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Taichung Bike Week: Novatec unveils stealth mid-drive system

Published November 5, 2014

TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN) ─ Mid-drive systems from Bosch, Panasonic and Shimano require frames designed around their drive units. Novatec took the opposite approach with Eram, introduced at Taichung Bike Week. It looks like a crank with thick bash rings fitting a standard bottom bracket, but it packs a 250-watt punch.

"We kept the size of the motor system small — it's really not that much larger than a triple crank," said Allen Shih, Novatec's sales specialist. "It fits any full-suspension mountain frame without interfering with any suspension function."

Since a suspension frame's jumble of tubes makes finding a place to mount a battery difficult, Novatec is offering a backpack-able battery option so a rider doesn't need to mount the battery to the frame. With smartphone control, there is no reason to run wires to a handlebar control.

The preproduction prototype weighs 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds), and the company is shooting for 1.1 kilos (less than 2.5 pounds) for production versions. And though small, the motor still packs more than 60 Newton-meters of torque. Since the motor is on the non-drive crankarm, the system allows the use of standard chainrings and a front derailleur.

Novatec didn't mean for its electric mid-drive system to be stealth; the company just didn't want it to get in the way of bike designers. So compacting the drive system to keep it out of the way pretty much meant it had to fit within the envelope of a traditional crankset. Novatec packs a powerful motor within the space normally occupied by three chainrings.

Although the company has a wide range of electric vehicles in its catalog, from electric scooters and mopeds to cycles for people with special needs, this is its first electric drive system. The compact packaging and bottom bracket mounting suggest it would retrofit well to an existing bike, but the company emphasizes it's targeting OEM spec.

"Its small, compact size and our range of battery options gives bike makers complete freedom to incorporate the system to their bike," Shih said. "They can design their bike to look the way they want and not worry about how our drive system is going to change that look," he said.

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