A year and a half ago, we talked about a completely new drive system for electric bicycles, in which there was no mechanical connection between the pedals and the wheels. The Free Drive system, created in cooperation between the German companies Schaeffler and Heinzmann, has finally been put into production.
In the Free Drive system, there is no physical and mechanical connection between the pedals and the wheels. Instead, the electric and mechanical transmissions are connected in series. Thus, the kinetic energy from the rotation of the pedals with the help of a generator is transformed into electricity, which is then transmitted via wires to an electric motor that turns the wheel (or wheels). There is no traditional bicycle chain in such a system. At the same time, excess energy that is not consumed by the electric motor is stored in the battery. The battery can also be charged through a regular electrical outlet.
The developers call cargo bikes one of the main areas of application of the Free Drive system. Most cargo bike designs are limited by the need to create a long tunnel for the bike chain to reach the rear wheel or transmission. But Free Drive allows you to design cargo bikes in a different way, lowering the floor and creating a much more stable platform that isn’t limited by the demands of a mechanical bicycle transmission. As electric cargo bikes are increasingly used in cities to replace diesel-powered delivery vehicles, increasing the efficiency of such bikes will be in high demand.
Manufacturers of electric cargo bikes are already interested in the Free Drive system. It is expected to be implemented on new e-bikes at the end of this year.