E-bikes to Look Forward To in 2024
Van Moof was a Dutch e-bike brand that collapsed spectacularly in 2023 with debts of 129 million euros racked up over three years. The debt was so huge that it’s difficult to see how those who have bought e-bikes but never received them. Others have received defective models and want to make warranty claims. New owner of VanMoof, Lavoie, also wants to work on the production of spare parts as well as relaunching the VanMoof e-bike brand itself – but they warn they want to do it right rather than quickly.
In a recent Verge interview, Elliot Wertheimer – one of the new bosses of VanMoof – is quoted as saying “It’s super important to us to retain what VanMoof was….So product engineering, product design, tech development is still in-house, fully. We have not outsourced it and we will not outsource any of that.”
Does this mean a new Van Moof e-bike will appear in 2024? In short no, not a new one – but rather a resumption of sales of some models – the says ‘SX3 models will not be sold, but SA5s seem likely — Wertheimer would not commit to any models, though.’
. Wertheimer again, ‘The launch of VanMoof 2.0 involves a staggered rollout of replacement parts to retailers with in-house repair shops, a resumption of e-bike sales, and a new VanMoof-branded e-scooter in the first half of 2024… in that order, if all goes as planned. Key European markets are the initial focus.’ For Van Moof customers and potential customers in the US timelines do seem a little hazier.
There will however be an entirely new e-scooter – ‘In fact, the Series 1 scooter, developed by Lavoie and McLaren Applied will be rebranded VanMoof, with plans to launch it just after VanMoof e-bikes go back on sale. The Series 1 was supposed to launch in November, but is now being reworked in new colors, materials, and finishes. The scooter is also adopting the VanMoof app and UX / UI for its built-in display. That work has pushed the retail target to sometime in Q2.’
With the launch of lightweight mid-drives being one of the main trends in 2023 expect to see them on more lightweight e-bikes in 2024 – the e-mtb market has been particularly keen to feature the new crop of mid-drives as there seems to be an insatiable demand for high quality, lightweight e-mtbs with steep price tags.
UK-based Whyte were one of the first to announce the use of the new Bosch SX mid-drive with their E-Lyte lightweight e-mountain bike platform. The new neat looking motor claims an impressive 600W peak with a 36.2lb / 16.4kg build on the lightest builds. A 400Wh battery is standard with some models offering the optional extra of a 250Wh PowerMore range extender.
Other notable lightweight e-mtbs already here or arriving early 2024 include the Pivot Shuttle SL (Fazua Ride 60 mid-drive) and the Rotwild R.X275 which claims to weigh only 33.7lbs / 15.3kg and uses the TQ-HPR50 mid-drive which is also used by the hugely versatile Scott Lumen.
The lightweight Maxdrive mid-drive has been around a while but this brand new e-mtb from Canada’s Spherik has chosen to use it on their E-SMA / SME / SMT range that start at 36.8lbs/16.7kg and it’s a welcome extra option in the ever expanding mix of premium-priced lightweight e-mtbs.
And if it’s pure power you want rather than light weight then the Haibike HYBE range will appear in 2024 and the top of the line HYBE11 will be one of the most powerful EU-legal e-mtbs out there as if packs the Bosch Performance CX Race motor with 400% pedal assist.
Pinion MGU E-bikes
German-based Pinion revealed their MGU (motorbox-gear-unit) at Eurobike 2023 and it was immediately snapped up by several premium brands for e-bikes to appear in 2024.
What’s the big deal with the MGU? Pinion’s MGU is revolutionary insofar as it completely does away with any kind of separate gearing system that you would normally find between the pedal cranks and the rear wheel. By effectively placing the bike gears within the mid-motor housing, the MGU system promises plenty of advantages; extremely low maintenance (one oil change every 6,000 miles or so), total protection from knocks, better weight distribution (especially as against heavy hub gear systems such as the Rohloff), the option to use a belt drive with multi-gearing, electronic shifting and less wear on the chain or belt itself.
The Flyer Goroc TRX uses the Pinion MGU and will be one of the most anticipated e-bikes in Europe as it really uses the system’s huge gear range and low maintenance to it’s full advantage with a belt drive and full equipment for a full-suspension mountain touring machine. Other brands that will be using the Pinion MGU in 2024 include Rotwild, Simplon, Bulls, Kettler, Flyer, Tout Terrain, Pegasus, Zemo and i:SY on some of their 2024 models.
Will there be competition for the MGU in 2024. There are certainly an increasing number of combined motor and gear units out there, including the AT80 from Okawa and Scotland’s Intradrive system. As yet though we don’t have info if they will actually be appearing on e-bikes in 2024. Also see below for news of Decathlon’s remarkable sounding B’Twin LD920 E.
Pashley Going Chainless
The UK’s Bikebiz revealed ‘Pashley has revealed a glimpse of the future with its prototype, chainless drive Multi-trike…….designed to safely and efficiently carry light goods, shopping and young children. Unlike conventional electrically assisted tricycles, which have a chain drive coupled with a hub or mid-drive motor, the Multi-trike employs a generator at the pedal crank which activates battery driven motors on each of its rear wheels.’ Apparently it is expected to enter production in the first half of 2024 with retail prices expected to be in the region of £6,500.’
Europe’ Decathlon Broaden their Offer in 2024
Decathlon are a major European outdoor retailer with their own budget e-bike range (often with the moniker B’TWIN or Elops). 2024 will see them move away their traditional and highly competitive budget models to more sophisticated offerings.
First up will be the Speed 900E, a single speed that uses the highly regarded Mahle rear hub motor system. The quoted weight for the Speed 900E is a very respectable 33lbs / 15kg. It will also feature Tektro TKR R280 hydrauilc disc brakes, hardwired LEDs (the front one with a 40 lux rating), mudguards and frame-routed cabling.
But as a symbol of Decathlon’s ambition look no further than the B’TWIN LD920 E. This actually went on sale in France in 2023 but UK readers will be eager to learn if and when it arrives in the UK – we will keep you posted. Like the Pinion MGU it combines gears and motor in a single mid-drive unit that goes under the name of Owuru (developed in partnership with Belgian firm e2Drives) but note it only has a respectable 265% gear range range compared to the Pinion MGU options which all have several times this. Price and weight are impressive for a bike with this spec; 2999 euros and 26.1kg / 57.5lbs respectively.
E-bikes Teased in 2023
Porsche were mentioned in several articles in 2023 as aiming to produce their own motor and e-bikes at their own factory (they already own Fazua) but it seems mid-decade may be a more realistic target for anything to roll off the production line. There are already Porsche-branded models out there but they are in fact re-badged Rotwild models. Even vaguer announcements were made in early 2023 by US electric auto specialist Rivian who hinted they would make e-bikes but nothing has been said on the matter since.
On a more definite note the UK’s e-folding specialists Gocycle teased news of an e-cargo that should definitely appear in 2024:
‘We are excited to share the news that we will debut a new Family Cargo Electric Bike in 2024. The Gocycle Family Cargo will complement the award-winning fast-folding G4, G4i and G4i+ models in Gocycle’s 2024 product line-up.’
The cargo model appears to be just the start of a range of new models – as Richard Thorpe, Gocycle Designer and Founder, commented:
‘ In the years ahead, we’ll be expanding the G4 Gocycle range with additional new models across diverse market segments including both non-folding and non-electric.’
Most intriguing of all is perhaps the question: will Morelle get off the ground? Gary Fisher was instrumental in the conception of the modern mountain bike and the Californian now has a new pet project in Morelle.
Some of the claims in this BikePerfect interview may seem optimistic – such as the claim for new lithium-ion battery technology that is said to increase energy density by 50 percent, offer five times more power and charge faster than traditional batteries – but bear in mind Morelle is a division of electric aircraft Ionblox where high energy density batteries are the holy grail.
Apparently Morelle plans not to sell their e-bikes, but to offer them by subscription, possibly $100 per month.
Other touted features include ‘ Bafang motor, SRAM wireless shifting, Reserve carbon wheels and a 300Wh battery and total bike weight of 22 – 25lbs (10 – 11.5kg).’ The article also mentions ‘a planned cargo bike design that would “have everything you’d have in an SUV, great lights, awesome sound and screens if you were carrying kids”. ‘
Will New Motors & Transmission Systems Emerge?
Will far-eastern motors make further inroads into the quality end of the market? Taiwan-based e-bike motor manufacturer Hyena would like to think so – they have a new hub-drive system for road e-bikes. Hyena says the new motor weighs less than 1.3kg (2.9 lbs.). The E-Road AIR System uses a 250Wh battery and a 180Wh battery can be added to extend range. In a bold move upmarket, Hyena offers a solution to integrate electronic shifting systems into their controller.
They may well face competition from Mavic – though it sounds as though it may only emerge onto the consumer market beyond 024 – but road race types who fancy a high end system may already be getting excited. Although the French-based company is best known for high quality bike wheels, they have been developing an X-Tend e-bike mid-motor said to be ‘unlike any other eBike motor, developed around use of a regular, 24 mm spindle diameter, Shimano Hollowtech crankset, fully compatible with a front derailleur, utilizing power meter tech, and optimized around a standard road bike frame design’. Will they produce what they have already teased? A sub 22lb / 10 kg bike build using Ultegra Di2?
Talking of lightweight mid-drives, according to Velo ‘A recent patent from Shimano, published to the USPTO database ….. reveals a new, more compact e-bike motor system. The drawings depict a motor that appears to have a smaller footprint than any of the EP8 and EP6 series motors that are currently powering a swathe of eMTBs, and perhaps even smaller than the STEPS E7000 motor that powers some gravel e-bikes.’ A hint at least that Shimano might follow the trend of lightweight mid-drives in 2024.
KMC are best known for their bike chains but their new Kynamic rear hub motor system may well make inroads into the e-bike market in 2024 – it has already been put to use in Whyte’s new RHeO lightweight range.
Will derailleur gear specialist be getting into mid-drives? Bike Europe hinted as much when reporting on SRAM’s takeover of Amprio – Amprio’s latest system is a powerful looking mid-drive, the RMAG, a mid drive that claims to weigh only 2.85kg and develop 90Nm of torque. That’s right up there with the competition from the likes of mid-drive market leader Bosch and its competitors. Unlike Bosch it doesn’t appear on a huge range of e-bikes however. Parent company Rheinmetall’s main business is the manufacture of military hardware so you would imagine they have a good amount of advanced technical knowhow.
It will be interesting to see if some of the more innovative technologies make more of an appearance in 2024 – SRAM’s Eagle Powertrain uses a Brose-based motor to offer automatic derailleur shifting that will even perform under load. It’s already been taken up by the likes of Nukeproof but it’s fair to say the jury is still out on the efficacy of the system.
Will Yamaha’s Y-01W AWD system make it to market? It features two electric motors – one on each wheel. It is being billed as an e-gravel bike with the motors driving different wheels presumably meaning better traction as an ‘All Wheel Drive’ (AWD). The concept model is expected to be classified as a speed pedelec in the European market, meaning it’ll have an assisted top speed in excess of 25 kmh (15 mph).’ It was showcased alongside a model that featured power steering – though we are less convinced of the value of this technology on e-bikes!
A good number of e-bike fans will no doubt have heard of Gates Carbon belt drive systems as the market leader in the world of oil-free, long lasting transmission but could there soon be a two speed version? Veer, although lower profile, have been in the same business for a while now and are in the process of developing its patented Shift system, a 2-speed shifting mechanism. That’s right, they are developing a two speed, not-quite-but-nearly derailleur style belt drive which would certainly be a first. You can check out their fundraising page here.
It was back in 1991 that lithium-ion batteries entered the mainstream market in a Sony camcorder. That was the catalyst that has seen lithium chemistry batteries dominate so many consumer electronics areas including e-bikes. Whilst new wonder battery chemistries are announced on a regular basis they always seem to fade quickly from the headlines – but there are signs, especially in the world of electric cars that things may be about to change.
A typical e-bike lithium ion battery uses a lithium oxide cathode (there are various chemistries) and a graphite anode with an electrolyte of lithium salt. There are developments in all areas of these component parts, some of which seem like they could soon come of age.
Making the electrolyte itself ‘solid’ would make it more energy dense and as we reported back in July it would offer tremendous range, lightning-fast charging, and improved safety. Swiss speed pedelec (or s-pedelec) brand Stromer is on the leading edge of electric bike battery development, having teamed up with TD Hitech Energy to produce a ceramic solid-state battery with the aforementioned goals – but mass production still seems a way off.
That’s not to say solid state batteries won’t appear in electric cars in the near future if Electrive is to be believed: ‘In China, battery specialist WeLion has delivered its first semi-solid-state battery cells to electric car manufacturer Nio. Nio will use the cells in its 150 kWh battery pack and is aiming for the first deliveries of e-cars with these battery packs before the end of July.’
Whilst the promised energy density looks highly impressive at 360Wh/kg – to put that into context, if your e-bike battery manages over 200Wh/kg that is pretty good going. Those figures suggest you might get an 80% increase in range using a semi-solid state battery compared to a conventional one of the same size.
Perhaps more promising in the short term are developments of replacing lithium chemistry altogether – with sodium ion. On the plus side sodium is safe and cheap and needs no nickel, copper or cobalt. It can also be safely discharged to zero volts for safer, cheaper shipping. On the downside sodium ions are bigger than lithium ions making the chemistry less power dense.
Certainly the chemistry is now being commercialised – China is a powerhouse of electric car battery production and Medium notes ‘Chinese EV maker BYD Co. signed a deal to build a $1.4 billion sodium-ion battery plant. China’s CATL already said in April that its sodium-based batteries will be used in some vehicles from this year.’
China’s TAILG appear to be a pioneer in the use of sodium ion batteries in e-bikes – PRN Asia calls reports that their ‘luxury e-bikes’ will feature the chemistry but not surprisingly it looks to be on heavier, low cost moped style e-bikes that might suit the less power dense batteries.
Sodium Ion batteries in what PRN Asia calls ‘luxury e-bikes’ – by the looks of TAILG’s website these appear to be from the moped with pedals school of e-bike design.
Replacing graphite anodes with silicon would allow more lithium to be stored and increase energy density – theoretically a huge improvement on graphite – but the issue is that silicon expands up to 300% during charging. Solutions include sprinkling it on graphite (as now used in some Tesla batteries) or using a ‘graphene corset’. Theoretical densities of 450kWh per kilo bandied about and that’s the density quoted as being needed for flight. Flying e-bike anyone?
Indeed, Electrive tells us that Panasonic – whose batteries are widely used in e-bikes and electric cars – will start to manufacture silicone based anodes in Kansas from 2025.
Battery Certification & Recycling
Given the publicity and industry concern around battery fires (statistically rare as they may be) it’s pretty nailed on that 2024 will see more UL certified batteries (UL2271) and even the more involved and expensive UL2849 certification for the whole e-bike.
So expect more companies to follow in the steps of Rad Power Bikes and Aventon on 2024. And if you want to know more about the distinction between the two UL standards mentioned above Electric Bike Report has recently looked at the distinction between these two standards in detail.
It’s also good to see progress is being made with dealing with the potential problem of end-of-life e-bike batteries, with BRAIN reporting ‘The industry’s e-bike battery recycling program has collected and recycled more than 43,000 pounds of batteries since the program began in November 2021. Expect more recycling than ever in 2024 and beyond.
Will AI E-bikes Really be a Thing?
AI – or artificial intelligence has been much in the news in 2023 and has even made it’s way onto e-bikes. Hong Kong based Urtopia certainly seem signed up to the AI e-bike agenda, and it may be their promised Fusion e-bike -l ‘the world’s first dual motor, dual battery e-bike with fully integrated AI’ appears in 2024.
If it does get ready for a host of tech including fingerprint sensor, GPS module, gyroscope and the torque sensor – ‘communicating via CAN bus with a central control unit, which itself has the corresponding computing chips. The user will tap into all this with a ‘Smart ring’ (should they find smartphone to e-bike integration too cumbersome).
Smalo E-Bikes, is a new e-bike brand, produced by BESV which also claims to use AI – using computer power to learn from the rider’s behaviour and riding style – to produce an automated but smooth ride. The two models, the LX2 and the PX2 will feature Smalo’s proprietary G2 AI technology. According to Smalo, G2 will analyze a rider’s riding style, including gear selection and pedal-assist levels and will automatically make those selections for the rider when activated.
Will E-bikes Soon ‘Talk’ to Other Vehicles?
The enhanced safety benefits of V2X wireless tech – vehicle to vehicle communication – have long interested both auto and e-bike manufacturers and 2023 saw Bosch, Trek, Shimano, Gazelle and BMC among 19 companies ‘commit to an ecosystem of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2X) communication technology.’
How would this help e-bike safety? As an example of what a bicyclist or driver might gain, a bicycle approaching a junction will become an alert to a driver also approaching but unable to physically see the rider. The bike rider will likewise be alerted, typically on the e-bike’s dashboard or another device. Think Garmin Varia, but with both parties able to visualise the road positioning, trajectory and speed of others.
There are many sceptics about though, based on the recent history of driverless cars. which is a technology that also seeks to predict road users behaviour so there is certainly a broad analogy here with the ‘machine learning’ approach of AI: as Reuters points out, “Making robot cars that can drive more safely than people is immensely tough because self-driving software systems simply lack humans’ ability to predict and assess risk quickly, especially when encountering unexpected incidents.”
It’s point made more forcibly by UK transport guru Christian Wolmar when he comments ‘Developing driverless cars has been AI’s greatest test. And it has failed miserably, despite the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars in attempts to produce a viable commercial vehicle. Moreover, the recent withdrawal from the market of a leading provider of robotaxis in the US, coupled with the introduction of strict legislation in the UK, suggests that the developers’ hopes of monetising the concept are even more remote than before. The very future of the idea hangs in the balance.’
In other words, don’t expect to be riding your AI e-bike in total, wirelessly-secured safety along a street filled with robotaxis any time soon.
More E-bike Cars…and More Microcars?
The trend will be further fueled by the likes of Zoomo offering the remarkable four wheel EAV pedelecs. Commercial entities are aware that such vehicles can proved logistically ideal for some tasks and enhance their green street cred as well as their efficiency, this UK telecomms installer being one case in point.
A couple of innovative e-cargo trailer designs may help popularise the genre too; the concept Semi Trike is from Civilized Cycles is s mini e-bike version of huge interstate semi-trucks whilst the newly-released Pelican Train electric load hauler looks to be much further down the design road than the Civilized concept.
Further help has come in the form of legislative aid – a proposed rule update in New York will pave the way for four-wheeled electric cargo bikes, which look like small delivery vans with bicycle pedals, to share the bike lanes and roads’ according to Electrek.
As the article notes, ‘Most bicycle laws in the US require either two or three wheels to be legally classified as a bicycle, and thus four-wheeled e-bikes have yet to catch on in the country’ but, ‘according to the NYC DOT, the updated rule would “expand low or no-emission options for freight deliveries — including packages and groceries — by allowing the use of pedal-assist bicycles that may be up to 48 inches [122 cm] wide and have up to four wheels.”
UPS started trials of four wheeled e-quad bikes around a year ago – more detail in the video below:
This might also be good news for the manufacturers of microcars who have struggled to popularise their attempt to electrify and downsize cars. On a basic level the more small electric vehicles there are on the road the more demand will be stimulated, whether they are four-wheeled pedelecs or true microcars. Owners of the faster European designation of microcar (L7e) that can travel up to 56mph promisingly joined forces in 2023. It was also good to see the Silence SO4 make its way from its Spanish base to the UK market.