Helmet required: Audi unveils futuristic ‘e-bike’ that can hit 50 mph

Automaker Audi has turned its attention from four wheels to two with the unveiling of the Wörthersee e-bike, a prototype sports bike which the firm says “does not fit into any of the usual categories.”

The futuristic bike, unveiled at the Wörthersee Tour car show in Austria over the weekend, has at its core an ultra-light carbon-fiber frame weighing only 1,600 grams (3.53 lb).

Being so light, it’s a wonder the thing doesn’t take off when it hits its top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h). You read that right – when the Wörthersee e-bike’s electric motor kicks in, it can reach speeds of up to 50 mph, powering the rider for around 44 miles (70 km).

If a more a slightly more leisurely experience is preferred, simply ride the bicycle in pure mode, where pedal power alone will propel you forward. There are other modes too – eGrip also makes use of the electric motor, but will take you to a slightly-less-wind-in-your-hair speed of 31 mph (50 km/h). The rider’s speed is controlled using the bike’s twistgrip.

Wheelie mode is for when you want to try to pull some tricks, with the power electronically controlled to assist the rider when the bike’s front wheel is off the ground.

More experienced riders can go for the balanced wheelie mode, where the rider’s balance is maintained electronically. Here, the motor works to accelerate or brake the bike to counteract the movements of the rider, helping to maintain balance in the process. “In this way the rider can influence the speed when riding on the rear wheel only by shifting his or her weight,” Audi explains on its website. “Leaning forward speeds up the bike, leaning back slows it down.”

The Wörthersee e-bike also incorporates an on-board computer operated via its touchscreen. The display shows road speed, distance ridden, battery level, energy consumption and slope angle. The computer also enables the rider to choose the mode, record trick sequences and control the bike’s front and back lights. A smartphone can be used to communicate with the bike’s computer over WLAN, performing a number of functions such as deactivating the bike’s immobilizer and even posting stats on Facebook related to stunts performed on the bike.

Designed for “sport, fun and tricks,” the German automaker says the bike is an attempt to explore the limits of what can be achieved in the areas of design, lightweight construction, networking and electric mobility.

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