Hybrid drive unchains bicycle designs

September 06, 2021 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Hybrid drive unchains bicycle designs
Bicycle designers can do without the usual chain for power transmission if they use the "Free Drive" drive system, which Schaeffler AG has developed together with the two-wheel e-drive specialist Heinzmann GmbH. The system replaces mechanical power transmission with a combination of a generator on the crank and a motor in the rear wheel hub. According to the developers, this enables completely new bicycle architectures and pedal configurations.

The central component of the Free Drive system is the generator from Schaeffler, which sets the even resistance at the pedal and simultaneously absorbs the pedalling power of the rider. The recuperative solution is a serial hybrid drive and converts the mechanical energy generated by pedalling into electrical energy, which in turn is converted back into mechanical energy in the wheel hub motor. Surplus energy is stored in a battery. All system components communicate with each other via CAN connection, just like in a car. Optimally coordinated, the complete system distributed by Heinzmann with 250 watts of continuous power consists of pedal generator, drive motor, battery power pack and human-machine interface (HMI).

"Whether 2-, 3- or 4-wheelers: without mechanical connection of generator and motor, the Free Drive system enables maximum flexibility in bicycle architecture and a freely configurable pedal feel, adapted to the requirements of the bike and needs of the rider with low wear and tear," says Jochen Schröder, Head of Schaeffler's E-Mobility Division. The compactness of the Free Drive allows a common distance between the two pedals of 138 millimetres. Manufacturer-independent, the Free Drive system can be specified for various applications. For fleet operators, Free Drive offers an ergonomic, low-maintenance and robust system with low operating and maintenance costs, as there are no wear parts and chain peripherals.



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