A new cycle in two-wheel transportation

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Karen Cox, ValCox Photography

Troy Rank ’15 has created one of the lightest e-bikes in the world. He hopes the bikes will be available this spring.

Oh, what a ride.

In August 2014, Troy Rank spent the entire month on his electric bicycle and logged 4,400 miles in 30 days to beat the Guinness World Record for “longest motorized bicycle journey.” During his round trip solo ride from his hometown in Walworth, N.Y., to Boulder, Colo., he said the entire travel cost for electricity was, believe it or not, just under $20.

Rank had no transportation backup, nor a tech crew following his progress. But he did have help back home from his wife, Kerra, who would do Google searches for the best off-road bike paths along the way.

“The good part was that I saw some amazing landscapes because the trails off the highways force you to see how the country stitches together and you get to meet some amazing people living in the local communities,” said Rank. “The bad part was changing three flat tires in one day.”

Before graduating with an MS degree in entrepreneurship from RIT’s Saunders College of Business last May, Rank traveled on his e-bike “built from scratch” to classes. The e-bicycle enthusiast still relies on two wheels and doesn’t own a car—the bike is his mode of transportation when he treks to work as a systems engineer at GE-MDS in Rochester.

Rank is also the founder and product architect of Maxwell Motorbikes. During the last year, he has expanded his e-bike passion to create a prototype for one of the lightest e-bikes in the world with RIT alumni John Lillibridge ’15 (industrial design) and Justin Schmidt ’08 (metals and jewelry design).

With help from RIT’s MAGIC (Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity) Center and the Albert J. Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the team received a National Science Foundation I-Corps grant to further develop the fully functional prototype—which will sell for approximately $1,500 and is production-intent for availability next spring.

According to Rank, Maxwell Motorbikes EP-0 weighs in at a mere 26 pounds (compared to the average e-bike at 45-50 pounds) and whisks the rider along on an invisible boost from an almost silent electric motor at up to 20 miles per hour with a 10-15 mile range. “This is design technology that has never been seen before in an e-bike,” said Rank, who explained that the cylindrical batteries are hidden inside the triangle frame of the bicycle and power a motor in the front hub of the wheel.

“We love the Maxwell EP-0 because it makes the rider three times more powerful, twice as fast, and can charge from an ordinary wall socket in 45 minutes. Ditch your car for a day and ride your bike.”