The addition of LED lights, a USB charger and versatile mounts for use with scooters and folding bikes is just icing on the cake and while the unit shown here is a bit loud, the V2 units are even more polished and should become available in mid 2014.
- Extremely creative design that’s durable, compact, easy to carry
- Special rubber and grooves on front roller resists slipping when tires are wet
- Built in LED lights and USB charger for your phone or other electronics are handy
- LED state of charge indicator shows how much energy is remaining in the battery pack
- Fairly powerful with 30 volt battery and 750 watt motor, able to propel 50lb city bikes with ease
- Solid one year limited warranty that covers the motor, battery, throttle and electronics
- Throttle system is easy to use, designed to only activate once the bike is at 2mph to comply with “assist-only” laws in New York and parts of Europe
- Two battery sizes make the unit lighter weight and cost less depending on your needs
- Built in handle and compact design reduces attention and makes it easy to transport
- With this kit you wouldn’t need to buy a bicycle which means you don’t need to lock it up, carry it up stairs, repair it etc.
- Friction drive and motor create more noise than a gearless hub motor and some other designs
- Requires a bit of fiddling around to mount each time (not that bad though, pretty easy once you get the hang of it)
- Only provides throttle assistance, no pedal assist settings here
- No LCD display panel to let you know how fast or far you’ve been going
- Have to spend a bit more to buy a special mounting bracket if you plan to use your own kick scooter, standard bicycle or Brompton
- Official Site: http://www.shareroller.com/
- Kickstarter Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/247419341/shareroller-first-portable-motor-for-share-bikes-a
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/RGAxdRyrCpWgCnBL8