I am really keen to open conversations with as many of you as possible about your plans to build an ebike and what your challenges are to doing this.
Since our return from displaying at Bespoked, Dresden Germany last year we have had quit a lot of thoughts on how best we can support you all.
Common themes and needs are
Need for a motor bracket - We offer this is steel or Alloy
Minimum order quantity - We have just a 1 unit buy in, it’s your business, you tell us what and when you need it.
Customer support - Our system is 100% serviceable in any bike shop.
We are more then happy to come visit you with our demo bikes as well so you can testing form your own view.
Please do reach out too me.
I’m documenting my Freeflow build here: Carn Bikes frame #3 - Freeflow e-hardtail
My experience with Freeflow so far has been very good. As a hobby builder, I was a bit uncertain on initial contact as I’d heard other manufacturers were generally difficult to deal with for non-trade/volume builders. I even had trade accounts with Yamaha and Shimano distributors through my little workshop side hustle and still couldn’t just go and order a complete system.
Email response times were a little slow at first but they did reply and, having made initial contact, were subsequently much quicker to respond. I ended up buying the system - the process went very smoothly and the system seems well made and straightforward to work with from what I’ve seen so far. Delivery was about 3 weeks from what I recall. Pricing was more than acceptable in my opinion - at the lower end of what I was expecting to spend although that was based on retail prices of other systems’ replacement motors and parts that I’d been able to find. Documentation was very good although I did end up needing to scrap the first down tube as I drilled holes for the external battery mount from the docs and not doing an actual test fit before drilling (measure twice, cut once - lesson learned … again).
What attracted me to the Freeflow system is the relatively low profile and mid-power of the system. I own a Giant Fathom E+1 Pro (2020 model) with the Yamaha based full-fat motor. While I always come back from riding that with a grin on my face, I find the geometry to be very old-fashioned. I’ve always had trouble getting a good fit with commercial bikes - I either end up with good inside-leg clearance but short reach or vice-versa. I also find the motor is more than I actually want and the whole bike has been designed around supporting that, so over-engineered and heavy with a big, expensive battery and super-long chainstays - to stop you putting it in Turbo mode, going a-over-t, and then suing them to compensate for your own stupidity, I presume. I’m a lighter rider and have a fluid riding style which doesn’t punish bikes as much as the imagined 16-stone graceless bike park gorilla who manufacturers seem to be designing for these days so I don’t enjoy riding (or lifting over gates) all that extra weight.
I’m aiming to build something a bit closer to an acoustic bike than an electric one, with assistance when I need it but which feels like riding a regular bike as much as possible, and Freeflow appears to tick the appropriate boxes for that objective. For bonus points, Dave Hemming is their point man and, if you’re my age and were around in the early days of the UK mountain biking scene, that’ll mean something
Good morning Stuart,
I appreciate your thoughtful message. Having familiarized ourselves with the forum’s functionality, we now keep it open on our desktop at all times.
We are enthusiastic about collaborating with frame builders and share your eagerness for open discussions with everyone. Engaging in conversations with passionate individuals, like yourself, about crafting exceptional bicycles in both traditional and electric versions is truly gratifying. As a dedicated cyclist throughout my life, witnessing the remarkable progress and innovation in the past three decades has been inspiring. I firmly believe that the day I cease to be thrilled by advancements in cycling is the day I should consider a change of profession.
Please do contact me for more information.
@FFTmotors I was having a browse through some framebuilding related sites over the weekend and spotted a recent update from Reynolds. Not sure if you’re familiar with their Rey-Drive initiative (Rey-Drive - Reynolds Technology)? It’s an e-bike system for builders based on the Mahle X20 rear hub motor system. One interesting nugget in their last newsletter of '23 (Reynolds Newsletter – End of Summer ’23 -) is that they’re planning to launch a new steel tube to support this - I assume for an internal battery.
To this end, we are pursuing 56mm CrMo tubing in 1.0mm plain gauge and also as a butted tube in 0.9/0.6/0.9 at 750-800mm. This will be available as 525 or 725. We are looking at availability around November 2023.
Obviously that won’t fit your current internal battery’s 74mm tube requirement but have you considered offering a slimmer internal battery for steel and ti builders? This would be more in keeping with the slimmer tubesets used in those materials while still offering a fully-integrated internal battery?
I am aware of this system set up. The trouble we have found is that to make the slimmer battery you would be below 200w capacity and this would really not give you a lot of range. In an Ideal world Reynolds, Columbus or any other tube maker should review making something a little bigger for frame builders.
We have asked them a number of times.
That’s fair enough. I suppose an advantage (pros and cons obviously, but from the ‘smaller battery’ perspective) Mahle have is that they use 36V vs. your 42V, which I guess means fewer actual cells in the pack? Once I’ve got mine built and put some miles on it, I’ll have a better idea of real-world range with the current battery.
I’ve ridden a Mahle X35 in a prototype bike I designed before, it’s quite nice actually. It obviously doesn’t have the oomph of a full blown Bosch CX turbo mode but it does its thing. The in-tube battery (250Wh, 36V) is about 470mm long and fits snugly into the 54x1.0mm tube, the 56x1 will give enough room to also route brake cables in the same tube.
I think, especially for steel bikes, a >50mm OD tube is aesthetically challenging already, so trying to design a frame with something around 80mm that doesn’t look like a mortar on wheels might not be easy!