Maxwell Motorbikes Launches, Offers EP-0


Maxwell Motorbikes is now a thing.  Remember The Adventures of Troy Rank?  Well, Rank and team have been hard at work putting together a product that’s just about as different from his extended-cargo-carrying-multi-state-record-setting-prototype-“ADV-1” as any bicycle could be.  You’re probably looking at the photo above thinking, where’s the battery?  Where’s the motor?  How come it looks like a fixy-light bike instead of a heavy e-bike?

Exactly.  This is the Maxwell Motorbikes EP-0, an elegant, clean, light, electric bicycle that weighs in at 27lbs.  Let’s start out with some lovely photos, by way of Patrick Stephano Photography, shall we?

Urban warrior

Urban warrior



300W front hub motor

…300W front hub motor

2-speed hub with coaster brake

2-speed hub with coaster brake

Classic style...

Classic style…

Controller enclosure over bottom bracket

Controller enclosure over bottom bracket

The specs are pretty impressive.  With NMC batteries enclosed within the frame and a 300W hub motor in the front and a 2-speed coaster brake hub in the rear, Maxwell specs out like this:

  • 27 lbs
  • 15 miles range (moderate pedal input)
  • 20 mph
  • 300 watts
  • 250Wh battery pack
  • Charge anywhere in 45 minutes
  • $1500

We have lots of questions.  The first is, (after “Where are the batteries?”) how do you get to the batteries?  See those 4 bolts on the headstock?

Headstock provides access to batteries inside frame

Headstock provides access to batteries inside frame

Brilliant. Pop those off and you have full access to the cylindrical cells living in the frame tubes.

The speed control is intended to be primarily pedal-input determined – that is, you pedal harder, you get more motor help along the lines of the BionX and Trek systems, among others, but at this point they’ll set it up so it can be entirely under pedal control, or entirely with throttle control at the whim of the buyer.  With proportional assist able to be programmed at a control panel on the bars (not shown in these photos), the intent is to set the bike up without the extra hardware and cabling of a throttle, though Rank says he prefers to have the input of a throttle.  The test riders apparently came out evenly divided for, and against, 100% pedal control.

For you tech nerds, Maxwell is running a full field oriented vector controller, enclosed in that little v-shaped box at the bottom.  Originally for high-performance AC motors, it’s a perfect application for a bike like this due to it’s higher, smoother, less expensive and more efficient performance in a small package.

For now, the company is offering the one model, with variations planned for the future with component packages.  Also in the plans are some programmable features Rank doesn’t want to talk about quite yet…  let’s just say, allowing the bike to tailor it’s power to the riders needs.  How’s that?

Rank emphasizes the classic style, clean design and versatility of the bike:

The EP-0 is a great bike even when you don’t turn it on.  It’s a lightweight, classic track bike for the city, enough range to get anywhere quickly and charge quickly.

The EP-0 could be a touring bike too, it could still extend the touring distance 40 miles in day for the average touring cyclist.

The main Maxwell Motorbikes website is here, where you can read up and put your deposit down – expected delivery is to be announced, but it looks like early Fall (2015).  Also check out their Facebook page, here, where you’ll see all of the awesome photos and updates with news and the like.  And where they say stuff like, “You’re now magically 3x more powerful. Now go somewhere awesome! “

The Maxwell Motorbikes team

The Maxwell Motorbikes team: John Lillibridge, industrial designer, Troy Rank, product architect, Justin Schmidt, frame design (l-r)

Category: Bikes

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26 responses to "Maxwell Motorbikes Launches, Offers EP-0"
  1. Anon says:

    Shockingly understated for an e-bike. Would haven never guessed it was anything special at first glance.

  2. ja says:

    That’s what the bike racers in Europe Used to Cheat & Win Races With Years Ago.They Got Caught. They Would Hit A Secret Switch & The Electric Power Would Kick In & Off They Went ., Right to the Finish Line !

  3. Ambulator says:

    I want to know the size (in Wh) of the battery. How can they not tell you such key information?

    1. Ted Dillard says:

      Thanks – yes, that got lost on one of their website updates, and should be fixed now. The pack is 250Wh

    2. ja says:

      Ancient Chinese Secret

  4. Stimpacker says:

    The battery (my best guess) is about 6Ah. Likely running at 36V.

    Anyone noticed the bike has no brakes? The coaster brake alone wont’ cut it.
    Also no shocks?

    If the pedal assist is Bionx-like, then it should have an expensive torque sensor. Don’t see it. Maybe it is a cheap hall-effect PAS.

    Overall, not impressed compared to some of the effort you can find at ES forums.

    1. MikeG says:

      I saw the lack of brakes as a problem too. Depending on that coaster brake going down a hill would be madness.

      1. Troy says:

        This is a very valid concern. The coaster is a bit of an experiment. We’re actually prototyping different brake system options but I can say that there will absolutely be a disc brake option. Still, the coaster can lock up the rear wheel. Better than I have on a fixie

          1. wavelet says:

            In many part of the world (including most of Europe), not having two separate brakes for front & rear isn’t even legal on any bicycle, let alone an e-bike.

            It’s absolutely unthinkable not to have good brakes, front and rear. They don’t necessarily have to be disc brakes, if assisted speed is limited to Euro pedelec standards (15mph).

            Otherwise, battery capacity is too small. You need to think of what the range will be like 2-3 years down the road, once the pack has lost 30%, and also provide near-zero-pedaling estimates for range for a variety of rider weights.

            1. Troy says:

              The battery life will be -30% after 30000 miles. If you achieve that mileage, I will personally replace your battery, free of charge 🙂

      2. ja says:

        Most likely Re Gen…& probably don’t need much Braking Power

  5. Warren says:

    Interesting. Let’s assume they mean 300 battery watts, typically about 225 watts to the wheel with a little bicycle hub motor. With a little pedaling that will get you 20 mph on the flat. A 300 Wh pack would get you about 15 miles, with a little pedaling, to 80% DOD. Headway cells are too fat to fit in a standard steel bike frame. You can get 2.9 Ah NMC cells in the 18650 format. A 10s3p pack is fairly common, and would just work. They could JUST fit an 8s string down each of the three main tubes of my big steel roadbike frame.

    1. Warren says:

      26650 format cells will just fit down an OS cromo TIG welded frame. Some are over 3 Ah. 8s3p would just do it But they won’t be selling frames to fit anybody under 5’10”.

    2. Ted Dillard says:

      Note the correction above – their pack is 250Wh. The spec got lost on a website update.

      1. Warren says:

        OK, thanks. So 7s3p then. Seven will fit down the seat tube of a 54cm frame, no problem. That work for 5’6″.

  6. Stephen Hodges says:

    shame not to hide the controller under the saddle, then it would be even more stealthy

  7. Ken says:

    The bike does look really nice by not having all the electric stuff hanging off. But why would i buy this when my ezip trailz has similar speed and range? Granted my bike is 70 pounds with battery but the first one was $298 at walmart and the second one was on clearance for only $125. People are amazed when i tell them i got it at walmart. Their response is ” i had no idea Walmart sold electric bikes” I say they probably dont anymore, these are from 2010. The look on their faces is priceless. Even the cashier at the store i bought it from had no idea they sold electric bikes and asked if the box on the side was a built in radio. Im all for a good electric bike, but $1500 is a good used motorcycle or car, not a bicycle. Hell, my Cannondale didnt even cost that much.

  8. Roy LeMeur says:

    Since the product designer is here looking for feedback I have some to offer.

    Overall great design and I love what you have done with the batteries. I like the idea of no visible brake rigging and the weight savings that go with it.

    That said, I live in hilly Seattle and am involved in the ebike community here. Most folks here who actually use ebikes want something that -starts with- at least 500W continuous if not 750W. And unfortunately the coaster brake would be inadequate here. Would be fine in Phoenix 🙂

    Battery pack capacity is too small to give much range in the conditions here. Particularly with the lack of available gearing.

    As a vehicle builder that likes things visually appealing not having stuff sticking out without a purpose, the not-so-compact thumb throttle and it’s hanging wire sorta wreck the look of the whole concept.

    Get a smaller thumb throttle assembly without the big tit hanging out the bottom and route the wire along the bars and frame so you won’t even notice it. NOT hanging out in space. Same with the controller wiring. Tuck it right against the frame, not hanging. This really bugs me and looks bad.

    Additionally, I have no issue with the pricing. $1500 is a inexpensive ebike.

    Many builders here are making bikes in the 2-5kW+ range.

    A couple of drag racing ebikes make more than 30kW.

    Death Bike vs. Tesla Model S P85

    1. Warren says:

      That 300 watt motor doesn’t need a throttle. Pedalec or a push button would be fine. You aren’t going to lose traction, even on the front, with a skinny tire, at 300 watts, if the controller has a soft ramp up.

      I agree the tiny battery, and direct drive with only 300 watts is going to limit the utility. But fixies like this are ridden mostly by poseurs, and spent most of their time chained in front of the coffee shop or bar.

      1. Warren says:

        I know it’s not a fixie, but most of those are actually running a freewheel too.

        1. Roy LeMeur says:

          >I know it’s not a fixie, but most of those are actually running a freewheel too.

          Much of the attraction of having a fixie is the danger and challenge of not having any friction brakes at all.

          Can’t work like that with a freewheel.

          1. Warren says:

            Yeah. Seeing couriers in SF, decades ago, skidding down hills was pretty cool, but not for those without a death wish.

  9. Mikey says:

    This bike would be a tough sell to anyone outside of California.

    Most ebike customers don’t want to lug their entire bike inside with them to save the battery from extreme temperatures, no matter how light the bike is.

    1. Warren says:

      I don’t lug mine indoors. I ride it in.

    2. Troy says:

      Rest assured Mikey, I ride in 110 degree weather (f) and -20 degree weather (f). I would never build a bike that could not withstand the elements.