An electric bicycle with a motorcycle pedigree
If you’re a motorcycle person, you likely know the name Erik Buell. He was a motorcycle racer with an engineering degree that began working at Harley-Davidson in 1979. He started working with another company, British manufacturer Barton, to help them improve their motorcycles. He ultimately quit his job at H-D, then started making his own eponymous-named sport bikes that used Harley-Davidson motors. Lacking any type of sport bike in their catalog of touring bikes, Harley-Davidson bought a controlling interest in Buell and hired him back, putting him in charge of engineering and design of all Buell motorcycles.
Following the economic crisis of 2008–2009, H-D ceased production of Buell motorcycles. Buell kept his toes in the world of road racing by producing race bikes with remnants from his previous production bikes. In 2019, he partnered with French financiers via a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to form an electric vehicle company.
His new company name, Fuell, is making electric bicycles and electric motorcycles. While the motorcycle is still in development, the e-bike line is in production, and we got our hot little hands on one. There are three models of the new Flluid: The Flluid-1 is a Class 1 (20 mph) bike with an internally geared Shimano Nexus 5E rear hub. The Flluid-1S and Flluid-1E are Class 3 e-bikes (28 mph), the former having the same Shimano Nexus 5E hub, the latter is spec’d with an Enviolo CVT (continuously variable transmission) drivetrain.
The aluminum frame is a normal, step-over-type design and is available in two sizes. It features a relatively relaxed, upright riding position, and it doesn’t scream “e-bike.” You can’t see the batteries, and the mid-drive motor is fairly small. The tubing is beefy, and with the voluminous Pirelli Cycl-e tires, it commands respect.
The Suntour XC34 air fork up front makes for smoother riding with 120mm of travel. The drivetrain is a maintenance-free Gates carbon belt driving an Enviolo CVT, offering stepless gear changes.
“The power and 100 N/m of torque from the Bofeili motor are delivered powerfully but naturally; there are no surprises.”
The bike comes with integrated lighting, including a Roxim Z4E Pro LED headlight that is incredibly bright and a taillight/brake light. There’s also a horn so loud, you’ll scare others off their bicycles if you use it! There’s a built-in cafe lock to provide a little security when parked. Fuell has an optional chain lock (or you can buy one from another brand), the batteries are locked in place using a key, and there’s even an optional GPS tracker accessory.
This was our first time seeing a motor from Bofeili. It’s an exclusive for Fuell, and it has impressive specs. Unlike the oval shape of many mid-drives, like those from Yamaha or Shimano, this one is round like a TQ motor. It’s a beast, with 500-watt nominal output and 100 N/m of torque.
The battery, or rather batteries, is integrated into the frame and also removable. They each have their own charge port, and each offer 504 Wh of capacity. There’s one in
the top tube and one in the downtube. These batteries, plus the motor and sturdy build of the bike, make it quite heavy, weighing in at 79 pounds. Each battery weighs in at 6.6 pounds, so taking them both off for transportation will save you 13.2 pounds, which brings the bike’s weight down to around 66 lbs. That’s still a heavy bike and almost a pound over most e-bike-rated racks that normally limit the per-tray weight to 65 pounds.
The color display offers a wide variety of easy-to-read information, including battery capacity, speed, distance, assist level and walk mode. There’s a USB charging port if you want to plug in your phone.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Flluid-1E is great for commuters, longer tourers and just as a city bike. It features a sturdy rack, and there are some great saddle bags, a basket and a trunk bag all made specifically for the bike.
Weighing in at nearly 80 pounds, you definitely feel the weight of the bike when you first climb aboard, but once under power you no longer notice. The power and 100 N/m of torque from the Bofeili motor are delivered powerfully but naturally; there are no surprises.
Shifting the Enviolo CVT is not fully intuitive in that we would always downshift when we meant to upshift and vice versa. It’s a grip shifter, and upshifting is done by twisting the shifter forward. If you’re used to riding motorcycles, twisting the throttle back towards you is how you accelerate, so you’ll have to retrain that thought process when you first start riding. This setup isn’t exclusive to Fuell; all Enviolo systems are set up this way, save for the fully automatic one that we recently tested on The Ride Radiant Carbon (EBA, February 2022). We’ll still take manual over automatic.
On short rides and longer rides, the bike was very comfortable. The ergonomics are very well thought out. We might swap out the saddle, but we’d likely do that on most of the bikes we ride. The SR Suntour air fork, with 120mm of travel, smoothed the regular bumps in the road well. If your rides are really bumpy, there should be enough room to install a suspension seatpost, like a Thudbuster or Kinekt. The bars are nice and wide and flat, making the bike easy to control, though they’re wide enough to also make them too wide for total comfort when navigating dense urban streets. Seating position is slightly forward of neutral.
The Pirelli Cycl-e tires are some of our favorites. Not only do you get a cushy ride because of all the air volume, but between the tread pattern and the rubber compound, you get grip in cornering that is outstanding in all conditions. We actually had rain for once in sunny SoCal, and we took it for a ride in the wet. It still left us feeling confident in both the grip and the IP65 rating for the electrical components.
Fuell claims that with both batteries fully charged, you can ride up to 125 miles. Like all these manufacturer claims, this is under ideal conditions. In the real world, not staying in Eco mode, riding up hills, facing headwinds and just having fun, you’re likely to get 50–60 miles. That’s a pretty good total range that most riders won’t do all at once.
Overall, this is a very well-engineered bike that’s fun to ride. Ride quality and ergonomics are outstanding, the bike feels planted on any surface, and it is a great commuter that likes to easily go 20–24 mph.
The model we tested is the top of the line, with a $500 premium over the other two models. We’d absolutely skip over the Class 1 version and probably actually save the $500 and go for the Fllow-1S instead, because shifting is more intuitive for experienced riders and a bit more efficient.
Fork: Suntour XCR34, 120mm, air adjustable
Motor: Bofeili 500W mid-drive
Battery: 2x504Wh lithium-ion batteries
Controls: 3.2” IPS color screen with USB charging
Charge time: 3–4 hours per battery
Top speed: 28 mph
Range: 125 miles (claimed)
Chain: Gates carbon belt
Brakes: Tektro HD-E 350, 180mm discs
Hubs: Enviolo CVT
Tires: Pirelli Cycl-e GT, 27.5” x 2.25”
Weight: 79 lb.
Color choice: Gloss Dark Grey, Gloss Silver, Gloss Blue, Gloss Dark Red
Size: Medium or large