Katu e50: the democratization of e-bikes

17 February 2017

  • E-bikes
  • Product & knowledge

Published by Orbea

We all know someone who drives their 4x4 SUV to the supermarket, without the least intention of taking it out on anything that is not asphalt. We’re like that sometimes. It’s not that we buy things we don’t need, but we sometimes buy them for more emotional than rational reasons.

But times are changing. Especially when it comes to mobility. At a time when the main European capitals are increasingly limiting automobile traffic, we will need to move about in other types of vehicles that are reliable, heavy-duty, long-lasting, flexible and suitable for different types of use and our pocketbooks. That’s why the concepts of efficiency and sufficiency are gaining greater terrain.

And here is where the Katu e50, comes in, our new e-bike created in association with Ebikemotion Technologies.

More than a bicycle, we like to say that the Katu e50 is a democratic tool that gives you the power of absolute mobility.

Why? First, because of its very broad range of use: the Katu e50 is the solution for users who want to move around the city on a daily basis reliably, comfortably and simply. But it’s also good for intercity trips. What’s more, since one size fits all, it can be ridden by the entire family, with each person using the level of assistance they need.

And second, because with this model, we have managed to create an e-bike at a very competitive price, with levels of efficiency, safety, connectivity and reliability that are the same or better than e-bikes in a far higher price range. So what’s the trick?

Efficiency: (motor) power without control is useless

The Katu e50 has been designed according to the premise that more is not necessarily better. Going back to the idea of sufficiency, we don’t need a 4x4 to get around the city. The phrase “power without control is useless” is more true than ever in the case of the new Katu: the most important aspect of an e-bike is not the power of the motor, rather how much energy we let through from the battery to the motor, how we let it through and when.

This is the job of the motor controller, which is ultimately what makes your e-bike give you the level of assistance you need according to different use situations you encounter on your bike.

At one time or another you may have tried e-bikes with a very powerful motor whose controller is limited to suddenly giving you more or less energy according to the selected level of assistance (25% energy at level 1, 50% at level 2, etc.). This logic of a single motor map can cause your bike to behave somewhat unpredictably, and as a result, you don't feel safe on it.

The Katu e50 doesn't work this way.

Unlike this single motor map, which is how most e-bikes operate, the new Katu has a different motor map for each of its three levels of assistance:

1) ECO: Helps at the start and at low speed, but then it prioritizes low consumption, allowing for a more relaxed use of the bike and battery energy savings.

2) COMFORT: The power of the motor is limited for increased autonomy and a powerful start in those situations when you need to leave quickly: in the city, starting from a dead stop, etc.

3) POWER: For those situations in which you need power and speed, but in a way that is controlled.

What does this give us? A very efficient distribution of energy, which translates into greater autonomy of the bicycle: under normal conditions of use, a rider weighing between 65 and 85 kg, pedaling over varied terrain, with a level 2 of assistance, could travel 60-70 km without needing to recharge the battery (*)

The trick is efficiency.

Connectivity: from the simplest to the most advanced

From the perspective of connectivity, we can say that the Katu e50 is a unique model on the market, with all the flexibility you want:

- If you simply want to get on a bike and know how much battery you have left and what level of assistance you have, the Bluetooth remote control includes 5 buttons and LEDs that avoid the need for costly screens and displays that catch the attention of those with sticky fingers.

- For those who want to interact more directly with their bike and use their cell phone* as a display, the Katu e50 is linked to a mobile application that is currently the most advanced in the e-bike sector, which you can operate entirely from the bike controls. This app offers you things like:

- Synchronization of all your daily activities with Strava.

- Integration with Facebook and Twitter.

- All the activity you do on you bicycle is reflected in the application, which you can also open on your tablet or in its Web version on your computer, giving you all the information imaginable: the route you've traveled, how you did on each segment, your altitude and speed in each section, the level of assistance you used, your heart rate, etc. And of course, you have the option to share all of this information with other users.

- Weather reports.

- Full compatibility with the current models of Applewatch and AndroidWear to connect to the bike from your smartwatch to see all the information you need with a simple wrist movement.

- Offline maps, reducing your data usage as your bike guides you to your destination.

Modularity: with an eye on the future

The connectivity of the Katu e50 is one of the features that really sets it apart from the rest and which will evolve even further over the next few months: through a GPS tracker, you will be able to know where your bike is at all times.

You’ll also be able to charge your smartphone – or any other device - from its USB charging port.

What's more, as an option, we will include a full-color screen for those who do not want to use their cell phone as a display, but would like to see all the information from the Ebikemotion app on their Katu: all the data will be on the smartphone and the display will simply connect to it via Bluetooth to show the information received.

All system updates for the Katu e50 will be available at orbea.com (***).

Reliability and safety, with European automotive quality

All of the above is very important, but it’s not worth much if we don't have total assurance that our bicycle will behave reliably.

In this sense, it is important for you to know that the Katu e50 has been developed according to the same technology standards and algorithms used in the European automotive sector.

The same people who developed the motor control technology for brands like General Motors, Mitsubishi, Renault and Honda have designed and produced in Europe the motor control unit on the Katu e50.The credentials of these professionals -Ebikemotion Technologies belongs to the Nagares Group) have earned them VDA 6.3 quality certification issued by the Daimler Group (Mercedes-Benz)..

In terms of the battery, reliability and safety have also been prioritized on every level:

- During manufacturing: the battery of the Katu e50 is produced by a company belonging to the Lenovo Group, a top supplier recognized around the world for the reliability of its batteries for laptop computers and smartphones.

- During charging: the smart charger of the Katu e50 is able to control the internal temperature of the battery and even interrupt the charging if unusual increases in temperature are detected (due to a power surge, for example). This way, we ensure safe charging and thus extend the life cycle of the battery.

- During use: the battery of the Katu e50 operates through a communications bus. On other bicycles in this price range, when there is a problem with the battery, a red LED simply lights up and the user doers not know what’s happening to the bike. On the Katu e50, the information obtained through the communications bus is shown on the mobile application and can be reported to the manufacturer, who then knows exactly where to take actionr.

Finally, the pedaling sensor (PAS) is mounted inside the bottom bracket, hidden and protected from dents and dirt. This sensor is in charge of detecting pedal movement and determines the extent to which the motor assistance is needed, according to the speed you’re traveling and the selected level of assistance.

The Katu e50 is a bicycle for daily use: functional, easy and fun to use, with the potential for connectivity and modularity that we’re only starting to imagine.

It’s time to get back to basics, to take to the streets: the Katu e50 is more than ready.

(*) Condition with no contractual value, since the measurement and autonomy have been calculated under “optimal” load and pedaling conditions, which may vary substantially, depending on the general conditions of the bicycle, the way the rider pedals, the environment or the weather, for example.

(**) Mobile connectivity is a function available for most current cell phones on the market, but it is impossible to ensure connectivity for all terminals or in the future if a change in the technology is made that is not supported by our system.

(***) The items and functionalities described have no contractual value, since they are products in the development phase that may or may not be finally implemented in the future or replaced with different ones. Orbea and Ebikemotion reserve the right to cancel or substantially change each of the indicated items and functionalities before and/or after the launchm.