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The e-suv takes its inspiration from the pointy...

Trend watch: E-bikes dominate Eurobike with lighter, faster models

Electric-assist bikes again grabbed the headlines at this year's Eurobike, with e-racing bikes on display from Bianchi, Look, and Wilier Triestina.

Last year, e-bikes made headlines at Eurobike, and — it should come as no surprise — that trend continues in 2019. After all, when we talk about pedal-assisted bikes, we’re talking about the biggest growth sector in cycling.

Amid the cornfields and zeppelin hangers of Friedrichshafen, many brands brought their latest e-bike a-game. But the look of these bikes couldn’t be more different, with some brands going for futuristic designs and embracing e-bikes as a distinct category, while others blurred the lines between traditional race bikes and their battery-assisted siblings.

Here are three that stood out:

Wilier Triestina 

Wilier Triestina says its Centro10 Hybrid is the lightest e-bike. Photo: James Jung

Weighing in at just a hair over 23 pounds, Wilier’s Cento10 Hybrid is purported to be the world’s lightest e-bike. It’s also perhaps the world’s sleekest. While brands like Cannondale and Specialized have launched e-bikes that mimic their respective endurance bikes, the Cento10 Hybrid is a near identical twin to the brand’s premiere race bike, the Cento10 Pro (minus the motor, of course). You get the same aggressive geometry, aero profile, and integration, plus the bottom bracket — typically bulky on an e-bike — is relatively slim. In fact, we had to look twice to confirm that this was indeed not just a “regular” new race bike.

The power unit comes courtesy of Ebikemotion, and it’s located in the rear hub, while the battery is snuggly dropped in the down tube, which is also surprisingly thin. The power assist delivers up to 250 extra watts, and it’s controlled via the handlebar-integrated iWOC control, which allows riders to select one of three settings.

So, who is the ideal consumer for a bike that looks and feels like a Pro Tour caliber ride? According to Wilier, the company is targeting former racers and hardcore riders over the age of 55 who still want to hammer on an incredibly fast and responsive bike, but who might just need a little assistance to prolong their bigger rides or get over the most monstrous of climbs.

Bianchi

The e-suv takes its inspiration from the pointy peaks of Italy’s Dolomites. Photo: James Jung

Like its compatriots at Wilier, Bianchi turned heads last season with its e-road Aria, a 25.6-pound bike that looks every bit race-ready but which boasts a stealthy motor in the rear hub as well. It was proudly on display at Bianchi’s Eurobike booth this year.

Yet the showstopper came in the form of Bianchi’s new e-mountain bike line: e-suv, which made its worldwide debut on Wednesday at Eurobike. Designed to evoke the jagged peaks of Italy’s Dolomite mountains, the carbon frame’s sharp angles certainly turned some heads. Bianchi, however, is equally interested in the bike’s integration and functionality.

The e-Aria is nearly indistinguishable from a traditional racing bicycle. Photo: James Jung

Available in three lines—the Adventure, the Rally, and the Racer—each e-suv has a full carbon frame (front and rear triangles), fully integrated handlebar and stem, and a 720 Wh battery. The Adventure and Rally models also feature integrated LED lights — part of Bianchi’s “see and be seen” commitment to rider safety — which give front, rear, and lateral light.

Perhaps the coolest feature on the e-suv line is an architecturally-inspired air duct along the battery cover. Located on the bike’s down tube, the duct intakes air at one end and expels air at the other, thus reducing the heat around the battery and motor.

All three e-suv bikes will be available in March 2020.

Look

Look believes gravel cycling is a great opportunity for e-bikes. Photo: James Jung

Though Look launched its e-bikes earlier this summer, its two models — the E-765 Gravel and E-765 Optimum — were prominently on display in the halls of Friedrichshafen. Both mimic the look and feel of their “muscle-assisted” counterparts, with the venerated French brand believing that the gravel and endurance/enthusiast market makes more sense for e-assisted models than does the race market.

And both bikes are relatively light and sleek (though their beefy down tubes aren’t fooling anyone), while the FAZUA battery offers up to 400 watts of assistance to crush those climbs, either on pavement or dirt. Don’t feel like using the motor today? You can easily pop out the battery and snap the down tube cover into place for a traditional ride.

It feels like the e-bike trend is here to stay, if not continue with its exponential growth. As an somewhat bizarre twist, some of the employees at Look told us that they see race training as a growth opportunity for e-bikes. The logic is simple: why not use pedal assist between hard intervals to maximize recovery, or even prolong rides when you’re totally cooked to increase endurance?