Thoughts about Innovation 25th April 2016

April 25, 2016 Company News Electric Bikes Future News

Thoughts about Innovation. 25th April 2016

Sitting in my hotel room in China waiting to travel to the factory to discover whether my thoughts on our next generation of Axcess electric bikes fulfils my expectations, I cannot help ponder if the correct decisions have been made and assumptions proved practical.

Innovation often comes in incremental steps, but occasionally a number of minor advances come together in a whole new concept.

Now in their 5th year, the Axcess bikes look the same as when they were first launched, but internally there have been a number of improvements.  The electronic controllers have been re-programmed to provide soft start action rather than a sudden rush of power.  The electrics have been improved, primarily to stop the ingress of water into the system – so causing problems- and incidentally making any repairs much simpler by introducing a range of plugs into the circuit so that soldering repairs have become a thing of the past. We changed the action of the twist grip throttle and replaced it with the thumb throttle as it is less likely to be switched on by mistake. The battery boxes look the same as always but internally the battery construction is entirely different.  The cells are now known generically as 1850 cells, some of which are made by Samsung, so that the batteries have not only become smaller and lighter, but are less susceptible to damage by owner misuse, though they should not be left fully discharged for any length of time.

But what do our customers want? They want the bike to look like a normal bike, not an electric bike, they want it to be light, they want long term reliable operation, they want it to look attractive, they want value for money, they want a throttle and, although they may not know it, they want long term easy repairs and replacements.

During these 5 years, the most significant advance in electric bike design has been the further development of the crank drive motor positioned between the pedals, in particular by Bosch. Many genuine claims are made for the advantages of this system.  Some aspects are not emphasised.  It is certainly a more expensive and complicated method.  With all the power being transmitted through the chain and gears, the power of the motor is limited, and these components wear out more quickly and need replacement. The motors tend to be programmed for each manufacturer and sometimes each model of bike. If anything goes wrong with the motor, it has to be removed and sent back to Bosch. Crank motors are operated with a torque sensor, so the more power the rider puts on the pedals, the more power the motor delivers, up to its maximum. This is not necessarily a good system for a rider who is not strong.  A weaker rider wants to enjoy the full power of the motor at any stage for acceleration, hill starts, hill climbing and sometimes, to have a rest from pedalling.

So where does this leave Axcess-electric-bikes?

The simple answer is – With a huge opportunity to produce something different, attractive and competitive, primarily developed for the UK market.

Faced with the competition from crank drive motors, the manufacturers electric bikes with rear wheel drive systems have not been slow to rise to the challenge.

Motors have been re-engineered, control systems developed, battery sizes reduced and bike frames redesigned. With crank motor electric bikes priced from about £1700 to £13,000 (Haibike XDURO HardNine Carbon Ultimate), this leaves us with a price point between (say) £1000 and £2000 to develop a bike which:

  • Looks more like a normal bike, is attractive, modern and well specified
  • Takes advantage of those technical advances that have not been incorporated in the current range.
  • Will deliver full power at any time in accordance with the latest EU Regulations.
  • Has better weight distribution and is shorter than the current models, so making them easier to carry in racks and stow.
  • Retains reliability and ease of maintenance and repair.

It is time now to pack my bags and complete the last part of the journey to the factory visit and see what is being delivered out of these aspirations.

Note 29/04/2016:    And it was good – but not quite right!

To be continued!

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Axcess Electric Bikes is rated 4.85 stars by Reviews.co.uk based on 96 merchant reviews

4.85 / 5 Rating
96 Reviews
The bike is comfortable and easy to use.
We called in to Access on impulse and we both road tested 2 bikes each. I bought one because it is quite simply the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. No stretch forward straining my upper back and neck. My bike is the Access Exmoor. No hard sell, and a knowledgeable team
Having reached the age of 71, I decided that having retired I would get myself a bike again, and after much thought and also a lot of time on the internet, I decided that an electric bike would suit me better, and also that a folding bike would be useful as I could go places with my bike in the car, without the hassle of removing a wheel each time, also living in a flat a folding bike in It's bag is a lot less obtrusive. While on the Internet I came across 'Axcess Electric Bikes' site, this was not only very helpful, but gave a very wide choice of bikes, both in style and price. I drove up to Honiton to have a look at them for real. On arrival I saw a second-hand bike outside which I really liked, but It was not a folding one and I had to remind myself that I had decided on a folding Bike. On going in The showroom I was greeted by a very friendly lady who as it turned out was very helpful and knowledgeable. There was no pressure to buy and was encouraged to take my time to look at the stock. I decided to buy a New Axcess Shetland and asked to take it with me. The Gent who was working on the bikes in the workshop area, said that he would check it over immediately, and he also demonstrated how it folded and fitted in the bag which I also purchased. I was allowed to take it out for a test ride before purchase. It is a lovely bike, as has a really firm feel to it, and ideal for what I want. Being a folding bike it has a step through frame which I find easier a feature that even my Sister likes. (Come to that she did not want me to take the bike away with me when I visited her.). I use it for shopping, going on photography outings, or just going for a ride. I am still amazed as to how effective the battery assist is. The ratings only go up to very good, but I would rate both the bike and the firm as excellent. Should I decide to buy another Bike in the future, I shall go straight to Axcess Elctric Bikes of Honiton. Since retiring from a very physical job I found my knees were getting stiff, cycling has cured that. Thank You
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