Building the Next Generation E-Bike Motor
By Bill Moore
Three-part EV World Dialogue interview with Falco E-Motor founder and president Rakesh Dhawan on his company's range of electric bicycle motors from his early days at WaveCrest Labs to his new venture that now includes R&D and production in India.
Parked out in my garage is a decade-old Wavecrest Labs TidalForce M750 electric-assist mountain bike. It is an early prototype developed by a Mclean, Virginia R&D company founded by two Russian scientists in the wake of Glasnost. It weighs somewhere just north of 60 pounds (27 kg) with a heavy front hub that houses its NiMH batteries and an identical hub on the rear wheel. That's the 750W, seven-phase, direct-drive electric motor that the company hoped would eventually find its way in a scaled-up version into the electric and hybrid automobiles of the future, eventually earning the company and its investor lots of money from royalties. It didn't quite work out that way.
The company folded a few years later, but not before selling off its assets and letting all its people go, including Rakesh Dhawan, one of their engineers, who, despite his own subsequent setbacks, continues to doggedly focus on picking up where Wavecrest left off, building electric bicycle motors that are smaller, lighter and yet more power-dense than the monster that still propels my personal electric bicycle.
In this three-part interview, we talk briefly about the history of Wavecrest, his own failed venture to manufacture and sell an electric-assist bicycle, which not only taught him about the barriers to selling an e-bike in the United States, but also led him to move much of his R&D, as well as motor manufacturing into the heart of India's 'Detroit, the sprawling city of Pune, some 3.5 hours south of Mumbai.
There his company, Falco E-Motors, has developed a range of electric hub motors from 250 Watts peak to 1,500 Watts peak. Compared to the 10-year-old Wavecrest motor he helped develop, his new 750 W motor is half the size, plus it incorporates a lot of intriguing technology from the perspective of the new spin-off of EV World that I am launching called ePEDALER. So, you'll find in the second and third segments some 'shop talk' about his motors from the perspective of our e-bike start-up.
Overall, I think you'll find it an interesting dialogue that spans the globe from the prospects for the two-wheeled EV market in India to controlling an e-bike based on your heart beat.
Originally published: 24 Aug 2013
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