Things have been suspiciously quiet with TQ for some time. But don’t let that deceive you. After entering the ebike market with the powerful HPR 120S motor, they’re preparing their next coup with new technology that promises to stir up the market. We visited the team behind TQ and learned a lot about perfection, passion and performance.

In the eMTB scene, TQ are known for maximum power. The Bavarian company won the Design & Innovation Award and set new standards with the HPR 120S motor in 2018. With the launch of the Haibike FLYON range that same year, they quickly became a household name, stirring up the market and causing heated debate. Under the premise that more is better, they brought the most radical and powerful pedelec motor to market, capable of delivering a torque output of 120 Nm. Numerous manufacturers upgraded their motors in the years that followed, making 85 Nm torque the current standard. However, does the arms race of ever more torque, power and increased battery capacities inevitably lead to improved performance on the trail? More powerful motors also consume more energy and thus need a larger battery. With the TQ HPR 120S motor, it’s near impossible to build a sub 25 kg bike with a usable battery capacity. Currently, 750 Wh batteries are establishing themselves as the standard on the market but do we really need that much? TQ have analysed the current requirements and needs of many eMTB riders and brands, redefining their understanding of performance.

Most [riders] arrive back home with a half-full battery.
Daniel Theil, Product Manager TQ E-Mobility

What is performance?

Performance has many facets with different priorities for everyone, even concerning ebike motors. In the strictest sense of the word, performance means output, which is often equated with maximum power. However, if you take a closer look, this is far too one-dimensional. It’s time to end testosterone-driven size comparisons and focus on riders’ real needs instead! To do so, TQ’s developers have listened carefully, assessing the requirements of many riding scenarios. Performance isn’t just more, more, more. Above all, it’s the art of finding the right balance. What good is the most powerful car if it can’t put that power on the road or get through a corner without under- or oversteering? Some riders consider maximum power and acceleration on forest roads the best performance, whereas others define it as agile and playful handling on the trail. Either way, top performance requires the right balance, which involves optimising many individual factors. These include efficiency, torque density, battery size, integration into the overall bike concept and numerous customisation options to meet the corresponding requirements. Different target groups have different needs and, therefore, different definitions of performance. When creating new ebike systems, developers must optimise every aspect to meet the requirements of a specific target group. Instead of making one average bike that can do it all, you want the perfect solution for a clearly defined use case.

Some will love it; others won’t.
Simon Hoffmann, Head of Department, TQ E-Mobility

In developing a new ebike system, TQ claim to have taken every step possible to learn from the market and tailor its performance to customers’ needs. Regarding construction and technology, the Bavarian company are betting on the unique features and qualities of their existing HPR 120S and pin-ring transmission – TQ motors have a very high torque density, i.e. torque output in relation to volume, the technology for which forms the basis for their new system. It is designed to be powerful yet extremely compact, without being focused purely on maximum torque. A quick look at the TQ universe soon reveals why the Bavarian brand can be trusted to deliver.

Open-heart surger

To understand TQ, you have to understand their background. TQ aren’t just motor manufacturers but a tech company that produces control electronics for passenger aircraft, space probes and motors for medical robots, among other things. For example, technology developed by TQ allows doctors to conduct minimally invasive open-heart surgery via a machine that they control from next door. TQ use their aerospace engineering expertise to build motors with the highest torque density in the industry, developing efficient and reliable technologies while meeting the most stringent quality standards.

This knowledge transfer gives their developers a decisive advantage, allowing them to get the best performance from ebike motors, even though it’s just your local trails and not outer space that they want to conquer. TQ have put this knowledge to use at their plant in Bavaria, partially automating the manufacture of ebike motors with the help of purpose-built robots.

They were also able to fall back on their in-house robotics expertise during the development of the HPR 120S motor. The standout feature of their current motor is its whopping 120 Nm torque output and compact design. The pin-ring transmission allows them to achieve high performance in a small package. The engineers can achieve maximum efficiency thanks to complex manufacturing technology, squeezing everything they can out of the motor. By cooperating with the DLR (the German centre for aerospace technology) and joining two worlds, TQ are making a decisive technological leap in their development of ebike motors. According to Lukas Ginner, Account Manager for TQ RoboDrive, DLR employees have been heard to say, “If the TQ motor doesn’t work, then the whole project won’t work!”

TQ – Teamwork makes the dream work

When visiting TQ at Inning am Ammersee, you get an overarching sense of their passion for technology and aspirations to offer uncompromisingly good quality. A young team of developers, strategists and bike enthusiasts all work together under one roof. The distances between their offices are short. When a new motor prototype is up for discussion, those responsible can simply jump onto a bike, test ride it extensively and then give feedback to their colleagues from development. They try to optimise working conditions wherever they can, even with things as seemingly banal as lunch. Moni, the friendly and dependable canteen lady, ensures that nobody goes hungry, always ready to give a generous second helping!

Production is located one floor down and here, too, departments always work hand-in-hand. All the ebike motor components are developed, tested and assembled on site. We were struck by the high level of vertical integration and precision at every stage of production. If necessary, even the copper wires for the motors are wound by hand since this is the only way to achieve maximum copper density required for those marginal gains in precision and power.

It would be cheaper to outsource production to China. However, it’s important to us to keep production and suppliers close, getting all we can out of them.
Simon Hoffmann, Head of Department, TQ E-Mobility

Teamwork isn’t just evident across internal departments but also in their cooperation with bike brands. Like their other divisions, TQ see themselves primarily as a development partner. Being a small, agile unit, they can accommodate the specific needs of individual brands, offering individualisation and product-specific tuning. The motor and its necessary components get adapted to suit each bike brand’s needs. Instead of a take-it-or-leave-it mentality, they see bike brands as partners and equals. TQ can develop, manufacture and deliver every component, from the display, the remote and the battery management system to the motor. This service concept applies to every stage of product development because the developers at TQ are convinced that they can only create the best bikes if everyone works on a solution together. This is the only way to avoid compromises in function and integration.

We see ourselves as a service provider.
Anna Vodickova, Product Marketing, TQ Drives

After our visit to Inning am Ammersee, it’s clear that something big is in the works at TQ. The Bavarian team is working on new concepts and promising to redefine performance. TQ want to shape the future of the market, taking the next leap with the help of their extensive know-how and the passion that you can sense in every employee. We’re looking forward to the next level of ebike systems!

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Words: Susanne Feddersen Photos: Robin Schmitt

About the author

Susanne Feddersen

With her background as a copywriter and conceptual designer at renowned advertising agencies, head of the Stuttgart copywriting school and former product marketing manager at Ferrero, it’s clear that Susanne’s passion is for writing copy, conceptual design and communication. Susanne also loves organisation and planning. No matter the hustle and bustle she's got her eye on the ball, primarily supporting our management team in implementing numerous projects and coordinating marketing campaigns. Susanne is a long-time mountain biker and, along with her entire family, has recently caught the ebike bug!