The Story Behind Our Remote Design – Part 1

Those of you who have visited our site previously might remember the remote control which had a lot of similarities to existing control units. We have moved on from the original design because things have changed on many fronts. First of all our thinking about the subject has changed and the whole industry has made a notable shift as well. To summarize, we weren’t satisfied with the initial design and decided to create a better one. 

A bit more than a napkin sketch.

Core Values

The term core value is usually mentioned with company policy or business strategy. We´ve employed the same tool and line of thinking on the level of individual components whenever needed. This was the case with remote controllers since it is such an important part of the system and user experience. After careful consideration and idea gathering session the core values were condensed in the four following points:

  • Intuitive. If the rider needs to think about how to use the remote or the learning process takes a considerable amount of time, the design hasn’t met this goal. In other words, controlling the behaviour of the bike must become effortless according to the “No look” principle.
  • Screenless. An overflow of information will distract the user while riding – keep it simple! We believe that all the needed information can be conveyed through a led indicator. Our drive system does not require a screen and if the user wishes to use one, mobile phone or a dedicated ride computer will provide a platform for all the information imaginable and most importantly, with a customizable view. More on this later.
  • Right-hand side. Since the traditional shifter is gone and there is space to occupy, the right-hand placement is an obvious one and supports what the rider is used to at this location. A placement like this declutters the cockpit setup and creates a more streamlined and elegant looks.
  • Integrated. The goal was to integrate the remote into the cockpit rather than occupying new space.  

On top of these things, we decided early on that the index finger should remain free so that it´s always available for braking purposes. With e-mountain bikes this is an obvious design feature, but it applies to all other bike types as well. 

Design Drivers

From core values, we moved on to a more practical level. Design drivers are properties or features that we want you – the rider – to notice when using a bike equipped with the Revonte ONE Drive System. In this case, there were some similarities between them and core values, but the list got diversified and most importantly, more exact.  

  • Simple & intuitive design. All of the relevant functions to riding can be controlled underneath the handlebar by using the thumb only.
  • Versatile. Works on multiple platforms. No matter the handlebar setup, bike or ride computer you are using, our remote system will be compatible.
  • Simple & compact. The form and use should be broken down to a minimum without sacrificing features and functionality. No one will benefit from a huge clunky remote with too many buttons. 
  • Stealth & integrated design. No matter how good the function is, if the end product is an eyesore, it has not met all the goals – or not at least in our books. Smooth surfaces, shapes, tactile features, alloy construction on levers and a nice colour scheme are a must-have. Our remote integrates itself seamlessly to the cockpit.   
  • Great ergonomics. Although this is an obvious criterion, not all designs meet it. The remote should be comfortable to use, it should not require loosening the grip and reaching when used, etc. These are basic things and therefore something that we want to make especially well. 
A rendered photo of the final design.

Where´s the Display?

The decision to leave the screen out was made early in the design process. The reasoning behind it is quite simple. 

First of all, there is a limited amount of information that is useful when riding. Even if you ride in a straight road without any traffic or other variables that need to be considered, eye-contact should be kept mostly on the road (or on the nice scenery surrounding it). When it comes to mountain biking, the importance of this factor grows several magnitudes. If eye-contact wanders off from the optimal line choice, big trouble can ensue. Given these points and the fact that not too many metrics are useful to observe while riding, a need for a screen does not really present itself. When it comes to post-ride analytics, the situation changes of course. Ride data can be viewed and analyzed from a mobile phone or from a laptop interface. 

A second reason for leaving the screen out is that we want to give the control and customizability back to the user. If he or she wishes to use her own device, the option exists and is even the preferred one. The companies who manufacture ride computers know their job and we want to leave it to them. 

Closing Thoughts

There you have it. Those were the basic factors that guided our design process which resulted in innovations that led to filed patents. A component like the remote seems simple on the surface but the number and depth of decisions are quite surprising when the design challenge is truly tackled. The final product ended up being quite a lot like our motor: functional, robust and almost elegant in all of its simplicity.

No corners were cut in the process. We are happy with the end result and confident that you will like it as well. Stay tuned for more info and photos about our remote on a later date!  

The final product out in the wild!

Changing Landscape of Urban Mobility

Urban mobility is reaching a critical turning point. The condensation of services and working opportunities into cities has caused a considerable increase in population density i.e. more people are living and getting by on their daily tasks in smaller areas. This poses considerable challenges to the infrastructure and how transportation is conducted. 

Luckily, the answer might be found in an invention which has a history reaching back over 200 years. Read further to learn more!

The Ever-changing Urban Environment

The modern direction of development has led to cities and urban environments that are more densely populated and constructed than ever before. Space is at a premium, as are convenient ways of moving from point A to B. This isn’t the first city-related challenge we’re facing and certainly not the last. It is intriguing though, to think how the nature of the challenges changes over time. For example, the great horse manure crisis of 1894 seems like a very far-fetched problem, but the solution that arrived in the form of a combustion engine and the automobile was hard to see beforehand. 

The days of getting by with horse carriages and using hay as the fuel of propulsion are long-gone. Nowadays, the challenges can be pinpointed into three main categories:

  • Heavy traffic and long travel times
  • Pollution
  • Lack of space

Luckily, a bicycle that is equipped with electric assistance provides a solution to the problem or at least is a considerable part of it. 

Solving the Traffic Dilemma

When population density reaches a certain limit, it is not feasible that everyone travels by their own car in a timely manner. Bottle-necks are bound to be formed in the intersections, crossroads and even 4-lane wide highways when the stream of cars is big enough.

Public transportation like subways, buses and, tram cars are one solution to the problem with their huge transportation capacity. The simple bicycle got overlooked for a long time, but fortunately, urban planning is finally catching up. Bicycles, and especially e-bikes, provide a versatile, easy to use, fast-moving and environment-friendly mode of transportation that isn’t dependent on any schedule besides the one that the rider has. 

The network of bike lanes and bike-friendly roads is growing steadily to the level that e-bikes can be the fastest way of transportation inside the city centers. The most progressive cities in this front are Copenhagen, Colorado Springs and the whole country of Netherlands. Not only might the e-bike be the fastest, but it’s a very convenient mode of transportation that is immune to traffic jams. 

Keeping the Green Values in Mind

Emissions and the pollution caused by it are a big topic at the moment since we’re living in the crucial moments of climate change. Every action to reduce emissions and pollution is warranted to keep Earth a good place to live for future generations. 

To put some numbers on the table, research conducted by the Municipality of Copenhagen concluded that cyclists can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20,000 tons a year! E-bikes have a bigger carbon footprint than the traditional bicycle, but the difference is almost trivial. Charging a standard size 600Wh battery costs around 0.093€ which means that only a trivial amount of electricity is consumed in the grand scheme of things. 

If the electric assistance tips the choice in the favor of an e-bike instead of hopping into a car, the situation is clear which option is more environment-friendly. 

No More Searching for a Parking Spot

How many times have you searched for parking space for a considerable amount of time? How many times you’ve been busy or already running late for an important appointment? Everyone can empathize with situations like these. With an e-bike, finding a parking spot is a trivial task! One parking spot can fit up to 10 e-bikes, which increases the parking capacity by several magnitudes. 

In short, bicycles fit into a small space. It is not an uncommon thing that the most forward-thinking companies offer storage space for bicycles to encourage the employees to choose the bike over a car when tackling the daily commute.

After some simple calculation, it might turn out that e-bike is a considerably faster way to commute even on long distances when the time needed for parking is added to the equation. For example, if a car ride takes 10-15 minutes, but the search for a parking spot plus the walk to the destination takes the same amount or even more time, a bike commute up to 45-minutes is justified for being just as fast.

That’s Not All Folks

The fortes of e-bikes do not end here. We haven’t even touch topics like cargo bikes, the potential of shared economies and rental bike fleets, which are topics for later discussions. 

E-bikes are an important ingredient in solving the challenges that the modern urban environment poses at us. To summarize, e-bikes bring the following benefits:

  • Daily commute is a fun event instead of a stress-laden chore!
  • Parking is a trivial task!
  • Environment-friendly mode of transportation.
  • Suitable for all fitness levels and ages. 
  • No sweat since electric assistance flattens the uphills. 
  • Fast(est) way of transportation inside city centers.

Will the current times be remembered as the traffic jam crisis of 2020? And will e-bikes come to rescue us? Only time will tell, but we are doing our best to make e-bikes a more viable option than ever before.

Eurobike 2019: Launch of the Revonte ONE Drive System

Eurobike took place in the first week of September in Friedrichshafen, Germany. It’s the event where the whole bike world gets together to show their latest products and visions. As usual with every major expo, plenty of gadgets and inventions with questionable utility can be found as well. To put it shortly, Eurobike was big for us, since it was our first public appearance and the event where we launched our Revonte ONE Drive System. We had set our expectations high well before the event, but those got exceeded by quite a large margin by the amount of interest our system gained!

Our booth just moments before the three-day event started.

Read further to learn more. 

We have Arrived at the Party

The days in Eurobike were filled with scheduled and spontaneous meetings. Our goals for the event were threefold:

1)    Start negotiations with new customers for the first deliveries in 2020. 

2)    See what the rest of the industry is up to.

3)    Media coverage.

Iiro explaining the inner workings of the Revonte ONE Drive Unit.

All of the goals were met and none of our team had a boring moment during the fair. The list of contacts we made during the event produced quite a stack of paper which will surely provide plenty of work for us for the following weeks. If there’s a delay with our reply, that is the reason and please accept our apologies beforehand. 

Antero and Uwe explaining the features and benefits of the Revonte ONE Drive System.

Our presence has been noted and we got daily visits by some of the biggest players in the field. It was a sign of things to come when the representatives of one very notable e-bike motor manufacturer came to our booth just half an hour later after the start of the whole event! 

Not only we were noticed by the industry people, but by the media as well. A big highlight for us was that the legendary reporter Steve Jones from listed Revonte ONE as one of the highlights of the show! This mention meant a lot to us and we are honoured and very grateful for it.

To get the message, it’s best to hear from the source itself:

“I mean this has got to be the future of e-mountain biking. So from Finland then, Revonte is absolutely on it!”

A Long List of Unique Features

Eurobike also provided an opportunity to see what the rest of the industry is doing. Although we’re very focused on developing our product and service package, it was encouraging to see that no one else has taken the route we’re on. The Revonte ONE Drive System is still the only one with the following unique features:

  • A single-speed drivetrain. When several options exist, the simplest one usually prevails. This is especially true when it comes bicycle drivetrains. The Revonte ONE Drive System uses a single chainring, cog and durable single-speed chain, which produce a robust, low-maintenance, affordable and reliable drivetrain solution. Getting rid of the cassette and rear derailleur does good things to weight distribution and suspension characteristics in mountain bike applications. 
  • Combined motor & Internal gearbox. Placing all the ´moving parts´ in one enclosed package creates a drivetrain that is care-free, functional and pleasing to the eye as well. 
  • Automatic & stepless transmission. This was the feature that produced most of the questions during the show. Since bicycle transmission has been based on indexed solutions since the beginning, it can be hard to grasp the features and ride properties of a stepless version. When automatic shifting and our steady cadence mode is added to that, it’s quite a lot to take in. Our software enables the rider to use an indexed type of shifting as well which emulates the function of traditional drivetrain by dividing the gear range to the desired amount of steps.
  • Software first approach – which stands on the sturdy foundations of robust mechanical engineering. Although almost all of the existing e-bike motor systems have some type of in-built software, no one is going as far as we have. More on this below!  

No Other System Goes Software First

We are taking the e-bike motor software to the next level. First of all, the ´magic´ behind the ride experience which Revonte ONE offers is based on sophisticated software that is monitoring rider inputs and other parameters (used assistance mode, velocity, battery life, etc.) with very high frequency and adjusting the output and motor behavior accordingly. It also learns from user behavior over time. Accomplishing this type of ride experience would not simply be possible with a simple electro-mechanical system. 

Our app is the portal between the rider and the motor, enabling a high level of customization on the fly.

The other major feature and benefit of our system is the high level of configurability that happens on the level of bike manufacturers and end-user. Read our previous blog text to learn more. 

Our goal is that bikes with Revonte ONE will get better over time. How is this possible you may ask? Via continuous, over-the-air software updates. At the moment Revonte ONE is the only one able to do this to a considerable extent because of the connectivity and the ´powerful brain´ inside the motor.

Other Major News

Our trip to Eurobike was accompanied by other good news in the form of funding. A funding round of $2 million got confirmed towards the end of the event. This sets us up nicely to start the production in the second quarter of 2020 and enables us to expand our strong and motivated team. Good things have happened, and it will only get better from here! 

On an ending note, take a look at the more detailed description of Revonte ONE from video below. 

Revonte Drive System Offers the Highest Level of Configuration

The Revonte Drive System development has had two distinct phases: hardware and software. Most importantly, they form a unit that works harmoniously together in a way which is unprecedented in the e-bike market. First of all, the mechanical structure of our motor is simple and ingenious in its own right and when the broad scale of software-driven features are added into the mix, we can reach a new level of performance and customization. Today we are going to concentrate on the latter one. 

To Customize What?

Current e-bike drive units offer very little room for customization. Sure, there are different levels of assistance which might have some room for tuning but that is about it. A high degree of customization benefits all parties: the bike manufacturer and the end-user – meaning the rider. Let us explain how.

Let’s start with the bike manufacturers point of view. With Revonte Drive System the manufacturer can configure the motor properties however they want. Even though two bikes have the same motor and software, the ride characteristics and even the digital user interface might be completely different. The motor performance can be tuned to fit the needs of any type of use: commuting, road riding or mountain biking. For example, a cargo bike can have significantly higher torque values when accelerating than a regular city bike. This is just one simple example of the degree of tuning and customization that can be done by the bike manufacturer. 

From a rider’s point of view, the assistance modes can be configured – on top of choosing the assistance mode itself. If an avid mountain biker wants more “kick” during acceleration, it can be done through our app. Besides basic functions like these, the bike can learn commonly used routes and optimize functions towards them. The goals of route optimization might be anywhere from the fastest time possible to an option that has the best combination of travel time and battery life.

Customization Is an Asset

One thing that no manufacturer wants – be it inside or outside of the bike industry – is bigger and more complex inventory. With the Revonte Drive System, both are minimized since our motor can be fitted to any type of bike. “One motor to rule them all”, is a catchy slogan but well justified one in many respects. Single motor model and software means simplified and most likely smaller inventory, which makes the bike manufacturers business easier and their product manager happier. On top of this, even the smallest manufacturers can have the customization capabilities that were previously available only to the biggest players in the market. Varied customization options give more possibilities to differentiation and creates a more varied and competitive market environment which will eventually lead to more refined products. That is a win-win situation in every way.

From an end user’s perspective, customization is the ticket for the most enjoyable riding experience – whatever it means to the individual in question. A true tinkerer might find it interesting to search and try every cranny and nook that the motor and software offers. On the other hand, setup and forget style of approach is just as justified and would most likely meet the demands of an individual who uses an ebike just for an occasional or perhaps a daily commute. This, of course, topped with the basic choice of running our exclusive automatic transmission mode or a more traditional indexed type of shifting.

The App

Our system does not include a screen beside the LEDs that are embedded in the remote controller that sits next to the right side handlebar grip. This is one more feature where we give the freedom to the end-user to customize the cockpit area. The default mode is an ergonomic and “stealth looking” cockpit, but a big screen can also be used via our mobile app. If you want to have all the relevant ride metrics visible, it can be done through the app or by a 3rd party ride computer (e,g. Garmin, Sigma etc.) Our app gives the most thorough metrics since it acts as a user interface and dashboard for the bike’s ride characteristics. Besides that, our app has continuity built into it; the more ridden kilometres add up, the more refined adjustments and preference settings can be done based on the private user data. In short, one can go minimalist with a screenless setup or have all the bells and whistles imaginable by using our app. 

To Sum It Up

In our eyes, strong and robust design with broad customization possibilities was missing from the market. We wanted to make things differently from the ground up and ended up with technology and design that has not been used in e-bikes previously. We see the wide-ranging customization options as a strong asset that benefits everybody involved in the bike industry – bike manufacturers and the riders, you included.

All of these configuration possibilities (and much more!) are achieved solely by software, without the added complexity of levers, switches or other mechanical structures that were considered cutting-edge technology in the 20th century. Using a single hardware solution, or at least one with very limited configuration options is the route that the electric car industry has already paved. Why wait any longer in taking the steps in the same direction?

Automatic Transmission is the Future of E-bike Drivetrains

If you are visiting our site for the very first time, our drive system and the principles behind it aren’t most likely familiar to you. The Revonte Drive system is based on integrated automatic transmission – a technology which has been used in a wide range of industrial applications. In the car manufacturing world heavy hitters like Subaru, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes have made their own application of it. It’s about time to apply the time tested technology to two wheeled and (mostly) human powered vehicles! As you will learn later, our drive system does offer significant and even unheard benefits and ride qualities when it comes to e-bikes in particular.

What it is?

We at Revonte have created a new type of e-bike motor and drivetrain construction which is based on principles and technical design of an Automatic Transmission. The technology principle itself can be considered quite old. In this case that comes with a considerable advantage. If a technology has stood the test of time it means that it is highly functional and in this case robust. The principle behind our drive system could be described even as stylish in all of its simplicity. Besides the ingenious principle behind the automatic transmission technology we’ve made a considerable effort to make it light and compact by means of mathematical modelling and simulation. After all the hard work, we can say that the result is very pleasing.

The “hardware side” is only half of the equation, although an important one. Besides that the technology is more robust than any other existing one in the e-bike market, our motor ride qualities are highly adaptable via software. This means two quite profound things:

  1. More adjustability and choices for the rider – more on this later.
  2. One motor can be used in all bikes, no matter the intended use and application.
Integrated automatic transmission frees the bike from the derailleur and cassette.

The benefits – what it does?

The term “automatic” gives a strong clue what’s to come. To quote Wikipedia page:

“Shiftless transmission, single-speed transmission, stepless transmission, pulley transmission, or, in case of motorcycles, a ‘twist-and-go’, is an automatic transmission that can change seamlessly through a continuous range of effective gear ratios.”

Not only is our motor automatic which enables the rider to pedal on self-selected cadence, but it’s also stepless! No matter if you’re riding uphill, downhill, headwind, on gravel or the smoothest tarmac there’s no need to make gear changes, the motor and software does the work for you in that department – continuously. Later we will cover what this means specifically in different types of riding applications, like MTB, road riding, touring etc. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves in that direction. Stay tuned.

Would you prefer the traditional indexed shifting? No problem. Our software can also be adapted to that. What about the number of gears, would you like to run 5, 10, 12 or even 20-speed? Once again, no problem. This can also be achieved just by the software settings alone.

Last but not least is that our drivetrain employs a single-speed setup – at least to the uneducated eye. All the gear ratios, automatic transmission or indexed gears are achieved by use of a single chain (or belt, if you like). This brings the drivetrain complexity down by several magnitudes meaning fewer braking parts, maintenance and therefore unwanted headache.

It goes almost without saying but it’s still worth mentioning that our motor is located around the bottom bracket. This keeps the center of gravity (COG in short) at the center of the bike and as low as possible, which produces superior handling characteristics. There aren’t any other options for motor placement when it comes to riding characteristics and simplicity of construction. In short, locating motor around the bottom bracket is the superior choice in every aspect.

What’s next?

Sounds promising, we’d assume? What will happen next? Stay tuned for more regularly appearing articles and blog texts on this site where we’ll be describing the motor and its characteristics with growing amount of details.

The bicycle drivetrain has followed the path of incremental improvements for nearly a century. It is quite clear that the current technologies have been “maxed out” in every aspect. Our goal is not a small improvement on top of existing technology, rather a revolution.

Viva la Revonte!