With electric bicycles growing in popularity and showing no signs of slowing down in recent years, lots of new players have entered the e-bike system market, all of which hoping to be the next big thing when it comes to lightweight electric mobility. On the performance end, brands like Bosch, Shimano, and Yamaha continue to lead the charge. However, new players, such as the one we’ll be discussing today, seem to have big plans for the future.
The name Zehus may not ring a bell to you, but the Italian e-bike drive system manufacturer showcased its latest tech at CES 2023 held earlier in January 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Similar to how the regenerative braking systems of electric and hybrid cars work, the company has found a way to stuff this technology in an e-bike drive system. Sure, regenerative braking systems on e-scooters are nothing new, but Zehus claims that its intelligent kinetic energy harvesting system called Bike+ is one-of-a-kind.
The company has made the hefty claim that Bike+ is the first pedal-assisted e-bike system that “doesn’t need to be charged.” I sure hope they put a gigantic asterisk at the end of that claim, because as is the case with most things in life, it really isn’t that simple.
Sure, Bike+ is theoretically capable of providing you with unlimited range—but not without you breaking a hell of a sweat first, or somehow finding a route with more downhill sections than uphill ones. Nevertheless, the tech is interesting, and could very well extend an e-bikes range by a substantial margin. According to Zehus, the Bike+ system optimizes energy and can “reduce fatigue by up to 40 percent.” It does this by charging the battery whenever the rider isn’t making use of the pedal assist—i.e., when coasting downhill or pedaling with zero assist.
I must say that Zehus’ choice of words is rather interesting, as reducing fatigue, especially on the part of the rider, is definitely subjective, as it’s dependent on the rider’s physical health, strength, and other factors. On top of that, just how much range the system will be able to add is dependent on a myriad of factors, too.
Nevertheless, these are the numbers that Zehus has to show for. The hub-mounted motor offers 250 watts of nominal output, and 40 Nm of max torque. There are a total of five modes of electric assistance consisting of Bike+, Hybrid, Hybrid Custom, Turbo, and Turbo Custom. Through the two custom modes, you can configure your own parameters, such as how much the system regenerates power. Per Zehus, when stuck on the most powerful Turbo mode, the Bike+ system can return a range of 35 kilometers on a single charge, or around 21.9 miles.
Another interesting thing to note is the system’s incredibly compact construction. The motor, battery, and controller are all housed in the rear hub, making for a nearly universal application of the Bike+ system. Other features include Bluetooth connectivity, giving the rider the ability to use their smartphone as a dashboard.