Lectric ONE e-bike shocking launch debuts ultra-premium gearbox

In what is likely to the biggest shock unveiling in the e-bike industry so far this year, leading electric bike maker Lectric Ebikes has just rolled out the new Lectric ONE. Positioned as a premium commuter e-bike in the budget space, the new model marks equally new territory for the low-cost e-bike company turned premium space competitor.

To understand how industry-shaking this e-bike launch is, you have to understand the company behind it. Lectric Ebikes’ entire MO has been to find highly-demanded niches in the US e-bike market and then roll out new models at a fraction of the cost of competitors. That’s how we got crowd favorites like the $799 Lectric XP Lite and the $999 Lectric XP 3.0, known as the best-selling e-bike in the country.

Now the company is doing it again, but targeting a much… much fancier type of e-bike segment. That means that the traditional budget-level derailleurs and chains are now being replaced by top-tier European transmissions and carbon fiber-reinforced drive belts.

That dual kickstand appears to have not made it onto the final version

Look no further than the Lectric ONE’s auto-shifting electric gearbox from Pinion, a German manufacturer whose same gearboxes routinely land on $10,000+ e-bikes such as those from Swiss manufacturer Stromer. Pinion’s highly acclaimed bike gearboxes are modeled after automotive transmissions and are widely seen as the holy grail of bicycle transmissions.

But Lectric didn’t just opt for a fancy gearbox, they chose the even higher-end version of Pinion’s 6-speed lineup with automatic electric shifting. That feature allows complete customization of the shifting parameters, letting riders dial in their performance marks such as ideal cadence, shift points, preferred gear to downshift into at stops automatically, and more, all from the bike’s dashboard display.

The weather-sealed gearbox is maintenance-free, just like the industry-leading Gates Carbon Belt drive found on the bike. As a replacement for bicycle chains, Gates’ carbon fiber-reinforced belts are quieter, smoother, longer-lasting, and more efficient than chains over their entire lifespan. And to top it all off, they don’t require maintenance such as oiling or washing.

And similarly to the move with Pinion’s gearbox, Lectric again climbed up to nearly the top shelf of the component hierarchy, opting for Gate’s premium CDC belt and CDX sprocket.

The inclusion of largely maintenance-free hydraulic disc brakes on 180 mm rotors adds one more component to the list of parts that riders won’t have to worry about keeping in tune.

And despite the 55-lb (25 kg) Lectric ONE‘s positioning as a lightweight commuter e-bike, it still packs in the extra power we’ve come to know and love from Lectric. A true 750W-rated Stealth M24 motor can be found in the rear wheel, offering speeds of up to 28 mph (45 km/h). The company explained, “As the lightest e-bike with a 750-watt motor, the Lectric ONE boasts the highest power-to-weight ratio of any e-bike ever, offering lightning-fast starts and quick acceleration.”

Two 48V battery options are available, either 10.4Ah or 14Ah. The 500Wh and 672Wh batteries offer maximum ranges of 50 miles and 75 miles, respectively. Both are UL-compliant for added safety and peace of mind.

The Lectric ONE includes a new color LCD display, a 24-amp potted motor controller helping that 750W motor put out over 1,300W of peak power, a left-side thumb throttle, a side-sweeping kickstand, 20″x2.5″ city tires, a thru-axle front hub, integrated front and rear LED lighting, a telescoping seat post and handlebars for wider range of size adjustments, and hidden cable routing.

The one area that struck me as an odd choice was the inclusion of a cadence sensor over a torque sensor. Generally, torque sensors are incorporated on nicer bikes like these to reduce sensor lag, which is often associated with cadence sensors. But Lectric Ebikes’ Co-founder and CEO Levi Conlow reassured me, explaining how “while most cadence sensors have 12 magnets, our has 96 of them, so we’ve got 8x the resolution and much snappier feedback.”

Lectric’s signature PWR pedal assist is also included, offering current-based pedal assist levels instead of speed based. While it’s not the same as a true torque sensor, it does significantly bridge the gap by removing the lurching feeling often found in speed-based pedal-assist e-bikes. And with 8x the number of cadence sensor magnets, the pedal assist lag should be significantly reduced as well.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of all on the Lectric ONE isn’t a component, but rather the price. The bike is launching at $1,999 with a standard range battery, though a longer range battery is available as a $200 upgrade. To put that into perspective, it would be difficult to walk into a bike shop today and order that Pinion automatic shifting gearbox for less than $1,999, let alone receive an entire well-designed bike for that price.

Pre-orders for the new e-bike are now open, with shipping expected to begin in May. Color choices are limited to black or… well, just black. Fortunately, the company has a wide range of accessories to choose from, helping riders make the bike unique and customized to various types of riding. Just don’t worry about a rear rack or fender set, those are included free for anyone who puts down a pre-order now.

Electrek’s Take

This is kind of crazy, folks.

At this point, it seems like Lectric is just playing God with the entire e-bike market. I’m not exaggerating when I say this gearbox is extremely expensive. You literally couldn’t buy just gearbox for the price of this bike. It’s only through Lectric’s massive size and extreme purchasing power that they could even put it on a bike in this price class. The next cheapest e-bike I can find that has this same Pinion C1.6i auto-shifting gearbox is the Stromer ST7, which is a $13,000 electric bike.

Why they even went this direction, that’s a whole other question. Belt drive e-bikes can’t use a derailleur like a chain drive can, so if you don’t want to be stuck with a single speed on a belt drive, you need to either use an internally geared rear hub, which forces you to use a mid-drive motor (the standard solution) or use a gearbox at the pedals. And if you want to include a throttle, then your mid-drive options are limited and problematic (mid-drive motors with throttles love to chew up transmissions), giving more weight to the idea of replacing a mid-drive motor with a central gearbox. I never thought I’d actually see Lectric do it though, as it’s truly several classes above anything the company has produced before.

When trying to think about which bikes the Lectric ONE will compete against, I’m largely coming up empty. Instead, I think it’s creating a new class of bikes – premium value commuters. It sounds like an oxymoron, a premium-value bike. But that’s what they’ve built here. It almost fills the void left by bikes like the VanMoof A5, creating a fairly lightweight and small-wheeled, automatic shifting commuter e-bike with a sleek design. Except that it does so at half the price, and without the same level of in-house proprietary technology that doomed VanMoof into bankruptcy.

I feel like I’m still processing all that went into this bike, and the craziness of launching it at this price. Sure, it’s not for everyone. If you want fat tires or suspension, they’ve got a great $999 e-bike for you. But for folks who want a lighter, more efficient commuter e-bike, and suddenly want an insanely fancy automatic shifting gearbox paired with a Gates carbon belt drive, this is a weirdly affordable way to make it happen at just $1,999.

It’s a brave new world.

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