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Motorcycle Manufacturers Pursuing Hybridization of Motorcycles and Bicycles (with video)


Motorcycle manufacturers don’t care if you are not ready for change.  It is coming, and a big part of that is the explosion of powered two-wheelers that look like bicycles. This came to mind when we received the press release below from Ducati regarding an EICMA unveiling next Sunday of an Ebike known as the MIG-RR.

Yamaha also sells Ebikes, and has provided power systems to major bicycle manufacturers for many years, including the world’s largest manufacturer, Giant.

Another hybrid we wrote about earlier is the CAKE KALK, which moves the bar closer to a pure motorcycle, because it does not have pedals.

Here is the press release from Ducati regarding the upcoming EICMA Ebike reveal, followed by a video from Yamaha:

An exclusive Ducati e-mtb ready for its debut at EICMA 2018

  • The Ducati MIG-RR – an exclusive enduro e-mtb to complete the new 2019 range – will soon be taking centre-stage at the Ducati World Première and on the Ducati stand at EICMA 2018
  • The project is the result of a collaboration between Ducati and Thok Ebikes, with design and graphics by Aldo Drudi’s D-Perf and the support of the Ducati Design Center
  • The Ducati Ebike will be available in Ducati stores across Europe starting from spring 2019

Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 30 October 2018 – On Sunday 4 November 2018 the Ducati World Première in Milan (streamed live worldwide on www.ducati.com starting at 19.00) will unveil, in addition to the latest Ducati models for 2019, the new Ducati e-mtb, the MIG-RR, an enduro born out of close collaboration with Italian company Thok Ebikes.

E-mountainbikes let cyclists take on climbs that, without the motor boost, wouldn’t be possible and, at the same time, they allow everyone to live the off-road on two wheels in total freedom. E-mtbs sales are booming worldwide. Ducati has now entered this market segment relying on the experience of a specialized company, Thok Ebikes, born from the passion of the BMX and Down Hill champion Stefano Migliorini.

Yamaha makes its own line of Ebikes, and also is a major supplier of Ebike power systems to other OEMs.

The Ducati MIG-RR, which will make its public debut on the Ducati stand at EICMA 2018 (Fiera Milano Rho, 8-11 November), is a true high-end e-mtb developed by Thok Ebikes specialists in close collaboration with Aldo Drudi’s D-Perf and the Ducati Design Center.

While the new Ducati e-mtb is an offshoot of the popular MIG series produced by Thok, it features some unique technical solutions: wheels with different diameters and suspension set-ups with different degrees of wheel travel (29″ and 170 mm at the front, 27.5″ and 160 mm at the rear) make it a true enduro that meets the needs of even the most demanding rider.

With high-level components such as FOX Factory Kashima suspension, carbon fibre Renthal handlebars, Mavic wheels, 4-caliper Shimano Saint brakes and an 11-speed Shimano XT gear set, the MIG-RR features a Shimano Steps E8000 motor – which puts out 250 Watts with a torque of 70N – powered by a 504 Wh battery.
The battery is positioned underneath the down tube. The resulting low barycentre makes the Ducati MIG-RR an easy-to-ride yet precise bike even on the toughest terrain.

The Ducati MIG-RR will be distributed throughout Europe via the Ducati dealership network starting from spring 2019.

It can also be ordered online at www.ducati.com from January 2019 onwards.


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42 Comments

  1. Mark says:

    When they say “hybridization of motorcycles and bicycles” I believe they mean the PRICE. Have you seen what these things cost?

  2. James Logan says:

    I have ridden a bicycle for years. Last summer while riding on an urban trail east of Tacoma WA I met a man who was riding one of the e-bikes. He was in his 60s and had double hip replacement surgery. His take on these bikes was that he would not be able to ride bicycles any more if they had not come along.

    • Superlight says:

      That’s one viewpoint on the issue. I have concerns about mixing pedal and motorized bikes on the same trail system. It could work, at least until the e-bike riders come upon pedal bike riders on a tough climb and exhort the pedalers to “get out of the way!”.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I sometimes see pedal bikes on single track trails where I ride my 300cc enduro. Most are pretty courteous and will move off and wave us through. If it is a steep or loose climb that can be difficult to get restarted on, we’ll gladly wait it out while the cyclists complete the climb.

        If two-strokes and pedal power can get along, surely pedals and batteries can too?

  3. dman says:

    That Cake Kalk thing is not an EBike, at least in California and other states that have adopted the same guidelines. EBikes have to have pedal assist to be legal to ride on bike trails, paved or offroad. Powered things without pedals can be ridden in bike lanes or on motorized off-highway trails. I’m not a bicycle engineer but I think the mullet (reverse mullet?) config with 29″ front and 27.5″ rear is good for this application. 29-er up front to plow through things that are harder to lift over with the added weight of the EBike, and 27.5″ (maybe plus) in back to allow shorter chainstays. The Ducati/Thok folks know bicycles. However, I think the Saint brakes are 4 PISTON, not 4 CALIPER.

  4. Bob K says:

    The Duc is a good looking bike. But I have to state, that I’m disappointed with the industry as a whole in still using a derailleur in this day and age. I can’t wait til the day the derailleur dies. There’s no reason a synchronous transmission in the bottom bracket shouldn’t have been available by now. These 11 speed cogs are ridiculous.

    • Dave says:

      There are BB (Pinion of Germany) and hub (Shimano, Rohloff, Nuvinci) located transmissions. The reason that they’re not more common is because they’re inferior to derailleurs in several ways – weight, cost, durability, and efficiency.

      Internal gear hubs are nice for city bikes, but they’re draggy and heavy, not what a performance oriented rider wants. Electric assist bikes forgive this somewhat, but guys who buy bikes like this Ducati E-MTB still want high-performance, and nobody has gotten there with internally geared stuff, yet.

      • Bob K says:

        I wasn’t aware of Pinion. So far I like it. Mass centralized for handling, weight down low. But I did read that downshifts need to happen at “zero-load” which is an issue as you slow down as you’re climbing.
        .
        But I knew about the hub drives. Fine on a city commuter or beach cruiser but the last thing I want is more unsprung mass and weight so far from the C of G for MTB.
        .
        There is also a step-less unit that is similar to a planetary CVT tranny. Uses balls that tilt, providing an infinitely variable gear ratio. But it is another hub unit. And the gear ratio spread isn’t as wide as the Pinion, perhaps just over half the range. I think it covers what a 1 x 10 can do, whereas the Pinion can cover what a 3 x 10 can do. Adding a 2nd cvt side by side like Pinion does with their gearsets would likely increase the overall ratio to match the Pinion. And it’s real heavy from what I understand. Perhaps in time it’ll lighten and move to the BB shell.

      • Dave says:

        I’m familiar. That system is nowhere near functional. It currently doesn’t shift and suffers from flex & power loss under high load. Neat idea, but even if they get it to work, it will need to be completely shrouded and sealed from the elements. Bye-bye light weight..

        • Bob K says:

          Doesn’t seem all that safe in the event of a wipe out. I’ll bet the cogs damage easy and beyond garage repair.

          Not the least bit interested in this one.

        • SharkGuitar says:

          Dave, the system is fully functional now and being tested.
          It will be available in 2019.

          Again, the problem will be the price$$$

    • Tom K. says:

      Just as I believe that IC “range extenders” are necessary for BEV’s with respect to automobiles (at least until batteries get much better than current), a serial-hybrid E-bike may be under development in a dark corner of a lab somewhere. Only, the pedals will be completely disconnected from the rear wheel, the rear (or front?) wheel will be powered by a wheel hub motor only, likely controlled by a twist grip. The pedals will spin a generator (or alternator) built into the crank bearings to charge the battery. No need for a derailleur, chain, sprockets, etc. Sound feasible? You do the engineering, we’ll split the royalties, LOL.

      I know, “efficiency”, but you’re already plugging the thing in to a wall outlet – this way, you keep the pedals to retain “bicycle” status, can pedal as much or as little as you want, and could likely adjust pedal torque through a dial that would control the alternator’s field current. Also, couldn’t an E-Bike come equipped with a low-speed “stair” mode that would allow it to climb stairs under its own power? In case it isn’t obvious, I’m one of the old guys with failing hips and knees who can see a real future in owning one of these things. It could also come with a stand so that you can charge the battery yourself during inclement weather – in theory, you’d never have to plug it into the grid at all, if you wanted to be a “purist”.

  5. rick says:

    Cake Kalk – you mean a neutered ALTA Redshift that just went boobs up….

  6. Provologna says:

    In the Yamaha video, every single rider had too short a distance from seat to full pedal extension (ideally a very few degrees of knee bend at full extension, ball of the foot on the pedal). One exception was the road bike rider @ 49S. I suspect the reason is that it’s just a marketing video, and the ideal setup is impossible to get even the toes of one foot on the ground on a vertical bike.

    On the Ductati hybrid I know of no reason for the smaller (27.5″) rear wheel w/160mm of travel (29″/170mm front). Those are pretty big suspension numbers for a regular MTB, but I suppose not that big for a dirt motorcycle.

    Tires on the new Ducati hybrid look to be the so called “Plus” width of 3.00″, which does seem ideal. IMO the ideal on a regular MTB is 2.6″, in between the normal width (about 2.2″) and Plus sizes.

    It’s strange and unexpected to be pedaling at a good clip, then somebody just flies by you making no noise on an e-bike…but I’m getting more used to it.

    If you want to save a lot of money and have some spare time, shop for a Chinese carbon FS frame with the Shimano drive and battery. I estimate you’ll save at least a couple grand. Get carbon wheels and you’ll have a sweet ride (I recommend 29″ x 3.00″ which is Plus size). If your local bike shop is like this area in N. Utah, don’t be ashamed to ask them to assemble a frame and parts you purchase on the net. Assembly costs are surprisingly low, less than $100 here for a regular bike.

    The reputable Chinese carbon frame makers have this down to a very precise science. I’m a “Clyde” and my Chinese carbon wheel set outperforms any prior wheels on which I’ve ridden. Shop around and you’ll get a $1200+ wheel set for $700 delivered, exactly to spec.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Staggered wheels make all the sense in the world. Long travel 29ers end up with chainstays so long they are difficult to manhandle in tight terrain. Yet large front wheels are generally beneficial. In competitive events, wheels mostly have to be the same size, limiting experimentation. Likely a throwback to when bicyclists were supposed to be somewhat self sufficient wrt. tubes and tires.

      But in the e-world, doubly so as the added power and battery weight enable MC like suspension travel, lacking competitive governing bodies, the advantages to staggered wheels, are just too big to ignore.

      • Bob K says:

        Stuki, I’m sure the benefit only applies to certain usages, not all around. I can’t imaging a benefit to staggered wheels in XC. And I don’t see a larger front wheel being beneficial at all. Maybe in Down-Hill and Freeride. But definitely not XC. A larger front, like a 29, while it can roll over stuff more smoothly, is more difficult to pull up and over a log or ledge and it doesn’t change direction as easily and is also consumes more energy to accelerate. The extra leverage on the disc brake requires more clamping force and generates more heat and pad wear.
        .
        And the suspension travel being 160/170mm is also way too much for XC for the same reasons. And all the suspension action just saps a rider’s energy. I don’t care how good of a spinner someone is, lots of suspension still absorbs rider input. And a lower center of gravity is better for maneuverability, tree limb clearance, etc.
        .
        Personally, I was fine with 80mm front and rear for XC. To me, this was ideal. Instead of trying to roll over everything, sometimes you need to bunny hop your way around obstacles and simply pick the front off the ground. Using body english was so much easier than even with 100mm. Now with so much travel, the wheel wants to stay on the ground all the time.
        .
        But that’s me and XC. In fact, lots of XC rider all over Texas are using 100mm setups and there’s still some hard tail guys on the TMBRA circuit. The longer travel, larger wheeled bikes are impressive looking but of little use for most of us. The guys with freeride bikes are miserable out here.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Being that it is an e-bike, I’m not sure any of the XC logic you spelled out really applies. Here we have a heavier, powered vehicle which can presumably traverse the same terrain at a much greater speed. I imagine the big front wheel is pretty welcome in this case.

          That is why every dirt bike uses a staggered wheel set. Sure they could be steer quicker and pull up the front more easily with a smaller wheel as well, but the benefits the larger wheel provides outweigh any of that by a large margin.

          I’m sure that margin isn’t so big with the e-bike, but I bet it exists.

    • Bob K says:

      Yeah, the wheel sizes are strange. I can only guess it had to do with limiting max speed or idealizing the gear ratios. Or maybe the people at Ducati have never MTB’d before and don’t “get” the logic of same sized wheels.
      .
      I’d have to replace the front rim to match the rear. Personally, I’m only interested in keeping tires and tubes for one size wheel. On the trails, I’d have to keep 2 different size tubes in case of punctures. I’d rather have one tube for both. Depending on the riding location, where rocks can slash a tire, I can take 1 folded tire and 1 tube with me. Not 2 of each.
      .
      What is it that makes you think that the 3.00″ PLUS sized tires are ideal widths? For what purposes? Is it for the excess weight of the e-bike? Or is there a true traction to handling benefit over something smaller and lighter.
      .
      For instance, I’m a cross country guy. I still use a Trek Y bike with 26″ x 2.6″ tires and 100mm of suspension travel. There’s no down hill speed runs here, just technical and whoopy-like hills, all short and sweet. For me, this is ideal for maneuverability and acceleration.
      .
      I can see upgrading to a modern 27.5″ for XC to roll over stuff better but 29″ is too much. Is a 3.00″ tire necessary for XC?
      .
      I don’t follow trends in the industry anymore and I certainly don’t upgrade unless there’s an actual benefit.

      • Dave says:

        I used to have a Trek 69er (29 front, 26 rear). I just carried a 26” tube. The one time I ever had to put it in the front, it worked fine, was just a little finicky to get the tire on, had to work the tube out of the way to get the last part of the bead on.

        If you changed the front wheel diameter, you’d change the bike’s geometry pretty drastically. Steeper head & seat angles, more trail, lower BB, not to mention dropping the handlebar an inch or two. Handling would get pretty wonky.

      • todd says:

        I doubt Ducati had anything more to do with this bike other than supporting marketing.

  7. Rapier says:

    The only problem is they are mindbogglingly expensive. From my perspective anyway.

  8. Dino says:

    Oh, a hybrid bicycle without pedals!!! I hope I can sleep tonight..

    I thought the point of bicycles was or green transportation / exercise / etc… This kinda negates all of that?? While we ponder this thought, I will go recycle some Fossil fuel with my 1000cc bicycle that also has no pedals!

    • Pacer says:

      The beauty of the pedal less e bikes is that they get scooter status, and you can carry them up the stairs to your second story apartment.

      Enjoy your ride. 😁

      • Stuki Moi says:

        They’re nominally carryable, but man what a pain carrying them up any number of stairs is. No proper triangle, heavy as %&^%&%, long and unwieldly…

        I had a Specialized a few years ago, and once the novelty wore off, it’s just not all that anymore. And while expensive, I’m sure anything with a Ducati sticker on the frame, will be priced like any other Ducati…

        They make sense for Bike Park stunters without a park nearby. But as transportation, in the US, a regular bike, possibly folding, and/or a combinatin of Bird and Uber, makes more sense.

        In Europe, with their more e-bike centered infrastructure, things are different. As they do allow you to commute to work in a suit without getting sweaty.

        • Pacer says:

          I know a guy who used an electric bike as his only mode of transportation. While it wasn’t perfect, he could get most everywhere on electric alone, and would pedal if needed. He was always topping off the charge so he didn’t need to pedal. 😁

      • Dino says:

        Didn’t think of that, since I have a house/garage. Not leaving it on the street would be a big benefit..

  9. bmbktmracer says:

    I encourage everyone to give an e-bike a try. They expand one’s reasonable commute range from 5-8 miles to 10-15 and make the difference between not riding due to a big hill near the house and riding all the time. Great too for the motorhome crowd. A typical e-bike weighs 50 pounds and has a range of about 30 miles on average (you can get into the 50 mile range on level ground with lower levels of assist). The versions called “pedelecs” have a top speed of 28 mph. The non-pedelecs are in the 18-20 range. Prices range from $2500 for a decent bike to around $7500 at the high end. As with most things, the sweet spot is in the middle. Seems high, but there’s a lot of technology included.

    • todd says:

      This is precisely why Ducati and the like are getting into bicycles. There are some huge profit margins on bicycles.

      • Dave says:

        Not really..
        There’s a joke in the bike industry: “How do you make a million dollars in the bike industry? You begin with two million..”

  10. steveinsandiego says:

    i love the e-bike industry. scads of manufacturers out there, vying for the consumer’s dollar.
    since i retired from mc-ing due to health issues, i glommed onto investigating e-rides. in fact, if i do lay out the cash for anything e-motivated, it’ll very likely be a pedego trike.

  11. Michael says:

    E bikes are nothing new but I am glad to see more join the party. I have an electric assist Trek mtn bike and love it, I never rode enough to get in really good shape, now I can go out and bust 25 miles and still come home and mow the yard. As riding areas close up for motorcycles, e mtn bikes open up a whole new world of riding, granted IF they are allowed there, some areas have banned the e mtn bikes.

  12. Tom R says:

    Yeah but how much does it weigh? Whatever the number, it will still be too much for some.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Never thought I’d see a Ducati with a 180 degree crank. Shocking!

  14. Gary says:

    I don’t own an e-bike, but I have ridden them. Before I rode one I thought it might be the dumbest idea ever…and then I rode one. Probably the best idea ever! The electric assist is like some is giving you a push up a hill, or if you really engage it, its a full on electric bike. I live in a very hilly area, and for my wife who struggles with the hills, it’s the difference between not riding at all – to always riding.

    Great products.