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Goodbye to chains and straps: the latest powertrains for electric bikes are powered by cable

Electric bikes are not so different from traditional bikes … at the moment. The German company Schaeffler has just presented what in almost all probability is the more modern and radical electric bike powertrain that we have seen to date. No chains or transmission belts.

Known as Schaeffler Free Drive, this new system is fully electric and features cables to transmit pedaling momentum. A change that on a practical level does not make a big difference for the cyclist, but it does completely modify the mechanical way of working of the bikes.

A system that allows the bike to be loaded while pedaling

Cable drive system for bikes
Cable drive system for bikes

Developed jointly with the company specialized in transmissions for electric bikes Heinzmann, this new system replaces the chains and belts with a generator on the pedal axis of the bicycle.

When the cyclist pedals, this mechanical energy is transformed into electrical energy and this is what enables the generator to be activated. This mechanism eliminates the need to send mechanical power to the rear wheel through chains, belts or drive shafts.

Instead of sending this mechanical action, what the generator does is send electricity directly to the mechanical wheel. A energy that is converted back into mechanical energy at the rear wheel to propel the bike.

In order for the energy to move throughout the bicycle, a series of cables are used, which communicate the motor, the battery, the generator and the control electronics.

Propulsion system for bikes, close up
Propulsion system for bikes, close up

The system also has a certain level of control and allows you to adjust the resistance on the pedals according to the effort you want. In case of pedaling hard enough and generating an excess of energy, this is used to recharge the battery slightly. As if it were regenerative braking, but in reverse. However, the rear engine also has regenerative braking, so the battery recharges in several ways.

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The system proposed by the German company has a 250 W motor. A new form of propulsion that can unnecessarily increase the manufacturing costs of the electric bicycle, but opens new ways to power this type of vehicle.

In what cases then can this cable drive system be useful? On bikes with three or four wheels, where chains and straps are becoming more complex and expensive. With this new system they would no longer be limited by gears and the door opens to designs of all kinds.

Via | Electrek