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?

Revonte Q&A – you asked, we answered

We made an inquiry in our social media feeds, i.e. Facebook and Linkedin, about things you wanted to know about the Revonte ONE Drive System. The most popular questions with answers are listed below in a Q&A format. Enjoy!

Q: Is the system capable of re-generation, e.g. recharging during riding? 

The Revonte ONE Drive System has the capability for re-generation, similar to KERS used in cars. Initially, that feature isn’t included in the system though. That might change in the future, depending on the future applications and needs that might arise.  

It is important to note that the re-gen is only possible with rear hubs that do not have a freewheel. Otherwise, the chain won’t be able to transfer the kinetic energy from the rear wheel.

Q: What is the weight of the system? How many kilometers can you do with one charge? 

This, of course, dependent on the battery. As a whole, the weight of the Revonte ONE System is competitive compared to any other current drive system.  All of the relevant specs can be found on our technical specification site. It is also worth noting that our system has an optimal weight distribution since nearly all of the mass is located low and around the bottom bracket.

The range depends on many variables, such as the combined weight of the bike and rider, terrain and elevation covered, the level of assistance used, tire choice, external conditions (wind, etc.) and battery size. Because of that, it is impossible to give even a somewhat accurate estimate.

When the specific bike model, battery size and other relevant variables are known, it’s possible to give estimates with certain conditions, such as the level of assistance used and so on. 

Q: Is it possible to use the bike while the battery is discharged?

Yes. The bike is 100% rideable. Because of the design on the drive unit, it can only be run with the lowest gear if the battery has run out completely. To counteract this, our software has been developed to conserve battery life to control the gears as long as possible.

Q: When will the drivetrain be generally available for sale with bike manufacturers in the US? What is the price range?

The Revonte ONE Drive System has been available for the US bike manufacturers since the launch of the system. Pricing is always negotiated case by case, since it’s dependent on several factors, such as the number of bike models, quantities and so on. 

Q: Can you provide a demo of the transmission software on YouTube? Is the software open source. 

The software is proprietary by nature as one could expect. However, some aspects of it or at least the basic functions and thought processes behind the development might be shared later on. Youtube would a good platform for this.

Q: When will we see full-suspension MTBs or fatbikes on the market (in my case in Germany) with Revonte Drive System? And in which price-range?

The launch of the first Revonte-equipped full-suspension MTB is solely dependent on bike manufacturers and who wants to take the lead in this front. We have already announced the first wave of e-bike manufacturers to use the Revonte ONE Drive System and more will follow. 

The price range is a decision that the bike manufacturer makes and is dependent on several factors, such as the frame, materials used, components and so on.

Q: Is the Revonte system available for the public and what’s the price?

At the moment we are providing the Revonte ONE Drive System only to bike manufacturers. It is yet to be decided if it will be available outside of the OEM market. We will provide further information about availability, pricing and other conditions when and if the subject becomes relevant.

Q: In the early photos we have seen belt drive, but it seems it’s gone now, and all marketing material uses a chain. I assume the belt or chain is outside of Revonte’s offering, but I would like to know if we can expect belt driven Revonte bikes in the future or not. 

Yes, our first render images used a belt drive. It’s not outside our offering or list of options by any means, but chain drive certainly is more common, affordable and easier to install. The use of a belt drive is solely a choice to be made by the bike manufacturer. The Revonte ONE Drive System will adapt to it without any limitations. 

Q: Some questions related to belt drive. What are the impediments for a belt system? Is a belt itself more expensive than a chain? Does a belt wear too quickly? Can a belt transfer the required torque reliably? 

Belt drives are inherently more expensive than a traditional chain. One can verify that just by looking at the prices for belts and “chainrings” required to use them. The more complex geometry alone needed for the “chainrings” increases the price somewhat. The durability of a high-quality belt is no less than a chain and it can even outlast a chain, which is something to consider since belts require zero maintenance. A belt can be very stiff, even stiffer than a chain in some cases so no power losses will occur even on the highest amount of torques.

Q: Is it too expensive to make a frame that can be opened (for putting on the belt) or is it just that most bike manufacturers don’t want to slow down the time to market by designing a frame for belt drive?

The construction of a belt-compatible frame is more complex and therefore more costly, but not considerably. Adding the feature needed (e.g. a drive side dropout with a bolt connection) is up to the bike and/or frame manufacturers to decide. The good thing about belt compatibility does not exclude the use of chain and therefore we are a big supporter of belt drive.

Q: How hard or easy it’s to drive without electric assistance? (in case the battery happens to go low and you are lost in the forest).

Easy, very easy indeed. The inherent drag on the drive unit is on the same level as in the rest of the market and perhaps even more towards the lower end. The design principle of our drive unit dictates that the motor can only be run on the lowest gear when the battery has run out. 

Our software has features to make the drive system work as economically as possible to prevent unwanted occurrences of running out of battery life mid-ride.

In Closing

Hopefully, you found this list of questions and answers interesting. If something left you puzzled or you want to know more about the Revonte ONE Drive System, follow us in social media and even give us a question and we’ll be happy to get back to you.

Revonte in Facebook

Revonte in Linkedin

Revonte Youtube Channel

Software as a Service – a New Look into E-bikes

Until now e-bikes are seen only as hardware that provides a means for transportation. The addition of electricity and circuit boards to a 200-years old invention can open doors that haven’t been discovered before. E-bikes can be so much more when some “smarts” are added to them and we are on our way in doing that. 

The Mechanical Foundation

It goes without saying that a sound mechanical structure is a prerequisite for a well-functioning e-bike, no matter if it’s a frame, wheels or in our case, the drive unit. 

Revonte ONE Drive System is based on robust and time-tested mechanical design, which is further refined to match the demands of an e-bike drive train. No matter how advanced or ingenious the drive units design is, there’s a limit when it comes to versatility

A drive unit that functions solely on mechanical principles is inherently limited. One does not simply have the space needed to add extra gears, differentials, cogs and, belts into the mix. If the motor compartment is limited in the automotive world, the real estate inside of an e-bike drive unit is truly at a premium.

Software in Command

When electronics are added to the mix and highly developed software is put in command, several limitations are overcome and possibilities grow almost exponentially! 

When the motor provides the working basis for the drive unit and the finer actions are left to the smart party – software that is – a whole new level of possibilities are brought to the table, such as:

  • Automatic and stepless function – the thing Revonte ONE Is known for. On the other hand, software preferences allow the use of traditional indexed shifting, if one wishes so.
  • Ride-diagnostics include tracking, mapping functions and service needs of the bicycle. 
  • Anti-theft feature. The bike can be disabled remotely in case if it ends up in the wrong hands. 

Software at Your Service

Besides the features listed above, the software-first approach enables a wide range of possibilities – some that have only been thought of before and some completely new. 

For example, the shared economy model is growing rapidly since people prefer to pay for the service and utility functions of products. In certain cases, owning something is more of a liability than an asset. With the growing density of cities and other changes in the urban landscape, the shared economy model simply makes sense. A small number of cars already work in this way. Bicycles are catching up and possibly even taking the lead soon! The highly adaptable software platform enables service providers, housing cooperatives and alike to harness the power of e-bikes to a large group of people with only a nominal fee compared to buying and owning a bike. 

The shared economy model has a lot in common with rental use. One could argue that it’s renting with the exception that it’s limited to a certain group of users. Since the commonalities are clear, the software can be easily adapted to be used as a platform for operating a rental fleet of bikes. 

The Revonte ONE Drive System has been planned from the start to have continuous updates. In other words, the bike and the ride-experience get better over time! It’s the opposite of what happens to utility products by default! Several update packages will be available so that the end-user can choose what features he or she deems necessary and is willing to pay for – an approach which is standard practice in computer programs and phone apps. 

The Next Step

Inventing the wheel was the first necessary step in the birth of the bicycle. The invention of chain-drive, pneumatic tires and gears have been some of the major milestones in the later developmental arc. 

It can be argued that the addition of electrical assistance and smart features provided by the software is the next big step! It enables features and possibilities that haven’t existed before and on top of that, one can choose the right combination of features and services that are considered beneficial and necessary – just like on a smartphone. 

Here at Revonte, we are taking the leading role with the revolutionary Revonte ONE Drive System. The first wave of e-bike manufacturers to use our drive system has been announced already. The latest addition broadens our operating field to cargo e-bikes which are among the fastest-growing sectors in both bicycles and logistics. We are thinking beyond the hardware and are excited to see the possibilities that lay ahead.

Ride Experience Is More Than Performance Metrics

Evaluating e-bike drive systems is a lot more than comparing performance metrics, i.e. peak power or peak torque values. Numbers do matter but a lot remains hidden if the assessment is done purely based on them. To deliver an exceptional ride experience, the drive system needs to work in smooth harmony to determine how the available power is used 
Read further to learn more about the thinking behind the Revonte ONE Drive System and why the ride experience it offers is like no other.

Revonte in action
The Revonte ONE Drive System demonstrating the unprecedented ride experience during the Revonte ONE test drive video shoot.

Beyond Numbers

The mechanical design behind the Revonte ONE Drive System generates plenty of power even for the most challenging user-cases and conditions. Besides having a robust, time-tested and reliable mechanical construction, it was clear from the start that the raw numbers should also meet a high standard.

As the name suggests, Revonte ONE Drive System is compatible with all and every type of e-bikes, including cargo bikes which demand a lot of torque to move respectable payloads. 

We would have liked to announce the performance metrics of our drive system in a similar fashion to one well-known British car manufacturer as stating simply: “Enough.”

However, the number of questions and inquiries related to this domain reaches overwhelming quantities quickly which is the reason we decided to take the unequivocal route. 

Control Precedes Power

To put it shortly, raw power is important. Deficiencies in that department will show up in the form of slow acceleration and sluggish uphill performance among other things. No amount of power is useful though if it’s not controlled. A drag car can drive a straight line with considerable speed, but it turns almost useless when the first turn in the road presents itself. 

E-bike and the desired ride experience demands a lot more than merely delivering the most amount of watts or horsepowers to the rear wheel. Contol in the form of timing and the amount of power delivered is of the essence here – and we tackled the challenge to perfect that. 

To reach the desired assistance characteristics, the rider inputs are monitored continuously by the software among the incline, speed, and other relevant metrics. Based on the gathered data, the software calculates the right amount of assistance for every moment. It takes a considerable amount of work in the form of programming, testing and repeating this development loop more times than we care to count, but the resulting magic in the form of ride experience provided is worth it. 

Real-life Examples

Our recent and test ride video provides an ample amount of examples of how the Revonte ONE Drive System ride experience is ahead of the game.

  • Acceleration with a steady cadence – Using indexed manual gears requires constant changes in cadence for keeping in the optimal range for human-based power output. With the automatic function of the Revonte ONE Drive System, the whole acceleration can be done with a steady cadence, i.e. 70 or 90RPM. 
  • Smooth assistance – The nature of how the power is dosed from the motor to the rear wheel plays a major role in the ride experience. A quick and large burst of power gives a feeling similar to a motorbike, whereas a more mild-mannered dose of power preserves the feeling of a traditional bicycle. Either one of these and anything in between can be had because of the highly configurable nature of the drive system. 
  • Option to choose – It poses no problem if one wants to use a more traditional type indexed shifting. The switch from automatic to manual and back can be done easily via our App. 
  • Intuitive use – the human-machine interface is important but oftentimes overlooked aspect of the drive system. We took great care to make our Remote design right.
  • Focus on the essentials – Revonte ONE Drive System makes riding easy so that one can focus on the things that matter the most, the surroundings and ride itself. 

Software First

The recipe for ultimate ride experience constitutes of ingenious mechanical design which is further enhanced with a highly developed software. The vast amount of options for configuring the behavior and the ride characteristics built into the software which forms the core of the Revonte ONE Drive System. As our CEO Otto Chrons eloquently put it in a recent interview:

“For us, all the cool things are in the software.”

The unprecedented ride experience is a lot more than just having lots of power and transferring it quickly to propulsion. We have taken great care to design the Revonte ONE Drive System that it fills the demands of every type of e-bike in the market and perhaps even exceeds the rider expectations.