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

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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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Bike news

Picked up a new ebike today – well, new to me ๐Ÿ™‚ Chris decided he wanted to sell one of his, and instead of getting a new bike and having him spoke in one of the GL2s he has lying around, given that I won’t be here for too many more months, I thought I may as well take the easy option with a cheapie bike. As the batteries I’d ordered before I even put my hand up for the Suitable Transport ride had just come in on Friday, Chris tested and put everything together so I could pick it up this afternoon. Yay! Now on the ST ride I did notice a difference in the performance of the NiMHs versus the lithiums: I liked that the NiMHs didn’t have a cutout and go kersplatt dead on ya, but they didn’t have quite same vavoom when fully charged. Not a huge difference mind: and would make less difference on my old bike being a direct drive and only 24 volt as opposed to this 48 volt baby :))) Very impressed with the improved torque over when I borrowed it with NiMHs a couple weeks ago. Shame the lithiums are quite so expensive, but I think totally worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

The GL2 is so smooth and climbs hills so well I am thinking it’s probably got a touch more torque than the eZee Torq… but I’d need to compare them side by side to be sure. Maybe I will take it over to Melbs, or get the Torq shipped here so I can do just that! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sorry… haven’t posted specific pics and commentary on the ride, work has swallowed me up. If you were on the ride and you’re reading this, where are your pics??? ๐Ÿ™‚


Half way!

Today we arrived in Eden, having travelled over 500 km in five days! I have to say I am starting to feel a little frazzled, and would love to have a rest day, but the schedule must be kept. Last night we arrived well after dark, tonight fortunately we were fine but tomorrow we have a longer day than any other yet and I am hoping we leave early enough and have no mishaps. The Schwinn had some problems today, seeming to be mainly to do with the battery pack not connecting, one advantage of the eZee bike is that it has the battery connecting at the bottom under the weight of the battery, so gravity is always on your side there. On the subject of batteries, I am starting to honestly prefer the NiMHs to the lithiums! A strange choice you might think, but on a ride like this I am finding the discharge pattern more workable: while they make you work harder as they run low, I vastly prefer that to a flat cut off. This is helpful because each sudden change slows the group down. Time for bed now, more tomorrow!

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OoooOoooooooooooo BIKES!

Just got told which bikes we will be using for the Suitable Transport ride [my pic and bio is up on the riders page now btw]. They are going to be these: the “eZee Torq”. I think they could have come up with a less cheesy brand name, but the bike specs are sweet!

36V 10 Ah Lithium Ion or 36V 9Ah NiMH battery
35 klm Li Ion, 30 klm NiMH
23kg including battery
Brushless Servo motor nominal rating 200 watts with planetary gears
Automatic Smart charger, maximum charge time 5.5 hours
Road bike, Al alloy 6061
Kenda 700 C x 45
Tektro V-brakes front Shimano Roller brakes rear
Shimano Sora 8 speed
~ 80%
< 60 dB
@ 5N-m 120 watts, 4 amps, 36V, 200 rpm

AWESOME! These look a fair bit like the zbike I was keen on a few months ago – but these only weigh 23kg – including the battery[the zbike was 50kg, eeek]! Stephen has tested them and says they do pretty well up the hills, and he’s been riding longer than me, and is an electronics engineer, so I would say has a pretty good eye for such things. I’m super excited, if just a little bit trepidous for my bum, which will I expect get a little sore from that much time on a saddle seat.

Still: WHEEEE!

And now… here’s an interesting tidbit about bikes and helmets:

It’s safer to wear a wig

KAMALA HAYMAN – 14 September 2006

Cyclists may be safer wearing a long-haired wig than a helmet, new research suggests.

In England, a Bath University study found drivers gave a wider berth to cyclists with long hair than those wearing helmets. The study, by psychologist Dr Ian Walker, also found bare-headed cyclists were given more room than those wearing helmets. Walker used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from more than 2500 overtaking motorists. He wore a helmet half the time. During his research, he was struck by a bus and a truck รขโ‚ฌโ€œ both times while wearing a helmet.

In research to be published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal, Walker found drivers, on average, passed 1.33m from his bicycle. However, when he wore a long-haired wig รขโ‚ฌโ€œ to give the impression he was female รขโ‚ฌโ€œ overtaking drivers gave him an extra 14cm. By contrast, when he was wearing a helmet, they passed 8.5cm closer. Larger vehicles also narrowed the gap, with trucks passing 19cm closer than cars and buses, 23cm closer.

He wanted to do more research to understand why drivers appeared to give female cyclists such a wide berth. It was possible they were seen as less predictable than male riders because they were not seen on the road as often as male cyclists.

He suggested drivers saw cyclists with helmets as more serious, experienced and predictable than those without, and therefore needing less space when overtaking.

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To the land of sandals, spoon-benders, and yoghurt-fanciers.

Last night I picked up my new Lithium battery from Chris for my ebike: it is about 1/4 the size/weight than the SLAs I was borrowing from him, and so far is going well! It’s great having a teeny battery. Fits nicely in a saddlebag: would even be able to put it in my handbag! … Technology is amazing. Apparently these have been run about 2000 cycles [read: 5 years or more for average daily usage] and still show 80% charge. Whee! Now I just need to put together a new ebike with the GL2 hub motor, so I can get to know both styles of ebike really well.. and have a loaner to convince anyone not yet convinced of how cool they are and how you NEED one ^_^

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Bike cont.

Top speed this morning: 45.8 kph. Time to work from driveway to laneway: 12 minutes. ^_^ Distance is about 8km, so that’s ummm… let’s see – .66 kilometer per minute, which makes average speed approximately 40 kph. Unless I did the math wrong. If it’s 7 km, it’s more like 35 kph average speed. I’ll have to double check the distance. Also, it’s downhill more into the city than home, so going home should be a little slower. But not by much.

*edit* distance is 6.7km, so that makes av speed 33.5 kph. If I want to get down to a 10 minute commute, I need to be averaging 40 kph. What’s funny is that on my scooty it would usually take about 20 minutes to get in due to traffic and route required. Heh. *hugs electric bike*

I am very much liking the geared motor. It has a learning curve similar to using a geared scooter or motorbike: as I haven’t ridden one of those regularly for years [though I used one in NZ for 4 days] it’s reminding me it requires a different riding style, and a measure of skill, familiarity with the gears and also preferably the route. When I have done this for a few weeks, I expect to be able to get my commute down to around 10 minutes and thus have an average speed of about 48? Nah, I don’t know if that’s possible. Though – maybe my velometer is a bit out? It’s certainly possible, if not actually likely! I will check the figures some more, though I am going on my velometer to tell me how far the distance is I suppose I should check my scooter odometer and compare them.

But I don’t want to bother picking my scooty up from the shop, even though it’s fixed – I’m going to sell it soon for sure. Electric bikes FTW!!

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I’m gonna rock down to Electric Avenue…

So yesterday I finally got around to visiting Chris and getting serious about electrimafying mah bicyclette.

I had a go of his three current electric bikes. His main bike has the newest motor on it, the GL-2, which is astonishingly powerful, smooth and silent and I imagine with panniers, virtually invisible! I want. I WILL have. Soon.

But in the meantime, I am borrowing his folder bike, which has his oldร‚ย  front hub motor, with a 36V NiMH battery pack and Crystalyte controller. It’s tacky and cheap and ugly as hell but O.M.G. is it HELLA FUN to ride!!!! And I get into the city faster than I would have on my scooty. It’s amazing. It’s all the great things you like about cycling but without the sweatiness, the slowly chugging up hills, and the overall fatigue. Hills seriously feel like they are not there, and as it can go about 20-25 kph without you even pedalling, it’s already as fast or faster than my average cycling speed, with no effort put in. Headwind? What headwind? I laugh in the face of headwind! HahahaHAH!

Of course the folder only has one gear, and the wheels are small. Without the electric motor, it would really suck to ride.

And for about 20 cents a charge [maybe less? I need to understand more about charging cost], that’s bloody amazing: that’s probably about 15 cents a day for a round trip from Maylands to Perth. Even if it’s 20 cents, that’s less than 1/5 the cost of petrol for the same trip. Probably even smaller. Put in easily understood terms: The energy a 100 watt electric light bulb burns in an evening – that’s enough energy to propel an electrically-assisted bike for 20 to 40 miles [32 – 64 km]!

So, while I have Chris’ loaner bike, he is adding an Oatley geared motor to mine. It’s not as powerful a motor and goes very slowly up the hills [ie in low gear under load]: but on the flats, it goes astonishingly fast for the size of the thing! It’s a bit noisy and obvious though, and doesn’t freewheel as the hub motors do because they aren’t attached to the chain, so it’s a bit irritating, but it will do good as an interim measure until I get a new bike which I will get a GL-2 for, i think. But I’m having a ball on the one I’m using now in the meantime.

I can’t wait to have mine done, and then start planning the next one. WHEE!

I also have been researching the relative efficiency [equivalent MPG] of electric cycling compared to other forms of transport. I know my scooter gets about 100 MPG, and cars vary but generally run 10 – 30 MPG [less for 4WD, more for hybrids]. I found this page which gives a well researched estimation of human powered bicycle, and the results vary hugely depending on diet:

Vegetarian: 196 MPG
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: 142 MPG
Average US die [non-vege]: 104 MPG

That’s quite eye-opening: and makes me consider going vege a little bit…

Eventually I also found some figures on what kind of MPG electric bikes achieved: and holy crap but it’s nothing short of unbelievable. An electric bike achieves from around 800-2,000 MPG. This page has a list of awesome and genuine reasons to get an electric bike, too.

Having only done my first commute day today, I already can’t imagine going back to a regular bike: if not for any other reason than I’m making better use of resources by using it, than cycling alone – as long as I can commit to eating a bit less, I still won’t feel guilty being non-vege … and when we run into issues of food production – electric bikes will be literally, lifesavers. I was surprised when Chris sold his Vespa shortly after going electric: I can totally understand why now. With a range of up to 50km [more possible with more battery packs, and as battery tech gets better] it will take me almost anywhere I’d normally consider going with my scooty anyways. And I can always take my charger with me if I want to go further.

Now all I have to worry about is overburdening Chris with new customers for his skills in this area.

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