We’ve heard many times the importance of “learning from our mistakes”. However, not everyone is willing to talk about their mistakes. At Trisco, we see them as steps towards progress. Our constant pursuit of innovation means that we’re open to unsuccessful ventures as well. Here, we share with you one such example.
If you aren’t familiar with e-bikes, do not worry. This article will give you a brief understanding of what an e-bike is, how does it differ from traditional bicycles and motorbikes, and its benefits.
Introduction to E-Bikes
First things first. What are e-bikes?
To keep it simple, e-bikes are just like regular bicycles, except that an e-bike has an electric motor to help you pedal more efficiently and get more power when you need it. So as you may have already guessed, the “e” on “e-bike” stands for “electric”.
The electric motor of an e-bike can help you go up steep or long hills, assist you when riding against headwind, when you are too tired to continue pedaling, when you have extra weight on your bicycle, or help you ride a longer distance with less effort.
Let’s dive deeper. What’s the difference between e-bikes and other motorized bikes?
The basic performance difference between an e-bike and a motorbike, or an e-scooter, is that an e-bike will not go as fast and it will not travel the same distance either. At least not without you pedaling. But it also has its benefits. Like the fact that you can still power an e-bike manually regardless of it running out of “fuel”. Besides being a cheaper option than a motorbike, with lower maintenance cost, e-bikes are considerably more environmental-friendly as well.
If you want an e-bike, there are two options. You can obviously just buy an e-bike, or you can buy a conversion-kit to turn a normal bicycle into an e-bike. Buying an e-bike is a very straight-forward process, very similar to buying a normal bicycle. Other than deciding wether you want a normal, road, mountain, or foldable bicycle. You will need to look into the bicycles battery voltage and motor power. The higher the voltage, the longer it will last. The higher the power, the faster it can go. A powerful motor will need a powerful battery to run.
If you already have a bicycle, or if you wan’t to spend less, then a conversion kit will be a better option. The basic components are: a motor to help your bike move, a controller to tell the motor when is needed, and a battery to power the last two. Additional components such as a throttle and screens can be added to your kit.
There are three main kinds of conversion kits depending on the position of the motor.
- Front wheel conversion kit.
- Rear (back) wheel conversion kit.
- Mid-drive conversion kit.
The first two kits will both include a wheel with a motor integrated. Since you need to change your bike’s original wheel for the electric one of the conversion kit, this requires some basic DIY skills and tools, or you can ask at a local shop to help you. Just make sure that the wheel of the conversion kit will fit your bike before buying it.
An option that can fit a wider range of bicycles is that of the Mid-drive conversion kit. As the name suggests, the motor for this conversion kit is installed in the middle of the bicycle's frame, which helps keep it balanced, and it is independent of the size of the wheel. For this reason, Mid-drive conversion kits are the default option for mountain bikers and the preferred option for most customers. The only downside, is that it tends to be more expensive than wheel conversion kits, but still remains cheaper than an already built-in electric bike.
Our Study Case
Trisco Technology was looking to develop its own e-bike (friction drive) conversion kit. A hybrid device between a wheel conversion kit and a mid-drive kit. This product was aimed to be a universal conversion kit, combining the versatility and performance of a mid-drive unit with the cheaper price of a wheel conversion kit, while integrating all parts into a single body.
Based on the “working backwards” method, we started not by developing the product at once, but by simultaneously understanding our customers. Gathering user information is key in properly developing a product. By holding joint meetings between the Marketing, Sales and the R&D department, it was possible to have different insights and raise questions among ourselves to dig deeper into each issue.
Dealing with Obstacles
One would think that because we all belong to the same company, moving forward would be a process free of discussions. However, that’s not how companies work. Each department will raise their concerns on the different aspects of the product’s development. Price, dimensions, materials, performance, you name it. It is only by understanding and solving all these differences that you can truly create a product that will thrive in the market.
Once problems arise, you must rank them. Ask yourself which problems are deal breakers, assume that the rest are solvable, and strategize your use of energy. For example, if you want to drive to another city, why should you waste time washing a car that has no gas? Why should you fill its tank if it has no tires? And why should you buy new tires if you can’t drive? Creating a product is similar in this sense.
One of the main obstacles we faced at the time of developing our conversion kit was the position and efficiency of the motor, the center piece of a conversion kit. Since every possible solution meant having to compromise on either, the performance, user experience, cost or market strategy, Trisco concluded that it was better to drop such project.
The ‘working backward’ method helped Trisco avoid unnecessary iterations for a device that wasn’t meant to be. It is never an easy matter to decide wether dropping a project or not. It is even more difficult after spending time and energy on making it happen. This is why to offset our own bias, we also consulted with independent experts and professional bike users. This might sound as a lot of work for a failed project, but the road to innovation isn’t meant to be easy. It is meant to awe the world.
We invite you to check this e-bike out. Trisco and Carbo met at RISE 2019, in Hong Kong.
To stay up to date with the latest technology trends and products, follow Trisco Technology on Facebook!