Shimano patents electronic braking for bicycles
Shimano has obtained a patent on an electronic braking system for bicycles or other “small vehicles”. The system uses electronics to identify when a rider applies the brakes and a motor to push hydraulic fluid to the brake calipers.
In Shimano US Patent, granted on May 18, 2021 and retrieved by Wheelbased.com, there is an electronic sensor in the brake lever which identifies when you apply the brakes and how hard you do it. The detector can also potentially record other inputs such as speed and acceleration.
This transmits an electrical signal to a controller, which in turn sends a signal to an electric actuator, which Shimano believes could be a motor, and which moves a piston to push hydraulic fluid from the brake lever through a pipe to it. brake caliper, to activate the brake. As with a conventional brake lever, there is a reservoir of hydraulic fluid in the lever body.
So, rather than your intervention to directly actuate the brakes, there is an electronic link between your brake levers, the hydraulic hose and your brakes.
Shimano’s patent states that the brake receives an electric charge from a battery mounted on the bike or from a front hub dynamo – or both. It also mentions the use of the system for cable brakes, as well as hydraulic brakes.
Why does Shimano want electronic braking?
The patent repeatedly discusses the possibilities of reducing the size of the components used in an electronic brake.
Fitting a conventional hydraulic piston into a brake lever body has always been a problem for component manufacturers – see the big butts on first-generation SRAM hydraulic road brake levers. Shimano’s hydraulic road bike levers are generally larger than their mechanical levers.
An electronic system would potentially allow Shimano to move the hydraulic cylinders deeper into the lever body, which would make a more compact design, although the obvious question is why not move them completely elsewhere, such as inside the lever body. ‘a fork arm or under the brake caliper, where they would be even further out of the way.
There could also be a possible weight reduction with shorter pipes or without pipes, although the patent does not mention this.
Wire braking systems are an integral part of modern hybrid and electric car designs, where a mixture of regenerative and conventional braking is used to slow the vehicle, converting some of the deceleration back to electrical energy rather than just using friction. brake pads to dissipate it all in the form of heat.
With that in mind, although the technology is new in bicycles, it has already proven its worth. Interestingly, however, although Shimano’s patent mentions dynamo powering the system, it does not mention regenerative braking.
Another advantage of wire braking systems is the ability to include anti-lock braking (ABS) – the subject of a Shimano patent previously featured on BikeRadar.
Shimano’s inclusion of a control unit in the control line from the brake levers to the brake calipers would allow anti-lock braking to be integrated, with a wheel sensor providing data to the controller to relieve the brakes. ‘he detects. locking them.
Will we actually see electronic braking on bikes?
Shimano shows the system applied to a road bike with downhill handlebars and the diagrams show lever bodies which are clearly for drop bar bikes. So will we soon see a road bike group with fully electronic brake / shifter system?
Well, it seems unlikely that this will be an option in the long-awaited new Dura-Ace group.
Could electronic braking be a viable option for bikes in the future, however? Well, reducing the risk of skidding when driving at the limit can be appealing, both to professionals who ride at the limit and, frankly, to anyone else, but it’s a significant leap. compared to what we’re used to on the bike, and we know that matters a lot.
That said, electronic braking could also be a good option for e-bikes, where there is a plug-and-play power source for the brake motors.
Regardless, the integration of electronics into the bike’s components shows little sign of slowing down, with SRAM pouring its AXS technology down to the third-tier Rival groupset, making shifting more wireless. affordable than ever, our latest reports suggest the next-gen Shimano Dura-Ace groupset will be 12-speed with semi-wireless shifting.
Would you like to use an electronic braking system? Let us know in the comments below.