We rode an electric bike without a chain or belt, how is that possible?

During the Pro Days 2023 show, a Savoyard company presented its innovation to us, an electronic assistance for bicycles without chains and for a tricycle going up to 120 km/h! Her name: Cixi PERS.

In the electric bicycle, the transmission comes down to two choices: the chain or the belt. However, ideas are germinating to remove this element. How is this possible? At Cixi in Haute-Savoie, we think differently, with the PERS, an electronic transmission.

This solution was first designed for a new kind of vehicle, the Vigoz. Between the bodywork bicycle and the motor tricycle, this curious machine aims to be the electric car of tomorrow, while letting the driver pedal. Category L5e, it also reminds a bit of the Arcimoto FUV, for insiders. Here, we are seated on a car seat, but we pedal via a generator that multiplies up to 20 times its power in the rear engine. Simply increase the cadence to accelerate, slow it down to decelerate and maintain it to maintain cruising speed. In the extreme, the Vigoz even has enough to go up to 120 km / h.

Cixi Vigoz prototype

And yes, the Cixi Vigoz can go on the highway and completely replace a classic city car. With 2 seats in tandem and a limited load volume, it does not have the versatility of the latter, however. But it is much more ecological, while being more comfortable than a Citroën Ami type quadricycle, with its more generous suspensions. And with an NMC-type lithium-ion battery in the floor, the Vigoz hopes to reach 160 km of autonomy.

But it is still at the prototype stage, as exhibited at Pro Days in Paris at the beginning of July 2023. The final vehicle is not expected for a while.

Cixi Vigoz

A concept and a prototype of a bicycle without chains or belts

But Cixi’s wish is not only to develop a heavy tricyle. Because here, we are talking about 600 kg in total. The objective is to offer the PERS on various mobility solutions, including electric bicycles. To show this idea, a partnership with the Italian manufacturer Look gives rise to a speedbike type show-bike (45 km/h). The Look x Cixi Rover 45 shows what this bike would look like without a belt or chain, being modern and urban. It’s beautiful, but a non-rolling living room model.

Cixi Look Rover 45 concept

On the other hand, the French company brought back to the Pro Days a working prototype with the electronic pedalboard. Adapted to a classic bike, we were able to handle the PERS over a few hundred meters.

Its operation is curious, with a nice fluidity of assistance depending on the pedaling, without display or speed. Alas, this is only a first draft. Hugo Rouland, in charge of the Cixi e-bike project, assures us that the strong vibrations felt in the crankset will be corrected, as will the noise close to a Valeo engine. However, we appreciate the design, with this totally hermetic metal block, linked to the motor to the rear hub, therefore by a simple wiring. Still in development, the solution is still heavy, around 6 kg, battery not included.

The objective is to be able to approach 1 kg of a classic engine-transmission-chain trio, and to miniaturize the generator a little, by the industrialization phase planned for 2024 at best. It will remain to integrate the battery, and connectivity via smartphone application serving as a screen. As for the price of such a chainless bicycle system, it is still unknown, but it should concern quite premium bicycles and speedbikes. We can’t wait to discover the rest of this project!

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