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Full speed ahead using half the muscle power – the Pedelec or e-bike makes this possible. Bicycles equipped with electric motors are not just fun to ride; they also extend the range and relieve the environment – no surprise then that they are a mobility best seller around the globe.
What the electric car world has been fighting for years for has long since been implemented by the two-wheel fraternity: the change to hybrid mobility. Pedelecs are now a common everyday sight in traffic – be it Munich, Beijing or Tel Aviv. In Germany, the number of e-bikes last increased by around 400,000 per annum, in 2014 the number broke the 2 million mark for the first time. An amazing figure. However, a mere drop in the ocean when you look to China, where 120 million e-bikes are in use – tendency on the rise rapidly here as well.
Mobility is a small piece of cherished freedom irrespective of country. To this end, the bicycle traditionally plays an important role, because it is simple and affordable for almost anybody. Development of the Pedelec has further extended the range of applications for the bicycle. The electric motor makes the cycle more versatile and raises its acceptance as every day and recreational form of transport even for less athletically ambitious people. Pedelecs do not need charge points (the plug at home or in the office suffices) and they can still be moved if the battery is flat. In addition, whoever can ride can also ride a Pedelec with minimum familiarisation.
Modern lithium-based battery technology and highly efficient brushless electric motors make distances of between 40 and even 100 kilometers possible today. The energy consumption to achieve this is unbeatably low: a single battery charge costs less than 20 cents on average. With its largely ecological drive – in addition to the little electric current, the Pedelec requires only muscle power – it is in tune with the green trend.
At the same time, Pedelecs have dispensed with their senior citizens image. Until recently, they were regarded as mobility concept for the generation 60 plus, the cycles became increasingly trendy and more technically refined. As a result, the Pedelec is a genuine alternative for many motorists – especially in the urban traffic turmoil. Normally only a few kilometers stretch between departure and arrival, the average speed achieved with the car only about 30 km/h.
If searching for a parking space and the short walk to the true destination are considered, the average speed drops drastically once again. These distances can be covered easily in the same time with the Pedelec. Another advantage: they require less parking space. In this way, the electric bike is the perfect companion for urban mobility – especially in mega metropolises plagued by chronic smog and congestion.
Schaeffler has decades of experience in the development and manufacturing of bicycle bearings. Rolling bearings from the FAG brand have been used in bicycles ever since Friedrich Fischer developed a process for manufacturing ball bearings on an industrial scale 130 years ago and laid the foundation for modern rolling bearing technology.
Schaeffler now supplies a large number of precision components for bicycles under the INA and FAG brands. In addition to bottom brackets, there are bearing solutions for hubs and headsets as well as bearings and seals for gear hubs. The product range also includes extremely high-performance special bearings for racing bicycles, e.g. FAG Cronitect hybrid bearings.
Schaeffler presented an innovative development for bicycles in 2014: the automatic FAG-VELOMATIC gearshift. Be it uphill, downhill or on level ground, with a conventional bicycle with derailleur gears or hub gears or an e-bike – the FAG-VELOMATIC calculates the ideal gear and optimum shift point based on pedaling cadence, power, bicycle speed and incline. This guarantees excellent riding comfort while maintaining maximum flexibility. This also includes a manual mode, which can be activated if required. Thanks to open standards, the gearshift is compatible with every type of bicycle and every drive.
Whether S-Pedelec capable of speeds up to 45 km/h or normal Pedelec: the designers are spoilt for choice when it comes to positioning the motor. There are hub motors in the front or rear wheel, as well as centrally mounted bottom bracket motors. In the meantime, motor management and torque sensors are standard: the harder you pedal, the more the motor. In addition, a handlebar mounted switch allows the rider to adjust the maximum motor power in several steps (between 50 and 250 Watts). Displays show information about the distance travelled and remaining range, fitness functions and an integrated navigation system complement the all-round package. Because the additional weight and greater drive dynamics can negatively affect the stability and handling, stiffer and heavier frame designs are necessary. So, it is not only due to the additional drive components that Pedelecs normally weigh considerably more than 20 kilos. Their drive more than compensates for the greater weight.