Imagine showing up to the next group ride with an extra couple hundred watts at your disposal. And no, we're not talking the "performance enhanced" variety. But you could expect a similar boost if your next bike is the Giant Road-E, an electric pedal-assist two-wheeler that was on display at the annual Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca Raceway outside Monterey, California.
Squint your eyes and the Road-E looks like a traditional drop bar steed, albeit one with a very oversized downtube (that's where the 6-pound removable rechargeable battery lives). Geometry is in line with Giant's endurance-oriented Defy platform, meaning a long wheelbase and slack headtube for increased stability.
The handlebar mounted display helps you track key metrics, including battery level (click to enlarge).
Claimed weight is around 45 pounds, size medium with battery. And in case you're wondering, the brakes are standard Shimano hydraulic road disc with 160mm rotors. The rest of the bike, says Giant PR man Andrew Juskaitis, is "beefed up" without a lot of carryover from their standard road bikes. That means stouter chain, chunkier fork legs and chainstays. Even the Giant housebrand wheels wrapped with 32mm tires are more robust.
The bike, which as it reads on the frame, is powered by Yamaha, has three assist modes, eco, normal, and sport, each delivering successively more go-go juice. The more torque you put in the pedals, the more help you get out of the motor. A Garmin-like handlebar computer helps keep you abreast of battery level and other key metrics. Battery life varies depending on mode and usage, but Juskaitis figures you're looking at about 2 hours between charge times. "You're not doing a century on this thing," he added.
So what are you doing?
"The target market is that person who used to ride a lot, but has gotten older, or just isn't as fit as they used to be," Juskaitis explained of a bike that for now comes in just one model and four sizes with a retail of $3400 in the U.S. "Now that person can experience that feeling of going fast again. It really opens up a whole new world for that 72-year-old that wants to be 22 for a day."
Of course there are some differences, especially when going down hill. This e-bike is more than double the weight of a normal road bike, so you obviously have to choose your lines differently - and brake a little earlier.
The SyncDrive Yamaha X94 central motor is compact, producing 80Nm of torque which gives you an instant and even amount of power (click to enlarge).
Giant's adamant that the bike's release is not a case of chasing the hot (and polarizing) trend in cycling right now. "We've been doing variations of e-bikes for 15 years and everything you see here is made in house," said Juskaitis, noting that Giant has a stand alone factory (dubbed GEV or Giant E Vehicle). "It's not a bunch of off-the-shelf parts made by someone else and then cobbled together."
"We've been dedicated to this for a long time, and it's a really big seller in Asia and Europe, especially Holland," he added. "But this is the first time we've done it at a performance level and not just for commuters."
Now the question is what to do the first time someone shows up to your group ride on one of these. I say roll out the welcome mat - and make them pull all day (or at least as long as his battery lasts).
For more information visit https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ie/bikes/model/road.e.1/25099/90807/.
This article is part of RoadBikeReview's coverage of the 2016 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.