Urban Transport

Human Generator – new e-bike trades the chain for an alternator

Human Generator – new e-bike t...
The Mando Footloose is a folding e-bike with a chainless drivetrain
The Mando Footloose is a folding e-bike with a chainless drivetrain
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The Mando Footloose uses an alternator in place of a chain
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The Mando Footloose uses an alternator in place of a chain
The Mando Footloose is a folding e-bike with a chainless drivetrain
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The Mando Footloose is a folding e-bike with a chainless drivetrain
The Footloose folds up for transport
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The Footloose folds up for transport
The Footloose will go on sale in Europe next year
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The Footloose will go on sale in Europe next year
View gallery - 4 images

A bicycle born out of auto industry technology, the Mando Footloose makes claim of using the world's first chainless series hybrid technology for an e-bike. Like other pedal-assisted electric bikes, the bike combines manual and electric power. Unlike other pedelecs, it eliminates the chain and transforms the cyclist's motion directly into electricity.

As integral as it is to the design of most bikes, the chain is arguably the most annoying component. It can dirty and rip your pant legs, requires a lot of maintenance, can make your life miserable should it rub against the derailleur or slip off the gears, and can break altogether, leaving you without a means of pedaling on flat or ascending terrain. It's a necessary evil, at best.

Korean auto suppliers Mando Corp. and Meister Inc. got together with British designer Mark Sanders and Dutch e-bike expert Han Goes to make a common evil a little less necessary. Like Polaris' new e-bikes, the Footloose combines a throttle drive with pedal-assisted technology. Cyclists can power the bike up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) with the motor alone or pedal for more range.

What sets the bike apart from others is that pedal input is transformed directly into electricity via an alternator connected to the crank. The electricity is stored in a lithium-ion battery and used to power the motor. So instead of powering the rear wheel, the cyclist becomes a human generator powering the motor.

The Footloose will go on sale in Europe next year
The Footloose will go on sale in Europe next year

Similar to an automobile, the Footloose has an Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which works with sensors and an automatic gear changer to monitor terrain and adjust the motor's output as necessary. The ECU also monitors the system for problems, which it displays via a handlebar-mounted Human Machine Interface (HMI). The HMI also displays metrics like distance traveled, speed and amount of electricity produced. It is removable and the bike will not start when it is removed, creating an integrated anti-theft feature.

Between its chainless construction and frame-integrated electronics, the Footloose folds up neatly for transport. It was designed with smooth edges to prevent any injury or discomfort when traveling.

The design is interesting, but we'd like to see more information about its efficiency compared to a chain-driven bike before really buying in. As anyone that's cranked a flashlight or emergency radio knows, transforming muscle power into electricity can be tireless, thankless work.

Mando showed the Footloose at the ISPO Bike and Eurobike shows over the summer. It plans to launch it in European markets next year.

Source: Mando

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38 comments
Two Replies
Chainless drive systems are nothing new. Besides the fact that the first bicycle was a chainless kick-powered ride, they've been on motorcycles and bicycles for AGES. My grandmother had a bicycle with a driveshaft and a differential.
This is nothing new.
The Kid
EXCELLENT concept !
Lots of options for coordinating the pedal speed / force with current speed or lazily pedaling to charge the battery. Knowing what force is going to be applied back to the foot is a key input for keeping the bike upright. That's be a bit tricky to do.
Round trip efficiency from the pedals to the batteries to the motors doesn't really matter in this concept.
Gadgeteer
Stupid gimmick. Small generators are notoriously inefficient. A chain or belt drive can transfer over 90% of a rider's pedal power to the rear wheel. This electric drivetrain would be lucky to break 40%, and that would be extremely optimistic.
joeblake
Since the pedaling charges a battery rather than driving the motor directly (even more electrical losses), why hasn't it got a couple of drop-down props at the rear to hold the bike upright when stationary so it can be pedaled while sitting at the lights, recharging the battery? Or the rider can sit at home watching TV while pedaling for tomorrow's commute?
Very inefficient. 2 out of 10. Unoriginal.
flibb
This may well be a gimmick at this stage ( have to wait to see how good it works) but at least it is a step in the right direction. I can not understand why no one has thought of this before, it is the obvious thing to do to use the power generated by pedalling to charge the battery. If this works and it is developed to the point where you don't have to charge the battery by plugging it in ebikes might almost be a good idea, but I will stick to my normal human powered device for now.
Pikeman
A shroud placed around the chain would be a much cheaper and more efficient solution.
Yes chains wear out but so do generators.
Adriaan Brink
I think its a brilliant concept and if it works I want one. Yes its less efficient than pedalling but on the flip side all those downhills do nothing to generate energy whereas presumably this will charge on a downhill so thats a win. I want one!
Todd Edelman
As Pikeman suggests, a "shroud" is a much better and infinitely more simple solution for the chain -- millions and millions of old and new bikes have chaincases and many are on 8- and 11-speed bikes with wide gear ranges. There is not much "giz" in that, however, and somehow the author and designers think that all the tech in this bike will be less annoying that even an un-"shrouded" chain. Very odd.
FadAddict
At long last, just what we have been waiting for:
a beautifully designed exercise bike (that wastes almost half the energy needed to "power" it, and falls over when stationary).
All the rich kids that queue for iThings can be expected to queue for this baby too.
Gerard Gallagher
Already Having an ebike,when people are curious about it and ask,I find they often ASSUME it has a pedal driven generator!