Ford Motor Co. on Sept. 21 introduced the composites-intensive E-Bike Concept electric bicycle.
“The E-Bike market is growing very, very rapidly, with some 30 million units sold globally last year,” explained Axel Wilke, Director, vehicle personalization, Ford Customer Service Division Europe. E-Bikes are being used for short-distance commuting, so Ford decided to respond by showing how easily its design language could translate to a bicycle. Developed by a Ford Design team led by executive design director Martin Smith, in partnership with cyber-Wear, the German brand behind the Ford Lifestyle Collection products, the Ford E-Bike Concept has been created from the ground up to appeal to both men and women.
The E-Bike has a trapezoidal frame profile, and has been constructed from aluminum and carbon fiber composites; the frame weighs about 5 lb/2.3 kg. The wheels have a six-spoke V-design, while the drive system is hidden, creating a clean, minimalist appearance. Power comes from a drive system featuring a motor in the front wheel hub, with a lithium-ion battery concealed in the frame, promising a range of up to 52 miles on a full charge.
The E-Bike Concept also has an integrated controller and patented magnetostriction sensor technology from the world of Formula One. Magneotostrictive materials are used to convert magnetic energy into kinetic energy, and vice versa. In Formula One, these sensors help handle high engine revolutions in combination with intense thermal strains. They need no physical contact with other parts of the engine, are temperature-independent and are completely maintenance-free.
The Ford E-Bike is the first application of this technology in the bicycle industry; the sensors read the revolutions in the inner bearing and relay this information to the control unit within a hundredth of a second. The control unit then instantly activates or deactivates the electric motor, providing a seamless integration of the power of the legs with the power of the motor. Meanwhile, a handlebar-mounted display provides trip information and allows the rider to select from three support modes: Economy, Comfort and Sport.
The drive system is complemented by a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub and a 2012 Shimano Rapidfire shifter. In place of a traditional chain is a Carbon Belt Drive System, making for a cleaner, lighter and more immediate transfer of energy.
Ford has no immediate plans to produce the bike for public consumption, but leaves the possibility open.