Whatever your opinion on electric vehicles, one category is taking off, and that’s the 2×2 UEV (Utility Electric Vehicle).
These rugged, on- and off-road e-bikes are so popular that UBCO—a UEV founder—has been backordered for months. Although the bikes are hitting US dealers now, most have been preordered and are sold already.
The idea for a hardy electric utility bike came to New Zealanders Daryl Neal and Anthony Clyde in 2014 after they’d spent a decade in the electric bike industry. Daryl and Anthony noticed a need in the market for a lightweight, electric utility vehicle. When Timothy Allan jumped in to develop the concept into a brand, UBCO was off and running by 2015, focusing first on the US market.
The first prototypes went to hard users to test in off-road, high-duty use in agriculture, tourism, and conservation. This is not your grandma’s e-bike. Although UBCO claims on their website to be “the world’s toughest utility bike,” and the knobby tires told me these who-wheelers like to get dirty, I was still surprised where they could go. I watched videos of people using the 2x2s for camping, trail riding, and mud-bogging. The UEVs are even popular among hunters and birders because of their “whisper-quiet” presence.
Not long after these hardier 2x2s were developed, a new user demand came into the picture, and another version of the 2×2 was created for dual-use: a road-registerable bike accompanied by digital monitoring technology. UBCO now makes trail bikes (the FRX1), and a 4×4 utility vehicle is underway. All are electric.
The 2x2s have a motor in both wheels—no clutch, drivetrain, or emissions. They were designed for front-wheel drive, and offer a smooth compliant ride with suspension that can be adjusted for riding around the city or off pavement. The Portage battery system keeps everything juiced up, even your phone. Attach surfboards, skis, fishing rods, panniers—pretty much anything you need—to the frame’s sturdy attachment points.
The “two wheels, two motors, no gas, no noise” slogan supports the environmental quality and success of UEV bikes, as do some of the facts: 80 percent less CO2 versus fuel, 60 percent less CO2 over whole vehicle lifecycle, removal of particulate emissions; 50 percent less photochemical oxidation (smog), and 40 percent less cumulative energy demand.
The 2x2s maximum range is 75 miles. They weigh 140 pounds, take six hours to charge, and can reach a top speed of 30 mph.
The downside? UEVs aren’t cheap. Ranging from $6,500 to $9,000, the cost is like prepaying your fuel for two years. With most every responsible switch-over and swap-out for the sake of our environment, the upfront costs are steep, but they are the way forward. As one of the founding members of UBCO points out, e-bikes are not the future, e-bikes are today.
To hear more about UBCO and their UEVs, start at the 8h 04 mark in this video, where CEO Timothy Allan presents at Semipermanent, a globally streamed event for the creative industries.
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