Going Green is Everything – CES 2024 – On “Innovation”

It’s only February, but as we rapidly head deeper into 2024, ESG is shaping up to be THE defining issue for the supply side of the industry.

Plus CES 2024—what clues to the future can we see in this year’s edition? 


More companies have come to place Environment, Social, and Governance policies and practices at the center of their business strategy largely due to increasing European Union regulation. Products and supply chains that do not comply will be excluded from the market, an unthinkable outcome for most Taiwan bicycle suppliers since EU is the main market for many of them. 

Taichung’s Merry Electronics (henceforce ME) is one of an increasing number of legacy electronics companies that have jumped into the e-bike market in recent years. Established in 1975 they focused on electroacoustic products, branching into battery design and production some twenty years ago.

The main reason behind ME’s wholehearted embrace of ESG is not the EU, but Apple, however—around 40% of an iPhone’s speaker contains ME technology. Apple’s objective of carbon neutrality by 2030 has required all its suppliers to adopt ESG-like principles. ESG-like since carbon reduction mainly concerns the E, and not S and G.

Nevertheless, Apple’s requirement has put ME in front of most of the bicycle industry who have a mixed record on each part of the ESG equation so far, and represent an exemplary case for bicycle companies looking to bolster both their ESG credibility and actual compliance.

ME’s operationalization of ESG begins at the product design phase where product spec is aligned with ESG principles from the getgo. The design of the Battery Management System is a crucial variable here. An e-bike’s BMS controls crucial parameters such as battery temperature, cell voltages, as well as regulating charging, one of its most important functions. ME focuses on optimizing BMS design, making it more compact and efficient. Since battery design and function is central to how an e-bike operates, the BMS is a natural target for continued innovation, refinement and development.

CES 2024 & Other Innovations

CES is shaping up to be more and more important for e-bike-related tech developments; but innovation does not always guarantee that a product will be a runaway success.


Given switch to electronics—and increasingly high end technology generally speaking for that matter—in the bicycle industry, CES will become a key event for showcasing a range of the latest high-tech product releases. Six months out from Eurobike and two months before Taipei Cycle (which is not renown for an abundance of high-tech development) the event is positioned perfectly in relation to these established shows.


Have you watched The Shark Tank, the show where entrepreneurs present their products to the panel for evaluation? The panel consists of investors with plenty of capital to put into a good idea. Participants hope to secure a decent investment from one or more of the panel so they can scale their product and take it mainstream.

One crucial question for participants over the year has been “what are the sales of your product”? No matter how wonderfully innovative a product may appear on the surface, the crucial issue is what the market thinks of the product as measured by the the ultimate measuring device—cash. Thus, this question was often the #1 concern for a potential investor. If sales are low or even non-existent, then it’s unlikely that throwing money at a product to enhance it or scale its distribution will make any difference. The market wants what it wants—the rest fall by the wayside. Investors are willing to make a bet, as long as the odds are reasonable.

Road Cycling magazine recently covered a number of great innovations in the cycling world that never took off, clever inventions that were simply clever, but had nothing else going for them. The warning for all entrepreneurs is that the “road to bicycle hell is paved with good inventions, as well as plenty of bad ones”.

Rim brakes relocated to the chainstay right behind the bottom bracket were briefly popular due to aerodynamic efficiency to name one technical advantage. But the technical disadvantages outweighed the advantages. Brakes in this position were difficult to work on. They required more frequent cleaning as they were so close to the road surface. Selle Italia’s Monolink seatpost and seat designed to replace twin saddle rails with a large single rail are another example. Some versions of are still around but it never a gained significant acceptance and the cycling world has not been left a better place with an attempt to replace something that works with something that was not technically superior.

With this in mind Pinkbike questioned what they deemed to be “wacky” tech at CES 2024. “Wacky” yet not condemned outright: let the market decide seems to be the editor’s approach.

Embedded from huningblog.eu

Topsecret’s e-bike with hubless wheels is certainly attention-grabbing . . . which may well be the whole point. Ever since the Tron bike appeared on the interwebs eight years or so ago, hubless has been on designers’ minds. This version is not lighter, although the added feature of airless tires ensuring no more flats may be the element that helps it gain market traction and not end up labeled a “gimmick” in hindsight.

Urtopia’s ChatGPT e-bike is one you can’t pass by without seriously questioning the value of integrating one of the world’s most powerful interactive AI platforms into an e-bike. Anyone who questioned shipping mobile phones with cameras way back was certainly lacking in foresight: social media + mobile communications = media revolution. Confirmed! An AI chatbot is not analogous however. “Would you like fries with that?” is the classic burger upsell which has generated massive amounts of extra revenue for MacDonalds. You have to draw a long bow to argue the upsell merits of ChatGPT in relation to a superficially analogous product in the form of an e-bike. AI is already at work in the cloud upon which “smart” connectivity between e-bike-based apps and the monitoring platforms that coordinate and analyze the data generated.

CES products with merit?

Nevertheless, there was plenty of kit with promise such as Vanpowers “intelligent” e-bikes that incorporate features that arguably significantly add value particularly their attention on anti-theft tech: hub motor lock, vibration detector, geofencing with real-time GPS tracking. The high probability of theft is one of the main reasons potential e-bike buyers don’t buy. Overcoming objections is a key technique salespeople use to close a deal. Anti-theft gadgetry thus becomes a built-in technical equivalent to an objection-overcoming sales pitch. 

Embedded from Cleantechnica

Himiway launched multiple new models aimed at various segments of the market—smart business move, provided you have correctly identified the segments and those segments are viable. Himiway’s C3 Cargo (upgrade to their Big Dog) aims to strike a balance between a stylish e-bike that is also designed to carry multiple passengers (the kids) and a load. E-Cargo bikes using a conventional frame are more stylish (defined as attractive to look at) than the heavy-movers sporting a bin. However they are generally still far from good looking, let alone elegant. The C3 is a big step—even a leap—in the direction of e-cargo bikes that can substitute for a car and not look like an ox wagon.

This concept was not at CES, but is surely an idea that has merit?

Backers on Kickstarter have pledged 3x the funds requested to develop a scooter that can be folded up and fitted into a small bag. And the Arma has officially been declared the world’s smallest e-bike.

The design centers on the top “tube” which acts as the body for the folding mechanism in the same way a pocket knife’s implements fold out from, and then back into, the body of the knife. Just on that point alone, the Arma must rank amongst the easiest folding bikes to set up or fold down. Charges fully in two hours and has an 11km range. 4.5kg in weight it can support up to 100kg. Solid tires mean none of the problems that accompany pneumatic tires. 3x oversubscribed indicates that entrepreneurs are impressed. However, as discussed earlier, innovative products often flop in the market since they are solutions in search of problems.

E-bike tech forms a small part of the legacy auto manufacturer, Valeo’s product range. They presented an upgraded version of the Cyclee motor, emphasizing their proprietary HMI and a quieter, smoother operation. The HMI together with the transmission sets a standard for motors and gearing in the future. Add constant connectivity and AI into the mix, and we can see, broadly, what the future will be—motors and transmissions controlled by AI-informed connectivity with an HMI at the center of it all.

Other Innovations

CES didn’t corner the market for innovations. Here’s what else has going on in the early part of this year.

The world’s first e-bike with parental controls is a timely—no, essential—addition to the balance bike market. The notion of even electrifying a balance bike tends to go against common sense thinking from a parent’s point of view. The Fiido’s maximum speed can be controlled from a parent’s phone, lessening the chance that a child could hit the throttle and shoot out onto the path of a car on a street.

How might this influence E-bike design if it gains any traction? Or is the Work By Design implying there is an alternative to e-bikes (which are still far from being green machines due to their carbon manufacturing and fossil-fueled battery charging footprint (less of a problem as renewables come online).

Yes, the conversion of a cyclist’s muscle output into forward motion is extremely inefficient. WBD redesigns the standard pedaling motion. Legs move in an up/down motion, not circular, driving cams which drive cylinders which in turn maintain torque continuously (it normally alternates due to the upstroke ‘dead’ part of the cycle). 

MoveElectric highlights a number of e-bikes which reflect where the sector is headed in 2024. 

The list includes Volt’s uber-powerful yet (relatively) light folding model, the Lite. A high-torque mid-drive motor sets this apart (not typical on folding bikes). The THOK MIG e-SUV adds pushes this nascent category ahead. Commuters who wish to be able to ride off-road are the target here. ME declare this to be an “ideal” commuter; no, it’s not. But the combination of functions does make it a progressive addition to the category. Other interesting models include Estarli’s eCargo longtail where affordability is a key selling point; Cervelo’s Rouvida e-road/gravel hybrid with interchangeable dropouts depending on what terrain you are riding on.

More on Battery Hazards

Legislation is on the horizon as various jurisdictions begin to push back against dodgy suppliers of poor quality batteries. 

The appearance of a fireproof battery, then, is a good move by Nanotech Energy—well, provided they’ve patented the tech. NE have captured attention on the interwebs through demonstrating that even when shot (yes, with a gun), their batteries remain fire free. Combining an electrolyte and proprietary electrodes with Soteria metallized polymer current collectors is how they do it.

But is the fire hazard overblown? What dangers are the public really facing and is this all a media beat-up? Electrek criticizes the National Renewable Energy Authority for banning e-bikes from their premises, accusing them of reacting to “sensationalism”. E-bike fires “while a legitimate threat, are also a tiny, minuscule threat” they argue. And fires are nearly always during charging where charging errors have been made or low quality batteries used.

If battery charging—and by extension the existence and quality of a Battery Management System—is the point of danger, then the focus should be on shaping protocols aimed at the charging process, not in blanket bans on bringing e-bikes indoors. Leaving them outdoors will result in many being stolen. An important point that should shape the conversation in the future.

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