Alongside its line-up of new vehicle and concepts on its booth at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Ford also unveiled a rather surprising addition to its range – an E-Bike.
Designed to show how the company's design language can translate to a bicycle, the Ford E-Bike Concept also demonstrates Ford's electric mobility competence, although the company Ford has no plans to produce the machine.
“The E-Bike market is growing very rapidly, with some 30 million units sold globally last year,” said Axel Wilke from Ford Europe. “We see E-Bikes as an important element of urban electric mobility. More and more people are using E-Bikes for short distance commuting and they’re becoming comfortable with the concept of electric mobility."
Developed by a Ford Design team led by Executive Design Director Martin Smith, in partnership with cyber-Wear, the German brand behind Ford's popular Lifestyle Collection products, the Ford E-Bike Concept has been created from the ground up to appeal to both men and women.
At the heart of the design is a trapezoidal frame profile. Constructed from aluminum and carbon, the frame combines strength with a weight of just 5.5 lb. The wheels, with a six-spoke V-design, appear to float around the frame, while the drive system is hidden from view, creating a clean, minimalist appearance. Providing the power is a drive system consisting of a motor in the front wheel hub, a lithium-ion battery concealed in the frame, promising a range of up to 53 miles on a full charge, 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 F1, these sensors handle high engine revolutions in combination with intense thermal strains. They need no physical contact with other engine parts, are temperature-independent and maintenance-free.
The Ford E-Bike sees the first application of this technology in the bicycle industry, with the sensors reading the revolutions in the inner bearing and relaying this information to the control unit within a hundredth of a second. The control unit then activates or deactivates the electric motor, providing a seamless integration of the power of the legs with the power of the motor.
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 top-of-the-range bicycle components, including 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.