Manthini e-bike

by Ben N on April 6, 2019

The Manthini All-Wheel Drive E-Bike

This past Saturday, I got to meet up with a couple of local guys who have been working on a neat e-bike design. We met up at the VeloCity bike shop in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Cal, John, Avi, and two other friends, neighbors, and co-workers have designed a 2-wheel drive electric bike. It’s their prototype bike, and they are currently building a second one, improving on what they learned building this bike.

I sat down with them and asked what it’s like to design an e-bike, how team dynamics come into play, and what their big-picture plans are for the project.

Watch the interview here

After the interview, I got to take the bike out for a test ride. Overall, I really liked it. The motocross inspired frame looks great and feels beefy and solid. The two-wheel drive is interesting because it also uses TWO throttles! That’s right, the rider has full independent control over each of the two wheels. It only took a moment to get used to, and it was rather fun feeling the slight variation in drive using one motor, the other, or both.

Two-wheel drive doesn’t mean much on smooth pavement, so I also tried it out on sand, grass, and some extremely rough gravel. I hit the beach and plowed right through the sand. (Steering wasn’t fantastic, but the sand was rather deep!) The bike was great off-road. Riding on grass and dirt felt very natural. Next, I rode along some rail-road tracks on large loose hunks of granite. That’s possibly some of the worst riding conditions! Still, the bike did well, although the lack of front shocks was definitely noticeable at that point! This bike uses a mono-shock for the rear swing arm, but the front fork is plain steel. The next version of the bike includes front shocks.

In terms of speed, the bike goes plenty fast. Just twist the throttle (either one) and the bike gets up and goes without needing any pedaling. Officially, top speed is 25 KPH, but in reality the speed is 16-20 MPH. In many places (including where we were filming) the top LEGAL speed on an electric bike is 20 MPH. That’s one of the things that differentiates a bicycle from a motorcycle, and eliminates need for insurance, plates, registration, motorcycle license, etc.

I wasn’t able to get all the details on the battery pack, as there is some proprietary technology going on in there, but it is based on 18650 cells using a 33V nominal system and about 18AH capacity. That’s enough for about 20 miles of all-electric riding.

The twin hub motors are 500 watts each and the controllers and other electronics are built right into the frame. The charger is off-board with the charger quick connect hidden behind a flap in the frame at the base of the seat.

The only dislikes/oddities that I noticed were the lack of shifting and seat height. When I rode the bike, the gearing for the pedals for pretty low. I then noticed there was no shifter! There’s really no need to pedal at all, but my legs wouldn’t be able to keep up at full speed. Two throttles on the handlebars meant there was little space for a shifter. I also felt that the seat was a little high. I’m a six-foot tall guy and I wouldn’t have minded it just a little lower. When I asked the guys about these two issues, they acknowledged them and said both are already addressed in the next version of the bike.

I’m editing a “Test Ride” video right now, but in the mean time, you can watch this quick video I threw together mostly from my GoPro.

The master plan for these guys is to complete the second bike with improvements from what they learned from working on this one. After that, they may be working on selling them ( Do I smell a Kickstarter in the future?)

I always love getting to check out other folks clean transportation projects, and I hope that you do to. I’ll check back in on Cal and the Manthini team as work progresses on that second bike. If you want to see what they are up to, peep their social media links:

Make sure you subscribe (both here at the blog and on YouTube) so that you stay up to date on this project!

Until next time, stay charged-up!
-Ben Nelson

PS: I still have a real test-ride video and an overview of the bike coming!

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