To turn an e-bike into a smartbike, you’ll need to integrate an IoT device. This market is developing very fast, with different players using the same vocabulary to describe very different hardware propositions. There are many criteria to consider when choosing the IoT product to be integrated into the e- bikes. It is important to understand the main differences of IoT devices in order to make the right choice of technology, price, features…
In this article, we won’t talk about the GPS trackers you can find for the aftermarket. We are aiming to bring information about real innovations and high-quality IoT devices for e-bikes. The IoT device is integrated into the e-bike by connecting to the electric kit. This connection allows the supply of energy to the IoT and the data gathering from the e-bike. The connection is standard if the IoT provider has made integration developments to collect data and communicate with the electrical kit.
Communication and transmission protocols for IoT device for e-bikes
UART or CAN protocol for e-bikes?
There are 2 main communication protocols used on the e-bike market, UART or CAN. UART is the historical one, a “point to point” link that can be quickly limiting to build complex ecosystems with several actors. CAN protocol is the one used in automotive industry and is becoming the benchmark for the electric bike market.
Why CAN is particularly adapted for develop connectivity in electric bike market?
CAN connection provides a good immunity to noise and electrical parasites and is a real data bus (vs Point to Point) so many devices can be simultaneously connected and thus report several profiles and typologies of e-bike data. Thanks to the CAN we have real-time information.
What’s about the technologies used to develop connectivity? We speak about CAN, that’s the networks but, it’s essential to speak about the technologies.
Bluetooth, LTE-M or LoRa?
Bluetooth/BLE, 2G/LTE-M and LoRa are 3 common data transmission protocols with different characteristics, prices, benefits.
- Bluetooth/BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is a fairly old technology (1994) that has evolved with the use of smartphones, and that is now extremely widespread and compatible with almost all mobile terminals. One of the strengths of the technology is its cost, allowing a more affordable price than others for IoT products. The so-called short-distance range of this technology is limited (up to 100 m) and usage data and functionalities are only available when the user is connected within this perimeter.
- 2G/LTE-M or cellular technology is embedded on the vehicle, intelligence is therefore not carried by the smartphone. For 2G, these are frequency bands used for connected objects, which will gradually be supported by LTE-M (Long Term Evolution for Machines). Vehicle and usage data are automatically reported in real time and can easily be shared simply between several actors (cyclist and brand for example). Not limited by range, cellular technology allows for better reliability of vehicle and user safety features, statistics, maintenance information, etc. At Velco, we’ve chosen LTE-M, future-proof technology natively included in 5G, to develop our IoT and App for smartbike.
- LoRa, which stands for “Long Range Wide-area”, is a low-speed network dedicated to connected objects. This protocol makes it possible to transmit data over a distance of up to 15 km in cities and can reach 45 km in rural areas. The proposed service will be substantially close to that obtained with an LTE-M solution, with a better autonomy linked to lower power consumption, but with less responsiveness on the move and a lower data rate, which will make updates complex or even impossible.
It is important to choose an IoT device that can evolve over time to ensure durability through regular over-the-air (OTA) updates, enabling the operation, improvement and safety of device.
Focus on LTE-M device for Ebike
Internet of Things is a tool that make easier GPS tracking for ebike, but not only. It will be a revolution for ebike market which will help to develop a new way of daily move : more sustainable and safe.
LTE-M : Why it’s tailored for GPS tracker of e-bike
LTE-M technology has many advantages for GPS trackers on e-bikes.
- Long-range coverage: This technology has effective coverage even in semi-buried or buried areas. Connection to previously inaccessible areas such as car parks or elevators is easy. This also allows real-time localization of moving objects even at high speed with an order accuracy of 1 to 10 meters.
- Low consumption: Indeed, LTE-M is a low consumption technology. Moreover, when the bike is not used, it goes into hibernation mode. This means that the bike battery cannot be quickly discharged and energy savings can be achieved. The cyclist can enjoy it for a longer period of time, while benefiting from the related services.
- Transferring large volumes of data: For brands or fleet managers, this allows to receive a large amount of data on the real state of the bikes: in circulation or stationary, speed, positioning, etc. This data transfer is made possible by the high frequency of data transmission.
A technology for the future of e-bike market
The benefits of LTE-M technology go beyond geolocation. All in all, this technology will improve the experience of e-bike cyclists, by protecting it, but also by offering many services.
Fight against theft
400,000 e-bikes are stolen in France every year. It is important for brands to be able to offer effective solutions to fight theft so that cyclists can protect their bikes. Thanks to these applications this technology makes it possible
- Remote control: This technology enables remote control operation. The cyclist can remotely lock or unlock his bike.
- Notification: LTE-M will allow the rapid reception of a notification from During a suspicious movement, the cyclist will then be able to cut the electrical assitance to make it difficult to move.
From data to services
Subsequently, the LTE technology will allow us to transform the collected data into services via a dedicated application:
- Performance monitoring: the cyclist will be able to monitor his performance (kilometres travelled, number of journeys, Co2 saved, etc.)
- Maintenance monitoring: with the data collected, it will be possible to identify the level of wear of the bicycle components. The cyclist can be informed of this and receive a notification to change this element.
The transformation of the data collected into services is a real challenge because it offers a wide range of possibilities and allows brands to create links with cyclists.
Integration of IoT on e-bikes and data mining
Some connectivity providers have an aftermarket positioning, which is deeply different than players managing integration. Velco conceives and manufactures its own IoT devices, made in Portugal and France, with high quality standards. Velco IoT products are designed with a view to facilitating integration, with a digital platform dedicated to bike makers for them to pair, test and have traceability on products. For integration, it is very important to choose a player that built its offer as a digital ecosystem, in order to facilitate and manage this process. As for maintenance players, to offer a turn-key solution to easily identify failures.
Velco offers a software suite with web apps dedicated to each player of the industry: bike makers, e-drive system manufacturers, brands, fleet managers, maintenance providers. This SaaS suite offers many advantages to implement solutions rapidly and to allow customers to benefit from future evolutions of the suite.
One crucial question in the creation of a smartbike will be ‘who owns the data’? It is a very different mindset if the data is closed to the connectivity provider. At Velco, customers are fully owners of their data.