We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and more powerful, and batteries have become more capacitous and long-lasting — two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices. There’s almost too many of them to keep track of anymore, and the latest addition to the ever-expanding pack is arguably one of the coolest yet.
It’s called the Carbon SUV e-bike, and it’s the creation of engineer Zeno Panarari and designer Alessandro Tartarini. Initially conceived under the Caterham umbrella, the team broke away from the British carmaker in 2014 and founded Moto Parilla last year. Now the Carbon’s second prototype is up on Kickstarter to gather funding for production.
The bike has three frame sizes (small, medium, and large) and comes in two backer reward options: a 500-watt 48 V mid-drive with a 22 mph top speed, or a 250-watt 36 V Shimano Steps motor that tops out at 15.5 mph. Both motors run on a 12 Ah li-ion battery. For an e-bike, the specs aren’t bad: An eight-speed Shimano Nexus hub, front fork with 72mm of travel, 26 inch fat tires, and an LED screen in place of a dirt bike’s speedometer to display distance, speed, and battery status.
The downside is the total weight hits about 65 pounds, so put aside any thoughts of weight-savings you might’ve implied from the name “Carbon.” It’s unlikely that anyone is going to want to pedal this monster, no matter how mighty their leg muscles may be. Of course, that’s without toting anything along — this is not a cargo bike with an awkward pannier welded to the rear, so don’t expect to bring any two by fours back from Home Depot on this like you might in your Nissan Armada.
Further, the range of about 50 miles is great for commuting, but not exactly on par with a gas-powered dirt bike, which is more likely to do 70 on a tank. Still, the Carbon could be pretty handy for those who normally toss their bikes in the back of a truck and take them out to a park or range to ride. And for those who want to use it just to get around, Carbon’s smaller form factor means it can squeeze into locations four-wheeled sport utility vehicles simply can’t fit. The “squeeze factor” is appealing in any kind of jungle, be it urban or natural. And since it’s electric, no noise complaints from the neighbors (well, not for the Carbon anyway).
In a campaign comment, Moto Parilla offered to eat any shipping charges beyond their promised 100 Euros, which is pretty generous considering the weight of this beast. The campaign ends Tuesday June 7, and still needs about $100,000 to meet its goal.