Rev your Engine? ATV, Snowmobile Giant Stakes claim with E-Bikes

Crank the throttle. Fire up the engine. Motorsports maker Polaris Industries Inc., known for its snowmobiles and ATVs, this fall will debut a line of electric bikes.

The company, based in Minnesota, has serious muscle in the realm of motorized trail transportation. It cites annual sales of $2.7billion, which is more cash than any bike company, let alone the niche products and brands that currently dominate in the e-bike category.

E-bike by Polaris

Indeed, Polaris is staking a serious claim with e-bikes, a category still getting its legs under it in this country. The company has a new division, Polaris Electric Bikes.

Cites a press release, “The Polaris brand entering the electric bicycle category is a major move toward making electric bicycles a viable mainstream recreational option in the U.S.”

What makes these pedal-assist bikes different? Polaris touts a special motor and transmission that balances speed on flats with a high-torque mode that kicks in automatically on hills.

It started with snowmobiles. Company product timeline leading to e-bikes

They have a throttle on the handlebar like a motorcycle. Or you can turn on a pedal-assist mode, which gives a boost to each turn of the cranks.

The bikes have regenerative braking, meaning they capture energy produced while braking and add power to the battery pack.

A dashboard on the bikes gives speed, distance, odometer, battery range, and a carbon footprint meter.

The guts may differ from some current e-bikes. But it looks like Polaris has not departed far from the current “cruiser-style” aesthetic embraced by many e-bike makers.

‘Rugged’ trail e-bike model

Race-ready they are not. These are commuter vehicles with wide saddles, kickstands, and pedestrian upright frame designs. The bikes weigh more than 50 pounds with their battery packs installed.

Polaris will debut seven e-bikes at the Interbike trade show next week, from “rugged” trail models to an urban commuter line with fenders and L.E.D. lighting. Each will cost $2,500 and be sold at bicycle shops starting this fall around the U.S.A.

—Stephen Regenold

Seven e-bikes in the Polaris line

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.