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. 

Why Revonte ONE Is the Drive System of Choice for Cargo E-bikes

E-bikes are taking an ever-growing share of the bicycle market pie. With the advent of new bike types that were not even on the map some years ago, such as cargo e-bikes, the need for a matching drive system is higher than ever before. Even the most conservative predictions indicate that the popularity and therefore the market share of e-bikes is growing at a fast pace.

Our drive system will power any type of e-bike with a single set of hardware. From the start we’ve designed our drive system to be highly adaptable. When this is coupled with the high performance metrics and unrivaled battery capacity, we have a true winner when it comes to cargo e-bike drive systems.

Enter the Revonte ONE Drive System. Read further to learn more about its unique benefits and forward-thinking that makes it the drive system of choice for cargo e-bikes.

The Versatile Powerhouse

The Revone ONE Drive Unit has a lot of going on inside its stealth black surface. The housing contains the motor, the gears and circuit boards – or smarts as we like to call them – all in one compact package. As all high-performance motors, the Revonte ONE Drive Unit is a mid-motor. For cargo e-bikes, this motor type is the superior choice in every way. 

From the start of the design we wanted to have “one hardware” to fit all types of bikes – hence the name, ONE. A testament to this is that the Revonte ONE Drive System can be easily adopted from a city commuter bike to an heavy-duty cargo e-bike. All of the configurations are done on the software side. 

Even though the raw performance metrics are just one part of ride characteristics, Revonte ONE Drive System is all but a wallflower in this game. Very high peak values in torque and power guarantees that an even heavily loaded bike will accelerate in a quick fashion, be it flat or uphill. How much are those numbers exactly? “Enough”, as one British car manufacturer states their engine power.

Staying Connected 

All the “smarts” aren’t packed into the Revonte Drive Unit for nothing. Besides withholding the control electronics needed for delivering the smooth and honed assistance behaviour, it includes all the connectivity technology that one could wish for. In-built GPS, 4G and Bluetooth enables not only efficient communication between the drive system and the rider via our app, but also brings other features to the table which are highly valuable in a professional setting, especially when it comes to cargo e-bikes.

For example, GPS and 4G enable real-time cargo tracking with pinpoint accuracy, therefore making pick-ups and deliveries possible even on a short notice, not unlike how Taxi cabs operate in current times. Of course, the final list of services and options are to be decided by the service provider. But most importantly, the Revonte ONE Drive System opens the door for possibilities that have been so far on a nearly uncharted territory. 

Tailored Battery Technology

The Revonte AKKU is the most flexible e-bike battery in the market, and for a good reason! Packed with the latest Li-ion 21700 cell technology, it provides state of the art features when it comes to battery life, capability of high power outputs, and charging properties. The AKKU is offered in two models to accommodate a variety of needs and price points existing in the market. The two models are named the AKKU 5 and AKKU 7. Their respectable capacities are 530Wh, and 705Wh, respectably. 

The unique smart linking feature makes it possible to connect up to four batteries in parallel with the combined capacity of over 2,8kWh! This is a truly competitive advantage in the cargo e-bike domain since large battery capacity will keep the bike and cargo running for a full workday or even more without the need to stop for a recharge or battery change. 

Adam Barbmy, the CEO of EAV, values this feature highly because of the increased  operating range which is one of the decisive factors in commercial cargo e-bike applications. “We want to offer a range from 30-120km per day depending on application.”, says Adam. 

Learn more about our collaboration with EAV from our previous press release.

Revonte ONE Drive System to Power EAV Cargo E-Bikes  

Best of all, the smart connection feature of the Revonte AKKU does not require any additional electronics or components. The battery itself and the battery management system (BMS for short) was developed in tight collaboration with Akku Vision GmbH, a German industry leader in battery technology, with the goal of creating the most advanced and user-friendly solution for storing propulsive energy for e-bike use.

ONE Drive System for Every Need

The Revonte ONE Drive System is the most versatile drive system in the market, catering the needs of every e-bike type imaginable, all the way from propelling an ordinary commuter to powering a fleet of cargo e-bikes which fill the last-mlle gap in the logistics chain.

The mid-drive construction, simple and low-maintenance single-speed drivetrain, top-of the line performance metrics and highly configurable nature of the Revonte ONE Drive System make it the smartest drive system around, no matter if the application is heavy commercial use or occasional leisure ride with heavier than usual carry-ons.

Get in touch with our sales team to learn more and have your cargo e-bike equipped with the Revonte ONE Drive System, the leading choice for cargo e-bikes.

Cargo E-bikes – From Latecomer to Industry Leader

E-bikes are taking an ever-growing share of the bicycle market pie. In a short time span, the electric brethren has evolved from an absurdity into a market drawcard  – and this applies to every type of bicycle. Cargo e-bikes are a relative latecomer to the game, and interestingly this previously niché category is about to rise to the role of a major player in the e-bike industry.

One limiting factor that’s been handicapping the development of this highly potential industry is the lack of competitive drive system solutions – until now. As you can learn below Revonte ONE Drive System is the perfect match for the unique needs of cargo e-bikes.

Read further to learn more and how Revonte ONE Drive System fits into this picture.

The Last Mile

Much has been discussed about the logistic chain and especially the last part of it, also known as the last mile phase. What’s the best option to deliver goods, especially small to medium sized ones, commercial and industrial? 

A semi-truck? As cumbersome as an elephant in a porcelain shop, not to mention the nearly eclipse-causing diesel fumes.

A delivery van? Definitely a better option than a semi, but the same cons do still apply, albeit on a smaller scale.

A bicycle courier. A worthy and most importantly, a green option, but very limited in capacity.  

Do you see a missing piece somewhere in between? The cargo e-bike is the perfect option that fills the void that’s been left between the bicycle courier and a delivery van. 

Capacity vs. Maneuverability 

There’s always a trade off between capacity and maneuverability. A freight train has a tremendous payload capacity, but the manoeuvrability is limited to reach of train tracks. On the other hand, bicycle couriers can maneuver oneself to just about anywhere, but the capacity is limited to letters and very small items. 

Cargo e-bikes meet the payload capacity and manoeuvrability in a perfect spot! No other vehicle or medium of transportation can move relatively heavy items, up to tens of kilograms, in close quarters like the cargo e-bike. The feline suppleness and carrying capacity of a mule combined are combined all in one in a cargo e-bike, if a proverb from the animal kingdom is to be used. 

Colossal Market Opportunity

The size and scale of the logistics industry are hard to fathom. The number of daily deliveries worldwide is staggering and there’s a good reason to believe that it’s only going to grow from here side by side with ecommerce and general direction of consumer behavior, not to mention industrial needs.

If one would like to run the numbers in a very conservative way, let’s say that in the following years just 1-2% of the last mile deliveries would be done on a cargo e-bike, the number is still massive. Whoever gets here first and gets the process dialed all the way by the means of proper vehicle fleet, efficient control of the logistics chain and most importantly, by providing a viable green option beside the traditional means will certainly have the upper hand and the largest share of the market pie. 

For example, it’s no secret that one company which shares the name of a rainforest located in South America is looking hard into new last mile delivery options. And they are not the only one. The big logistic players with the three-letter names are taking part in the same race. 

The ONE Benefit

When it comes to drive systems for cargo e-bike use, the Revonte ONE Drive System is very – or even the most relevant option in the market. Instead of just taking our word for it, consider the following benefits our drive system offers:

  • Mid-drive drive unit. The hub motor isn’t relevant for high-performance applications which is even more relevant in cargo e-bikes. The mid-drive design gives the ultimate design freedom and flexibility for the engineer in designing the most efficient drivetrain, whether cargo e-bike or not. 
  • High torque and wattage. The Revonte ONE Drive Unit has class-leading performance metrics, even though the ride experience isn’t only about the numbers. Peak torque of over 100Nm will suffice moving a cargo e-bike of any type up the steepest of hills – assuming that loading (amount of payload) is done in a somewhat sensible manner.
  • Revonte AKKU – the most advanced e-bike battery system. We are confident in saying that the freshly launched Revonte AKKU is the most advanced e-bike battery. First, it uses the latest Li-ion cell technology and the smart linking feature enables unprecedented battery capacity and range. 
  • Other inbuilt features. The pros do not end here. The Revonte ONE Drive System has other inbuilt connectivity features that are very relevant for cargo e-bike use. These will be covered in our next article. 

It’s worth noting that with the exception of the mid-drive feature, pros listed above are unique to the Revonte ONE Drive System. Currently, no other drive system can offer similar features. 

Utility Vehicle of the Future

The fast-changing landscape of urban mobility is getting even more crowded, but still, goods and people need to move even faster and ever-tightening schedules. The new and increasing demands ask for new solutions. Cargo e-bikes are among those which has have been noted all the way in the mainstream media (e.g. Fully Charged show published on the 20th of October).

We are proud to be at the forefront of the green-colored technological advancement with the Revonte ONE Drive System, no matter if it’s about moving people, cargo, or both. Stay tuned for our next article about the subject.

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.

When the Whole Is Bigger than the Sum of the Parts

Here at Revonte we’ve wanted to take the big picture view from the beginning. Our goal is to change how ebikes are ridden and thought of which requires more than just building a neat drive unit – although, that certainly is part of the deal. Besides providing a Drive System with unprecedented features, like the automatic & stepless transmission, we wanted to make the whole process of using the ebike easier, more pleasant and seamless, starting from the purchase.  

Let’s call it the Revonte Experience.

Ease of Use Starting from the Registration

Usually, attention is directed only towards the things that can be noted while riding. When it comes to ebikes – or any other product for that matter – the things that happen before that do matter, and often quite a lot. The ebike itself might be a pleasure to ride, but the experience might be dwarfed by a cumbersome process of turning just the power on. 

We’ve put a lot of thought to make the usability of the Revonte ONE Drive System as intuitive and smooth as possible. The process starts with registration, and at the same token claiming the ownership of the ebike. All of this is done via our App in a simple step-by-step manner. All the relevant instructions are clearcut and the amount of needed information is kept to a minimum.

If the registration process requires a PhD in electrical engineering or programming, then something has gone amiss. 

When Ensuing Riding

One of the design drivers of the user-interface and general usability of the Revonte ONE Drive System was that it should be so easy to use that a child could use a Revonte-equipped ebike (and they probably will.) 

Turning the power on and ensuing the ride should not be more complicated than starting a ride on a regular bike. In practical terms, this means that the power switch will be easy to use and no intricate button-pushing sequences are needed. Also, the app connects to the bike without a conscious effort by the user and starts tracking chosen metrics, if chosen from the settings.

Consequently, when the ride has finished or interrupted momentarily (remember, cyclists are big on coffee-breaks), turning the power off or putting the ebike on a stand-by mode should be just as easy as turning the power off. These things should be given but to our experience, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Controls

Making the human-machine interface – HMI for short – as simple as elegant as possible was high on our priority list. The Revonte Controller reflects this thinking in every way.

First, it simplifies the cockpit by replacing existing controls instead of occupying new space. Second, it’s intuitive to use and highly ergonomic. And third, it’s minimalist to the extent that the difference between a traditional shifter paddle can be hard to tell by a glance. Only the colourful LED’s reveal that there’s more hiding beneath the surface.

Going screenless was an easy decision for us since we wanted to keep the cockpit area as simple as possible, and most importantly leave the choice of having a screen to the rider. Any modern smartphone can be used as a screen with the aid of the Revonte App which has all the features one could ask for. And not only that, it’s continuously updated so that users can benefit from the latest developments.

Ride-experience

We’ve said it before that the ride-experience isn’t only about performance metrics. The goal of this article was to drive the point home that ebikes, and most importantly, the usability and the general feeling of using one is a lot more than just watts or newton metres.  

The user-experience starts from the purchase and besides the riding itself, includes registration, servicing, charging and turning the power on and off countless times.

We feel that the ebike industry has a lot of ground to cover in this area. A lot of the controls, HMI’s and complicated button-pushing choreographies are something that would not fly in any other industry. Starting a drive on one of the leading electric cars is simple; hop on to the driver’s seat with the key in your pocket and start moving. Why should it be more difficult when moving from four wheels to two? 

With this line of thinking, the whole is truly bigger than the sum of the parts. Ebikes should be easy and most importantly enjoyable to use. Could your grandma use one? And how would she find the experience?

Weight Matters – Not Only the Amount But Also Where It’s Located

E-bikes are inherently heavier than their oxygen-powered siblings. There’s no going around the fact that the drive unit and the battery which holds the energy stores for propulsion add weight to the bicycle. When it comes to ride-characteristics, total weight does matter, but how it is placed on the bike is at least as important. 

Bicycling and Kilograms

Bicycling has a long and complex tradition with weight. Almost the moment since the first racing bicycle was brazed together, another race began to make the frames and the rest of the components as light as possible. This led to a century-long diet that produced clever designs, pushed the development and use of new materials and also outright contraptions, like bikes made of “drillium“. UCI, the governing body in road racing, put a limit to the tomfoolery by mandating a weight limit of 6.8kg for the bike to be eligible to be raced on.

The obsession with weight – or the lack of it – has had its effects to this day in the bicycle industry. No other single metric can be evaluated as quickly as the number on the scale; the lower the figure, the better. The same simple logic can’t be applied to any other feature or part of the bike, take wheel size or the complex matter bicycle frame geometry for example. Weight has been an easy target that everyone could get a hold of and announce their verdict on.

Make no mistake, the power to weight ratio does matter. In the World Tour level, it is possibly the most accurate factor to predict who is going to stand on the podium. E-bikes are ridden under the same laws of physics, but as one will soon learn there is quite a bit more the matter.

Weight of An E-bike

A regular commuter bike weighs around 13-15kg, depending on the accessories like mudguards, panniers, and so on. A high-end full suspension mountain bike tips the scales at 11-15kg, depending on the riding discipline. A light cross-country racer can be sub 10kg when a gravity-focused rig can weigh as much as 16kg. 

The addition of electric assistance adds approximately 8kg’s to the bike which is divided somewhat equally between the drive unit and the battery. A capacity of 625Wh can be considered as a standard for a high-end battery which usually comes with a weight of just under 4kg. The bigger the battery, the heavier it is. Therefore, batteries with capacities larger than this often weigh more than 4 kg.  

With elementary school level mathematics, the total weight of an e-bike is north of 20kg, with the assumption that a full-sized battery and drive unit are used. Adding a bit of mass to the bike does provide some interesting effects such as a more stable ride behavior and better suspension performance in e-mtb’s to the extent that top times have been ridden with e-bikes in downhill sections which require no pedaling! It goes without saying though, that climbing an uphill is a task which is preferred to be done with the electric assistance turned on.

Weight Distribution

A number on the scale is not all when it comes to weight. How the weight is distributed is a big factor. The mid-drive is the leading solution when it comes to drive unit construction since the weight is placed in the best location possible, low and centered. The Revonte ONE Drive System takes this a big step further by including the gears inside the drive unit as well – a feature no other drive unit on the market currently has.

Derailleur-based gears have been the sole option in performance-focused bicycles for decades. A case can be made that what functions well in traditional bikes might not directly apply to e-bikes. This is especially true when it comes to gears. Derailleurs, cassettes, and the thin chains used to transmit power to the rear wheel are not up to par for the task when an electric drive unit is added to the drivetrain. Premature chain and cog wear is evident in e-bike use, not to even mention the dreaded snapping of a derailleur hanger which can ruin the entire rear wheel; a nightmare scenario which has plagued cyclists of all types since the advent of derailleur. 

The Revonte ONE Drive System removes the derailleur and the heavy cassette from the back and eloquently includes them inside the drive unit, bringing all the weight in the best possible location. The effects can be noticed even by picking the bike up. A back-heavy bike feels as if the rear tire is glued to the ground, no matter how much effort is put into lifting the bike up. The ride-characteristics of such a bike are not much better since it can produce a feeling similar to riding with a trolley. 

A center of gravity which is low and in the middle of the bike produces superior ride characteristics, no matter the type of the bike. Some of the most notable benefits are improved cornering characteristics, even traction on both tires, more stable and even planted feel. A neat side effect is that the suspension qualities are vastly improved in high-end e-mtb’s since part of the designing tuning is minimizing the unsprung mass (the parts that move when suspension moves, e.g. wheels and what is attached to them). Revonte ONE Drive System does just that by eliminating the derailleur and cassette from the rear wheel. 

In Closing

The bicycle industry has been traditionally nearly obsessed with weight. The logic has been that if it is lighter, it surely must be better. The advent of e-bikes has changed this in part by bringing some common sense to the table, but also by changing the nature of how propulsion is produced. 

With e-bikes, the power to weight ratio isn’t nearly as critical as in traditional bikes since there are literally watts to spare. This means that the bike will move swiftly in every situation and terrain and a difference of a couple of kilograms is barely noticeable. The sophisticated control software of the Revonte ONE Drive System further enhances the ride experience with its automatic and stepless operation.

Every type of e-bike will benefit from the supreme weight distribution and robust drivetrain construction of the Revonte ONE Drive System. Our drive system is not only the smartest around when it comes to software, but also in construction and placement of the mechanical parts.