Who are FreeFlow Technologies?
FreeFlow Technologies provide innovative products and services to the transport and leisure marketplace. Set up in 2012 by entrepreneur Neil MacMartin, FreeFlow’s leading product is the world’s lightest and most efficient electric bike that in terms of its outward appearance is virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary bicycle.
The Business Need
Neil MacMartin spotted an opportunity to develop an innovative electric bike through his many years of experience successfully growing his family’s bicycle retail and repair business. Neil came to 4c Design with the concept of a ‘fully contained’ electric bike: he wanted to house all of its electronics and mechanics within the downtube. Additionally, he proposed that the drive should be directly on the crank. These two features made Neil’s concept different to all other electric bikes on the market. These had all taken the ‘easy’ route of mounting components externally and driving the wheels instead of the crank.
Our Activities and Deliverables
4c Design carried out extensive user requirements research, combining this with mechanical engineering calculations in order to develop the design brief for the electric bike.
A key focus for 4c Design was the development of the innovative bottom bracket drive technology. 4c developed a number of mechanical concepts for this crucial system and made a range of mock-ups early in the design process in order to evaluate the competing concepts. A challenge for the team was the requirement to fit the transmission system within the limited space of the bicycle downtube. Achieving this goal entailed devising a novel gearing layout and Computer Aided Design (CAD) was used throughout the design process to ensure correct fit within the constrained dimensions.
The final project deliverables were 5 functional prototypes using bespoke frames. 4c design sourced and assembled the drive systems for the bikes and the frames were sourced from the Far East. A significant milestone was the building of a fully functional bike for Eurobike 2015, which generated a great deal of interest. The work completed on the Ebike by 4c Design has significantly increased the intellectual property (IP) in FreeFlow, which has been captured through patents and design rights. This IP, along with the tenacity, drive and determination of Neil, has increased the market value of FreeFlow Technologies significantly.