In which I clap my hands three times and wonder if it's real.
As more and more players enter the realm of electric bikes, scooters, and motorcycles, the definition of what is and isn't a motorcycle sometimes get blurry. An easy answer is that any type of two-wheeled conveyance is for anyone who wants to ride it—and of course that’s true. Still, sometimes you have no choice but to ask the question, “who is this particular thing intended to benefit?” Right now, that’s what we’re wondering about the eROCKIT.
Various publications have been writing about the German startup eROCKIT since at least 2009, when Treehugger noted that the company would be making just 10 bikes for release that year, at an eye-watering price of $44,000 apiece—with a down-payment of $35,000 required. Kickstarter was also just finding its feet in 2009, so a scheme like this to get your invention funded may have seemed like a more definite way to go about it.
The first generation of eROCKITs sold in 2009 came with batteries that the company expected to last for around 10 years or 50,000 kilometers (that’s 31,068 miles) of use, so those first nano-phosphate lithium batteries should be wearing out around now. There’s no mention on eROCKIT’s site about potential battery replacements—not for parts, service, or upgrades to any newer battery technology the company may have contracted or developed in the past 10 years.
Now, about the few specs eROCKIT provides on its website: There’s a claimed 120 kilometers of battery range, which is about 74.5 miles—which is helpful information if it’s accurate. There’s also an alleged top speed of 80kph (or around 50mph) attainable if the rider uses the human-hybrid power system—in other words, the pedals—to channel human energy that is then amplified by the electric motor. No information on any eROCKIT generation differentiation is given, so we have no idea how or if this 2019 one has changed significantly from the 2009 model other than by price reduction over time.
We’ve seen electric bicycles before, as well as electric motorcycles and scooters. We’ve witnessed the rise and fall of Alta (RIP), we’ve seen unsurpassed beauty like the Saroléa Manx7, and one only needs to look at a review site on a mission like Electric Bike Review to appreciate the sheer volume of choice available for anyone shopping in the electric bike space in 2019 if you have a budget of a few thousand dollars and are trying to get the appropriate bang for your e-bike buck. You’ll note that in almost every other e-bike or e-motorbike case, you can see plenty of actual specs and detailed component breakdowns for any machine you’re interested in — you want high-end components that any bicycle person knows to look for, you’ve got them listed for anyone who knows and cares to learn about.
So, back to the central question of whether the eROCKIT is an e-bike or an e-motorbike? It seems to exist in a hybrid space, and the closest two-wheeler currently on the market is probably Sweden’s CAKE Kalk OR or Kalk& (for real), depending on your off-road or on-road preference. The eROCKIT can be purchased via the company’s website if you live in Germany—with planned sales outside Germany to start via the company’s website later in 2019. Current cost is €11,850—or $13,320 USD—in Germany, but that price includes VAT, which you would not pay if it’s exported outside the European Union. (Clearly, other taxes might apply—but the initial purchase price you would pay to eROCKIT would be lower.)
Meanwhile, the Cake Kalk—the street model, which seems like the most straightforward comparison—runs around $14,000, with delivery expected in late summer 2019 according to the company’s website. The biggest difference between the two is that the eROCKIT for 2019 will be issued in a limited edition of just 100 bikes in total. There was also a limited edition CAKE Kalk variant available that sold out, but it appears that both the regular Kalk& and the Kalk OR have larger planned production numbers. No such differentiation in models is listed for the eROCKIT at this time.
The other big difference is that CAKE has made Kalks available for review—publications including Wired and Cycle World have had hands-on time with them. The Kalks come with Öhlins adjustable suspension front and rear; no such information is available about the eROCKIT’s suspension components. The Kalks are chain-driven; the eROCKIT is belt-driven. The eROCKIT weighs 120kg—or 265 pounds. No official weight specs are listed on Cake’s website, but the lighter limited edition that Cycle World tested had a claimed weight of 152 pounds—which is, simply by comparing the LE to the mass production Kalk models, going to be lighter than either of them. Wired listed its LE as 145 pounds, but no matter the true LE weight, it’s virtually guaranteed to be lighter than either production Kalk.
What sets the eROCKIT apart in theory from the Kalks is those pedals—which Electrek’s Micah Toll wondered about, and exactly how much power you, the rider, are required to generate yourself using them. Plenty of people bicycle, e-bike, and moto-commute to work already, and it would be wonderful to understand what this vehicle asks of you before you spend your hard-earned cash on it.
As a citizen of this planet, I want to be hopeful. I want there to be a wide range of amazing electric vehicles that set passions alight for all kinds of people, at various price points. Since I love motorcycles, I especially want choice in that space. Perhaps eROCKIT’s small company size makes it more prohibitive to allow for the kind of media testing that would lay at least a few of these questions to rest—but with vaporware, bad jokes, and bad faith proliferating in the larger moto space, it’s honestly difficult not to be skeptical about the whole thing.
Photos courtesy of eROCKIT and CAKE.