E-bikes are a rising phenomenon, and they owe that fact largely to recent advances in battery technology. Initially a rather expensive and tiny niche market, now e-bikes can be found everywhere from specialized retailers to the ubiquity that is Walmart. E-bike prices range from a few hundred bucks for generic, low end models, to tens of thousands for more exotic, custom offerings. One of the companies leading that exotic charge is Rimac Automobili, founded by inveterate garage tinkerer Mate Rimac, and home of the Green Monster, the fastest electric vehicle out there to date. Rimac developed some fairly exotic batteries and energy management systems for their cars. After refining that technology, they decided to take a swing at an e-bike of their own, and developed the Greyp, which they market as the “the world’s most advanced electric bicycles.” All that said, Rimac may now have legitimate competition for that title – Trefecta Mobility e-Bikes.
Back in 2013, an “international team of Dutch, German and Swiss engineers” with an eclectic range of aerospace and automotive engineering experience pooled their expertise with the intention of creating, according to company founder Haiko Visser, “the ultimate e-bike,” one that could, fundamentally, withstand the rigors of daily use by the military. That pursuit has lead to the Trefecta DRT and URB models.
The Trefecta variants are intended for off-road, (the DRT), and city use, (URB). The heart of the Trefecta is a 4kW electric motor working through a combination of a Rohloff 14 speed gearbox and a proprietary ‘Smesh Gear Pedelec System.’ This provides power through low speeds by human peddling if needed or desired, as well as manual and automatic gear shifting when taking the bike up to its genuinely stunning top speed of 70 km/h. That system provides up to 250 Nm, (184 ft. lb), of torque to the bike’s rear drive wheel. Pedaling is tied to a regenerative power loop, as is braking, thereby extending the vehicle’s cruising range. This is a drive system that provides “conversion efficiency of electrical to mechanical power of more than 90%,” according to the company.
Electrical power for that motor comes from a fast swappable, 60-volt lithium-ion battery pack that can drive the bike for up to 100 km. Full charging of the battery pack takes about three hours, and again, the onboard regenerative system can provide charging power as well while the bike is in use. In keeping with the company’s stated intent of providing a military grade platform, all that power is encased in a twenty inch, injection molded frame of 7075 aluminum, a rather expensive alloy containing zinc, magnesium, and copper, often used in aerospace applications. The frame fully encloses the bike’s battery pack, motor, and gearbox, cables and components in a waterproof, dustproof, truly rugged skeleton capable of handling up to just shy of 160 kg of rider and gear. Wheels are 26″, six spoke, carbon fiber composite. The whole bike weighs in at about 28 kg, sans rider.
Rider control is focused on the handlebars and a proprietary fly-by-wire computer mounted in between. A Trefecta designed iOS app links the computer to an iPhone for navigation, bike and trip data, and fitness applications. The computer allows users to alter shifting and gear selection, as well as suspension parameters. Full trip functions are also viewable, from battery life to speed and distance.
Rider fit and comfort are handled by well designed componentry; a 180mm front fork, a seat post with 125mm of such, and a rear shock with a 200 mm damping range. Schwalbe mountain bike tires, disc brakes by Hope, and Ergon saddle and grips fill out the package.
And that package, by the way, will set a lucky owner back to the tune of €22,500 for a base model. Naturally there is plenty of customization available – a fully tricked out, CNC machined version will run you something more along the lines of €33,500. In other words, like Rimac automobiles, the Trefecta is clearly in that range wherein if we have to ask the price, we likely can’t afford it. When asked about the price point, Haiko Visser points out that the Trefecta is a unique vehicle, designed from scratch by his crew, and intended for some pretty serious use, should the world’s military bodies get on board. Let’s face it, serious military hardware isn’t cheap, even if it comes in civilian version; ask any Hummer owner if that’s a fact.