It’s about Fuell Flluid-1S Electric Bicycle: A few months ago, I wrote a story about Fuell, an electric mobility company cofounded by Erik Buell. Fuell’s Indiegogo campaign had exceeded its funding goals many times over, and that caught my attention, especially with Buell’s connection to the world of the moto. After the article ran, Fuell got in touch and asked if we’d like to test one of their demo bikes for a few weeks.
As my friend, Ross would say, “Bicycles are inverse V-twins!” Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
Not long after, I arrived at the office to find a sleek grey e-bike waiting for me. The Flluid comes in two variants for America: the Flluid-1 (20 mph) and the Fuell Flluid-1S (28 mph). My test unit was a 1S, and I’d opt for the same model if I were buying one.
I know, this isn’t a motorcycle, and I’m not sorry. Modern e-bikes can be a tempting alternative to small motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds, especially in urban environments. And this particular example has Buell in its DNA. So, as a bicyclist and motorcyclist, I had to know what the Flluid was all about. I put hundreds of miles on it over the next month, and let’s just say I didn’t want to give it back.
Flluid or Fluid? Is Editor Lance doing his job?
Fuell recently notified us that the name of their e-bike has changed slightly, from Fluid to Flluid. Here’s their explanation from the updates section of their Indiegogo:
Our unique e-bike deserved a name that stands out and it’s as unique and as recognizable as the e-bike itself. So here comes the second L in FLLUID.”
According to their FAQ section, an update to their website later this month will show the new name across the board. Now back to the review.
Fuell Flluid-1S: What you need to know
Fuell Flluid-1S electric bicycle is the first vehicle to come from Fuell. Their next effort will be a small electric motorcycle called the Flow. The Fuell Flluid-1S is an aluminum-framed e-bike that offers pedal-assist for up to 125 miles on the lowest of five power settings. You can crank up the assist, but range drops off rather quickly. The motor gets power from a pair of large batteries that lock into the frame. (The bike can run on only one battery, and a lockable storage cover re-purposes the unused space where the second would sit.)
The power button, with the assist up/down buttons around it. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
The display puts some motorcycles to shame. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
Power up the bike, hop on, and the Fuell Flluid-1S uses torque sensors in the cranks to determine how hard you’re pedaling. The motor then gives a boost that scales up as you put more effort in. The assist on the Fuell Flluid-1S will help you as far as 28 mph, then you’re on your own. Controls on the handlebar allow the rider to make adjustments to the power delivery. You must pedal to go, so there’s no “throttle.”
The display provides a battery indicator, a wattmeter, a speedometer, and a few other tools. The wheels are decently large for a smooth ride, and the Fuell Flluid-1S does feature front suspension. Overall, the bike prioritizes sleek style, long-range, and low maintenance.
Crash-course on e-bikes: You’ll usually find the motor in the rear hub (hub-drive) or between the cranks (mid-drive). It’s widely agreed that mid-drive is more desirable, so score one for the Fuell Flluid-1S. The rest of the drivetrain is pretty unique, so let’s take a look.
Mid-drive, a belt, and eight in the hub. I like this arrangement. Note the section that unbolts so you can slip the belt out. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
First, you’ll notice the Gates belt-drive. (Same Gates that might have made the belt on your Harley-Davidson.) No chain, no mess, no maintenance, no grease on your chinos after pedaling to work. Not that Spurge or I would know anything about wearing chinos to work. Then there’s the Shimano Alfine eight-speed rear hub. Shifting takes place inside the hub, so that’s another low-maintenance item. A quirk: These hubs do not like to shift while under load, which the motor doesn’t help. So pedal, shift, pause your feet for a second, resume pedaling, and it works every time. Once I got the hang of it, I didn’t even think about it.
When the Fuell Flluid-1S debuted, mid-drive/belt/hub-shift was uncommon. Since then, I’ve seen a few more manufacturers take a similar approach, and I’m not surprised. The whole package works well together.
I think we’re used to seeing larger brakes around here. These little guys will lock the wheels up. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
As for the other running gear, the test bike featured a nice headlight, an average taillight, a horn, a mirror, aluminum pedals, and a mini front fender. No kooky Buell perimeter brakes here, just a pair of 180 mm discs, gripped by Tektro HD-E 350 hydraulic brakes. These are designed specifically for use with heavy electric bicycles. The Tektros were perfectly capable of managing the additional weight and speed, in my experience. And you could always add bigger brakes if you wanted.
69 pounds doesn’t seem so heavy anymore. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
There’s a very substantial kickstand to support the bike’s 69-pound heft. Remember that focus on style, range, and minimal maintenance? All that comes at the expense of some weight. Keep in mind that the Fuell Flluid-1S packs two batteries, each of which weighs in at around 6.6 pounds. The frame is monolithic, in a good way. People ogle it. The overall appearance is pretty slick for an e-bike.
For reference, our test Fuell Flluid-1S had a size L frame. It wasn’t a bad fit for me (six feet tall), but riders under five feet, nine inches will want to order an M, according to Fuell. Riding position leaned to the sporty side of neutral from the factory. The seat on the test bike was far too aggressive for a commuter, and I’m glad to hear that they’ll be equipping the production bike with a friendlier option. That’ll be more appropriate for most riders.
The wide handlebar takes the effort out of steering. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
The wide, flat bar gave good leverage and made the bike feel lighter than it actually was. Now, if this were my personal bike, I’d want a narrower handlebar for threading city streets. Gaps I could shoot on the Schwinn were off-limits with the Fuell’s wider profile. I’m not going to spend any more time on rider contact points, though, since the seat, pedals, and handlebar on any bike can (and should!) be easily adapted to personal preference. Let’s go ride the thing already!