An In-depth guide
KALKHOFF ELECTRIC BIKES
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INTRODUCTION TO KALKHOFF ELECTRIC BIKES
Kalkhoff has been in the business of creating bikes since 1919. Still, it’s only in recent years that the company has hopped on the electric bicycle trend and begun providing self-powered alternatives to customers.
Kalkhoff has long been known for the quality of its bicycles. It established its first in-house test centre in 1970 and remains at the forefront of the industry for performance and design prowess to this day. Over the years, the company has won numerous awards for its products primarily in the integrated e-bike space, collecting the Red Dot Award for the design of its Integrale and Berleen models, in 2016 and 2018.
The mission of the company is to find ways to make cycling more accessible, fun and versatile. The increasing energy density of lithium-ion batteries and lowering costs means that the firm can engineer far more capable bikes than it ever could in the past. The cells give consumers far more range than was possible in the past, making commuting, touring and adventure more enjoyable than ever.
Kalkhoff, however, is aware that there is a learning curve associated with e-bikes. For many consumers, they’re an entirely new class of vehicle - one that they do not always fully understand. It, therefore, provides support, advice, and guidance on issues like servicing, using the battery for the first time, and charging.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of three popular Kalkhoff e-bikes. The purpose of what follows is to provide you with helpful insights if you’re considering purchasing an e-bike from this enigmatic European manufacturer.
1 - KALKHOFF INTEGRALE i11 ELECTRIC BIKE
The Kalkhoff Integral is a kind of do-it-all e-bike, suitable for commuting, touring and taking detours off the beaten track. While it lacks some of the suspension features of other bikes in this review, there’s no denying that it is a quality offering.
The standout feature of the i11 isn’t its battery or its motor. Nor is it the bike’s sophisticated sensing technology which is helpful when transitioning from one to speed to another. No - the main draw of the bicycle is the high-quality components that come as standard.
The drivetrain, including the cassette, chain, and derailleur are all Shimano XT, the company’s enthusiast lightweight, durable shifting components. It also comes with custom DT Swiss wheels with carbon rims and ultra-lightweight hubs. The low-weight wheels mean that the battery has to work far less hard to accelerate the bicycle, providing extra performance and acceleration when you want to get out of a tight spot.
You’ll also notice that the bike is virtually cable-free, thanks to the Shimano Di2 Gear Lever concept. Instead of changing gear using a tensioned cable, the Kalkhoff uses Shimano’s premium wireless solution that gets rid of annoying a cable bulk and rattle while providing reliable shifting performance.
2 - KALKHOFF INCLUDE i8 ELECTRIC BIKE
When Kalkhoff was designing the Include I8, it’s clear that the company wanted to appeal to the women-specific market. The Kalkhoff, therefore, offers a variety of features designed to improve comfort and support.
There are three features that you notice immediately: the large, plush seat, the seat post suspension, and the missing top tube. The Include I8 is an urban electric bike that sacrifices a small (and mostly unnoticeable) amount of rigidity for comfort.
The bike, of course, comes with all of the usual features, you’d expect from Kalkhoff: Bluetooth display and integration, a range of gears, a large, 250 km battery, high-quality shift sensors, and a quieter, more discreet motor. The bike also has a control panel that integrates all of the onboard functions into a single dashboard.
The appearance of the bike is incredibly understated. The dull green matte finish and red accents of the Rucktritt version mean that this is an electric bike that will blend in easily with the surroundings. It will not catch the attention of prying eyes.
The way that the battery integrates with the bottom bracket also means that it’s not immediately apparent that it is an electric bike. The large cover on the drive train serves to hide the great bulk at the bottom of the frame, giving the impressing that the rider is cycling a regular human-powered bicycle.
3 - KALKHOFF ENTICE B10 ELECTRIC BIKE
The purpose of the Entice Advance is to make long touring rides more fun and accessible to those who might not have the fitness to travel dozens of miles under their own steam. Furthermore, it adds to the touring fun of those who DO have a lot of stamina by allowing them to travel further. It is, in many ways, the perfect coast-to-coast bike, featuring an extraordinary range, helpful touring accessories, and Kalkhoff’s famed reliability.
One of the standout features of the bike is its LED lights. The lights are capable of producing more than 70 lux and are unaffected by vibrations. Thus, they are specially designed for use on the road and off, unlike some solutions.
Kalkhoff also provides the bike with high-quality SRAM GX Eagle components, designed to make shifting more supple and reliable under load.
Bosch supplies most of the electronics, including the motor, display and battery. The motor can produce up to 250 W, providing a good kick when you need it, and the onboard display is full colour, making it user-friendly and highly versatile.
While the bike is made to be strong (as most e-bikes are), there is a weight limit of 130 kg. If you’re at the top end of the allowable weight, then you’ll need to be careful when taking the bicycle offroad. While the frame is highly durable and designed to protect the battery at all costs, the rest of the components might not fare so well. The Rodi TRYP35 rims with double eyelets may not be able to withstand the force of impact from the kinds of terrain you find on singletrack.
HOW KALKHOFF ENSURES QUALITY
Kalkhoff has been around for nearly one hundred years. Not many companies in the bicycle industry can say that. The reason for its tenacity is its enduring commitment to quality. The firm is meticulous about every detail of its electric bikes.
Heinrich Kalkoff, one of the originators of the DIN bicycle standard, created the world’s first in-house bicycle testing facility at the firm's factory in 1970. The aim was to battle test all of the components of the bicycle to make sure that it could withstand the punishment.
Over the years, the company has refined its procedures and continues to test all models, including electric varieties, to this day. The company operates a department by department testing system so that experts from across the firm can assess the final design of all bikes. Bicycles have to be able to withstand an enormous amount of punishment - far more than what the average user would subject them to.
KALKHOFF ELECTRIC BICYCLE BATTERIES
How much range do you get on a Kalkhoff e-bike? What should you look for when choosing an electric battery? Do electric batteries have any special maintenance requirements?
If you’ve never ridden an electric bicycle before, you probably have a lot of questions about what they are and how they work.
The first consideration is, as always, safety. Lithium-ion batteries are potentially hazardous, thanks to the way that the cathode interacts with the electrolyte. It’s crucial, therefore, that consumers only use certified batteries that conform to specific safety standards, especially on a bicycle. All Kalkhoff batteries bear the CE mark which guarantees that the battery won’t overheat when you subject it to high loads.
The next consideration is storing the e-bike. Ideally, all bikes should be kept indoors to protect them from the elements. The need to consider storage for e-bikes is greater, owing to the electrical components. Klakhoff recommends that customers put their bikes in dry place at a temperature of around 20 degrees - about the setting of the average thermostat.
Because battery technology works best at around the 20 C mark, using an electric bike in winter can be problematic. If the battery is cold, then it will deliver a lower range and will require charging more frequently. If you do head out in the winter, ensure that the battery is warm before you set off.
What if you have an accident with an electric battery? If the battery is damaged or cracked in any way, do not recharge it. You could initiate a runaway reaction that leads to a fire. Instead, take the battery and the bike to the nearest dealer and discuss your options..
KALKHOFF E-BIKE COMPONENTS AND DESIGN
Creating e-bikes is a technical challenge. For years, the industry designed and refined bikes that didn’t have either motors or batteries. With the electrification revolution, all that has changed and Kalkhoff is working hard to create bicycles that are optimal for the new form factor.
Team leader at Kalkhoff engineering and design, Jorn Werel, says that with changing technology the development of bicycles has become more complex. He and his team have had to find novel ways to integrate batteries and drive systems into standard bicycle chassis, which hasn’t always been easy.
Batteries and motors aren’t just additions to standard bicycles, he points out, but entirely new platforms in their own right which open up a host of opportunities. New electric power is allowing Kalkhoff to experiment with a range of integrated equipment, such as displays, high-power headlights and remote shifting.
It’s still very much a learning process for Kalkhoff, as it is practically any manufacturers in the industry. It’s not yet clear precisely what consumers want from their e-bikes. Many people are attached to the traditional bicycle format and want something that provides them with a little extra push. Others are looking to make bicycles into motocross-electric hybrids, complete with thick, gnarly tyres and large, double-crown suspension systems. Kalkhoff, for the most part, is sticking to its roots, creating e-bikes that still look like bicycles while imbuing them with a host of modern technologies. The three bikes we’ve reviewed here are representative of their progress so far. .
We believe that Kalkhoff offers a choice for everyone, filling practically every niche in the e-bike space. However, if we had to make a choice, we’d go with the Kalkhoff Integrale i11 Electric Bike. The reason for our decision comes down to two main factors: the quality of components and versatility. Kalkhoff spares no expense with this bike, fitting some of the highest quality components available. The standout feature for biking enthusiasts is the ultra-lightweight DT Swiss wheels, complete with carbon rims. Not only do these rims keep the weight of the bike down, helping with overall acceleration, but they also provide a wide bed to prevent the tyres from squirming in the corners. Given the weight of the bike, this is a welcome addition.
What about for women? Here, the choice might not be so clear cut. While the Integrale i11 offers superior componentry, the Kalkhoff Include i8 Electric Bike offers additional comfort features. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. If you don’t mind a harsher ride, then the i11 is probably the more appealing. If, however, you have a sensitive bottom, then the Include i8 is likely the better choice.
We hope that you enjoyed this guide and review on this selection of top e-bikes from Kalkhoff. Good luck with your choice and happy touring!