It is no secret that we are exhausting our quota of fossils. Unless science comes up with a way to turn water into fuel, we are surely heading down the electric path. Why am I talking about fuels in a section catering to cycling? Well, the bike in question here is the Tronx One. Developed wholly in India, the Tronx One is perhaps the most convenient urban mobility solution that we have come across so far that doesn’t involve fossil fuels. Yet, the inspiration could be derived from something that came four decades ago.
Remember the old Kinetic Luna? A small motor strapped to a step-through chassis with pedal propulsion that came in handy when you needed that bit of extra boost. The Tronx One is kind of similar in that manner. The step-through bicycle frame may fool you to think that it is a normal bicycle yet the rear hub houses a 250W motor. The folks over at the company though see a fundamental difference between the two products. The primary means of drive in the Luna was the internal combustion engine where as here they want it to be the human. The electric motor is just there to aid in tricky situations.
Built from space-grade aluminium, the designers at Tronx have been rather clever when it came to packaging. Mounting the battery via a rack over the rear wheel would have meant an highly 10-90 biased weight distribution. It would also look like an afterthought and ugly. What they did then was to design their lithium battery in such a manner that it would be placed in the downtube. And that is why the downtube is squarish and not round as found on normal bicycles. The build quality of the frame is of the highest order with brilliantly finished welds.
They weighed in on the pros and cons of having a removable battery pack. And while they did settle on it, the locking mechanism needed to be designed in such a manner that it would serve a dual purpose of igniting the e-bike as well as opening the battery flap. They did manage to crack it. Their ignition holder is one of a kind in the world, a patent that is pending approval. The front end gets 80mm of travel with 26-inch MTB rims at either ends. The rubber used is of a hybrid nature, its main duties are to cater to the daily commuter. The standard brake setup is V-type rubber brakes at the front and a disc brake at the rear. There is an option of upgrading the setup for discs at both ends but as we found out later, it is not really necessary.
If you do not wish to activate the electric drive, then the Tronx One is like any other city-spec bicycle that one can roam around town on. The sleeve bag storage space available in the centre is meant only for the guys who head to office with a laptop and a couple of docs. The experienced bicyclists will find that they will require more sprockets or a better sprocket drive system than the basic six-speed Shimano Tourney unit. The folks at Tronx Motors however believe that the One is meant for the urban commuter and not the dedicated bicyclist.
With the electric drive activated, the small motor does a rather remarkable job of assisting your cycling experience. With three levels of Pedal Assist, the experience of having that much more drive from each gear is actually a nice thing to have when negotiating city niggles. Again if you pedal furiously, you will run out of steam in sixth gear due to the basic sprocket setup. So, pace yourself accordingly.
It will do 50km on a full charge with a top speed of 25kmph. The thumb throttle is particularly easy to operate but can induce some pain in the right wrist after prolonged operation. Guess what, they have provided the drive for convenience not lethargy. So, get pedalling then in that case. The dash is particularly refreshing as it monitors all data including calories burnt and ride data which can be synced to your smartphone via the ‘tbike’ mobile application. It is available on both Google Play Store and App Store on iOS devices. It will display your ride route, the ride time, top speed and average speed amongst plenty of other data.
The Tronx One has gone on sale for Rs 49,999 and the company assures deliveries for online bookings in ten days, twenty for offline bookings. For around fifty grand, you could get yourself the Honda Activa which is the go-to name for practical commuting in India. So why should you get this machine that will test your patience on a daily basis? For one, it is definitely the healthier option, for both yourself as well as the environment. Plus, it is the cheaper of the two when it comes to operational costs. There is but the obvious practicality factor and Tronx has built a couple of luggage racks to solve that problem as well. Lastly, it has the eye-grabbing factor as it separates you from the crowd instantly. Hipster enough for you then.