While most electric bicycles opt for a pedal-assist mechanism that delivers extra power when a rider pedals, the Mando E-Bike adopts a totally different approach. It’s replaced the bottom bracket with a alternator, and directly converts pedal power to electricity, which, in turn, powers the rear wheel. Basically, instead of using mechanical advantage and a chain to power the back wheel, the Mando turns the rider into a human generator. That means that the chain is expendable, which leads to the rather radical industrial design. Because it doesn’t have a chain, and the motor and electronics are integrated into the frame, it folds up cleanly and neatly–there won’t be any chain grease on your pants if you carry it.
Although Mando is angling its vehicle to be considered an electric bicycle, it is clearly toeing a line. Previous electric bike designs have been widely varied, but they all had some element of direct human power. The motor technology is more automotive then bicycle, and if one was to replace the cranks with a charging system, it becomes a electric moped. Also, efficiency is an unanswered question–why should pedal power converted into electricity be more efficient than a tight chainline?
Mando hopes to have the bike on the European market by next year.