Could Audi's e-bike become a Ducati?

Audi e-bike unveiled, but does it have a future in Bologna red...

DOES an electric bicycle warrant space on the pages of Visordown? As electric power increasingly blurs the line where bicycles end and motorcycles begin its a question that's not likely to go away soon, but since Audi is the new owner of Ducati it's latest concept bike is worth a look. Oh, and we applaud anything that includes a bespoke “wheelie mode”...

The e-bike, due to appear at the Wörthersee car show this week (a VW/Audi event), is said to be the most powerful electric bicycle ever made, with 2.3kW of power (3.1bhp) and 184lb/ft of torque at the rear wheel. That's enough for a 31mph electric-only top speed, boosted to 50mph if you pedal a bit to help it along. And with a range of somewhere between 31 and 44 miles, it could even be practical for some commutes, particularly if you can plug it in for 2.5 hours to recharge it when you get there.

But the carbon-fibre chassis, nine-speed sequential gearbox (with hydraulic actuation) and high-tech computer-controlled drivetrain suggests that if it ever reached production, it's price would be rather more that you paid for your Raleigh Grifter... While the exotic materials and design help with the performance, keeping weight down to just 21kg, you probably wouldn't want to leave it chained to a lamp post.

Anyway, back to the wheelie mode. It apparently includes a variable wheelie angle for learners – so you can set how high the front wheel goes before the power is cut – and a 'balanced' wheelie mode, using Segway-style technology, where it automatically reaches the balance point and stays there regardless whether you're accelerating or not.

Oh, and because it's 'high tech' you can control it all with your smartphone via WLAN, too. No, we don't know why you'd want to, either.

OK, so the truth of the matter is that this bike will probably never reach production, but the wheelie mode is an intriguing development – showcasing a real advantage of an electric-powered bike. Even with modern computer systems, it would be near impossible to give a petrol engined bike the sort of instant reactions needed to provide self-balancing wheelies. But with electric power, it becomes just another possibility.

While we're not expecting the new concept to appear in showrooms, either those of Audi or Ducati, we can imagine something red, with Ducati badges and the same sort of technology (with a bit more power and less in the way of pedals) appearing thanks to the link between the two firms. As an expensive toy, rather than a viable means of transport, it could be a real hit.