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New Fuell Designs Revealed in Patent

Cycle Volta logo Cycle Volta 1/19/2021 Ben Purvis
diagram: Is Fuell working on a new convertible electric two-wheeler? This patent says yes. © Provided by Cycle Volta Is Fuell working on a new convertible electric two-wheeler? This patent says yes.

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on Cycle Volta sibling website CycleWorld.com.

diagram: Is Fuell working on a new convertible electric two-wheeler? This patent says yes. © Fuell Is Fuell working on a new convertible electric two-wheeler? This patent says yes.

Whenever Erik Buell puts his mind to rethinking motorcycle design it’s worth paying attention. Few engineers have such an impressive record of innovation, and he’s shown no sign of letting up as his attention turned to electric bikes.

Fuell, the brand Buell set up to offer his battery-powered creations, is already selling its first product, the Flluid ebike, and its Fllow electric motorcycle is set to reach production soon (though it told us ebikes are being given priority right now due to current market conditions). Now it looks like the next product from the company will split the difference between them, as it’s a modular machine that uses the same building blocks to create either a pedal-assisted electric bicycle or a scooter-style machine. The upshot is that by swapping out just a few components, the bike’s abilities and even its legal status could be changed.

diagram, engineering drawing: Patent drawings show an easily accessible battery compartment that allows for different cell arrangements. © Provided by Cycle Volta Patent drawings show an easily accessible battery compartment that allows for different cell arrangements.

Recent patents from Fuell reveal a new two-wheeler that appears to be based around the same magnesium monocoque structural idea as the Fllow model, wherein the chassis also makes up the bodywork of the machine, with the batteries and electronics housed inside. An arc-shaped front section curves down from the steering head following the curve of the rear edge of the front tire, and branches backward to the rear wheel, forming a hardtail rear end and providing a platform to mount components like the seat.

The batteries sit vertically inside the front section, accessed via a flip-up lid that allows them to slot in from above. The patent shows three battery arrangements; a single small battery pack, a larger pack, or two of the small packs, all able to fit into the same compartment. That flexibility will allow Fuell to tailor the bike’s range and performance to suit various price points.

diagram, engineering drawing: Cleverly, pedals can be swapped in to convert from an escooter (previous photo) to an electric bicycle with a hub-mounted motor, as shown. © Provided by Cycle Volta Cleverly, pedals can be swapped in to convert from an escooter (previous photo) to an electric bicycle with a hub-mounted motor, as shown.

Where the idea gets especially shrewd is in the components that can be bolted to the section in front of the rear wheel. The same basic design is shown both with pedals and as a pedal-less scooter, and it appears that you can simply unbolt the pedals and replace them with blank plates carrying fixed footboards when you want to convert from one mode to the other. When fitted, the pedals use a belt to take your mechanical effort to the rear wheel, where (on both versions) a hub-mounted electric motor takes most of the strain.

diagram, engineering drawing: Patent drawings show an easily accessible battery compartment that allows for different cell arrangements. © Fuell Patent drawings show an easily accessible battery compartment that allows for different cell arrangements.

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Similarly, the pedal-powered version is shown with a relatively slim seat post carrying an adjustable-height bicycle seat, whereas in “scooter” mode, the bike has a thicker, stronger bracket holding a dual seat.

diagram, engineering drawing: In ebike mode, the design features a single-sided swingarm to reduce weight. © Provided by Cycle Volta In ebike mode, the design features a single-sided swingarm to reduce weight.

In ebike form, the rear wheel is held by a single-sided arm, reducing weight, but as a dual-seat scooter, a second side is added to the rear end, increasing its strength to cope with the additional weight. Performance is also likely to be adaptable to suit the different modes, since in many parts of the world ebikes have stringent limits on power and top speed, while scooters—registered and licensed—can be more powerful and faster. Similarly there are often regulations on who can ride the different machines, with electrically boosted bicycles open to use by kids without a license.

a bicycle parked in front of a building: Should it ever be built, the adaptable design would slot between the company’s Flluid ebike (shown) and its upcoming Fllow emotorcycle. © Provided by Cycle Volta Should it ever be built, the adaptable design would slot between the company’s Flluid ebike (shown) and its upcoming Fllow emotorcycle.

The adaptability suggests that an owner might be able to buy the pedal-electric version as a teenager and then add components to increase its performance, eventually changing its legal status as he or she obtains the right licenses to operate them. The design’s adaptability may also help make it more widely suited to varying state laws on electric mopeds and ebikes. Many states limit “low-speed electric bicycles” to 20 mph and a max power of 750W but allow them to be ridden without a license, while others have a variety of different limits on peak power, whether pedals are needed, or even if the rider needs a license. Fuell’s modular design means it should be able to comply with all the rules without needing a redesign.

a bicycle parked in front of a building: Should it ever be built, the adaptable design would slot between the company’s Flluid ebike (shown) and its upcoming Fllow emotorcycle.

Should it ever be built, the adaptable design would slot between the company’s Flluid ebike (shown) and its upcoming Fllow emotorcycle.
© Fuell
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