Belt drive full suspension mountain bikes are still pretty rare, but belt drive, full suspension, center motor ebikes? Those are pretty much unheard of – that was at least until the HNF Heisenberg XF1 popped onto the scene. Founded by Michael Hecken, Karlheinz Nicolai, and Benjamin Börries, HNF Heisenberg was started in 2014 to create the future of ebikes. This collaboration with BMW isn’t heir first foray into joint ventures with automotive brands for ebikes either as Michael Hecken and Karlheinz Nicolai started Grace GmbH in 2008 where they developed the Smart ebike for Daimler-Benz AG.
Offering a full range of impressive ebikes, the XF1 is their take on a full suspension mountain bike and it represents a major step forward in terms of e-suspension design. Previously, ebikes with center mount motors required the motor unit to be firmly attached to the frame. Without a way to make a concentric pivot around the motor, there was realy no way to make a full suspension frame that could keep a constant belt tension. Once BMW Group Forschung und Technik was on the job though, they looked at the challenge in a new light – why not just make the entire motor part of the suspension…
Which is exactly what they did. rigidly attaching the motor to the swingarm, the entire complex moves as one in order to keep the tension constant. That means that the entire drivetrain is moving along with the suspension, however BMW claims there is a virtual axis around the bottom bracket so that the position of the pedals doesn’t change throughout the travel. This floating 4-bar suspension system as ‘BMW i’ calls it, is capable of 150mm of rear travel though there will be a more efficient 120mm version geared towards urban exploration. The design is also said to be without pedal kickback and won’t stiffen up under power. Clearly this is geared towards ebikes in this example, but one has to wonder about the potential for use in regular mountain bikes with some adjustments. While the suspension design is patented by BMW i, the frame like other HNF Heisenberg models is manufactured by Nicolai.
Built with a Gates Carbon Drive that spins a Rohloff Speedhub 500/14, the Bosch Drive takes care of the ebike bits while a high end spec includes a RockShox Pike, Magura MT7 brakes, and more.