Valeo, the French auto parts supplier, has developed a new 48-volt bicycle electric assist motor that also houses an integral 7-speed automatic shift gearbox. Valeo says the high-power motor, developed in conjunction with Effigear, provides up to eight times the forward driving force as the rider applies through the pedals. The system consists of the motor unit mounted in the middle at the pedals, a battery on the frame downtube, and the controller and digital display mounted on the handlebar.
Valeo is calling this its Smart eBike System. This unit gives existing bicycle manufacturers an easy all-in-one way to integrate electric assist and an automatic transmission with their existing bike architecture. It doesn’t appear that just anyone can pick this up off the shelf and install it on their own 10-speed. I’ve got a fixed gear bike that I never ride; I would love to find a way to install this system on it.
By hiding everything in a single housing, there are no unsightly derailleurs or shifter cables or Spacely sprockets. The rider also doesn’t have to fiddle with shifters at all, as the motor controller helps determine which gear is correct for a given rider exertion and cadence. This makes it possible for the bike to use a cogged drive belt instead of a chain that would need maintenance. It also moves rotational weight off of the rear wheel, centralizing the mass of the bike. All of this is a good thing.
This is also an incredibly impressive motor unit with huge implications for the utility of cargo bikes. If you’re carrying a heavy load, riding uphill can be a real chore. Lots of weight also means backing up can be difficult, if not dangerous. It’s super simple to just reverse the polarity of an electric motor and spin it backwards, so reverse is just a button push away.
The antitheft provision is an interesting one. When you’re away from the bike, you can have it lock up the motor to prevent anyone from riding it away. That said, it’s probably no more difficult to just pick up and throw in the back of a truck. Maybe an integrated tracking device would make it truly theft-deterring.
For a lot of Americans with short commutes, an electric-assist bike would be a great idea in the warmer months. Clearly we suffer from a congestion problem on the streets of America, so as enthusiasts we should all be working to get as many people the hell out of cars and trucks as possible. And while it doesn’t take as much exertion as riding a non-assisted traditional bike, there is still a health benefit to riding an assisted bike, which after the sedentary year we’ve probably all had might be a good idea.
This is cool. Valeo, hit me up, I’ll adapt one of these systems to my bike. Let’s go. Have your people talk to my people.