A glance inside FreeFlow Applied sciences’ Pressure Wave eBike Motor



Tucked away on a moderately unassuming enterprise park on the outskirts of Glasgow is a brand new eBike Motor Producer, FreeFlow Applied sciences. The beginning up firm is producing an award profitable and moderately modern 60 Nm Motor referred to as the FF60. It’s compact because of the nested motor building made potential by a Pressure Wave Transmission. It’s stated to be tuneable for any sort of bike. And, it’s totally serviceable as well, bought with an industry-leading three-year guarantee.

It’s early days for Free Circulate Applied sciences, however already their patented applied sciences have attracted hundreds of thousands of kilos value of funding from none aside from Williams System One. We had the pleasure of assembly Managing Director, David Hemming, on the Scottish Mountain Bike Convention the place we noticed two prototype eBikes sporting the system. Curiosity piqued, we headed out to East Kilbride to take a look at the FreeFlow Applied sciences HQ, and to get a better have a look at that Pressure Wave Transmission.

Who’s FreeFlow Applied sciences?

david hemming managing director free flow technologies

David Hemming (left), the Managing Director of FreeFlow Applied sciences, provides us the low-down on the FF60 eBike Motor. Credit score: Pete Scullion.

Entrepreneur and Inventor Neil MacMartin is the unique founding father of FreeFlow, having designed its proprietary transmission, digital {hardware} and controls. He’s nonetheless the most important shareholder within the firm, however has taken a step again permitting a new management group to run the present. Heading up that group is David Hemming, a person some might keep in mind as a Workforce GB Athlete who, throughout the 90s, was concurrently racing World Cup Downhill, Twin Slalom and Cross Nation.

Neil Edwards was introduced in round 2018, sparking FreeFlow’s relationship with the Foresight Group, and the Foresight Williams Expertise Funding Fund. The identical of us that run the present at Williams System 1 took one have a look at FreeFlow’s Expertise and subsequently invested £1.7 Million in its improvement – a stamp of approval for those who ever did see one.

freeflow technologies ff60 ebike motor internals

Quick ahead to as we speak; a handful of small engineering work areas on a enterprise park in East Kilbride, Scotland, are on the coronary heart of FreeFlow Applied sciences. That is the place the meeting and QC of each single FreeFlow eBike Motor takes place – roughly 3,000 per yr (equal to round £14 Million value of eBikes) – dealt with by a small group of mechanical, electrical and firmware engineers with over 70 years mixed expertise. Chief Engineer, Andy, gave us the stroll round.

A Look Inside: FreeFlow Applied sciences Pressure Wave eBike Motor

freeflow technologies ff60 ebike motor

The FreeFlow Motor is named the FF60, principally as a result of it has a most torque of 60Nm. Thus, by way of its output, it’s similar to the likes of the Fazua Experience 60, and the TQ-HPR50, the latter of which is one other instance of an eBike Motor that makes use of parts of a Harmonic System.

FreeFlow Motor Most Torque Peak Energy Constant Energy Weight Torque Density Discount Ratio
FF60 60 Nm 290 W 250 W 3.8 kg 50Nm/dm³ 66

The FF60 design has come a way since 2018; round this time, the Harmonic Drive transmission, or Pressure Wave Gear, got here off patent, one thing that FreeFlow’s Marketing consultant, Neil Edwards, was clearly paying shut consideration to. It was Neil who realized the system’s potential to utilize the Harmonic in an effort to flip the FreeFlow Motor into the extra compact co-axle system it’s as we speak. So, what’s the massive take care of the Pressure Wave Gear?

freeflow ff60 strain wave internals

Credit score: Pete Scullion

Discount Ratios

Central to any eBike motor is the mechanism it depends upon to attain the suitable discount ratio. What’s that when it’s at residence? Properly, each system has an electrical motor that spins at a a lot greater RPM than the rider’s pedaling cadence. On the FF60 Motor, the electrical motor spins at round 5,000 RPM for a pedaling cadence of 75 RPM. The discount ratio refers back to the mathematical relationship between these two numbers.

freeflwo ff60 starin wave gear

Credit score: Pete Scullion

So, for instance’s sake, within the case of the FF60, the discount ratio is 66. The place the Pressure Wave mechanism is intelligent, is that it is ready to obtain this discount ratio in only one step, versus the a number of steps needed with planetary gearing techniques which can be utilized by nearly each different eBike Motor in the marketplace as we speak.

How does that work?

free flow strain wave outer gear ring splines

The outer gear ring of the FreeFlow eBike Motor’s Pressure Wave mechanism for attaining the suitable discount ratio

Certainly, it’s conceptually similar to the Harmonic Pin Ring Transmission that sits on the coronary heart of the TQ-HPR50 motor. The Pressure Wave Transmission consists of a wave generator bearing that sit inside two concentric rings; the splines on the outer floor of the interior ring interface with the splines on the interior face of the outer ring. However, they don’t mesh completely.

free flow ff60 strain wave harmonic inner gear ring flexes

Critically, the outer ring has 2 extra tooth than the interior ring. The wave generator flexes the interior ring such that it “walks itself round” the splines of the outer ring. Sounds sophisticated, proper? Properly, that’s as a result of it’s… the video under makes it a lot simpler to know.

So, because of the usage of the Pressure Wave Gear versus Planetary Gears, the FF60 might be constructed with a concentric structure whereby the entire {hardware} – the Pressure Wave Gear, electrical motor and stator – are packaged like a clam-shell in order that the motor can sit neatly immediately behind the 34T chainring. That differs to nearly each different eBike Motor in the marketplace whereby the stator is offset to the Planetary Gears to provide a motor with extra of an elongated oval form.

freeflow technologies ff60 motor off bike

The concentric structure was of giant significance to the group, as they needed to provide a motor that would cleanly combine into any bicycle body, such that the majority people would have a tough time determining they had been really taking a look at an eBike, versus a daily bike. Twmpa Cycles’s E-Circulate Gravel Bike is a unbelievable instance of that (extra on that later).

What else is exclusive to the FF60?

freeflow technologies harmonic transmission reduction ratio

The FF60 doesn’t have bedding-in interval, as such; FreeFlow check their motor’s as much as 10,000 km, which they estimate is round 3 years’ value of driving. They don’t see any important enchancment or discount in effectivity over that distance.

Managing Director, David Hemming, tells us that the majority of FreeFlow’s patented applied sciences are positioned “inside the locus of the Harmonic, the useless house that nobody else makes use of”. Herein lies a double sprag clutch and a one-way bearing, a structure that’s unique to the FreeFlow Applied sciences system.

“Our a method clutches disconnect the rider from the motor so when the motor is off they’re not turning the motor. We’ve got nested the clutches inside one another and contained in the cup of the flex spline across the crank axle. A key purpose of our design was to make the system concentric so the drive unit might be hidden behind the chainring even on metal bikes the place advanced tube shapes should not an choice” – Phil Wooden, Mechanical Engineer at FreeFlow Applied sciences.

freeflow technologies ff60 sprag clutch harmonic locus one way bearing

Housing this {hardware} contained in the locus of the Harmonic helps FreeFlow maintain the Q-Issue of the FF60 in verify

The axle working via the FF60 eBike Motor is residence to a Pressure Gauge which includes the system’s Torque Sensor. On this technique, torque is measured 15 instances per second, permitting the system to react shortly to rider enter, adapt its help stage. The system can be residence to a 6-axis accelerometer that may detect issues like cornering, descending and climbing; its data is built-in along with data from the velocity sensor and torque sensor to find out what stage of help is required at any given second.

freeflow ff60 torque sensor

The electronics module of the FF60 is serviceable and/or replaceable

What about its serviceability?

Whereas the FreeFlow motor isn’t the lightest, or most compact eBike motor round, the serviceability side is ready to be an actual sturdy level. Continuity of driving is necessary to the group at FreeFlow; they need the FF60 System to be simply serviceable at a neighborhood bike store, such that if the motor encounters an issue, the rider isn’t with out their bike for weeks on finish. For the commuter bike owner, the significance of that can not be understated.

FreeFloe ff60 ebike motor warranty

We’re advised the FreeFlow FF60 ebike Motor could have, at minimal, a 2-year guarantee interval. It has an IP Score of 66.

With that in thoughts, FreeFlow says it has engineered the FF60 Motor such that primary, easy repairs might be rotated inside 48 hours. The group are proponents of the round economic system idea, too. Virtually all the pieces inside the FF60 is replaceable; the BB bearings, the Harmonic, the Outer Ring Gear, the Clutch Bundle, the Chainring Bolts, the Crank Arms, the Crank Axle, the Torque Sensor, the Electronics Boards… so, if any a type of elements fails, it could actually both be fastened on the native bike store, or it may be changed in isolation of all the pieces else, which means little or no materials really goes to waste. 

free flow technologies ebike motor maintenance grease port

Someplace on its casing, the FF60 Motor has a grease port that permits for simple re-greasing of the motors internals, beneficial each 1,000 km

Sounds bold, proper? FreeFlow Applied sciences is severe about this side, although. They’ve even begun coaching Cytech, the internationally acknowledged coaching and accreditation scheme for bicycle technicians, to make sure that the essential servicing procedures for the FF60 turn into considerably widespread information amongst bike mechanics prone to come throughout it.

Present us the eBikes

twmpa cycles e-flow wooden egravel bike ff60 free flow technologies motor

FreeFlow Applied sciences supply 604.8 Wh and a 302.4 Wh in-frame batteries; unsure which this Twmpa has although… Credit score: Pete Scullion

So, are there any manufacturing bikes really working the FreeFlow Motor? No, all are nonetheless beneath improvement. It’s the handmade bicycle manufacturers which can be taking the leap with FreeFlow, as they’ve been allowed to position very low quantity orders. Wood Bike Producer, Twmpa Cycles, and Metal Mountain Bike Producer, Starling Cycles, are two manufacturers presently creating eBikes across the FreeFlow Motor. We bought to see each on the DMBinS Scottish Mountain Bike Convention in Aberdeen, the place FreeFlow Applied sciences took residence an Award for Greatest Product.

freeflow ff60 motor on twmpa woode egravel bike

On the the battery charging port provides the Twmpa E-Circulate Gravel Bike away as an eBike. Credit score: Pete Scullion

Whereas the Twmpa Cycles’ E-Circulate Gravel Bike is a unbelievable instance of the seamless integration FreeFlow are going for with the FF60 eBike Motor, Starling’s prototype eMTB is much less so. 

freeflow starling jack drive prototype emtb

Orientation of the FreeFlow Motor on Starling’s eMTB prototype is reversed to account for the Excessive Pivot Single Pivot and Jack Drive drivetrain structure. Credit score: Pete Scullion.

How does the FreeFlow eBike Motor Experience?

specialized rockhopper ebike

A Specialised Rockhopper eMTB? FreeFlow created a demo fleet of eBikes that make use of their 302.4 Wh Bottle Battery that slots onto a bracket mounted to the downtube.

As there aren’t but any manufacturing eBikes working the FreeFlow Applied sciences eBike Motor, the group has taken it upon themselves to chop and re-weld a fleet of Specialised Rockhopper hardtails to create one thing of a demo eBike fleet. Throughout our go to to FreeFlow, we bought a really fast shot on one among these to get a really feel for the FF60 Motor.

freeflow ff60 ebike motor specialized rockhopper ebike hardtail

I set off with the system switched off, to get a really feel for the way a lot drag is current within the system. I’m completely satisfied to report it felt similar to a daily mountain bike, if a little bit heavy. It pedaled like a standard drivetrain. Nothing replaces a direct bike-to-back comparability after all, however I can’t truthfully say I used to be capable of really feel any perceptible drag within the system.

freeflow technologies ff60 ebike motor control boost mode

The FF60 has three modes; Eco, Path and Enhance. It is going to have a Stroll Mode in future, however the group hasn’t fairly bought round to that but. Switching the system on, I’ve to say it does have that “prototype” really feel about it. As you place the ability down, vibration might be felt via the pedals because the motor kicks in and begins to offer help. This might very nicely be right down to the very fact the motor is on a motorcycle that was actually butchered for the aim of putting in the motor; this was definitely not designed from the bottom up, as any manufacturing bike with the FF60 motor shall be. We’ll allow them to off on that time!

specialized rockhopper emtb freeflow technolgoies ebike motor test

The FF60 appears to slowly construct up its help stage; it appears to really feel much less on/off than some eBike motors i’ve ridden such because the Shimano EP8 and Bosch CX Efficiency Line motors. That could be as a result of this can be a 60 Nm system, as in comparison with their 85 Nm, however it definitely feels much more delicate than the aforementioned. 

It’s fairly loud, nonetheless; definitely the loudest eBike motor i’ve tried. In fact, Free Circulate are conscious of this and their improvement efforts are presently prioritizing how you can make the system quieter and smaller.

What’s subsequent for FreeFlow Applied sciences?

For the time being, FreeFlow is assembling round 3,000 models per yr out of its East Kilbride facility, with plans to scale than as much as 10,000 models per yr. Their objective is to find a way capable of service demand from all UK and a few Central European manufacturers immediately from the ability in Scotland.

Managing Director, David Hemming, tells us that the FreeFlow mannequin is to make an entire system that may be delivered on the level of origin for lots of the massive manufacturers’ meeting in Asia. They’re additionally contemplating an Japanese European facility to assemble motor techniques in that area in an effort to higher serve manufacturers in Mainland Europe.

Over the subsequent few years, FreeFlow shall be engaged on three new eBike Motor Programs that shall be smaller and lighter than the FF60 seen right here; they can even work on a system devoted to eCargo Bike utilization.




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