Daniel Tonkopiy was in Las Vegas in recent days for the Interbike International Expo to give the world the first major unveiling of his company’s new electric bike, which sports a top range of 236 miles. To put that feat in perspective, Tesla’s base trim Model 3 has a range of 220 miles.
Tonkopiy — the CEO of Ukraine-based Delfast — says that max range helps ebikes start to become something more than what they have been until now. With ranges of, say, 40 to 50 miles, they’re little more than “a toy,” as he puts it, and “not very useful.”
“Imagine a car that could only go 40 or 50 miles,” he says. “You’d never be able to be far from a gas station.
“We have many plans. We’re going to open a sales office in California. I’m a fan of electric transportation, and I think this is the future of transportation.”
The public apparently thinks so, too. His company is currently running a Kickstarter to raise $50,000 for production of the bikes — and they’ve already blown past that goal, raising almost $90,000 with still more than a month to go in the campaign.
Delfast’s ebike lineup includes three models, with the “Prime” model — weighing 95 pounds with a top speed of 34 miles per hour — being the model the company says has a range of 236 miles. To showcase that range, the company strapped a GoPro on a rider’s head, produced a time-lapsed video of the footage and uploaded it to YouTube:
Among the bike’s other features are high-intensity headlights, front and rear turn signals and automatic brake lights; GPS tracking; a mobile app; a start/stop button; remote start; 2 USB chargers; a U.S.-made 3,000-cycle battery; and more.
Delfast’s other two ebike models include a “Top” and “Lite” version. The former has a range of 174 miles, while the latter sports a 112-mile max range.
Tonkopiy’s product was part of a busy three-day Interbike showcase in Vegas, which drew about 25,000 attendees. About 50 companies presented at this year’s show, up almost tenfold over the past five years, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The show also included things like a 1,500-foot test track sponsored by Bosch that dealers were able to use to try almost 200 ebike models.
Ebikes, to be sure, still represent only a fraction of the total number of bikes sold in the U.S. each year. The newspaper cites a stat from Electric Bike Association executive director Ray Verhelst that says somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 ebikes are sold in the U.S. annually.
That’s compared to about 15 million bikes total sold each year. Verhelst also says it’s not the younger, early adopter set that’s typically the biggest buyer of ebikes. That title belongs to the 55-to-65 age group, he says, according to the paper.
That works just fine for the Delfast bikes, though. “Our electric bikes are not an abstract dream or concept,” the company announces on its Kickstarter page to potential funders. “It’s the real-deal, hardcore electric bike project that’s available for use regardless of gender and age … It’s not necessary to be in excellent physical shape to travel long distances on an electric bicycle – along with Delfast bikes it’s possible to easily and comfortably cover 236 miles on a single charge.”
Tonkopiy says Delfast started three years ago as a delivery service company, “delivering goods from online stores in one hour on electric bikes.” (“Delivery Fast,” which got shortened to the company’s name.)
“We started buying Chinese bikes, but they had a very small range of, like, 20 miles per charge. Then we started to combine them with additional batteries. We had a lot of experiments.
“We want to conquer the world with this bike. Our goal is to spread the word, to make people know about such great products. And I really consider this a great product.”