Electric cargo and utility bikes are increasingly popular in urban areas as they offer a fast, sustainable, and efficient way to transport goods. To support this trend, Schaeffler, a German industrial and automotive supplier, has collaborated with Heinzmann, an electric bike drive specialist, to develop an innovative chainless drive system called the Free Drive.
The Free Drive system is designed specifically for electric cargo and utility bikes for inner-city goods transportation. The system's core component is a pedal generator developed by Schaeffler, which produces constant pedal resistance and provides electricity for the motor in the rear-wheel hub. This generates an output of 250 watts, stored in the bike's battery for later use.
Dr. Jochen Schröder - Head of Schaeffler’s E-Mobility business division
With the Free Drive, replacing worn-out drive chains is a thing of the past . . . The chainless drive system opens up completely new possibilities in bike architecture and pedal configuration.
A drive with no chain, belt, gear rings, sprockets, or other mechanical drive components
Unlike conventional e-bike drives, the Free Drive has no chain, belt, gear rings, sprockets, or other mechanical drive components, making it less prone to mechanical wear. This robust design reduces maintenance costs and time spent in the repair shop, allowing cargo e-bike fleets to spend more time on the road.
The digital bike-by-wire concept also allows for considerable design freedom, with the chainless drive system opening new possibilities in bike architecture and pedal configuration. The software performs gear shifts and changes between operating modes, and all system components communicate via a wireless connection.
The first customer to order the Free Drive system is CIP Mobility GmbH, which offers sustainable commercial-sector mobility in cities and industrial zones with its Mocci Smart Pedal Vehicles. These electric bicycles are designed with recyclable, high-performance plastics for their structural components, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 68% compared to conventional aluminum frames.
E-bike Lovers' Conclusion
The Schaeffler chainless drive system offers a new and innovative solution for urban micro-mobility, specifically for electric cargo and utility bikes. It opens new possibilities for bike architecture and pedal configuration, offering a customizable, safe, and fully connected riding experience.