Schaeffler will present the new ‘Free Drive’ chainless electric drive system for bicycles at Eurobike 2021 in Friedrichshafen. The ‘Bike-by-Wire’ system is a joint development with the two-wheel electric drive specialist Heinzmann and does without a mechanical connection between generator and motor.
The system is a serial hybrid: a generator developed by Schaeffler on the pedal axle sets the appropriate resistance and absorbs the pedalling power of the rider. The electrical energy is then converted back into mechanical energy at the wheel hub motor; excess energy can also be stored in the battery.
Similarly to their function in a car, all components of the drive communicate via a CAN connection – i.e. pedal generator, drive motor, battery power pack and human-machine interface (HMI). Schaeffler says the entire system delivers 250 watts of continuous power and is basically capable of recuperation.
This design without mechanical connection via drive chain or belt should also make applications beyond the classic e-bike possible, such as cargo vehicles with three or four wheels – according to Schaeffler, the “bike-by-wire” technology offers “potential for new business areas in the field of micromobility”. However, Schaeffler had sold off one such micromobility concept, Bio-Hybrid, in October 2020 – Bio-Hybrid GmbH has since become insolvent under new ownership.
“With the expansion of the portfolio in the bicycle segment, Schaeffler is not only stepping up its commitment to the fast-growing e-bike market but is also substantiating its own claim to help shape future movement with a pioneering spirit,” says Jochen Schröder, Head of the E-Mobility Division.
Schaeffler and development and sales partner Heinzmann have decided on a premiere at Eurobike 2021. A few days later, Pendix, the Zwickau-based company previously known for its retrofittable bicycle drives, will present a very similar system, the eDrive IN, at the IAA Mobility in Munich.
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