I honestly can't even tell you what's going on in these pictures… But I like it. Zooz Urban Ultralight is very different to your standard ebike. Being a combination of BMX and chopper it's a kind of a Generation X retro throwback machine, but decidedly youthful at the same time. Well, I'm from Gen X and you wouldn't catch me flying through the air like that on any bike unless I'd just been fired out of a cannon.
Zooz is the brainchild of Chicago's Chris Zahner and it's just landed, literally, in the UK. The Urban Ultralight is described by their UK partner Ride & Gide as 'like an 80s Chopper but with a more elevated position – as if you were riding a Vespa.' So, okay, it's like a BMX crossed with a Chopper crossed with a Vespa. How exciting is that?!
Zooz itself describes the design process thus: 'It started during exploration of an electric two-wheeler in a rundown garage in Chicago. A couple of Instagram posts later, a mutual motorcycling friend caught wind. A few conversations, sketches and Google documents later, a new vision/concept/application of a lightweight, electric bike was rendered. Two years later, Zooz reveals its Urban Ultralight platform.'
So yes, this is an ebike. Can you guess where the battery is?
That's right: it's in that slightly outrageous, motorbike-style saddle. Zooz says this position puts it close to the rider’s centre of gravity, and I suppose you can't really argue with that. Normally, the battery is secreted in an ebike's downtube and sometimes the seatpost but I can't say I've seen a bike before where you literally sit on the battery.
There are three models: Urban Ultralight 250, 700 and 1100, with the number referring to the Wattage of the drive system. Eagle-eyed and well-informed readers will be aware that anything above 250W is not road legal in the UK and EU, so the heftier models will have to be kept strictly for off-road action only.
This takes me back to what I was saying the other day about raising the speed limit on ebikes. The Ultralight 250 is kept to 15.5mph in order to be road legal, whereas the 750 and 1100 can do 26mph and 32mph respectively. That raises the question of whether they're ebikes or not. As far as the law is concerned, they're not and I am inclined to agree – they're essentially going to ride more like electric mopeds or even sporty, scramble-y motorbikes.
The 250, however, looks like it might just be the most fun way to get to work or into town. Despite being called the Urban Ultralight, even the 250 is 20 kilos – the faster models are 25kg and 28kg. If we're talking bicycles I'm not sure if I'd even call that light, never mind Ultralight. However if we're talking hybrid e-moped/bike things that do 30mph, I guess that is pretty damn lightweight. It's a whole new world!
There is not an awful lot of specifics about componentry on Zooz's site but I can tell you that the bike's frame is made from 4130 Chromoly Steel, 'for more flex and absorption of bumps in the road.' There's a cadence sensor to translate your pedalling into speed in a hopefully intelligent way and hydraulic disk brakes to bring you to a halt. No gears to worry about.
Zooz adds that, 'The forks, handlebars and frame have been rigorously tested to ensure the 4130 characteristics are utilised to provide confident handling for extreme shredding!' So that's nice.
The range of the 16aH battery is up to 40 miles and a full charge takes '4+' hours, whatever that means. The maximum load is quoted as 90kg. There are two wheel options: KENDA Kranium 24x2.1 or 26x2.1. In the US, the Zooz Urban Ultralight can use a manual throttle rather than using pedal assistance only. The UK retailer coyly notes that over here the throttle is 'Optional (included in box)' – fitting this would make it not road legal in the UK.
Clearly the Zooz Urban Ultralight is going to be way more interesting to ride than the average ebike. I shall hopefully be getting one very soon. And then handing it to someone braver than me to review. In the meantime, get a load of this.
Zooz Urban Ultralight: price and availability
In the UK Zooz Urban Ultralight costs from £2,100 for the 250W model, up to £3,100 for the 1100W beast.
In its native USA, pricing is from $2,100 up to $3,100, so the UK importer has done a very straight pounds to dollars conversion, there.
In Australia, it seems like you're out of luck for the time being. Sorry about that.