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eBike blog – personal experience with sustainable transport for the new millenium

Solarbike – West Aussie eBike experimenters!

Just came across these guys, http://www.solarbike.com.au/ – hailing from my own home town, it seems these guys have been experimenting with a variety of charging options and are particularly keen on solar, which is neat. If I still lived in Perth, I would be very keen on one of these, as I had tried to get something along these lines functioning some years ago but gave up as I just don’t have the technical expertise. I like that they’ve worked out an optimal system and can set one up for you, not on the cheap end of things but they’ve done the hard work for you.

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Electric cycling in South East Asia? Yes indeed!

I will be heading over to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for a short time  in the near future, and one of the things I’m planning on doing is hiring an electric bicycle wherever possible. As most eBikes are made in Asia, then it stands to reason there must be a few out there for hire – and my initial research looks promising, though a little limited!

Siem Reap, the base town for visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia, appears to be quite flush with electric bikes, though perhaps the trend is waning;

Electric Bicycles are still available in Siem Reap, but they are not quite as popular as they used to be, although you will still see people using them to get around the Angkor Temples. If you want to rent an electric bicycle to get around the temples, then make sure your battery is fully charged before you set off. You do not want to pedal an electric bicycle around, because they are not easiest thing to pedal. There are electric bicycle stations around the temples to change your battery if you need too.

– from Siem Reap Rooms

I like the fact that in a country like Cambodia there are public electric bike charging stations. Utterly brilliant! I hope to take some better pics of signs like this when I’m there:

Electric Bike Station

Other than Siem Reap, I’ve not seen many other references to electric bike hire. One small mention from a high end hotel in Luang Prabang in Laos and a rather expensive day tour here ( I’m hoping it may be possible to hire the bikes on their own); there is an outfit in Phuket, and another in Koh Samui, Thailand (though we will not be heading that way)… I hope to discover some more along the way and I will be blogging what I find over the coming month.

Also, Guim Valls Teruel’s Electric Bike World Tour right now is actually passing through regions very much where we are going (they just arrived in Laos!) – so with some luck, we may cross paths and I’ll get to see his electric bike which has done so many, many miles around the world!

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Tap tap tap – time for a change of scene!

Ah, ebikeblog, how I have abandoned you for months! Does anyone even remember this was here? I have not been out riding my eBike for some time – Melbourne, while a lovely city to live in, has inspired a lot of inertia as far as cycling is concerned. I guess living in the CBD has meant walking almost everywhere – why get the bike out if  I will walk there in less than 20 minutes?

But, ah – now times are a’changing, and I’m about to relocate to the most eco-friendly city in the Asia-Pacific region – Wellington.

Not only this – but Wellington is a city of many hills! So of course, a challenge for the old  eZee Torq – with a slightly ailing battery, we’ll see how she goes. Fortunately adding a bike to one’s luggage allowance gives you an extra 10kg – the eZee Torq weighs a hefty 22kg, so I’m going to need that!

Look out for (hopefully) a few more posts soon on how my ride takes the ups and downs of Welly!

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World Record Attempt for “longest eBike ride” a sham?

Hitting international news all over the world is the story of Eddie Sedgemore, a 66 year old Brit, who is claiming to be making a world record attempt for the “longest journey on a motorized bicycle” according to Powabyke.com. Eddie has previously completed several trips the length of Britain on electric cycles, and has raised hundreds of pounds for charity, which is fantastic: and he’s now set his sights significantly greater than his previous rides. However, having researched the story a little more, I’m in two minds about how valid this world record attempt is, given the record it’s claiming to break is not for an electric bicycle – but for a mobility scooter. No matter what the age or physical fitness of the rider, these are NOT the same things, and gives entirely the wrong impression about electric bicycles. Not only that: there’s already been a MUCH longer record breaking attempt, on a mobility scooter, not an eBike!

The current “official” world record for “Longest Journey on an Electric Mobility Vehicle (scooter)” was set by John Duckworth in the UK – he travelled 2,662.8 km (1654.6 miles) around mainland UK on a Horizon Mayan electric mobility scooter between June 20, 2004 and July 27, 2004, finishing in Hincaster, Cumbria. However since this world record ride there had since been another MUCH longer ride made by the same charity organising John Duckworth’s currently listed ride: after 117 days riding, they completed 5,349 miles – completely blowing away the currently underway 1,655 mile “record breaking attempt” planned by Eddie.

Now don’t get me wrong – I believe that supporting charities and rides like this are very worthwhile, and raising awareness is even more important; but I’m simply astonished that the rider and bike company in the first place would mis-categorize a fully functioning eBike as a “mobility scooter” like this – and that major media outlets like the BBC would publish this and have it syndicated worldwide, after have done so little research to confirm the facts being bandied about. I imagine the mobility scooter riders who’ve done the previous world record attempts may be feeling… well, a touch miffed might be putting it mildly!

I’d also like to point out the differences between the two types of vehicles, a motorized scooter clearly seen above, contrasting with the image below of Eddie with the Powabyke X-byke electric bicycle he will be riding for this claimed record breaking attempt:

Not the same kind of vehicle in any way, shape or form, no matter how you try to slice it. What there should be of course, is a new category of vehicle for the world record attempt. However, Eddie might find that Spaniard Guim Valls Teruel who is this month beginning his Electric Bicycle World Tour might be beating him by just a little bit…. try 5 continents compared to just tootling around the UK!

Seriously – I’m impressed at the media coverage, and that’s good for electric bikes which are getting more and more mainstream press now (finally!!!) – but let’s do it under appropriate auspices, please?

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Nathan Fillion’s electric skateboard!

Great, and you JUST finished paying off the settlement over the Wayne Coyne hamster ball incident.

So it’s another post not strictly about electric bicycles – but the electric skateboard is probably its closest relative! Thanks to xkcd‘s latest comic (pictured and linked above) I now know that Nathan Fillion does indeed have an electric skateboard – an 800w one from this EW account, and after a little bit of web ferretting, I’m going to guess he most probably owns a board from Altered because they seem to be the best known and apparently are the originators of the vehicle. And when I say vehicle I do mean it, because 800 watts is a serious amount of torque, much more than any of the eBikes I own! Those boards are designed for all terrain and can go over grass and rough ground. Yikes! Below is one of the more standard street versions:

There also seems to be one manufacturer in Australia, Kronik Boardz. They also do a couple of 800w models including one with foot locks – and I wonder how on earth they manage to get away with that in this country! I guess maybe electric skateboards are yet to be classified? If 800w electric bicycles were legal here, we’d probably have a hell of a lot more converts… see below for a Channel 10 intoduction to Kronik electric skateboards in Oz!

While they don’t look too exciting on video, I’m a bit of a nanna when it comes to riding, so seriously, I could even consider getting one of these. I’ve never been keen on skateboarding, and my very brief flirtation with a Razor scooter ended in several bruised bits (including my ego), but an electric skateboard might be something I’d be able to pick up a fair bit quicker. And while I really enjoy my Trikke, it’s a whole lot more effort than a bike to ride, so it’s stayed in storage for a while. An electric skateboard would be considerably more portable than either, too. Plus I could say yeah, Nathan Fillion has one of these, when people ask me about it in the street. *chuckle*

Looking forward to Part Two from xkcd tomorrow!

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The Economist plugs eBikes: “Two wheels good”

A2B

A pleasant surprise indeed to find a mainstream and conservative magazine like The Economist plugging the humble eBike in a very positive article just a few days back. The article is fairly short, but includes a review of the rather snazzy A2B eBike from Ultra Motors, a well designed and compact eBike with a good range and a well placed battery pack. A top end ride, this is a bike I’d definitely like to own.

The article concludes with a derisive comment commonly flung at eBike users, the old “is this just for lazy people” epithet made by dedicated cyclists covered in lycra and swigging from an electrolyte drink bottle.

I just want to bash my head against a brick wall when encountering this attitude. Yes, I realise you need to make yourself feel more important and better than everyone, lycra brigade. But the fact remains – eBikes are more efficient that human-powered-only cycling, and by choosing to eBike, you are making a choice to use the most efficient form of transport that we currently have. This is not “lazy” – it’s smart and responsible. The benefit of arriving places not covered in sweat is really the icing on the cake.

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Which gets better mileage, the eBike or eScooter?

Treehugger has just posted a comparison of the eBike with the eScooter – and to make it a fair fight, they’re talking low speed eScooters, not Vectrix-type dealies. To be honest it’s a bit of a no-brainer – 25kg vs over 100kg weight for a start, and vastly bigger battery packs on the eScooter. Read the verdict over here – but you can guess what I was expecting, right?

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Making the rounds at the moment…

Is this fantastic video from cycle stuntman Danny MacAskill. No, it’s not an eBike but it’s just so out-of-this-world incredible that I’m posting it anyways. Check it out below.

Inspired Bicycles – Danny MacAskill April 2009

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UK supermarket chain now using ebikes for deliveries

c/o the BBC: UK Supermarket chain Waitrose has begun a small pilot program with four stores for groceries purchased online to be delivered by electric-assist cargo bikes.  The bikes can carry up to 6 trays of groceries and keep food frozen for 2 hours. While the bikes will only be doing a small portion of deliveries the store makes, it’s a step in the right direction and the store will not need to purchase any new delivery vehicles for the time being – with any luck this will be the way they’ll continue to grow their delivery fleet!

Full story and video available here.

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More eCycling – deliveries

So, last week I had to do a bunch of ticket distribution as well as flyer and poster drops for an event we’re holding for NYE – Euchronia. Turns out the absolutely best possible vehicle for such a task [visiting half a dozen inner city suburbs within 3-4 hours, total distance around 25km, frequent stopping and traveling along busy commercial streets with many shops and much foot traffic] is my trusty eBike! Bit windy out [as my chapped lips attest] but the job was made easy with my eBike, and headwinds didn’t deter me in the slightest. There will be more poster runs in future, and I’m looking forward to them!

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