In India we are all too
familiar with BMW i vehicles and the handful of BMW i8 cars that were a
complete sell out here. BMW i stands for visionary vehicle concepts,
progressive design and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined
by sustainability. It also fulfills the function within the BMW Group of an
incubator for innovation that reaches far beyond the vehicles BMW i3 and BMW i8
we are already familiar with.
The patent for a drive unit
swing arm, which is now entering production at the HNF eBike factory after
development to series maturity in collaboration with BMW Research and
Technology, originates from the first stage of BMW i market research and the
early concept phase.
As there was no longer any
immediate use for the patent due to the focus at BMW i on two-track electric
vehicles, it has now been finally released for external usage. Its application
in reality can now be experienced on the eBike “Heisenberg XF1”, on which a
small logo with the wording “Concept by BMW i“ indicates the prestigious origin
of this innovative functional principle.
The drive unit swing arm is a new kind of frame technology for full-suspension eBikes featuring a mid-motor. The concept allows the drive train, which was previously firmly attached to the main frame, to float freely, eliminating the need for the conventional chain tensioner. This permits for the first time the combination of a rear suspension and the durable, maintenance-free carbon belt drive on full-suspension eBikes, resulting in outstanding propulsion and handling characteristics.
The BMW i patent for the drive unit swing arm principle facilitates for the first time the integration of mid-motor, gears and belt drive into an innovative suspension module, thereby dispensing with a belt tensioner.
The HNF Heisenberg development team designed the new suspension technology for the XF1 in a very specific way. The kinematics are fully integrated above the mid-motor, connecting it securely to the frame. To ensure consistent spacing of the low-maintenance carbon drive belt between the spindle and the rear hub, the mid-motor and rear hub are integrated into the drive unit swing arm. The belt runs under tension and perfectly aligned between both toothed belt discs and is able to effortlessly transfer even high peak loads from the mid-motor.
In accordance with the principle of four-joint kinematics with a virtual rotary axis around the spindle, the BMW drive unit swing arm is guided in such a precise way as to prevent the relative position of the mid-motor spindle unit from deviating in relation to the main frame. In conjunction with the shock linkage, this swing arm connectivity facilitates long spring travel of up to 150 mm on the rear wheel. One of the dynamics-related advantages of the drive unit swing arm is the fact that it functions without recoil from the pedal. Compared with other rear-mounted suspension concepts, which are specifically optimized for muscle-powered drive systems, there is no stiffening of the rear swing arm when the electric motor is providing a high degree of assistance such as during acceleration, constant travel at high speeds or on hills. The suspension can respond sensitively at any time, ensuring excellent grip and high traction. As the proportion of human driving force is relatively small, there is no unpleasant rocking movement when accelerating or breaking. Even in the event of extremely uneven terrain it is possible to pedal smoothly and efficiently.
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