Ever heard of pedal assisted cycles? I first heard it when one of my senior at college, Jacob Thekkekkara, developed a pedal assisted rickshaw in Chennai IIT. He founded a company PI Labs and later raised venture capital and is now an entrepreneur, great guy.
But pedal assist technology is nothing new. eBikes, ordinary bikes which uses pedal assist technology or electric throttle are very common in US and western countries.
Working of a pedal assist bike/cycle;
A pedal assist vehicle has a pedaling system as well as an electric motor. This motor also contributes to the movement of the vehicle by providing assistance to pedaling. That is when you pedal, the motor also works making it easier to ride the cycle. Pedal assisting has three different modes;
- Low pedal assist – Where only a small amount of powered is taken from the motor. This usually happens when you are riding smoothly
- Medium pedal assist – This is for situations where the ride is not easy but you can manage to do it comfortably. The assistance from the electric motor will be more than that in the first case.
- high pedal assist – This mode gives much more power than the first case. This helps you to reach places faster with minimal effort.
There are two types of pedal assists;
- Torque sensor pedal assist
- Cadence sensor pedal assist
1. Torque sensor pedal assist
This one is the most complicated and advanced of the two. Here a sensor detects how much pressure applying on the pedals and thus determines the level of assistance you need from the motor. This gives the rider a smooth, intuitive feel about riding. It helps to ride anywhere effortlessly, whether you are riding up a mountain or on a smooth road.
2. Cadence sensor pedal assist
This is an inferior technology compared to the former. Here a sensor detects the turning of the cranks of the cycle. If cranks are moving slowly the sensor decides that the rider needs some more assistance and vice versa.
In both cases a level of assistance is provided to the rider. There are also throttle bicycles, which works similar to a bike. It has a throttle, like a bike, which you can turn to get assistance from the electric motor. The electric motor, in both cases, is fixed to the real wheel of the cycle.
These cycles are usually used for leisure activities while a lot of cycle rickshaw walas in India are toiling their all their strength daily, it took my senior and his friend to give them a helping hand. This technology has a lot of potential in a developing country like India. If we can make this technology cheaper then it will help thousands of people in India’s transportation, industrial and waste management sectors, think of all the cycles, rickshaws and trolleys this can be implemented.