Stepless Transmission Makes a Revolutionary Ride-experience

Almost since the advent of a modern bicycle, the stepless transmissions – and internal gearing solutions in general – have been the subject of plenty of discussions. Until now, the practical applications have been far, and between which is related to the criterions bicycles pose the gearing system used.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the challenges the bicycle gearing systems impose to the design, and most importantly, the practical implications of the stepless transmission which the Revonte ONE Drive System enables. Hold on tight and enjoy!

Bicycle Drivetrain

“If it would be easy, everybody would be doing it.”

This certainly holds for designing bicycle drivetrains since coming up with a good, and most importantly, an applicable solution is a tricky proposition. Since bicycles are (mostly) human-powered, a high degree of efficiency is of the essence. The oat-powered combustion engines, also known as humans, do not produce watts to spare. Therefore, high efficiency is needed to keep the bike moving in an efficient manner.

Not only that, there’s a weight limit – at least theoretically. Cyclists are notorious when it comes to making their vehicles lighter, and therefore anything that adds even a bit of weight to the bike is at least initially met with a cringe, even though the benefits would be otherwise clear. 

By now it comes quite evident why bicycle drivetrains have remained relatively unchanged for a long period. As the saying goes: long-lasting, lightweight, and cheap – pick any two. 

That is until now, however. The Revonte ONE Drive System is about to change that. with its ingenious design which combines a robust mechanical design and sophisticated control software all in the same package. To get an idea what the former looks like, refer to the previously published article at Pinkbike.

Pinkbike.com – A Look Inside the Automatic and Stepless Revonte ONE Drive E-Mtb System. 

The Human Element

Cadence is the speed of which the rider spins the pedals, and therefore the cranks attached to them. Cadence is quantified with rotations per minute, rpm’s for short. If the rider spins the pedals 80 times a minute, that would give a cadence of 80rpm and so forth.   

A lot of testing, spreadsheets, and sweat has gone into finding the optimum cadence when it comes to power production and efficiency. To make the (very) long story short, no perfect cadence exists. Instead, there’s a range in which the majority of the riders fall. Oftentimes the optimal range falls between 80-90rpm. Individual differences play a role as does riding experience; more experienced riders tend to favour slightly higher cadences. The preferred cadence is also task-dependent; riding on a steady pace is another matter compared to an all-out sprint.   

The most-honed pedalling motion has even a dedicated word for it – souplesse.

Riding with Indexed Gears

Anyone who has thrown their leg over a bicycle knows that keeping the pedals spinning close to optimal cadence is the ticket for enjoyable ride-experience and efficient locomotion. The optimal cadence range is largely determined by the function of the nervous system and the force-velocity relationship of the muscles involved. As anyone can surely attest, producing a good amount of force against the pedals gets quite challenging, especially if done for long periods of time. 

With traditional gearing, the rider goes through the gears to stay in her or his optimal or preferred cadence range. When accelerating, the rider goes through the gears since there’s a feeling of “spinning out”. An analogy of a traditional car isn’t far off. When accelerating after a stop in traffic lights, one needs to go into 2nd gear, then 3rd etc., to not to rev out the engine. 

The Stepless Revolution

The ingenious design of the Revonte ONE Drive System turns the ride-experience nearly upside down – and in a good way! When accelerating with traditional gears, the cadence starts from zero and increases to the riders preferred range which is followed by going through the gears in a step by step fashion.

With the Revonte ONE Drive System, the rider reaches the preferred cadence sooner, and can simply hold it almost independently to the speed of the bike. Riding has never been so easy – just pedal and ride! A schematic photo below illustrates the differences between the traditional gears and the Revonte ONE Drive System of which function is illustrated by the slashed line.

A schematic illustration about the differences between indexed and steeples gearing.

Configurable by Software

The goodness does not end here. Besides the sturdy and enclosed mechanical design of the Revonte ONE Drive System, the assistant characteristics and therefore the ride-experience can be tailored according to the type of the bike by the manufacturer, and later by the end-user, meaning the owner of the bike.

Cadence, which has been mentioned several times already, is just one of the many variables that can be tailored via our mobile application. 

Do you want your e-bike to behave like a sports car with poppy acceleration? No problem, it can be done. Or do you prefer to have a more mild-mannered bike which adjusts to the changing situations more calmly? That’s on the menu as well. On top of these, the Revonte ONE Drive System can be set emulate a traditional indexed-shifting mode as well if that’s preferred in certain situations. 

Advanced mechanical and software engineering are combined in the Revonte ONE Drive System, which brings a ride-experience with unprecedented features. 

2020 – A Year in Review

It can be said without any hesitation that the year 2020 was full of surprises, rapidly changing situations, stretched deadlines, and general disarray. We kept our head low, concentrated on the tasks at hand, and continued developing the Revonte ONE Drive System for the upcoming launch in 2021. 

Here’s a summary of what happened during 2020.

The Year of Revonte

A lot of things can take place within a year. This is especially true when developing a new and innovative product in a competitive environment. Steady progress and occasional challenges were accompanied with big breakthroughs and new partnerships. 

Read the following list to know the essentials of Revonte in 2020. 

03 March

During the first quarter of the year we announced our partnership with the innovative – even disruptive – company from the UK named EAV. Their forward-thinking concept of cargo e-bikes has set the pace for the whole industry. Cargo e-bikes solve the last-mile dilemma and EAV’s range covers every imaginable need and purpose. 

Also, a story about our Drive System run on Pinkbike. If you’re interested of knowing what’ inside the Revonte Drive Unit, this is the one to read.

05 May

Simple, minimalistic, even elegant – those were some of the design goals of the Revonte Controller. We purposefully decided to go screenless with the design which leaves the final decision to the user. After all, configurability is in our DNA and the Controller is in line with that. 

Instead of occupying more space from the usually crowded cockpit, we take the opposite approach. Two brake levers, and the Revonte Controller forms the complete interface between the bike and the rider. No separate trigger or shifter for the gears are needed. Less is more. 

08 August

One of the many strengths of the Revonte ONE Drive System is the simple, robust and clutter-free single-speed drivetrain. Besides the traditional and time-tested chain, the Revonte ONE Drive System enables the use of a belt drive. 

To answer the inquiries we built a prototype with the industry-leading Gates carbon belt.

09 September

An energy storage is needed to employ the features of the automatic and stepless features of the Revonte ONE Drive System. To make everything right from the start we decided to partner up with class-leading German battery manufacturer Akku Vision GmbH, and develop our own battery.

Meet Revonte AKKU 5 and AKKU 7. Both models share the latest Li-ion technology and physical dimensions to meet every need and price point in the market. A unique feature is the smart battery management system which makes it possible to connect up to four batteries with the combined capacity of over 2.8kWh!

10 October

Eurobike gets cancelled. First the premier event was postponed, and eventually cancelled. This was unfortunate since we had made big preparations for the upcoming show and were looking forward to it. 

Revonte GmbH – a German subsidiary! To meet the demands of the European market we established a German branch to the ever-growing needs of the European e-bike market. Mr. Uwe Daniel, a long-time member of our team, was appointed as the CEO of the new company.

Cargo e-bikes are picking up and big time! An interesting development took place in a short timespan; cargo e-bikes rose to the position of becoming almost an industry leader. Our partner EAV is in the forefront of this movement and providing solutions to the challenges faced in the logistic chain. It’s not a coincidence that the Revonte ONE Drive System is the drive system of choice for cargo e-bikes.

We are looking forward to the year 2021 and we believe we aren’t the only one.

12 December

The release of the long awaited Revonte test ride video saw its premiere in December. Besides some test ride material the video included a general update of the past year. 

See what’s up with the Revonte ONE Drive System by viewing the video. On that note, see you next year!

The Bicycle Drivetrain – How Would It Look like If It Were Simple?

“How would this look like if it were simple?” 

This is a basic question used in engineering which might spark much needed new approaches to the otherwise plateaued design process. When the question is applied to bicycle drivetrain, some interesting observations can be made, and difficult questions asked.

If It Was Simple?

When posing the question at hand to bicycle drivetrains, and especially on e-bikes, an answer including a protruding rear derailleur with a dozen or so chainrings hardly comes to the mind. This is further accentuated by the fact that there’s plenty of operating power available since the bike is already equipped with a battery of large storage capacity, such as the Revonte AKKU

Uniting the gears and the motor in one unit, and placing inside a housing protected from the elements make sense in every level. This is how an e-bike drivetrain should look like; simple on the outside while a lot of engineering has gone to make it so. 

This is what we have set out to do with the Revonte ONE Drive System and we are glad that the industry has taken note. Our first partners were especially fast to see the benefits our system has to offer. 

A Take from Lavelle

We established a partnership with Lavelle Bikes at the beginning of 2020. In this case, the collaboration is especially fitting since we share the same values and a strong will to make bicycles better. When it comes to drivetrains, and especially on e-bikes, we both feel that there’ is a lot that could be improved. 

Lavelle Bikes has a very clear stance on how an e-bike drivetrain should be built. “Gears should not be located on the rear wheel, and derailleur gears are a poor choice for any consumer bicycle,” states Paul Lavelle, the CEO of Lavelle Bikes.

He further adds. “We believe the best location for gears is at the bottom bracket, and that is why we are so delighted to team up with Revonte who is manufacturing a mid-drive motor and gear system all in one unit.” 

The Many Benefits

The advantages of a combined motor and gearbox built around the bottom bracket are clear and manyfold: 

  • Ease of installation and service. It is surprising how many bike owners can’t perform basic service operations because of the complexity of the rear derailleur and cassette. 
  • Elegant, and simple looks! A single-speed drivetrain consisting of a wide chain – or a belt – and one pair of sprockets is pleasing to the eye.
  • Robustness. A single-speed drivetrain is durable and care-free as opposed to derailleur-based solutions. The same applies to belt drive on which the Lavelle Bikes P2R uses. 
  • No parts that are easily broken. The Revonte ONE Drive System does not have any external parts that are prone to damage.
  • More mileage with lower costs. A single-speed chain or a belt drive will outperform derailleur-based drivetrains on durability and will give more mileage out of one set of components. On top of that, replacing the worn-out parts comes with a significantly lower price tag, especially if divided by the total mileage.

It is worth noting, that all of the listed benefits apply, no matter if it’s a regular commuter bike, a high-performance e-mtb, or a ground-breaking design as in the Lavelle Bikes P2R.

The Ride Experience

Besides the listed benefits above, one thing matters almost above all else – the ride experience. We have gone to great length in developing the hardware inside the Revonte ONE Drive Unit, but as much if not even more design work and engineering has gone into the control software. 

The resulting ride experience is something that is highly valued by our partners, and finally, the customers. “The Revonte system permits a fully automatic system – just pedal, that’s all there is to it!“, Paul Lavelle lists one of the major benefits of our drive system. 

The derailleur-based gears have hanged on for surprisingly long. The advent of e-bikes was the much-needed catalyst for the bike industry to move to the next level and we are doing just that with our partners. 

Ps. Interestingly enough, search for the simplest approach applies to all things in life, not just in engineering. 

The Case for a Belt

A belt can be a part of one’s attire or in the world of bicycles, a belt can take the place of a chain to transmit the power from the rider and the electrical motor to the rear wheel. In this case, the belt is often referred to as a belt drive.

Conveniently, the Revonte ONE Drive System is a rarity among e-bike drive systems since it can be used with a belt drive! Read further to learn what this means in practical terms.

A Different Tool for the Job

As said previously, a traditional chain can be replaced with a belt. Using a belt to transmit force is not exactly breaking news since you have most certainly sat in a car that has had one or more located in the engine compartment. Besides automotive and industrial applications, belt drives are gaining traction in bikes on an ever-growing basis. 

If this is the first time you hear a belt drive mentioned in the same sentence with bicycles and you’re skeptical about the strength of such a solution, have no doubt. According to Gates – the undisputed leader in the market – their carbon reinforced belts meet the EN 14766 industry standard, and exceed a regular chain when it comes to tensile strength

To summarize, belts are more than capable of transmitting all the power the rider and the drive unit can produce to the rear wheel, and most importantly, it happens in an efficient and reliable fashion – with some added benefits, which we are about to cover next.

(Very) Low-maintenance 

To choose a solution, especially something differing from the tried and true industry standard, it must offer some notable benefits. This is very much the case with belt drives. Not only is it different to chains, but also better in some aspects. 

“No grease, no rust (and no fooling!)”, is the slogan that Gates uses which holds a lot of truth. 

As opposed to chains, there’s no metal on metal contact which means no need for lubrication. Indeed, belt drives thrive on very little maintenance and will keep on ticking from miles to an end with very little care. The absence of regular lubrication also means that the drivetrain will remain very clean with just regular washing. Another neat feature of a belt drive is that the belt does not stretch – a thing that can happen with chains over time. On top of that, the mileage that can be had from a belt can be as much as twice the amount compared to a chain.

First-class ride experience and worry-free riding are what we are all about here at Revonte. Therefore, a belt drive offers a neat option that accompanies and fits the ethos of the Revonte ONE Drive System splendidly. 

Compatibility Considerations

When purchasing and installing a belt, it needs to be of a correct length and tightened to proper tension to provide the desired function. Gates offers comprehensive instructions for this, including a length calculator.

So, my bike is just short of a belt-specific sprocket, rear cog, and the belt itself and I’m ready to rock? 

Well, almost, but let’s not go so fast there. Since a belt can not be cut and joined, the frame – more specifically the drive-side rear triangle – has to meet certain construction requirements. In practical terms this means that the rear triangle has to have a bolted joint or similar feature for installing the belt inside the frame. Another option is to have elevated chainstays, but this is a solution which is way less common.

Our partners have acknowledged this requirement and have proceeded accordingly in their designs.


A Common Goal 

The belt drive is an option that is very well worth considering since it offers some notable benefits in which the maintenance-free nature can not be overstated. The Revonte ONE Drive System and the belt drive serve a common purpose of making riding fun again! In our books that means more time spent on riding, instead of working on your bike. 

The smartest drive system got even smarter when it’s paired with a belt drive. Meet the future of e-bike drive trains with the introduction of the Revonte ONE Drive System paired with Gates carbon drive belt.