Bike Europe recently reported that Amprio has confirmed it has been taken over by SRAM. Industry insiders say that SRAM is now taking serious action to join the e-bike boom.
At this stage little more hard information is known other than that e-mailing Amprio - a German defence manufacturer who branched out to manufacture an e-bike mid-drive system in 2017 - results in an automated reply from a SRAM e-mail address. So why might the takeover have big consequences for e-bikes in general?
You probably already know that SRAM are a huge and well-respected US-based bike component manufacturer. They're best known for their impressive derailleur drivetrains but they're also owners of the premium Rockshox suspension and Avid brake brands. To give you an idea of the scale of their operations, Wikipedia reports that their 2020 revenue was $974m. Clearly if SRAM decided to manufacture their own e-bike drive system it could have a big impact on the e-bikes people end up riding in the coming years.
On the face of it SRAM appear to have acquired the rights to produce Amprio’s latest powerful looking mid-drive, the RMAG, a mid drive that claims to weigh only 2.85kg and develop 90Nm of torque. Those figures put it up there alongside Bosch, Shimano, Brose and Yamaha - the big four of the powerful mid-drive world - but Amprio have failed get traction in the market compared to bigger rivals.
Amprio also produce e-bike battery and display products so the takeover gives potential for a whole system. Add in the fact that a large portion of SRAM's drivetrain development and engineering takes place in Schweinfurt, Germany, and that Germany is the leading European market for e-bikes and you see the potential e-bike manufacturing and sales potential SRAM now appears to have command of.
Amprio parent company Rheinmetall’s main business is the manufacture of military hardware, so you would imagine they have a good amount of advanced technical knowhow. Their reasons for sale are not known, but the war in Ukraine points to soaring military hardware demand as one possible reason.
It's still a brave move for SRAM in a field where the competition is intense and where their past record - e-bike hub motor systems that appeared on the market only to disappear quickly afterwards – is hardly super successful. (The Sparc and the E-matic, both launched some decades ago.)
Given their poor history with hub motors, it seems most likely SRAM may soon introduce the Amprio RMAG mid-drive rather than go down the hub motor route again. The apparently powerful and lightweight nature of the RMAG is a good fit with the performance drivetrains SRAM are known for, many of which appear on mountain bikes. Cycling Industry News reported that 'Eurobike whispers that something was in the pipeline and indeed at least two OEMs are to carry the drive system from MY23.'
There's an interesting 'big company buys specialist company for its experise' parallel here as ebiketips reported on Porsche's acquisition of Fazua last June. Fazua's new lightweight Ride 60 mid-drive, alongside the newly launched (and also lightweight) TQ HPR 50 system, promise to make the mid-drive motor system world an interesting area in 2023.