Design

Valeo's automatic e-bike transmission means never shifting again

Bye bye, bike chain.

Say goodbye to your old and busted drivetrain

Valeo, a French automotive company whose name has been kicking around the "zero-emissions mobility" space for a while now, has announced an electric bike motor with a completely integrated and automatic transmission.

Radically simplified

Regular bicycle gear systems are pretty complicated; there are sometimes front gears, rear gears, the derailleur, the chain itself, a chain ring... There's a lot that can go wrong. Instead Valeo replaces a large portion of that system with its integrated motor and transmission.

Just a slip of the chain

Valeo is solving two problems with this new system. The first is complexity; a simpler system is easier for bike novices to ride, and is more durable and easier to maintain no matter what your cycling skill level.

The other is a problem specific to electric bikes. Electric motors provide a lot of torque, and if that torque is applied when you're in the wrong gear, it can severely damage them. This is part of why Vanmoof uses its automatic gear shifter and why vendors like Gogoro have decided to eschew gears all together.

Shutterstock

According to Bike Rumors, Valeo says this can "multiply the cyclist’s effort 8x," and while this does seem like a bit of an exaggeration with what we know right now, it's true that combining huge amounts of torque from the motor with exactly the right gear ratio will result in a very easy ride.

Plus, as Electrek points out, Valeo is a French company, and that means that its motor will likely max out at 250 watts to comply with European laws.

Electrek

Not so fast

The bikes on display here are just prototypes, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more bike manufacturers take this approach. There's just simply too much upside when it comes to maintenance and durability, and bike sales are absolutely booming right now.

So even though you can't splash the cash on Valeo's high-tech motor / transmission combo right now, just give it a few years.

Maskot/Maskot/Getty Images

Share