Piaggio Wi-Bike undoubtedly represents a leap forward in the world of pedal assisted bicycles, especially in terms of product concept. We had already provided some indications on the Wi-Bike but now that I have it road tested through the streets of the center of Milan and that I was able to compare myself with those who created it, I can write a more detailed review with my impressions.
Piaggio Wi-Bike, thanks to technology PMP (Piaggio Multimedia Platform), was born as a connected means that allows its user to exploit it not only as a means of transport but also as a tool to keep fit. In fact, an App is added to the latest generation contactless display supplied, which allows you to connect your smartphone to the Wi-Bike via Bluetooth, creating a virtuous integration.
In addition to the usual information relating to speed, km traveled, battery charge level and electric motor assistance intensity, Wi-Bike also allows you to program the level of assistance offered by the electric motor in a variable percentage in relation to the power offered by the cyclist. .
In this way you can set the desired extent of your physical effort (for example, 100W of effort and a certain pedaling frequency) leaving the motor free to increase or decrease its contribution based on the altimetric variations to respect the set parameters.
Put simply, the cyclist who uses Wi-Bike to go to work or school every day, he can set the desired fatigue threshold to reach his destination without breaking a sweat and the sporty cyclist can optimize his training while keeping the "fatigue" high throughout his journey.
Through the app you can select three predefined power delivery modes over the period of use in order to optimize your experience:
STANDARD mode: the engine delivers power proportional to the effort detected on the pedals: the more the effort increases, the more the engine provides assistance, always with the limit set by the Highway Code of 25 Km / h.
CITY mode: all city cyclists are well aware that the moment of “greatest discomfort” during an urban journey is the moment of the “rest stop”. In the case of stopping at traffic lights or in any other situation that requires a stop or a slowdown. The CITY mode of Wi-Bike allows you to minimize the fatigue in the moment of restarting by maximizing the contribution of the motor. Therefore, it is ideal for quickly and effortlessly restarting in the "Stop & Go" of city traffic.
HILL mode: the engine adapts to the slope of the route by delivering more power uphill and less downhill or on the flat. The goal is to stabilize speed and effort by providing a more important contribution from the electric motor on sloping sections.
Each of these engine maps can be set on ten different levels of assistance, so as to optimize battery use in relation to the length and characteristics of the route we want to travel.
In this image you can see the display flanked by a smartphone inserted in the appropriate housing, with icons to act on the different settings just illustrated.
In my road test I tried all three modes and of course I particularly liked the CITY mode. The contribution of the engine when restarting from a standstill, unlike what I have found on other e-bikes, was important but very fluid, without that annoying "sudden click" sensation typical of lower quality pedal assisted bicycles.
There Piaggio Wi-Bike, thanks to the position of the central engine, it ensures a low center of gravity, ahigh stability and agility, essential for navigating city traffic.
In my test I reached and exceeded 20 Km / h without effort, as also demonstrated by my heartbeats reached a maximum of 102 bpm, compared to an average of 96 bpm.
The "beauty" of the assisted pedaling offered by Wi-Bike is that the "peaks of effort" are eliminated, leaving the benefits of motor exercise unaltered.
The GPS track of my Piaggio Wi-Bike test in the center of Milan
The Wi-Bike app will allow you to share your route on the main social networks, without prejudice to the possibility of using other tracking devices.
The Wi-Bike engine
The Wi-Bike engine is an electric propulsion unit entirely designed, developed and built by the Piaggio Group. It is a motor capable of developing 350W of maximum power, however limited to 250W and 25 Km / h of maximum speed required by the legislation that regulates the circulation of pedal assisted bicycles in Italy.
The remarkable maximum torque generated is 50 Nm able to guarantee prompt response in every situation.
In this way, Wi-Bike can access cycle paths and restricted traffic areas, does not require a license plate and does not require the use of a motorcycle case.
The position of the motor, as already mentioned above, is another important feature: the whole electric motor is positioned around the pedal axle, with a shape specially designed to ensure performance, balance, compactness and aesthetic beauty at the same time.
Wi-Bike: the battery
The 400 Wh lithium-ion battery is positioned under the saddle in correspondence with the vertical tube, perfectly integrated into the design and structure of the Wi-Bike.
It provides an excellent range, on average between 60 and 120 kilometers in relation to the methods and conditions of use. The battery is completely watertight (IP 65 degree), ensuring maximum safety.
The full battery charge time is just over 3 hours. In one hour, 60% of the battery is recharged.
One of the truly unique features of the Piaggio Wi-Bike is that which allows you to check the battery charge status via smartphone and even to receive, always on your device, an alert notification in case of low charge, for example after a long stop. .
All this is made possible by the fact that a GPS / GSM module is housed in the battery.
The integrated battery of Wi-Bike
Wi-Bike: transmission and brakes
Piaggio Wi-Bike offers three advanced solutions for transmission. The first is a belt drive combined with an advanced continuously variable automatic transmission, electronically assisted, to always ensure the best ratio between a practically infinite choice of combinations. It is a technology that conceptually refers to the gearbox and transmission system used in scooters.
The second option is a continuously variable transmission with belt drive, which allows you to select the ideal gear without jerks. The third is a traditional high quality 9-speed gearbox with chain final drive.
The brakes are instead composed of two discs with a diameter of 180 mm (front) and 160 mm (rear) on which hydraulic calipers work.
Wi-Bike: security and anti-theft
Piaggio Wi-Bike guarantees a high level of safety: the dashboard, battery and electric motor control units are connected by a unique code delivered to the customer at the time of purchase. The three units can only function if connected and communicating with each other: for example by removing the display (which acts as an electronic key), in the event of a stop, the Piaggio Wi-Bike becomes unusable, and only via your personal code you can order a new display.
The GPS / GSM module housed in the battery works both as a satellite anti-theft device and as a data transmission element to / from the battery. If the system detects an attempted theft of the vehicle, a notification is immediately sent via the dedicated app and the location of the vehicle is traced on the map.
The whole system was able to protect the owners of a Piaggio Wi-Bike in a decidedly efficient way, given that, as Luca Sacchi, Piaggio's Strategic Innovation Manager explained to me, only two Wi-Bikes to date. have been stolen and both have been found!
Another feature that Luca told me about is also very interesting: the Wi-Bike firmware can be updated by service centers, eliminating one of the main risks of obsolescence of a high-tech product.
Wi-Bike: design and materials
The design of the Piaggio Wi-Bike is decidedly elegant and manages to combine advanced functions with operating convenience.
All the main "bulky" components (electric motor, transmission and battery) that usually hinder aesthetics have been harmoniously inserted into the frame, made entirely of aluminum.
As for the colors, my preference goes to the "total black" (or rather anthracite) version that I used for the test (you can see it in the opening photo of this article and in the shot below that portrays me in front of the Duomo of Milan) but the more creative might prefer the version with a metallic gray frame and fluorescent orange rims, also exhibited at the Milan Triennale.
Wi-Bike active plus exhibited at the Triennale
Piaggio Wi-Bike: set-ups
Wi-Bike is available in the following four configurations:
COMFORT: it is the entry level of the range: the easiest and most accessible to any user and available in the frame version without a high barrel, which facilitates getting into the saddle. It features a telescopic fork, comfort saddle, adjustable handlebar stem and ergonomic grips as standard. It is available in three different frame sizes to suit any body type. Two options for the gearbox: traditional mechanical or manually operated variator.
COMFORT PLUS: Compared to the Comfort, it stands out for its superior trim, which includes the saddle and ergonomic grips in genuine leather, as well as classy details, such as chrome and cream-colored tires. Two gear options: manually operated or electronically controlled variator. It is available in the unisex version (frame without high barrel and in three different sizes: S, M and L) and in the male version (frame with high barrel and two different sizes: M and L).
ACTIVE: this is the Piaggio Wi-Bike version with a sportier design, combined with a minimal style that lends itself well to customization. The frame is available in the male version (with high barrel) in two different sizes (M and L). Active is distinguished by the gearbox with three operating options: traditional mechanical, manually operated variator and electronically controlled variator.
ACTIVE PLUS: the most captivating in style and equipment, it stands out for its dedicated graphic variants and for the set-up that also includes a saddle and knobs of fine leather. Two different options for the gearbox: manual or electronically controlled variator.
Wi-Bike comfort plus
Piaggio Wi-Bike: prices
The prices of the Wi-Bike range from 2,899 to 3,499 Euros including VAT. Below is the official Piaggio price list (important: updated to today's date of 31 October 2016 and obviously subject to changes in the future), with details relating to the various standard configurations.
However, each configuration can be customized as desired with a rich series of accessories.
For the latest information on Piaggio Wi-Bike, I invite you to visit the official website: www.piaggio.com/wi-bike/it_IT/