If you thought you knew all of the mid-drive motors in the e-bike world, think again. The French company Valeo has just unveiled a radical new type of mid-drive electric motor that adds a built-in automatic transmission.
Automatic transmissions alone aren’t unique in the e-bike space.
We’ve tested several models that feature mid-drive motors paired with automatic transmissions.
They’re fancy, but they’re ultimately just a combination of parts. Take Serial 1’s Brose S Mag mid-drive motor paired with automatic CVT from Enviolo built into the rear hub.
Awesome, yes. But not a technological advancement in its own right.
Paris-based manufacturer Valeo, on the other hand, worked with transmission maker Effigear to actually build an automatic transmission directly into the mid-drive motor and create a single unit.
The result is known as the Valeo Smart e-Bike System and can be integrated into OEM e-bikes similarly to typical mid-drive motors like those from Bosch or Yamaha.
It features seven gear ratios and is designed to operate on 48V, with Valeo offering a downtube-mounted battery as part of the system.
The motor is capable of outputing up to 130 Nm of torque, though a power rating isn’t immediately available. The company claims that the Valeo drive is “up to 60% more powerful than competitors,” without giving specific wattage numbers. No matter the true power rating though, the Valeo’s EU location means it is likely to receive a 250W sticker.
Since the Valeo Smart e-Bike System completely does away with the need for a derailleur, a belt drive setup can be used. That provides a number of unique benefits over chain drives, such as quieter operation, longer lasting components, and cleaner operation without the need for oiling.
Another advantage of moving the transmission from the rear wheel to the center of the bike is the improved mass centralization.
Onboard pedal cadence and torque sensors keep track of the user’s pedal input and use that information to engage the motor power as well as determine when to shift gears. There’s apparently a reverse function as well that will be available for use on cargo e-bikes, but I’m not sure how that will work with a freewheel in the system.
For anti-theft, the system can also lock up the gears on command. Realistically that wouldn’t stop a thief from throwing the bike in a van, but it would at least prevent a pedal-powered getaway.
While Valeo has produced a few prototype bikes to show the drive in action (see video below), the company doesn’t plan to produce their own e-bikes the way that some mid-drive manufacturers like Yamaha have done. Instead, they’ll follow the more common method employed by companies like Bosch and Brose to license the technology for use by OEMs to produce e-bikes built on the Valeo platform.
What do you think of Valeo’s system? Let us know in the comment section below!
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