Erik Buell’s Latest E
The Fuell Flluid-2/2S ebike features two batteries, a mid-mount motor and a novel automatic ... [+] transmission.
Motorcycle designer Erik Buell always liked to color outside the lines with his innovative and unusual gas-powered creations, which featured only-Erik-would-try-that things like keeping the fuel and oil in the bike's frame, a wild rim-mounted front brake, and pulling big horsepower numbers out of relatively old-tech Harley-Davidson air-cooled motors. Harley even picked up his option as it were, hoping to edge into the high-performance markets dominated by Asian and Euro bike makers. Ultimately, it didn't work out.
But a few years ago, as the pandemic ramped up, Buell turned his singular vision to a suddenly ascendent new technological niche: Electrified bicycles. The result was the company FUELL, and the first e-bike was the expectedly unusual but also highly capable Flluid-1 and 1E, which I called the best e-bike I had tried to date in my review. An urban-focused electric motorcycle (link below) is also about to enter production.
The Flluid bikes only come in one frame size (but two types), but the geometry allows for a wide ... [+] range of riders.
Now, Erik has followed up that first effort with essentially two new bikes, the Flluid-2 and 3, and even more amped-up 2S and 3S versions. And once again, Erik is pushing boundaries and technology to new limits. Crowdfunding campaigns for the new models have just launched.
The overall form factor of the Flluid-2 and 2S echoes the original 1 ands 1E, with an angular frame that holds a pair of batteries. The Flluid-3 and 3S loses one battery due to its step-though design (below), but retains most other elements from the 2/2S.
The FUELLl Flluid-3/3S ebike loses one battery to allow for a step-through format.
Instead of a mid-mount motor driving a belt to an Enviolo NuVinci rear hub as on the original bike, FUELL has teamed with French motor maker Valeo for the Flluid-2 and 3 and installed their latest mid-mount "Cyclee Mid Drive Unit" that includes a seven-speed automatic transmission. No hub gearing is required so the bikes retain their clean, quiet Gates carbon belt drive systems.
The compact drive unit features seven actual gears - not a CVT.
This complex yet extremely compact 48-Volt motor/trans combo (above) makes a stout 130 NM of torque and is right in line with Erik's tendency to have a component do more than just one job, as long as it can do them well. Valeo explains more about the impressive motor and transmission tech in this video:
Riders have the option of having the system run at full auto or using a small set of bar-mounted buttons to control gearing, giving ultimate control. My research indicates that this is the most advanced motor/gearing ebike system on the market today and it signals yet another rapid step forward for the evolution of the e-bike overall. The Valeo system also includes a thumb throttle for freewheeling up to 20 mph on U.S.-spec models. EU buyers will have to suffice (for now) with a top throttle-only speed of 6 kph, or about walking speed.
Naturally, the system includes pedal assist based on rider effort and assist level, and that's where the other boundary gets expanded by the Flluid-2. While the first bike had a pair of batteries that could provide over an honest 100 miles of assist, the Flluid-2 and 2S can now double that figure - FUELL claims 225 miles/350 km of range due to each battery packing a full kilowatt (1,000 Watt-hours) of juice and to efficiencies with the new motor setup. Both batteries are removable for security and charging off the bike if need be.
That kind of range is game-changing. It's one thing to worry about running a battery flat in 30 or 40 miles of riding, and that's a limiting factor for many e-bikes. With this kind of range - and the 225-mile figure is certainly in Eco mode with a lot of pedaling - being able to run to even half that figure would represent an entire day's riding for most anyone, and it opens the door to FUELL Flluid e-bikes to being capable inner-city delivery vehicles on a scale even wider than e-bikes are utilized now - which is more than many people realize. FUELL says recharge time is six hours with a standard charger, and 3 hours with an optional 8-amp charger. The single-battery Flluid-3/3S has a claimed 110 miles/180 km of range at best.
Both big batteries slip into the frame rails. The Flluid-2 won't be lightweight, but that really ... [+] wasn't the goal.
For more casual riders, that kind of stamina means being able to pack up the panniers and do some serious miles without worrying about range. By the time you hit 100 miles on a bicycle, that's usually it for the day for the vast majority of riders, e-bike or otherwise. It also makes the Flluid bikes a much more reasonable car replacement option for a wider range of commuters.
The tech doesn't stop at the motor and batteries of course. The bikes feature aluminum alloy frames, Tektro hydraulic brakes, an LCD display with Bluetooth connection to the FUELL app for even more performance tweaking, a stock rear rack, suspension front fork with lockout, full coverage fenders, and bright LED lights all around. Another nice addition to the tech is the ability to disable the Valeo motor remotely via smartphone. Once "locked," the pedals will still turn, but the transmission is disengaged, so the bike can't be pedaled away. However it can still be rolled (as far as I can tell) so a stout lock should still be part of your security routine. 4G connectivity will also allow the bike to be tracked by phone.
How much power the bike will provide will depend on your location. U.S.-spec bikes will have 750-watt motors with Class 3 (28 mph) assist ability and 20 mph top speed under throttle. EU-spec bikes will have a 1,000-Watt upper limit for assist but that could require registration and licensing as a moped. Check with you local municipality.
As noted, the bikes are up for sale on Indiegogo, with the Flluid-2 going for $3,999 for early birds and the Flluid-3 step-though model at $3,699. Prices jump considerably to $5,495 and $5,999 respectively once the campaign concludes. Watch for a review of the FUELL Flluid-2/2S later this summer.