Say you Want a Revolution?

From a garage near Fremantle, a team of bright Australian engineers and designers have developed an electric bike to transform urban commuting.

“When Tiller Rides began, we didn’t set out to build a new ebike around a revolutionary frame. In fact we didn’t set out to build an electric bike at all,” says Tiller Rides co-founder Julian Ilich, an urban rider, mechanical engineer and champion of sustainable living, who has been developing the ‘Roadster’ since 2016.

“What we set out to do was build a bike that had all the features urban riders said they needed to make using it for everyday transport as easy as using a car.”

The Tiller Rides team undertook an extensive consultation process with everyday riders to determine the limitations to riding and desirable features their ‘super bike’ would need to address.

“It was the requirement of integrating features that have been historically considered as ‘accessories’ that required us to rethink the standard tubular bike frame. It is surprising to discover that the standard tubular bicycle frame has changed little since the invention of the modern bicycle by John Kemp Stanley back in 1885,” Julian said.

Unlike ebikes before it that typically affix a battery to the exterior, the Tiller Rides Roadster has broken the tradition of the tubular bike frame in favour of a monocoque design which was developed to integrate the bike’s battery, locks, lights and alarm into one attractive unit.

Julian draws reference to the introduction of the monocoque chassis to Formula 1 racing via Colin Chapman’s Lotus 25 in 1962, remarking how this design was structurally stronger, yet lighter weight than the tubular builds before it.

The Roadster integrates all the accessories you’d ever need to ride around town, without needing to know, or think twice about lights, locks and tyre repair kits. The bike is kept safe with a five-part anti-theft system utilising GPS technology.

There is even a small raincoat that tucks into the bike’s hidden locker within the frame.

“I felt sure there must be a bike somewhere in the world that had all these features, where everything was built in. Much like a car.”

“After a global search, I was quite astounded that the bike we wanted didn’t exist. What we found was that if a bike was stylish, then the functionality had been lost; and if it was highly functional, it gave little consideration to aesthetics,” Julian said.

Three years of prototyping has led to the release of the Tiller Rides Roadster, with the first edition now available to pre-order in advance of the company’s inaugural commercial production run, scheduled for later in 2019.

While relatively new in Australia, the prevalence of electric bikes in Europe and Asian cities is growing rapidly. In 2018 the sales of new bikes in Europe’s leading country for riding, the Netherlands, rose 25% on the previous year, and 40% of these were electric bikes. (RAI Association, BOVAG and research agency GfK report).

Photography: Tiller Rides & Ellysia Burton for WADES