Declaring it is removing all the “pain points” of riding an electric bicycle, French auto supplier Valeo introduced, Tuesday, what it calls its Smart e-Bike system. Unveiled in an online video, the system is a 48 volt e-bike transmission that operates without gear shift levers, derailleur gears, cables or even a chain. Around 50 parts in all the company says require frequent maintenance are eliminated.
The key feature of the Smart e-Bike system is, rather than a rider changing gears to match conditions, the transmission adapts to the rider’s style and the amount of electric assistance the cyclist requires.
“From the first pedal strokes, our algorithms adapt to the right level of intensity to your needs automatically,” said Geoffrey Bouquot, Valeo Chief Technical Officer, in the reveal video.
The company claims the electric assistance provided by Smart e-Bike is 60% more powerful than current systems and can be adapted to any kind of bike.
E-bikes are rapidly growing in popularity as older consumers look to them for a little assistance to make cycling less strenuous and challenging, while other simply seek alternative modes of mobility or a new form of recreation.
In its release, Valeo cites a McKinsey report predicting e-bike sales will increase 15-fold to 270 million units in the next ten years. That bullish outlook is mirrored in a report by research company Valuates Reports expecting e-bike sales to reach $36,466.04 million by 2025 up from $19,719.54 million in 2019, attributing that predicted growth to “government support and strict rules in favor of electric bikes…(and) a growing user desire to use e-bikes as an eco-friendly and reliable alternative for commuting and growing fuel costs.”
Digging deeper into the technology of Valeo’s e-bike system, which the company developed in conjunction with Effigear, it consists of a 48 volt electric motor seven-speed automatic, adaptive gearbox in a single unit located in the pedal assembly. A belt substitutes for the usual chain. The motor’s torque of 130 Newton meters “can multiply the cyclist’s efforts by eight while other systems on the market offer up to a fivefold boost,” Valeo said.
As an example of what that means in practical use, Valeo claims a cyclist carrying a 150 kg, or about 330 pound load, “could climb a 14% gradient (the equivalent of a parking lot ramp) without breaking a sweat” going forwards or backwards. For even more oomph there’s a boost function for overtaking other cyclists or climbing hills.
An added feature aimed at removing another one of those “pain points” is an anti-theft system integrated into the pedal assembly that disables use of the bike when activated.
Valeo doesn’t actually build bikes, but did come up with three prototypes to demonstrate the Smart e-Bike system: city, mountain and cargo bikes.
While at face value, developing an e-bike transmission would seem to be outside its core business, in a statement the company’s chairman and CEO Jacques Aschenbroich says it actually meshes with Valeo’s overall goals of improving mobility, stating “One of Valeo’s key strategic focuses is accelerating its expansion in the emerging markets for new “zero-emissions” mobility, including electric small city vehicles, electric motorcycles and scooters, last-mile autonomous delivery droids and electric bikes.”