Two-wheel drive Ultra Bike promises road and water-based adventure for £2400

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Talk about getting off the beaten track… the 2×2 Ultra Bike promises a level of versatility rarely seen on two wheels.

Subject of a crowdfunding effort on Indigogo, the machine comes from US-based Robo.Systems and boasts two-wheel drive plus the ability to float on water. Yes, really.

It features a pair of small, hub-mounted electric motors powered by a central battery pack. Hub motors mean there’s no need for a complex transmission to enable 2WD, and the bike can also operate in rear-wheel-drive-only mode.

Top speed is just 30mph and given the sort of terrain the Ultra Bike is aimed at it’s not even intended to spend much time going that fast.

Range is also low on the priority list. It’s more important to keep weight down by using a small battery and the 48v, 35Ah pack is good for a claimed 40 miles.

On the plus side, the bike can be equipped with a removable, 800-watt generator – sitting where the fuel tank would be located on a petrol bike.

A five-litre can of fuel can be clipped to the tail, and the wheels can be used as tanks – filled with fuel for the generator or even drinking water (wash them out first).

With the generator and the potential to carry as much as 45 litres of fuel in the can and wheels, there’s potential to get a long way into the wilderness.

In base form, without the generator or fuel, weight is claimed to be just 55kg, making it light enough to manhandle across obstacles. Even rivers need not be a barrier, since those balloon tyres keep it buoyant and side floats can be added to keep the bike upright, with the wheels acting as paddles.

The simplicity of the Ultra Bike contributes to ambitiously low prices. Via its crowd funder, the firm promises the basic version of the bike for just $1790 (£1432), which is 40% less than the planned list price of $3000 (£2400).

  • Tiny brakes Small hydraulic disc brakes at each end are a backup for a regen system which uses the hub- mounted motors as generators to recharge the battery.
  • Wheels, tanks, and floats The wheels don’t just contain the motors, but also double as storage tanks for fuel or water and, thanks to balloon tyres, allow the bike to float.
  • Suspension The rear suspension is kept as simple as possible and there’s none at the front other the compliance of the balloon tyres.
  • Removable generator An 800w petrol generator slots into a cage ahead of the seat and can be used as a range-extender.
  • Two-wheel drive Compact motors in each hub put out up to 2.68hp, powered by a 48-volt, 35Ah lithium ion phosphate battery.
Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis