In this article, we’ll be discussing a Power Supply Device for Human-Powered Vehicle by Shimano, US publication 20210070393. The publication date is March 11th, 2021 and the filing date is Sept. 11th, 2019. This has not been granted yet. It’s important to note this invention is also for mountain bikes.
And along with a summary of this article being on BikeRumor, apparently I write for Cyclingtips too (didn’t even realize it), so be prepared to see this over there. Wouldn’t surprise me if they cite BR, though.
Brief Summary (tl;dr)
Shimano have developed a power supply that contains a wireless receiver and a computer. The control levers wirelessly connect to the power supply, and the power supply sends power and a signal to the bike components. This appears to be a system for extreme battery life or for people that do very long rides and don’t want to worry about losing power. Although Shimano show a road bike, they also state that this system is not explicitly for road bikes. It can also be used on a mountain bike for seatpost and suspension control.
It’s no secret that Shimano are going wireless. I’ve written about it a few times now. In the typical Di2 system, the battery is housed inside the frame somewhere (seatpost?) and the control levers are wired to a controller and the battery. There is a wireless retrofit system that connects, in-line, with the system that will send information like gearing to a cycling computer, but that’s just for reading information, not supplying information to components.
There’s another Di2 wireless retrofit system in the EW-WU component, but again, that’s just to retrofit wireless capability to your electronic system.
Shimano also have a battery that goes into the seat tube, which is what this system looks like. In that system, the control levers are still wired to a controller, the controller is wired to the battery, and the controller sends the power and signal to the components. This is the BT-DN1100 battery system, shown below.
Shimano are introducing a wirelessly-integrated power supply system, that connects to your control levers, that sends power and a hardwired signal to your bike components. For example, your shifters will wirelessly connect to the power supply and the power supply will send power and shift information to your derailleurs, among other components.
In addition to shifting, Shimano also say this system can control a seatpost and suspension, so this system is not for road bikes only. We’ve spoken about the mountain bike wireless system in the past, so this is a more detailed look at what the system might look like. As referenced above, this is not the BT-DN1100 system, which is not wireless; but it’s close. That system is just a battery, which then connects to an outboard wired controller.
The intended novelty appears to a power source with 3 (explicitly 3) connections, a wireless receiver, and a computer; all in one device. As I said before, this isn’t granted as the novelty/claims could change as prosecution progresses.
As always, Shimano don’t have a problem or solution statement. But, Shimano have to go wireless, they don’t really have a choice. This new design is a good design for a wireless system with long battery life. Additionally, they probably wanted to solve the issue of multiple batteries all over your bike.
Figure 2 shows a power supply 12, front/rear derailleur, an operating member 16 (vague), and a third vehicle component (vague). The power supply is the unique part in this patent, as it also contains the wireless communication system and a computer.
Notice at the top of the Fig. 3 diagram below, we have an operating device and a cycling computer. This shows that the control levers (OD) and a cycling computer can connect to the power supply, which will provide component adjustment and feedback information to a computer so you can see how much you actually suck at biking.
Figure 3 shows a simplified diagram of the entire system. This shows the power supply 12 contains a battery, processor, memory, reboot circuit, PLC circuit, and a communicator. The combination of a processor and memory can be considered a computer. There’s also a PLC circuit to supply communication and a reboot circuit to reboot the system when the user wants to reset the system to default settings.
The PLC circuit supplies communication between the components, and the reboot circuit is used to reboot the system when the user wants to reset the system to default settings. The communicator is wireless.
…the communicator 38 includes a wireless communication device configured to wirelessly output information regarding the power supply device 12.
The important part here is that the wireless signals are transmitted through the power supply. So, the control levers will wirelessly connect to the power supply, and the power supply will be connected to the shifting system. The operating device OD is in Fig 1, shown as control levers.
…the rear derailleur RD and the front derailleur FD communicates with the user operating device OD using the communicator 38 for wirelessly receiving shift signals and wirelessly transmitting data.
Additionally, the cables provide both power and a signal to the shifters.
…a first electrical cable 42 [and second 44] provide electrical power to the first vehicle component BC1 [and BC2]…the first and second electrical cables 42 and 44 also transmit data signals between the power supply device 12 and the first and second vehicle components BC1 and BC2 using power line communications.
Figures 2 and 3 also show an operating member and third vehicle component. The operating member is a button or rotary knob for general use of the system. Shimano are super vague about what this is but also say it’s not necessary.
…the operating member 16 is used for rebooting certain programs, settings, parameters, etc. However, in certain situations, the operating member 16 can be omitted as explained below.
Shimano explain the ‘third component’ is a seatpost or suspension. Pretty smart to put this in here as this contains a decent inclusion of information to protect items that aren’t in the figures, and shows us that they’re thinking about this system for a mountain bike, too.
…a third vehicle component BC3 ( e.g., an electric seatpost, an electric suspension, etc.)…
Remember, the system either connects to an operating member OR a third vehicle component. Not both at the same time. Referencing the ‘intended novelty’ part, this is why there are 3 explicit connections.
…if the operating member 16 is disconnected from the power supply device 12, then the power supply device 12 can be electrically connected to a third vehicle component BC3
Figures 4 and 5 shows the outside and internals of the system. Note the printed circuit board PCB, which contains the processor, memory, reboot circuit, and the wireless communicator. A printed circuit board is the substrate that connects a bunch of different electronic components.
Figure 6 shows a detailed look at the actual connection terminals.
In the end, the control levers and a computer will connect wirelessly to the power supply. The power supply will power the shifting system/button/third component and also supply information such as shifting, seatpost movement, and suspension control to your various component. The computer will show you information like gearing, or whatever else the system is currently configured to show.
This seems like a system for extreme battery life. Since Shimano aren’t using little shit batteries on the components themselves, this system could last months between charges. Additionally, this system can be used for very long-distance riders without ever worrying about losing power. This would be a nice piece-of-mind system.