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

Archive for the 'opinion' Category

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?


The Economist plugs eBikes: “Two wheels good”

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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Awesome bike vid!

Saw this, and had to share:

Lady is the Boss – Bicycle fight!

Lately I’ve been using my eZtorq to head up to Fitzroy once every week or two. It’s a nice easy route, and faster than any other means at my disposal. Also cheaper, and just generally awesome. It’s almost a shame I don’t need to travel more often but I’m quite happy knowing my carbon footprint is as low as it possibly could be for my daily travel requirements!

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Today’s xkcd…

Electric skateboards, by cost, get the equivalent of about 300 miles per gallon. Lithium batteries just need to get cheaper.

Ah, xkcd, you finally have something I can post here.

I’d just like to point out that electric skateboards don’t get anywhere near the mileage of electric bikes – a good average would be anywhere from 1000 – 2000 mpg equivalent. Some weight behind that assertion can be found here, here and here…

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Carnival of the Green # 109!

Carnival of the Green

Happy New Year eBikers, and welcome to the first post of 2008, which is a bit of a change of pace for the blog as today I am hosting Carnival of the Green, a weekly linkfest from Treehugger which travels from blog to blog, with each weeks’ host choosing the best of submitted links to discuss and feature each Monday. There has been no Carnival for two weeks over the holiday period with the last being hosted at Great Green Gadgets, and so the pressure is on with dozens of links and a brand new year to celebrate and promote being green.

As part of a range of green transport links I’ll focus on to begin with, totally on theme and early in is Joe from Green Living Online, who gives a basic round up of ebikes for getting around college in style – the big man on campus is anything with two-wheels. Students who have clued into the fact that most travel is local are turning to a variety of plugged-in options.

Of course, to power your ebike you want to use renewable energy. Go Greener, Australia has an interview with Eloise Dorch, who recently campaigned against a price rise for renewable energy in Western Australia, where the sole power retailer has a monopoly and consumers cannot choose different companies as they can in the Eastern States. It’s a travesty that coal powered electricity is still being subsidised and making it harder for those with tight budgets to chose green power, and Eloise outlines her experiences in protesting this issue.

And while the temperature here in Oz is scorching, on the other side of the planet things are pretty cold! Mike from Hybrid Car Review gives some info and advice about how cold weather affects hybrid cars. Nice to note that hybrid sales are powering ahead and the Prius was one of the top 10 cars in the US in 2007 – that’s not just hybrids, that’s all new car sales – awesome.

And while you’re feeling chilly, or even just in need of a good excuse to reduce your power bills, Brave New Leaf has some simple easy to follow tips to improve your hot water heating efficiency.

And while most of us know we need to reduce our carbon emissions from travel – Veggie Revolution brings us a brief overview of Carbon Offsets to neutralise air travel and Susan J presents carbon friendly travel options with her Environmental Guide to San Francisco posted at Go San Francisco Travel Blog.

On to recycling. Stephanie presents a frugal and cool idea: Using Scraps of Wrapping Paper, posted at Stop the Ride! and Cindy of myrecycledbags.com has a new design for a recycled knitted plastic bag doormat. Adam at lifegoggles blogs about a very funky recycled can opener, and Green Deals Daily alerts us to a recycled and recyclable plastic tumbler which is more attractive than many I’ve seen in the same price range and style.

Last but not least, Adam from lifegoggles also submitted a blog post I rather enjoyed which is a bit of a catch-all, with fun green roundup #7: a humorous look at the best of Treehugger. A diverse range of links but the minimally lit billboard is my favourite for sure.

That’s all for Carnival of the Green today. Look out for next week’s at American Inventor Spot!


This blog isn’t dead, it’s resting!

Just a quick note to let you know I aint’nt dead! The eBike lifestyle was on hold for a little while as I moved my base for the time being from Perth to Melbourne! The great thing about Melbourne is that it’s a very cycle friendly city, and so far I’ve just been walking everywhere – soon that is about to change as my partner joins me here in early January, and we will have eBikes as our sole method of transportation. Look for posts to come in the very near future about great eBike rides around Melbourne. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the saddle again!

I will also be hosting Carnival of the Green as the first host in 2008, which I knew was coming up but the submissions are now coming in so I am gearing up to get the blog active again after this quiet time. Any posts or issues you’d be interested in me featuring, especially in eBike and transportation news, let me know!

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Trikke! … and respoking.

As mentioned in my last post, I decided to buy a Trikke. It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and it took me at least a week to find a day dry enough to ride it home from work – we’ve had a ton of rain here! I’m glad I didn’t just take it out for a short spin instead though, because I think without giving this little HPV a bit of time, I would have given up. I’ve now done two trips to and from the city and an afternoon’s riverfront casual riding with friends on rollerblades. It’s a neat little toy, nowhere near as efficient as good rollerblades or a bicycle, and certainly not as energy efficient as an ebike by a long shot – yet a really fun experience once you become accustomed to the very different motion; more like ski-ing than anything else, though I’ve yet to ski it definitely looks similar. It’s not got the freedom or the reach of rollerblades, at least, the smaller [and cheaper] Trikke6 I decided to go for didn’t. I imagine the bigger models may have better gliding capability – this one I got for a steal on eBay though, and may consider buying a bigger one in future, especially if I can find one cheaper than the standard $400 odd dollars…

Here’s a tiny video I just uploaded to youtube, to give you an idea what fun we had on Saturday:

And because this post has had very little ebike content, I should mention that I needed to have my rear wheel respoked by Chris a few weeks back. The spoking pattern put in initially wasn’t as strong as it could be, and the new pattern hopefully will be much more robust. The GL-2 is a hefty motor though, and because of its shape, is a bit trickier to spoke than motors with a smaller diameter. Here’s pic of Chris respoking:

Chris respokes my rear wheel

I am looking forward to getting out and about tomorrow, I’ve been a lazy thing about fixing a puncture: my least favourite bike job, even though it’s not really that hard I will procrastinate for far too long if I have other transport options available.

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Car-head mentality

Just want to mention a really good post I just read [once again posted to CM-Melb] about the mentality we have in most western countries of being completely car-centric in our attitudes to transport: Car-head (Bicycle Neglect #1).

Even as a committed 2-wheeler of all kinds for nearly all my life, I know I often feel the same regarding cars: I still ride in them semi-regularly despite not having owned one for 99% of my life, and I am not hugely surprised or even particularly offended when drivers are completely oblivious. I largely attribute my *touch wood* lack of accidents on motorcycle, scooter bike and ebike to never expecting drivers to see me or consider my road rights, and to ride like I am completely invisible to any potential approaching vehicle, especially any larger than me. That and, of course, I am a complete wuss and never have been into riding any sort of bike just for the thrill: it’s always been about getting from a-b and not killing myself on the process.

But it begs a very important question: why should we think that way? Why are cars considered the default and ruling vehicle choice? As the energy crisis looms, we will find it less and less a feasible default means of transportation, and that will mean a big mentality change for everyone unless technology steps in with very clever LEVs on a mass scale. And why should we wait anyway? I would love to be in one of the European cities where it is normal for bikes to be everywhere, where helmets aren’t legislated [and there are less accidents because there are more bikes, thus less need for the things anyway] and people get around on bikes as a matter of course.

Unfortunately, cities started since the advent of car culture are designed around the damn things, so pretty obviously – we will need to redesign these cities before we can redesign our attitudes.

In other news, the Cassidy Express is on loan to my pal Mal, and I’m happy to see it being in action again instead of sitting lonely and locked up in the laundry. And I’m thinking of getting a Trikke, too. Not electric [though they make a rather cute electric bike called the Trikke Bikke which you could probably get away with taking with you on public transport – it’s *tiny*!] but looks like a hell of a fun HPV. And I hardly ever use my rollerblades any more.


Bike bus – a great idea!

Posted recently on the CM-Melb list was this great idea which is getting some Sydney media: The Bike Bus. It seems to be a particularly Australian and even more Sydney-centric idea, which is understandable as Melbourne does tend to have much better bike lanes than Sydney so the need would not be as great. In the US and the UK, the term seems only to refer to a bus that takes bicycles, which is cool, but I like the bikebus concept here: it means a scheduled group bicycle commute.

One particularly strident argument I hear against cycle commuting is the danger inherent in riding in heavy traffic during rush hour on roads with no bike lanes in areas where traffic is not friendly towards bicycles. I am thinking of some major arterial roads in my own city, but even more so in many parts of the USA. Safetly in numbers is definitely improved, and taking up a full lane, while it does slow down traffic to a degree, is something traffic other than bicycles should be getting more accustomed to, because research has proven [pdfs] that the more cyclists there are on the road, the less accidents happen.

I would love to see this idea grow. If you are in an area where you think you might want to start one, there’s some guidelines on how to over here. I’m lucky, I live along a rail line with an excellent bicycle path for 90% of my commute, but many people are not so fortunate, and this could be a great way for individual cyclists to ride more safely and also more socially. And with ebikes, the weaker riders can easily keep up with the stronger ones, keeping the overall speed higher and more competitive time wise for those who don’t want to ride at a slower “social” pace to get to work.

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