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

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 old  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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