Panasonic was founded in Japan 1918 and has been at the forefront of electronic technology industries since. Their innovative products and services are varied across different platforms including TV’s, Home Appliances and Renewable Solutions that focus on sustainable energy. Their venture into electric systems for bicycles is exiting in the E-Bike world, but its not easy to challenge the extremely high quality & well established systems built by Bosch and Yamaha.
In 1952 Panasonic released their first bicycle in Japan, and 19 years later announced the launch of their electric bicycle. They brought their version of the electric bicycle to Europe in 2000 and it struggled to gain traction, with the bike designed for use in Japan there were adaptations needed for the European market. In recent years Panasonic have released a rear hub system specifically designed for European sporty e bikes. Even more recently they have released a new 36V front hub motor system.
Panasonic was founded in 1918 and has been at the forefront of electronic technology industries since.
In 1972 Panasonic relseased their first electric bicycle in Japan. In 1996 they launched an electrically assisted bicycle (pedalec). In 2000 Panasonic began distributing their ebikes in Europe, but they encountered problems as the Japanese laws for ebikes differed from the laws in Europe.
Panasonic’s 3 Systems
Panasonic have established themselves as a top-tier electric bicycle drive manufacturer being spec’d on a wide range of bikes from companies such as Kalkhoff, Focus, Raleigh, KTM, Helkama, and BH Easy Emotion. They offer 3 systems:
Centre Unit Motor
The 36V Motor located in the mid unit crank provides the most balanced ride out of the 3 Panasonic systems. In general, a mid drive motor powers through the drivetrain (transmission) of the bike which enables the motor to help with long & steep climbs and power up to high speeds on flat roads.
The system is torque sensitive providing an intuitive riding experience. The position of the battery has 2 options, rear of the frame in an upright position or front mounted which is geared towards a more dynamic frame and sporty performance.
Upright Front Mounted
Panasonic have recently introduced their multi speed assist system which uses an internal gear box technology known as the ‘One Axle Motor Unit’ designed to make gear changing smoother and more suited to a high quality pedalec system.
Panasonic Power Options for Crank Driven Motor
How do these systems compare to Bosch & Yamaha Crank Systems?
|Bosch Battery||Yamaha Battery|
|Voltage||36 V||36 V|
|Weight||2.6 kg||2.9 kg|
|Type||Lithium Ion||Lithium Ion|
|Warranty||2 yrs / 500 Full Cycles||2 yrs / 700 Full Cycles|
|Panasonic Range||Yamaha Range||Bosch Range|
|62 miles / 102km||57 miles / 90 km||59 miles / 95 km|
Front Hub Motor
The rear wheel powered by the rider and the front wheel powered by a motor is similar to an all-wheel-drive of a car which is still a unique characteristic of the front hub motor systems. This double power system allows comfortable cycling. However, traction may be lost as the weight of the rider is over the back wheel, so these systems are suited more to the lower power motors.
Highlight features are the powerful and compact motor & a high capacity battery, also a new torque sensor has been added to the European release.
Having a front hub motor makes changing components much easier too, as you don’t have to contend with a gear system, motor and a chain when changing the rear wheel or removing the hub motor.
A new high precision torque sensor has a director coil that measures the torque speed and sends an output power signal back to the controller to provide an an energy saving way of ensuring an intuitive ride.
Rear Hub Motor System
A unique sports motor system designed by KTM + Panasonic specifically for sporty bikes
The design as a result of the well shaped form has smart dimensions and the black quality coating, matches the European style of sportive E-Bikes. A standard Shimano free wheel body gives you the chance to easily change the cassette to any desired graduation. A useful feature for sportive riders.
It comes with a regenerative system that works off the brakes and traction going downhill, we have seen this technology implemented before and the productivity of it is questionable at this stage
Reviews of the Panasonic systems are mixed, with quietness & range being praised as the main advantages. However, the power delivery system has come into question, with Japanese laws ultimately affecting the assistance levels of the motor when reaching 10 M.P.H. However, there is no doubt that the crank driven Panasonic system is a great quality option. A centrally placed motor allows for great weight distribution and the motor is able to gain the mechanical advantage of the gears on the bike, which amplifies the power of a small motor and allows it to efficiently power a rider up any hill. The Panasonic Motor Systems offer you variation to your cycling. Want a workout? Kick your bike into eco mode and use pedal power to regenerate the battery. Don’t want to be super sweaty when you arrive at your destination? Turn up the power and pedal on. You’ll be at your destination refreshed, not a mess.