For the first time in its history as an Olympic and Paralympic partner, Panasonic supplied the pacers of the Tokyo 2020 keirin cycling track competition this August with its brand-new electric-assisted sports bicycles. With an innovative design achieved through countless hours of trial and error, Panasonic hopes its successful showcase in the nail-biting Tokyo 2020 keirin cycling track will usher in a new era of environmentally friendly, efficient transport and enhanced recreation through the power of electric sports bicycles. Let’s take a look under the hood and discover exactly what makes this new technology so fascinating.
Delivering the Latest Innovations in Electric-Assisted Sports Biking
Helping one ascend hills and easily carry shopping, electric bicycles are often viewed as an essential part of daily life. As one of the leading electronics makers in Japan, Panasonic offers a wide selection of electric bicycles, including the “sports” type which accounts for approximately 10% of its total electric bicycle sales.
For Tokyo 2020, Panasonic took its electric-assisted sports bicycle technology to the keirin cycling track competition. They were ridden by “pacers,” people who lead and set the pace for several laps before allowing the competing cyclists an unrestricted race. Panasonic was delighted to have been selected to ensure these pacers a comfortable ride in line with the company’s vision of easing environmental impact by developing and popularizing energy-efficient vehicles and devices. In doing so, the company introduced an array of groundbreaking electric bicycle innovations to the world.
Powerful, Balanced, and Sturdy
At the forefront is the dynamic electric motor, which was specially designed for the bike to comfortably reach a maximum speed of 55 km/h. This firmly surpasses the 50 km/h required for the pacer’s final circuit and is more than twice the power of current commercial brands. Unlike most electric bike motors, which kick in to provide a quick boost before dropping off, Panasonic’s sports-type motor works continuously to help accelerate and maintain speed while diminishing the effects of wind resistance.
To top it all off, the motor also boasts 1.4 times more acceleration and battery power than competing counterparts and seamless gear-shifting technology for a smooth ride. This hefty power is supported by a specially designed frame with a low center of gravity, granting precise control even at high speeds. The electric assistance is incredibly sensitive and highly responsive to the inputs of the rider, ensuring a stable and steady course.
The bikes were also decorated to symbolize Tokyo 2020, with a sleek pattern inspired by the movement and the flow of athletes enhanced by electrifying graphics on the tires to convey speed.
Overcoming Development Difficulties
Playing an essential role in the intense yet delicate sport of keirin, every element of these new bicycles had to be meticulously crafted to meet and exceed stringent, unwavering criteria. Unsurprisingly, the riding style of a professional pacer is completely different to the everyday cyclists of Panasonic’s customer base, meaning that Panasonic had to essentially start from scratch to fulfill the needs of an entirely different market.
To do this, Panasonic had employees dressed as athletes test and evaluate each prototype while the development team studied their movements and riding styles. This provided the team a plethora of resources to tweak the look and feel of the bike to meet the athletes’ needs. While development was located at the Panasonic Cycle Technology headquarters in Kashiwara, Osaka, the team would often go the extra mile by bringing their models out to places like the Kansai Cycle Sports Center and the Nara Keirin to test their progress under genuine racing conditions.
According to the team, there were three main difficulties encountered during development: building a motor that could reach a speed of at least 50 km/h, ensuring the bicycle offered reliable, easy-to-follow acceleration, and creating a frame able to steadily run on the track at high speed. The third difficulty was particularly noteworthy. With a speed range more than double that of regular electric bikes, the team were required to undertake rigorous testing while accepting feedback to redesign the frame again and again until it could perfectly support the engine’s immense power.
Despite the difficulties, Panasonic’s head of development for the project had this to say after Tokyo 2020: “While there were numerous setbacks and difficulties during development, being able to contribute to such an important event and hearing how easy the bikes were to ride directly from the pacers themselves reassured me that our work wasn’t for naught.”
Paving the Way in the World of Electric Bicycles
The unveiling of Panasonic’s electric-assisted sports bicycles at the Tokyo 2020 keirin cycling track was something to behold. For those who want this exciting technology for themselves, Panasonic has begun selling brand-new electric sports bicycles to the public. Using the cutting-edge innovations developed for Tokyo 2020, these new bicycles promise a smooth, sturdy ride. With increased expertise gleaned from developing the electric sports bicycles used in the Tokyo 2020 keirin cycling track competitions, Panasonic hopes to create and provide the world with even better electric bicycles in the future.