The End of Bicycle Chains

At some point in our lives, we've all had to get a bike chain back where it belongs. Let's face it, it's not an overly pleasant experience.

The good news is that a German company has now come up with an alternative for the pesky, oily drive chain. But, sadly, it only works on e-bikes.

Automotive parts manufacturer Schaeffler has unveiled a new device that removes the requirement for pedals to be mechanically linked to a bicycle's rear wheel. The new system, called Free Drive, potentially opens up e-bike design to a new world of possibilities.

Typically, the pedals on a bicycle or an e-bike must be linked to the rear wheel by a chain drive. Free Drive, upends this limitation by converting the energy from pedaling into electrical power. This is then sent to a motor via electrical wiring.

Though the system allows for the standard distance of 5 inches (138 mm) between its two pedals, in theory, the pedals could be placed anywhere on the bicycle, as a thin electrical wire is much easier to install than a chain drive.

The drive system is composed of a small generator, a 250-watt wheel hub motor, a lithium battery, and a control unit on the handlebar. When the rider pedals, they power up the generator, which feeds electricity to the motor that powers the rear wheel. Bingo!