Why is the ARCC System the Best e-bike conversion kit available?
When the first generation of the ARCC Intelligent Drive System debuted in 2015, the electric bike retrofit system quickly gained a reputation for its unbeaten responsiveness and excellent craftsmanship. At the 2016 London Bike Show, the system was paired with giants of bicycle design, like Moulton and Cinelli, and came as a brilliant combination of timeless style with futuristic substance. And later that year the pod was made compatible with innovative folding bikes Airnimal Joey and Brompton.
Designed, prototyped, and manufactured at ARCC’s Research & Development site in the Cambridgeshire Tech Cluster, the Gen I pod was a welcome premium in both British engineering and electric bike technology. And now the Gen II pod, which followed soon after its predecessor in 2018, has yet again raised the bar for other retrofit systems.
Incorporating Bluetooth control to an already state-of-the-art system has made using your pod-assisted bike an even slicker experience. But the revolutionary engineering behind the Intelligent Drive Pod has remained its bedrock, and is still the reason why ARCC retrofitted bikes are the best on the market.
Where electric bike retrofit systems often have issues with power control, weight, and durability, and usually compromise on quality to overcome them, the ARCC pod, with its precision-fabrication, utilising the best in CNC machining and additive manufacturing, has addressed these concerns.
Power Control - how the electric conversion works
Pedal-assist e-bikes vary widely in the sophistication of their power sensors and user control systems. Some utilise a manual, on/off control, which requires the rider to press a button that engages the motor when they require assistance. Some systems also offer various power levels that can be chosen whilst on the bike, although the assistance given at each level often needs to be programmed by an external computer before setting off.
Other retrofit systems will automatically determine when the motor needs to be turned on based on sensor data, which usually measures the bike’s cadence (rate of pedal rotation). For example, if a bike fitted with such a system was being ridden up a steep hill, and the user’s pedalling slowed down as a result, the sensor would detect this low cadence and engage the motor to assist. But while this sounds helpful, cadence sensors can have their issues, such as when the bike is ‘ghosting’. This is when the bike is moving quickly, like when going down a hill, and the pedals are being turned, but the cadence is low as the freewheel is doing the work, in which instance the sensor will often engage the electric motor needlessly and wastefully.
The pod meanwhile utilises both automatic and manual systems whilst overcoming these noted limitations. This is largely thanks to the sophistication of its onboard computers.
Centred by a 32-bit ARM® microcontroller with 16 MB of flash memory, a 250W front hub motor is connected to torque sensors and break lever sensors, alongside cadence meters, as well as an advanced, 3-axis accelerometer.
The result of this all this technology is that the road data collected is more complete than that of other retrofit kits, and the determined motor output is more sensitive and responsive to real world road conditions. For example, the benefit of torque sensors allows the bike to accommodate for things like head and tailwinds that affect pedalling power.
The pod utilises this data in its two power modes, ‘A’, for automatic, and 'M', for manual. Both modes allow for the user to have complete control over the level of assistance. Offering 12 power levels, the rider can switch between them, along with which mode the bike is in, on the fly using the handlebar-mounted Bluetooth controller. And the exact power output at each level can also be set remotely using an iOS device with the ARCC Bikes app.
In the 'A' mode the pod's accelerometer detects hills and gradients, and adjusts power control accordingly to compensate for the road profile, without needing any user input. This allows the rider to enjoy virtually constant levels of exertion; making going up hills seem like travelling on a flat.
Finally, the pod offers its unique ‘launch control’ feature. Activated by applying both brakes and putting pressure on the left pedal, depressing the brakes and pedalling will result in the pod delivering maximum power for three seconds. This is extremely helpful at traffic stops, allowing the bike to quickly reach high speeds and alleviating the danger of what is a high-risk situation for cyclists.
Despite all this technology onboard, the pod has also been engineered to be as lightweight as possible. And without compromising on the system’s intelligence, the pod manages to remain at a competitive weight with its less sophisticated counterparts, measuring at a combined total (battery, motor, and pod) of only 3.9kg. This is coupled with the fact that pod retrofitted-bikes are usually much lighter than purpose-built bikes.
Additionally, with the pod’s Bluetooth connectivity, there is no need for leads between the pod itself and the controller. While this also saves weight, it is very useful for folding bikes, like the Brompton, as folded electric models are often hampered by trailing leads.
The leads from the pedal and brake sensors to the pod meanwhile are neatly tucked to the frame by bespoke cable clips and allow for easy wheel removal.
The pod uses Bosch batteries as a power source. While these are both relatively cheap and easily accessible from most hardware stores, they are also very hardy, and have been rated to work after a 3m drop onto concrete (They also come with their own two-year guarantee from Bosch).
The pod itself is highly robust, thanks to its high-grade fabrication. Most of the components are CNC-machined from solid billets of 5083 grade Alplan aluminium alloy, which is highly durable and corrosion resistant, and the pieces are then polished, hard anodised and weather-sealed. Additionally, the Bluetooth controller sits snugly in a lipped cradle with a magnetic grip, that means it is easy to take out but hard to accidently knock loose. And the pod comes with a five-year guarantee from ARCC.
Smart, light, and innovative
Constantly regulated and updated by a committed team of technicians and product designers at our Cambridgeshire site, the pod is the latest innovation of a company committed to keeping development and engineering in Britain.