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Project Brief: ENVO FLEX

By Ajay Agrawal

Jun 29, 2022

Project Brief: ENVO FLEX

Background

The concept of electric bicycles as a mobility solution may be relatively new compared to the traditional modes of transport but we here at ENVO believe that electric bikes have the potential to be a serious contender and its potential is currently untapped. Electric bikes come in all shapes and sizes, and over the years, they have evolved significantly. The first wave of electric bicycles were traditional urban bicycles and mountain bikes, followed by foldable, compact designs that are designed for storage and transportation. Recently, ebike designs are challenging the notion of the ‘traditional bicycle’ itself. These new designs include cargo bikes, utility bikes, and fat-tire bikes. All of these innovations encompass a certain type of requirement and cater to a specific market segment. These new concepts are improving the functionality of bikes and redefining the utility they provide. At ENVO, we believe that this is just the beginning of the journey for ebikes and we want to help move the needle in the right direction by applying our sustainable engineering principles to designing a new series of bicycles and this is where Flex enters the picture.

Problem/Opportunity

ENVO currently designs and manufactures a comprehensive line of products that catered to 80% of all the user case but based on our customer’s feedback we felt the need to design something for the niche markets.  

There are users who want to carry a passenger with them on their ebike adventures. Then there are those who wanted to take their two children strapped in a child seat with them. An avid golfer may want to carry their golf bag with them on the course, or a surfer may want to carry their surfboard to the beach. And of course, there is omnipresent demand for a high-performance off-road bike that could carry their cargo or equipment.  

While there are products available in the market for each of these niche segments,
ENVO wanted to introduce our sustainable engineering mindset to this problem and come up with an out of the box concept in the shape of a convertible Ebike platform that can fulfil your multiple needs.

Goal

ENVO Flex features a common platform of frames that can be converted from one riding application to another. There is a total of four models, all featuring a purposeful component spec and versatile add-on accessories. 

The engineering team sat down, dug into the challenge, and identified four products which could satisfy all the niche segments of the market. The following are the four Flex models and their probable uses. 

OVERLAND – A high performance off-road ebike. Designed for those who frequent paths that are rough and unpaved – mountain trails, Jeep track, snowy terrain, or sandy beaches. 

URBAN – A cargo utility urban ebike. Designed for customers who need to carry their equipment with them like tools or a surfboard.

TRIKE – Designed for customers looking for a very stable ride with lots of storage room in the trunk. 

SNOWBIKE – Designed for customers looking to explore snowy trails and frozen lakes – perfect for ice fishing.

Key Requirements

ENVO Flex allows you to upgrade and change your ebike as your riding needs change over time. The Flex Urban and Trike are interchangeable using modular design components, giving you the utility of two products on a single frame platform. Similarly, the Flex SnowBike and Overland can be converted into each other. The ENVO Flex lets you enjoy a wide range of riding road or snow adventures, all year round. Hence keeping this in mind the following are the key requirements from this product line:
  1. Frame compatible with four different configurations.
  2. Folding frame for ease in storage.
  3. Step Thru frame design for ease in getting on and off.
  4. Rear carriers capable of carrying up to 50kg of payload.
  5. Fat tires for traction, suspension, and off-roading performance.
  6. 20’’ wheel size for ease in storage and transportation.
  7. Dual Battery Option (up to 200km of range)
  8. Adjustable and Foldable Handlebar
 In addition to these features, ENVO Flex is designed to be dealer friendly product due to its single frame and modular design, hence ENVO dealers can triple their inventory at no extra cost. Flex let’s our dealers manage the uncertainty of demand by stocking parts that offer customers vast customization with minimal investment in inventory.
 

Flex engineering design Flex urban sample product

Constraints/Risks/Assumptions/Uncertainties

ENVO Flex is one of the most ambitious and innovative attempts at redefining what a Bicycle is and what it could be. It is for this reason we had a lot of challenges when engineering this product. The first and foremost was the challenge to design a frame that fulfills contradictory requirements of four different configurations. We had a front hub version, a rear hub version, two different set of tire diameter, two separate battery cases, two set of handlebars, and two different rear carriers. All this had to fit on a single frame. The development took more than a year of painstaking iterative design changes. 

The 2D drawing of frame design was developed first and based on this drawing the 3D models were generated. The engineers working on the project remember counting upto 15 revisions on the frame design (they gave up counting after that!) The challenge after finalizing the design was that for some of the parts, such as rear hub and cassette there were no ready off the shelf parts available, hence ENVO developed custom parts working with market leading component suppliers.

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