Tag Archive | "ebike"

Eye-catching Smart is far from Pedestrian

Eye-catching Smart is far from Pedestrian

Smart Electric Bike Review – Art of Smart bought to two-wheels

No-one can have failed to have noticed that things are afoot in the world of Big Auto. The wind of change that electrification has set blowing through personal transport is being felt in corporate office headquarters, from Frankfurt to Detroit. And it’s no longer just the four-wheeled world being jolted by the potential of electric drive-trains. Audi, VW, Toyota, Ford: the list of purpose-built e-bikes fluttering off the drawing-board, and onto the auto show-stand, just keeps on growing.

The reason is simple. The e-bike market promises a veritable tornado of growth – and the auto-manufacturers want to be ready to catch a sail-full of that breeze. But for all the high-concept e-bike chic being paraded at the shows, it’s taken nimble niche-player Smart to be the first auto company to bring a serious e-bike offering to the masses. Since May in the UK and Germany (and from 2013 in the US and Canada) the Smart e-bike has been pushed as the next big step in the electric bike revolution. The question asked by some, though, is – just how clever have Smart really been here?

New synergy for the ‘third way’

There is certainly an interesting new synergy at play. Up until now, most of the serious unit-shifting for e-bikes has been through bicycle manufacturers, shoe-horning their models into the electric way of doing things. Auto companies, like Smart, however, are tackling the e-bike solution from the other direction – seeing the electric bike as a point of entry for a new mass personalized transport market – one entirely separate from pedal bikes, or indeed automobiles.

They have a point. And because of their gargantuan marketing power – and deep pockets – it’s one that they can make quite forcefully. The Smart e-bike is now in a position to test the hyped ‘third way’ for personal transport, to see if it can be made to stand tall. It has the force of a major auto- manufacturer standing behind it – in this case Germany’s Daimler, Smart’s owner. And it has the reputation for intelligent – if quirky – design, earned from Smart’s range of eponymous two-seaters.

Uber-excitement for the urbanite?

But for all of Smart’s cleverness in design – of which there is plenty on display with the Smart e-bike – the project will fly-or-fall on whether the bike meshes properly with its intended new market. Because make no mistake, the Smart e-bike is looking for a new market: seeking to hook up with the urban mainstream. Smart are happy to leave the envelope-pushing to the e-bike specialists and backroom hobbyists. As Smart CEO Dr. Annette Walker said at the launch: “We at smart have been gathering experience of electric drives and the mobility needs of city dwellers around the world for years. The smart e-bike is the logical product of this experience.”

Which isn’t to say that the Smart e-bike is staid, or simply evolutionary. It is packed nicely with subtle innovation. But this isn’t a bike for the sports-fan or the speed-freak. It is the everyday journeys of the bolder urbanite-set that figures in Smart’s plan for this e-bike. So exactly what sort of smarts does the Smart e-bike have to offer them? Well, let’s start with the gloss.

Looks a-plenty

Visually the Smart e-bike has plenty of appeal – it maybe even be a design classic-in-waiting – one that manages to look futuristic, without falling off the cliff into sci-fi silliness. A lot of that has to do with a handful of bold clean lines, bought to the fore by a lack of clutter: no wires, no gangling gears, minimal spoking and tight razor tires. And lot of it has to do with a handful of bold colours: the designers have made a clever brand tie-in to the Smart electric car visuals, with its distinctive neon-green-on-white marking. Everyone will know you’re riding a Smart, when you’re zipping past at the traffic light queue.

So there’s plenty to catch the eye of potential buyers. But at around US$3,800 a bike (£2,495 in the UK, or €2,849 in Europe), there has to be plenty of function behind the form. So what sort of a transport experience does the Smart e-bike have to offer? More to the point, will you even be able to zip past anything much more than stationary traffic, when pushing on the pedals of the Smart e-bike?

Motor, Gears and Drive

As pedelec drive technology goes, Smart has decided to bend a middle course between innovator and journeyman. The motor is a decidedly underwhelming 250W BionX rear-wheel hub unit (200W in the UK, though this will be 350W for the US and Canada), pushing out a maximum of 35 Nm of torque. The motor’s assist is limited to just 15mph (24kph), before it cuts out. So far, so pedestrian.

But remember, Smart’s e-bike is aiming to ease the commute and shopping trips of city-dwellers, to provide a viable alternative to expensive car journeys or erratic public transport. Many of its riders will be new to e-biking. Ease of use and reliability will trump raw performance for them. And their motor supplier – the Canadian firm BionX – has proven popular, putting out some 40,000 units a
year. They help provide a measure of confidence that the heart of the Smart’s power will be prove to be steadfast.

The motor can be flipped between 4 levels of assistance, going all the way from zero to heroic, through an integrated SRAM I-Motion 3-speed hub gear system. But it is with the drive-belt itself that Smart starts to get really clever. Out goes a gnarly metal-linked chain, and in comes a sleek Gates carbon-toothed belt, which – with its 118 high-strength teeth – weighs in a little less than 3 ounces (80 grams). A straight-as-a-die chain-line, with no lubricant, no maintenance, and no trouser rips. What more could the style-conscious, time-constrained commuter ask for?

Brakes, Batteries and Charging

Braking comes courtesy of a pair of hydraulic Magura MT4 perforated disc brakes, which Smart claim will provide excellent performance even in wet weather. And that loss of kinetic energy on braking isn’t wasted – a recuperative braking system flips the motor into generator-mode, pushing power back into the battery as you slow. That extra fillip of efficiency is probably needed; the battery itself is on the sufficient side, rather than the stellar.

Weighing in at 6.6 pounds (3 kg), the 48V/10amp lithium-ion battery is loaded with 423W of electric energy, when fully-charged. Smart believes that its e-bike users can squeeze 62 miles from this battery, using the lowest-assist mode. No doubt their range estimate relies on a gradient-free route, along sweetly-paved roads. But with most commutes and shopping trips likely to be safely

under 20 miles all-round, the ‘Smart-set’ are pretty unlikely to find themselves on an unassisted ride, pedalling the flat-battery back home. In fact, riders can even switch the motor into generator mode, and recharge the battery as they cycle, if they’re feeling energetic.

Getting charge back into the battery from the mains grid is hassle-free. The battery is detachable, and can be topped up independently of the e-bike itself. Getting from flat-to-full should take 5 hours, whilst a partial recharge, from 20% to 80%, can be achieved in as few as 3 hours. Smart has pegged the battery to 500 charging cycles, factoring in an 80% residual capacity.

Gadgets and Options

So the Smart e-bike brings plenty of style, and a measure of technical innovation – but what else do Smart offer to win over the city crowd? One of the more attention-grabbing features is a USB socket on the integrated control panel. This allows for ‘charging in motion’ for whatever device you happen to plug in (smartphones and sat-nav immediately spring to mind). It will also, no doubt, please those umbilically connected to their personal e-device of choice.

The control panel itself is slick, if functionally basic, showing battery status, the current assist mode and basic bike computer outputs. It is also easily removed from the e-bike, adding another layer of security – the motor will fail to start without the correctly installed control panel. The forks are suspension free – presumably because this is not an e-bike destined for off-the-road shenanigans – and the overall package weighs in at sturdy (26.1 kg) 51 pounds. Optional extras include a smartphone cradle, luggage rack, and a choice of handlebar and seat designs.

The ultimate extra?

Of course, one way of looking at Smart’s e-bike is as a giant optional extra in itself. As we’ve already said, there is a symbiotic branding tie-in to the electric Smart car; plenty of marketing shots showing Smart-car-plus-Smart-ebike, a wonderfully cosy coupling. That may lead many to dismiss the Smart e-bike as more of a promotional gimmick for the Smart car brand, than a stand-alone e-bike in and of itself. Undoubtedly there’s some truth in that, but such synergy is, naturally enough, a two-way thing.

The Smart car-brand appeals to an audience that is already prepared to think – and travel – out of the box. That may allow Smart to be the first auto-maker to seriously tap – and grow – the e-bike audience beyond early adopters and hobbyists. If so, be prepared to see Big Auto breaking out of their ‘concept bike’ mind-set, and starting to hit the cycle lane in force. After all, the wind will be behind them.

Smart Electric eBike from toni margarit on Vimeo.

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Introducing Audi’s Ebike

Introducing Audi’s Ebike

DOES an electric bicycle warrant space on the pages of Visordown? As electric power increasingly blurs the line where bicycles end and motorcycles begin its a question that’s not likely to go away soon, but since Audi is the new owner of Ducati it’s latest concept bike is worth a look. Oh, and we applaud anything that includes a bespoke “wheelie mode”…

The e-bike, due to appear at the Wörthersee car show this week (a VW/Audi event), is said to be the most powerful electric bicycle ever made, with 2.3kW of power (3.1bhp) and 184lb/ft of torque at the rear wheel. That’s enough for a 31mph electric-only top speed, boosted to 50mph if you pedal a bit to help it along. And with a range of somewhere between 31 and 44 miles, it could even be practical for some commutes, particularly if you can plug it in for 2.5 hours to recharge it when you get there.

Read the complete article at:
Audi’s e-bike

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Video: the World’s Most Expensive Ebike

The M55 Beast is one of the most expensive two wheeler Hybrid bike. Some claim it to be the world’s most expensive Bicycle that is Hybrid.

The bike consists of an electric motor and Tenegry cells and costs $33,500.
Max speed: 48 miles per hour
Torque Output: 3.84 pound-feet
Twist jump capability: 76 lb-ft
Battery Recharge time claimed by manufacturer: 80% in about 15 minutes

Read the complete article at:
World’s most expensive electric bicycle

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Introducing the Stromer Electric Bike

Introducing the Stromer Electric Bike

Philadelphia, PA– The Stromer, now carried by Phew! in Philadelphia, is one of the few electric-assist bikes offering a range of frame sizes and types, all in aluminum. With the 8-speed Shimano Alivio derailleur, Avid BB disc brakes on front and rear, and weighing 62 lbs, this bike offers rugged performance in all weather. Both the step-through and crossbar models are offered in 15.5″, 17.5″ and 20″ frames, with an additional 22″ option for the crossbar frame.

Read the complete article at:
Introducing the Stromer electric bike – Swiss Born – Precision Built

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Get Smart in 2012

Get Smart in 2012

With bicycles becoming a more and more popular mode of daily transportation, both in Europe and here in the U.S., tiny-car company Smart has decided to take its eco-friendly design chops into the two-wheeler market with the Smart Electric Bike ($TBA). The company debuted a concept design for the bike at last year’s Paris Auto Show, but we’re now hearing that the bike will go into full-scale production starting in 2012.

The sleek Smart Electric Bike houses a 250-watt electric motor (powered by a 400-Wh lithium-ion battery) in its y-shaped frame, and offers an impressive 62 miles of enhanced travel on a single battery charge. If the rider runs out of juice, the battery can be recharged by pedaling. With four different power levels to help you get up a steep hill or speed past your non-electric bike buddies, the Smart bike can go up to 40 kilometers per hour, which translates to just about 25 mph.

Read the complete article at:
Smart Electric Bike to launch in 2012

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Introducing the Vienna E-Trike

Introducing the Vienna E-Trike

The Vienna E-trike is a tricycle that is both human and electrically-powered, but has a unique suspension system that “makes the ride feel every bit like being on a bicycle.”

This trike from Austria also comes with an extension bar and a cargo box that can carary a trunkload of groceries.

Read the complete article at:
Valentin Vodev’s Partially Electric Vienna Bike Can Carry a Trunk Load of Groceries

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Introducing the Faraday Concept Bike

Introducing the Faraday Concept Bike

Gizmodo had this to say about the Faraday:
I was about to call this Ideo electric commuter bike the best, well, something, but that’s just not the case. It won an important competition in Oregon, the Manifest bike building competition, and that’s where the accolades stop.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however. The bike is a simple yet sharp take on the commuter bike, and was cozy with the competition’s stated goal of getting more people on bikes (the motor helps the not-so-willing get up a hill, for example).

Read the complete article at:
This Is the Best Electric Bicycle (In Oregon)

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Introducing the Ford E-Bike Concept

Introducing the Ford E-Bike Concept

Top Speed reports:

If you’re in Frankfurt basking in the atmosphere of all those concepts and supercars and you happen to see a futuristic-looking bicycle in the showroom floor, don’t be confused because that bicycle is actually part of Ford’s Frankfurt line-up.

The bike is called the E-Bike and its being touted as an electric bike concept that could very well be the future of bicycles as we know it. Apparently, bicycles of the future will have motors of their own. Go figure.

In any case, the Ford E-Bike comes with an aluminum and carbon frame that weighs just 2.5kg (5.5 lbs). This frame comes with a Giant SLR Carbon 110mm stem and a Selle Italia SLR XC saddle. It also has a Shimano Alfine 11-speed internal gear hub, a 2012 Shimano Rapidfire shifter, and where the old bicycle chains used to be, the E-Bike now has a Carbon Belt Drive System.

Read the complete article at:
2011 Ford E-Bike Concept

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Hundred Watt Hybrid sets off on Eco Tour across America

Hundred Watt Hybrid sets off on Eco Tour across America

Nash Hoover already had some build experience from converting an old golf cart into an off-roader named the Swamp Crawler a few years back. Recently, he set about designing and building a lightweight vehicle capable of taking his son and himself on a 4,500-mile (7,242 km) journey from Yorktown, Virginia to Portland, Oregon.

Hoover and son came up with a four-wheeled, side-by-side two-seater, human-electric hybrid vehicle with a fast-turning, stand-alone EcoSpeed brushless electric motor connected to the vehicle’s existing chain drives, and a roll bar structure to the rear of the vehicle to afford some crash protection for the occupants.

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Hundred Watt Hybrid sets off on Eco Tour across America

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Panasonic E-Bikes to Have Child Seats

Panasonic E-Bikes to Have Child Seats

Panasonic is preparing to a release two versions of a new electric bicycle that can carry two children later this month in China, calling the products Gyutto and Gyutto Mini.

The Gyutto is equipped with a 22″ front wheel and 26″ back wheels, which the company says make its model more stable than traditional bikes by having a lower point of gravity. Another stability feature is that the handle is fixed when the electric bicycle has its kickstand deployed.

Read the complete article at:
New Panasonic E-Bicycle Has Child Seats

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The Perfect Bicycle…You’ll Never Get to Ride

The Perfect Bicycle…You’ll Never Get to Ride

Engineering students at UPenn spent a year designing the perfect ebike. It has a drive train completely enclosed within the bike’s frame. There’s a three-speed electric gearbox contained within the central hub, which is controlled by a handlebar-mounted LED screen. Also on that screen is a readout that displays current gear, distance traveled, speed and data from the SD card that you’re completely free to insert into the bike’s SD reader.

Powering all these onboard electronics is a dynamo in the front wheel housing. Safety lights (LED, naturally) are located in the rear for night riding.

Unfortunately the bike is one of a kind and there are no plans to start mass-production.

Read the complete article at:
Engineering Students. Big Budget. One Year. The Perfect Bicycle?

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Cities Differ in E-Vehicle Laws

Cities Differ in E-Vehicle Laws

What makes a bicycle? Judging from the photo accompanying this article, there’s no way anyone could pedal this scooter…they couldn’t get enough leverage.

From Press of Atlantic City:
OCEAN CITY – A convicted drunken driver says the city is harassing her over the electric bicycle she rides around town.

Denise Baj, 51, said she rode her bike for more than a year without trouble. But when she moved from the city’s sparsely populated south end to the north end – a few blocks from the Ninth Street Police Station – she was stopped and ticketed twice last year for driving an unregistered motor vehicle.

“I’m a trendsetter,” said Baj, a city resident. “People ride these things all over North Jersey.”

The bike – called an XB 700 LI – looks more like a scooter than a traditional mountain bicycle or 10-speed. It has pedals but also uses a lithium battery to provide supplemental power to its rear wheel. The bike goes less than 20 mph.

Read the complete article at:
Electric bicycle or moped? Woman caught between Ocean City police, state rules on bikes

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Want to go to Europe? Take an E-Bike tour!

Want to go to Europe? Take an E-Bike tour!

Riding a bike across Europe isn’t a new concept, but doing so on an electric bicycle is, and now an option with Austin-Lehman Adventures.

Based in Billings, Mont., Austin-Lehman has been offering bike tours all over the world for over 35 years. This year, the company has begun offering e-bike tours for their European trips, with plans to expand the option to all 59 of their trips.

“An e-bike adds five more years of biking, “ said Ron van Dijk, Director of European Operations for Austin-Lehman. “It’s a breeze. A couple that cycles together can always ride together.”

Van Dijk did extensive research on choosing a specific e-bike model for the company. He eventually went with the Trek Electric Bike, as Van Dijk said it’s one of the best in the United States.

“It’s similar to the Diamant in Europe,” he said. “The technology is the same, but the components and frames are different.”

A tour from Austin-Lehman typically includes multi-lingual guides to take the group from location to location. A group consists anywhere from 12 to 18 people. Each participant is given a map of the day’s itinerary, so participants are allowed to pick and choose which sites to see and to take the trip at his or her own pace. Although not required to stick with the group at all times, there are a few group lunches and dinners scheduled.

“It’s life as it’s meant to be seen in the country,” said Chuck and Judy Silberstein, from Westchester County, New York. The couple has done 50 of Austin-Lehman’s trips over the past 23 years. “[The guides] make a trip come to life for you.”

Austin-Lehman just completed their first e-bike tour, which took place from April 9 to April 15 in the Tuscan region of Italy.

Patti Hohner of Chugiak, Alaska, who has done many biking trips through Austin-Lehman, said that the e-bike made it so much easier to take on the hills. Hohner was one of four to try the e-bike option for the Tuscany trip.

“This trip would have been long and hard without the e-bike,” she said. “These bikes take most of the effort out of climbing hills that have 10 to 14 percent grades.”

Because of the hills, Austin-Lehman ranks the Tuscany trip a “4”, which labels the trip as moderate to challenging. Van Dijk said that e-bikes open this trip to up to more people.

“On an e-bike, the hills just melt away,” he said.

The Silbertsteins agreed and will be trying an e-bike tour this September. The couple said that an e-bike is perfect for senior citizens.

“We could use help now and then,” said the Silbersteins. “The bikes don’t take all the work out of it.”

The Silbersteins agreed that the e-bike option is a great addition for Austin-Lehman, as the option gets more people to try the hilly trips.

“The hillier, the prettier,” they said.

As for the hills of Tuscany, Patti Hohner recommended the trip, and the e-bike option.

“I would recommend an e-bike to someone who might need or want a little extra help. Not just for hilly terrain, but also for less active people that are not hardcore bikers,” Hohner said. “These e-bikes assist the rider in enjoying the view while not being out of breath or struggling to move up hill, and Tuscany has a lot of viewing to be done.”

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PR: New Electric Bicycle Retailer Opens Doors in San Francisco

PR: New Electric Bicycle Retailer Opens Doors in San Francisco

San Francisco, CA, March 17, 2011 –(PR.com)– As gas prices climb, and environmental challenges loom large, The New Wheel is opening a storefront to showcase the transportation solution of the future: electric bicycles.

With notorious hills, high gas prices, and scant and expensive parking options, San Francisco is the perfect place for the adoption of alternative transportation. Electric bicycles, or ebikes as they are often called, have emerged as a potentially revolutionary mode of transportation that combines the best aspects of bicycles and automobiles. Like a bicycle, ebikes are quiet, clean, and inexpensive to own and operate. And like an automobile, ebikes offer an easy and quick way of getting across town without working up a sweat. In short, ebikes take the hesitancy out of riding a bicycle, so more people can ride more often.

The New Wheel was founded in 2010 by Brett Thurber after graduating from the History Department at UC Berkeley. It began life as a mobile business that made “house calls” to its customers. Its unique business model and intriguing products were featured on the bike culture blog Commute by Bike for a series of interviews on the rise of commuter and electric bicycle shops: http://www.commutebybike.com/2011/01/27/the-rise-of-the-commuter-e-bike- specialist-shop-part-4/

The New Wheel’s newly opened showroom is sharing space with Dylan’s Tours at 782 Columbus Ave in San Francisco. The public can now head to North Beach, order a cappuccino at Café Roma or Café Trieste, and then come down to The New Wheel’s showroom for an incredible electric bicycle test ride up to Telegraph Hill.

The New Wheel hopes this new showroom will allow more people to experience the joy and revolutionary potential of electric bicycles.

For more information on The New Wheel and its products and to watch a short video on electric bicycles in San Francisco, please visit: http://www.newwheel.net

This press release comes from:
New Electric Bicycle Retailer Opens Doors in San Francisco

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EBikes Benefitting Canada’s Economy

EBikes Benefitting Canada’s Economy

Guelph, Ontario — We are all too painfully aware that manufacturing in this country, particularly in this province, has been hard hit.

However, in the personal transportation sector, one Ontario manufacturer is performing exceptionally well. Sales have been up for the past three years showing two and three hundred per cent increases.

The company in question is Magna Marque, a subsidiary of Magna International. The product is BionX, an extremely efficient and flexible rear propulsion system for electric assisted bicycles. Magna is an iconic Canadian success story with substantial resources at its disposal. However, BionX has been thriving on its own merit and is at the cutting edge of development of electric propulsion units for bicycles.

Read the complete article at:
E-bike benefitting economy and environment

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Electric Bikes Coming To Punggol

Electric Bikes Coming To Punggol

SINGAPORE : Residents of Singapore’s first eco-precinct, Treelodge@Punggol, may soon be able to rent electric bicycles within their estate.

This eco-friendly and cost-efficient way to travel is a S$40,000 pilot programme by Sanyo. The company is currently waiting for the go-ahead from the Land Transport Authority.

There are plans to have two rental spots – one at Tree Lodge and the other at Punggol Plaza. Six electric bicycles will be made available at each station.

Renting a bike will will cost 40 cents for the first 20 minutes, 15 cents cheaper compared to taking a bus.

Kelvin Ang, sales engineer at Sanyo, said: “We set the price at 40 cents to encourage residents to change their habits – from taking a feeder bus to riding a bicycle. And this will promote health and prevent congestion to the traffic.”

Read the complete article at:
Electric bike rental may soon be available at Punggol

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The Most Popular Cycling Stories in 2010

The Most Popular Cycling Stories in 2010

Ever wanted to own a Porshe…that you had to pedal?

That’s one of the top stories of 2010, according to the Environmental Transport Association out of the UK.

It’s the knotty problem wrestled with by cyclists everywhere: You like the idea of owning a £140,000 Porsche GT3 RS, but worry it would mean less time on the bike. Luckily a team of designers has produced the greenest Porsche to date; a zero-emissions version of the GT3 RS built around a pedal car.

Sportscar builders such as Porsche and Ferrari make much of their plans to introduce hybrid technology, but these have as much to do with tough CO2 emissions targets and the threat of inner city bans on highly-polluting vehicles as they do a desire to produce environmentally-friendly cars. Everyone should have a pedal-powered supercar in their garage

Read all the stories (inlcuding the story of the portable air-bag helmet that the model in the accompanying photo is wearing, at:
The Most Popular Cycling Stories of 2010

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Introducing the LiteFoot eBike

Introducing the LiteFoot eBike

NORTHWEST AUSTIN, TEXAS — When a friend asked for help with a bicycle project in 2007, David Dennis ordered a gasoline engine conversion kit to fit the bike. A motorized bicycle called a Schwinn Whizzer, popular in the 1950s, inspired the work.

“I’ve always loved screwing around with things,” Dennis said. “I like to take things apart, but putting them back together is sometimes something else.”

It took more than a week of constant tinkering to get the machine to work reliably. Now, Dennis produces not only motorized bikes, but also electric bikes.

Read the complete article at:
Litefoot Bikes

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E-bike Combines Exercise and Transportation

E-bike Combines Exercise and Transportation

The leader of the pack is a 67-year-old millionaire who wears a warm-up suit and a smile as broad as a kid with a new toy.

Charles McVean gestures toward a fleet of funny-looking electric bicycles parked nearby and tells his entourage “OK everybody. Let’s cruise.”

And away goes The Mild Bunch, nine laid-back riders gliding silently down High Point Terrace to East Memphis’ new railbed-turned-trail, the Shelby Farms Greenline.

At the head of the column rides McVean, financial whiz and principal in Aerobic Cruiser Hybrid Cycle LLC, a maker of plug-in electric moped bicycles.

Read complete article at:
Cruisin’: Electric bicycle combines aerobic exercise, transportation

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The Difference in Motor Power – 250w 500w 750w

The Difference in Motor Power – 250w 500w 750w

Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) Founder, Ed Benjamin, explains what it means in terms of electric bike performance for motors having varying degrees of output, from 250w-500w-750w:

A “bicycle” is a very privileged vehicle. It can use the roadway, or the bike path. There is no need for a driver’s license, license plate, or insurance. Taxes are limited to sales tax.

One of the key issues in defining an electric assisted bicycle as a “bicycle” is the power of the motor. The general idea is that if the bike has a motor that is “too powerful” then it is really a moped or motorcycle. So most laws that create and define the category of electric bicycle worldwide have a limitation on the power of the motor – with the idea that the ebike should have similar speed and performance to a normal bike.

That, by the way, is a pretty broad range of speed. Normal bikes can travel as fast as 30 MPH with a strong rider, and they can climb nearly any grade.

But in general, many nations have adopted laws that define a bike that uses a relatively low-powered motor, with a limited speed, as an electric bike – with the same privileges as a normal bicycle.
So what about motor output?

There are a lot of factors to consider in motor output choices for an electric bike. Here are some of them:

1. Legality. Different jurisdictions have different laws about motor output for a vehicle that can still be considered an electric bike. In the EU, Japan, China, and other places, the power limit is 250 watts. In the USA it is 750 watts.

2. How that power is measured. An argument can be made to measure power in these ways:

A. Electric current into the motor.
B. Mechanical power output at the “shaft”. (but if it is a hub motor…do we measure at the hub flange or the rim / tire?)
C. Power in, less the efficiency losses of that motor. (Complicated.) And more, whose machine and which method do we use to measure that power? In the EU, there are detailed regulations about how to measure power. In the USA, it is pretty much what the maker says it is, with no testing method described or required.

3. Do we use peak power (the amount of power that the motor is capable of producing under maximum effort for a short period before overheating) or do we use continuous power?

4. How much power can the battery support? There is a balance of cost, weight, and energy storage in the decisions about the motor power, battery size, etc.

This is not a simple subject. But I will offer my advice:

Most 250 watt systems are satisfactory for pedelecs (where the rider is pedaling and thus adding in his energy / effort).

For throttle-controlled, or power-on-demand systems where the rider is not pedaling, 350 to 500 watt systems are a better choice.

750 watts seems attractive, but this requires a big battery – and the combination of cost and weight is not that attractive. This combination will get better as technology improves, but at this time, 500 watts may be a better choice in many cases.

Climbing hills on any of these will require the rider to add in some muscle power – but not a lot.

In all cases, the rider will enjoy the ride, sweat a lot less, and have less fatigue and go farther, faster.

leva-125x125

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