Taipei Cycle & China Cycle Show 2013 -The Technical e-bike Highlights

Sorry for the late post, but our team was in Asia for 2 months working on projects!

-Biggest bike industry wide trend: European and American orders have slowed down, and the Chinese Domestic “mountain bike” and “fixed gear” bike market is very hot! Primarily fueled by Giant and Merida brands, this trend is growing for a couple of reasons; a health boom from the recent growth of the Chinese middle class, and increasing automobile traffic in China.

This trend comes with many disadvantages to the Western bike market:
1) Mainland Chinese companies don’t really forecast well or plan ahead, so good luck trying to squeeze in a summer time order when the China domestic bike market production is at it’s peak.2) A lot of sub-contractor parts meant for export are suffering in quality because of slowed growth in the West and the new high demand in the East. It is no big secret that western export standards for quality, far exceed the China domestic bike market quality standards. We have been told by an inside source, that the subcontractor bike parts quality coming out of mainland China are currently the lowest quality it has ever been in terms of bad QC!

Thus the ever growing need for good QC/ Western Product Management for your mainland China produced order!

-Now onto the show highlights:

Tektro just released a moped class hydraulic brake w/ electric sensor called Tektro Dorado. Tektro also has a dual front wheel e-bike splitter that allows dual discs brakes on the front wheel.

Tektro_Dorado
Tektro Dorado -Moped class e-bike hydraulic brakes

Also a cool dual swing mechanical disc brake caliper, that is very unique. Unlike most mechanical disc brake calipers (which have a live pad and a dead scrubber pad) this dual swing caliper pushes both pads in a at the same time (much like a hydraulic disc brake.) Also, the all alloy thumb knob allows for easy tool-less adjustment. In our opinion, the function is better than Avid BB7 disc calipers, but without the high price tag. Uses standard Shimano replacement brake pads.

dual_swing_brake_caliper
Dual swing mechanical disc caliper, allows both pads to grip the rotor

E-bike battery cases have been a hot topic for the American and Swiss class e-bikes (basically 20 mph/ 32 kph) with throttle. Most e-bike cases are designed for the European pedal assist market and are usually capped at 36v x 9 Ah x 1C. For the average Big Power Motor (BPM) 500 watt/ throttle system the 9Ah capacity will take only about 12-15 miles.

Your options are to carry 1 big battery (which will generally be a custom tooled battery case) or carry 2 smaller 36v x 9 Ah battery packs. However, switching back and forth will always be a drag. Now there is now a digital relay switch that autonomously switches between battery “A” to battery “B” when your primary battery runs out of power. Analog relay switches have been on the market since 2008, but this is the first digital, compact version we have seen from a reputable manufacturer.

dual_battery_switch_ebike
Digital dual battery switch switches from battery “A” to battery “B” autonomously

Samsung is the undisputed industry leader when it comes to “lightweight” 3C and 5C 18650cell applications (although Sony did just release a 5C 18650 cell recently.) Samsung is starting to pack their own e-bike battery packs with custom tooled cases.

This is both good and bad; for starters they will price compete with smaller packers because they are the original cell maker. The Average e-bike battery pack contains 40~60 18650 cells and that is a big savings discount Samsung can potentially write themselves. Moreover, being the original cell maker and battery packer, the warranty will be pushed back onto Samsung for the first time (instead of the smaller OEM cell packers.) So we feel Samsung will be more strict with warranty claims for Samsung packed e-bike battery packs.

The cases do look fantastic and everyone loves high quality at a cheap price!

Samsung_ebike_battery
Samsung packed e-bike battery pack

The biggest trend at China Cycle show was fixed gear bikes, fat tire bikes, and Stromer e-bike clones. It seems everyone has jumped on the internally mounted battery e-bike trend. We saw a river of Stromer, BH eMotion, Specialized Turbo, and Currie Flow clones. Most were just 3D printed prototypes for the show, but here is a new Specialized Turbo style battery case worth looking at. We think the plastic pull handle will break after first use, but maybe with some minor mold and tooling tweaking, this case could prove to be marketable.

ebike_internal_mount_battery_case
Internal mount e-bike battery pack case
Turbo_ebike_battey

Also, a good thing to see was a lot of mainland China companies are starting to produce geared BPM motors with a cassette and proper disc spacing. The price is generally affordable, and the quality is getting better. We were told all the BPM motors is China are relatively the same (in cost and quality) because they buy all the components from the same sub-contractors. It really comes down to who has the best assembly line QC and disc spacing.

BPM_500watt_ebike_motor
Another geared 500 watt BPM clone with good disc spacing and cassette

E-bike quick connectors have hit a stand still for the most part. There is 1 company in Taiwan, and 2 major companies in China that supply most of the world’s e-bike QR connectors. Here is a mainland copy of a QR connector from originally TW, then made in China for cheaper cost.

ebike_connector
New affordable e-bike QR connectors that are threaded and water resistant

The big debate over the past year or two has been e-bike displays. Here are a few options:

1) LED; simple, cheap and time tested. Drawbacks are no tracking of speed or battery cycles, and no diagnostic functions for troubleshooting.

2) LCD; come in varying levels of functions and quality and are only as good as they controller they are connected to. Most track battery diagnostics and speed when coupled with a hall sensor motor. Some can even be used as a tool to diagnose the entire propulsion system. Drawbacks include price, durability, and often times water resistance is an issue.

3) Smart Phone Integration: a clever company has figured out a Bluetooth dongle system that plugs into the 5 wire LCD port on the controller, to allow advanced control functions wirelessly through your smart phone. Great on many levels, but drawbacks for your cell phone are; theft, rain, damage, and additional parasitic battery drain on your smart phone. Our big concern is bluetooth signal drop.

ebike_cell_phone_display
Smart Phone e-bike integration with your controller via Bluetooth

Mid-drive bike chains are taking additional strain under-load leading to premature wear and sometimes even breakage. To combat this many chain companies are offering a mid-drive specific e-bike chain to better deal with the additional forces applied under these conditions.

ebike_mid-drive_chain
e-bike Mid-drive chain specifically engineered for mid-drive systems

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Taipei Cycle & China Cycle Show 2013 -The Technical e-bike Highlights”

  1. Luca July 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Could you give us more informations on the bluetooth phone integration?
    cannot find anything on google.

  2. topsecretev July 15, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    Hi Luca,

    There are few companies working on this with both Bluetooth 4.0 and Wifi Direct P2P. The problem with Bluetooth is interference from outside sources, and easy to drop if not within a close proximity (think in-ear Bluetooth headset.) WiFi P2P is a relatively new standard instead of needing an auxiliary routing device, now 2 low power devices can share a WiFi signal between each other. WiFi P2P frequency/ signal strength are generally stronger and more reliable than Bluetooth.

    The best example of this we have seen is BH e-Motion’s Bluetooth adapter that mounts on the handlebar in lieu of the LCD display. The range to the mobile phone is less than 12 inches away. So we believe that the Bluetooth signal has strength limitations as every cell phone is different. The perfect device would mount to the controller as a dongle somewhere near the bike’s bottom bracket or rear rack. This dongle would then transmit a steady signal accurately all the way up to the smartphone mounted to the handlebar.

    At this time we just don’t see this happening anytime soon as a catch all product to fit any Bluetooth cell phone. There are some closed loop Bluetooth e-bike systems like Falco motors that I have heard good things about.

    As advancements in WiFi P2P get better we can see this technology coming to to market within the next 2 years time.

Leave a Reply