Since BESV is an already-established brand and pouring all its know-how into Smalo, you can expect its machines to be a bit different from what other start-ups may be showcasing, not only from a design standpoint but from a functionality one, too.
All this brings me to one of the two machines Smalo is getting ready to unleash onto the market: the LX2, an electrified city bike designed to be sleek, offers the power and range you need to zip around town, and at the forefront of your experience, an AI will be handling crucial aspects of your ride.
AI controlling aspects of our ride? You betcha, and it's one way that Smalo is breaking away from all the other cycles on the market. However, what does it mean for an AI to be at the center of a bicycle? Let's find out, shall we?
At the rear of the LX2, you'll see a whole bunch of hardware that, initially, made me think that I was looking at a hub motor. Nope, that's just the hardware Smalo has in place to manage all the shifting I mentioned, in particular, the Shimano Nexus 7 geared hub. I also like how the chain is routed through the whole thing.
Now, there has to be some sort of brain that makes all this happen, and there is. You may have noticed how the top tube of the LX2 is a bit different than others on the market, mainly because it looks like it's been scooped out. Well, it's here that the manufacturer hides this bike's brain.
Beyond the seamless shifting experience that AI is controlling, let's explore the LX2 as any other e-bike, starting with the frame. For a preorder price of $2,680 (€2,500 at current exchange rates), Smalo will hand you a bike built out of aluminum that, once loaded up to the brim with all the electronics, weighs 51 lbs (23 kg).
As for the battery, it's integrated into the downtube of the LX2 and provides 504 Wh of juice. What does this mean for the average rider? Smalo states that up to 74 mi (119 km is possible, which is rather nice. Then again, that's an optimized number, and you can expect around 30% less from regular riding around town. At least, that's what my experience with e-bikes has taught me. Once empty, under four hours fills up the proverbial tank.
Then there's the geometry, set for urban streets, which typically places the rider in a head-first position, not the LX2. In order to avoid the sometimes uncomfortable position cyclists are often seen in, Smalo raised the cockpit to place riders in a more upright position. It's also important to note the wheel size of 28 in, so you should cruise along with ease over cracks and bumps.
However, that's not all that goes into a bicycle, so expect to find a pair of Schwalbe Big Apple Perf tires with a 50 mm cross-section, so wide enough to absorb those bumps and maybe even take onto a gravel road, integrated headlight, and a set of hydraulic disc brakes. In my opinion, the latter is essential for an e-bike.
At the end of the day, I want you to take a moment out of your busy day and picture yourself riding an LX2. Think about what you can do with it, where you'll ride it, and what it means to save some cash instead of pumping it into your gas tank.
If you happen to fall in love with the LX2, all you have to do now is place a preorder ($150) and wait for 2024 deliveries to roll around. Even then, if you're not happy with your Smalo machine in 15 days, return it, no questions asked. Better yet, if you're in San Jose, California, there's a shop with Smalo goods, and yes, you can test-ride them. Even if you don't walk away with a new machine, you'll understand what AI is doing for cycling at this stage anyway.