Linked by David Adams on Wed 1st Aug 2012 16:53 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes I had the chance to attend the bike industry’s annual DealerCamp in my hometown of Park City, Utah last week. It’s an event where dealers and manufacturers can meet up, and everyone can try the latest bicycle technology on the roads and trails. While there, I took a particular interest in electric bicycles, which were represented by several vendors. Electric bicycle tech has made some major strides in the past few years, but still has a long way to go, in particular on the software side.
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Fun
by Tuishimi on Mon 1st Aug 2011 17:31 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

Fun stuff! 35(+14) pounds does seem heavy for a bike designed for slogging up and down hills on rough trails.

For $2100 you could purchase a decent, used on/off road motorcycle (tho' I understand it is totally different from the type of travel a die-hard off-road mountain biker would consider)... saves fuel from a car and you can still take it off-road a bit.

I love watching my wife's charge indicator screen on her prius as we travel up and down mountains and valleys. ;) She makes a game out of it, trying to reach over 50 MPG.

[edit]

...and having programmed hand held devices and portable software before, designed to run on multiple computers, I can bet the guy who wrote the adaptive software had a lot of fun! ;)

Edited 2011-08-01 17:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fun
by David on Mon 1st Aug 2011 17:38 UTC in reply to "Fun"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

Indeed. And in fact the most recent motorcycle I owned bears a striking resemblance to the Surly. The Yamaha TW200. It's very good, inexpensive, and practical motorcycle, which is also crazy-looking: http://www.yamaha-motor.com/sport/products/modelhome/10/home.aspx

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Fun
by Tuishimi on Mon 1st Aug 2011 17:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Fun"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I like that!

Reply Score: 2

Comment by willm.wade
by willm.wade on Mon 1st Aug 2011 17:37 UTC
willm.wade
Member since:
2010-07-13

...and does away with a mechanical drivetrain altogether...

I have thought that this would be a good way to do as well. (For cars as well as bikes)

I bike to work a lot of the time, but there is a valley I have to go through from home to work. So work and home I end up sweaty. (I go to work early enough that it is not a problem, but the way home in the summer is bad.)

Commuting on a bike that I could provide some supplementary electric charging to, but not much of a sweat would be great as some places I have worked I cannot really arrive sweaty.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by willm.wade
by David on Mon 1st Aug 2011 17:43 UTC in reply to "Comment by willm.wade"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

I'd have to say that arriving at work sweaty is probably the #1 thing keeping people who would otherwise like to commute by bike from doing so. More than having to bike in cold or rainy weather. In fact, a lot of the places where people bike a lot (Portland Oregon, The Netherlands) aren't exactly known for their beautiful weather. But you don't see too many Bike commuters during a Phoenix summer.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by willm.wade
by Lennie on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 00:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by willm.wade"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Yep, I'm in the Netherlands and I go to work every day, all year round on my bike. We have a lot of good facilities for bicycles and most of the land is pretty flat. So easy riding...

I have to be really careful not to go to fast in summer or I'll get sweaty. :-(

Problem is I really like going fast. ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by willm.wade
by Priest on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 01:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by willm.wade"
Priest Member since:
2006-05-12

I agree completely, another reason is I am not supposed to wear shorts to work and pants brush against the sprocket and get greasy.

This is a problem I can solve with a single elastic strap but the problem of getting to work sweaty is harder to solve.

Many companies try to be green, but not so green that they will let bike commuters show up in shorts on a hot day ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by willm.wade
by zima on Sun 7th Aug 2011 00:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by willm.wade"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Might I suggest... having two different pants at hand? ;) ;) (plus, maybe, different approach to cycling, the one I mention at the beginning of one too long post nearby)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by willm.wade
by zima on Sun 7th Aug 2011 00:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by willm.wade"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Hm, I'd say that this #1 thing (and particularly the almost closing thought

The truth is, most people who shun cycling do it for one simple reason: it takes too much effort.
from the article) is probably partly due to people having the wrong idea about city / commute / daily bike riding, what it's about. Which for me is to NOT exercise more than during a mere moderately energetic walk - but, thanks to the bike, travelling ~3x faster (like during fastest reasonable sprint on foot); the bonus workout being just of the "mild but regular, healthy" kind.

You also write:
I’m a die-hard mountain biker, and don’t have much use for road bikes of any stripe, so I’m a bit biased, but I think anyone’s head would be turned by what I saw. [...] but really designed just to be awesome looking

So... why waste the potential? ;) With how you're able to really push the bike, some commuting speeds & style of riding should be even less of an issue ;) (and that bike is fugly ;) ...so, if anything, I would possibly turn my head in the other direction; but that's my bias, my fairly standard opinion about anything "really trying to look cool"; and not only because often the focus on looks means compromises elsewhere, also how it reveals a desire to "trick" the recipients, and often results in caricatures of harmonious proportions & design; BTW, one hilarious example of that in related field, cars, even if in sort of opposite direction: the thinner after-market tires are way too often less efficient / "dynamic" / etc.)



I kept thinking that even being an off road bike, the motorized Pugsley would be a blast to ride around town every day.

It would be, possibly, also relatively comparable to an everyday bike with more sensible frame, wheels, tires, without the electric motor?...*
what dashed my dreams of buying the motorized Pugsley was the price. The motor and battery kit is about $2100. Possibly justifiable if I were to buy it for an everyday commute, but impractical for a recreational trifle.

*...and which almost starts at an order of magnitude less cost.



Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to ride bike up the hill, and have the ride down power you back up. For various reasons, the regeneration doesn’t recover a substantial amount of your energy.

Chief one among those reasons: that would be pretty much a perpetuum mobile ;) (of the 2nd kind at least)

While I was riding, I was also wondering whether it would be feasible to do a completely drive by wire system wherein the pedaling only charges the battery, and isn’t connected physically to the wheel at all, similar to the way that some heavy equipment uses a large diesel powerplant to generate electricity to electric motors, and does away with a mechanical drivetrain altogether. Would that result in unacceptable inefficiency?

"Drive be wire" (etc.) tends to refer to how steering is transferred; what you mention seems to go nowadays by the name of "serial hybrid" - and yeah, probably introducing inefficiencies disproportional to the power levels of humans, to the type & how we do movement (plus our muscles are fairly efficient at different power levels, I think, so one of the major IC engine problems supposedly solved by serial hybrids also largely isn't there; also I'm not sure if a bike would feel & drive good with such level of "decoupling" from the road)


while riding an electric bike creates more pollution than riding a regular bike, it’s a hell of a lot less than driving a car, or even taking a bus.

For a bus, I probably would prefer to see some numbers before stating anything with certainty... (with a comparably modern bus, maybe a hybrid one / etc., not some old type; just like it's not about 2-stroke motorised bikes and mopeds of old times)



And coming back to the first thing I quoted - shunning seems to be ingrained on other dimensions of culture, public perceptions...
http://laist.com/2010/08/03/in_hollywood_living_car-free_means.php
http://www.slate.com/id/2262214/

Those are of course also the results of how cars were allowed, for a long time, to hijack urban areas, their layout and planning. The few places with lots of bikes that you mention, also tend to have less urban sprawl; people there sort of didn't allow for cars to hijack their cities to such a degree; they are willing to set up their life (where they live, how far to work, how and when the shopping or social venues) not as dictated by a car.

PS. A sort of "hub & spoke" model, but with car & bike respectively, might be a useful intermediate approach in some cases. Especially when carrying a (moderately folding) bike in the trunk isn't much of a problem even with a supermini (and in larger, quick release locks on the front bike wheel might be almost enough)

Edited 2011-08-07 00:53 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Comment by ferrix
by ferrix on Mon 1st Aug 2011 22:38 UTC
ferrix
Member since:
2005-07-06

There is no need whatsoever for clever software to modulate the amount of power the motor provides - it is a problem long solved on motorcycles by using a device consisting of one tube and one cable... it's called the throttle.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by ferrix
by David on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 04:27 UTC in reply to "Comment by ferrix"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

Yes, but on a bike like this, you don't use a throttle. If you did, it would actually be pretty hard to use just the right amount of power to supplement your pedaling without eating up the battery too fast.

Reply Score: 1

practical electric bike
by braddock on Mon 1st Aug 2011 23:31 UTC
braddock
Member since:
2005-07-08

An electric bike doesn't have to break the bank. I've had a sub-$400 izip electric bike bought through Walmart which I've put hundreds of miles on in the past two years. I can honestly say that it has probably saved my wife and I from needing a second car.

Reply Score: 1

RE: practical electric bike
by Priest on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 01:38 UTC in reply to "practical electric bike"
Priest Member since:
2006-05-12

I have been wondering for ages why electric bikes aren't cheaper. You can buy full sized mountain bikes with front and back suspension now for $90 at Walmart.

Small electric motors are very cheap to make and it takes a very small amount of power to help you along.

An $80 weed trimmer (gas or electric) would produce enough power.

With all these advancements in technology I am amazed that combining these things is still so bloody expensive. It should cost $250 to combine a $90 bicycle with the engine from an $80 weed trimmer, not $3,000

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: practical electric bike
by Splinter on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 02:40 UTC in reply to "RE: practical electric bike"
Splinter Member since:
2005-07-13

I have been wondering for ages why electric bikes aren't cheaper. You can buy full sized mountain bikes with front and back suspension now for $90 at Walmart.

Small electric motors are very cheap to make and it takes a very small amount of power to help you along.

An $80 weed trimmer (gas or electric) would produce enough power.

With all these advancements in technology I am amazed that combining these things is still so bloody expensive. It should cost $250 to combine a $90 bicycle with the engine from an $80 weed trimmer, not $3,000

Their is two major components you left out... batteries and electronic controller. A controller should be under $100.

However batteries are still not cheap. Realistically you would be looking around $800 - $1500 for a good sized battery pack for off road rough terrain. $300 to $500 for commuting...

So Commuting...
90 + 80 + 100 + 300 = $570 for a cheap commuter...
and that is about what the go for. EG http://www.value-e-bikes.com.au/

Now the mountain bikes (serious ones) start at around $800 or more for the base bike.
800 + 80 + 100 + 800 = $1780 for the cheapest "good" off roader...
and again you can get them for that. EG http://www.hi-powercycles.com/category.sc?categoryId=10

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: practical electric bike
by ferrix on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 03:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: practical electric bike"
ferrix Member since:
2005-07-06

Do yourself a favour and stay away from those cheap made in china e-bikes, as they are complete crap and when they break, no repair shop will touch them... believe me, I speak from experience!

Either splurge 2,000+ bucks for a decent model with decent dealer support, or roughly for the same money get a scooter/second hand motorcycle - much more useful proposition. Again, speaking from experience.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: practical electric bike
by Splinter on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 09:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: practical electric bike"
Splinter Member since:
2005-07-13

Totally agree... I was just showing that starting with a cheap china frame, with a cheap china motor is not the whole story.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: practical electric bike
by braddock on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 17:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: practical electric bike"
braddock Member since:
2005-07-08

Do yourself a favour and stay away from those cheap made in china e-bikes, as they are complete crap and when they break, no repair shop will touch them... believe me, I speak from experience!

Either splurge 2,000+ bucks for a decent model...


The eZips/iZips sold in Walmart and Target are the low end brands of the American company Currie Technologies which also make $2k+ models and has a dealer and service network. My iZip is built like a tank.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: practical electric bike
by ndrw on Sat 6th Aug 2011 04:46 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: practical electric bike"
ndrw Member since:
2009-06-30

Like most other things from China, but..

Electric bikes are currently extremely popular in China. Basically everything from converted rusty tricycles, city bicycles, scooters to small motorcycles is now using electric motors. Of course they are all used for commuting, not riding in the forest for fun, so they are usually simple, cheap and functional. But there are literally millions of them on the streets, now.

If that trend continues, in a couple of years Chinese makers will be way ahead of anyone else, so I wouldn't dismiss their bikes just because they are currently designed for Chinese commuters.

Reply Score: 2

RE: practical electric bike
by bornagainenguin on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 18:58 UTC in reply to "practical electric bike"
bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

braddock teased with...

An electric bike doesn't have to break the bank. I've had a sub-$400 izip electric bike bought through Walmart which I've put hundreds of miles on in the past two years.


oi! You can't just drop that in a conversation on the Internet without putting a link in so we can give it a look ourselves!

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 2

impractical
by unclefester on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 08:17 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

A 50cc 2 stroke scooter is cheaper, much faster (50-70km/h), has a 200+km range, has a much better carrying capacity and is far more comfortable.

Reply Score: 1

RE: impractical
by Nth_Man on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 08:29 UTC in reply to "impractical "
Nth_Man Member since:
2010-05-16

Maybe they are trying to reduce pollution, get in a better shape, improve their health, etc. while they go to work, for example.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: impractical
by unclefester on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 09:02 UTC in reply to "RE: impractical "
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

You get no health benefit unless you pedal the bike yourself.

Batteries have a short effective lifespan (~1000 charges). Processing rare earths to make electric motor magnets is extremely hazardous and highly polluting.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: impractical
by Nth_Man on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 09:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: impractical "
Nth_Man Member since:
2010-05-16

You get no health benefit unless you pedal the bike yourself.

They are talking about pedalling and also using the motor when needed, for example riding uphill. And about the chance of getting batteries charged when riding downhill. They would do exercise but not too much, so they wouldn't go to work exhausted or with a lot of sweat.

If the destination place is near, they don't need an electric bike, of course, just a normal one.

Batteries have a short effective lifespan (~1000 charges). Processing rare earths to make electric motor magnets is extremely hazardous and highly polluting.

Other vehicles, like cars, to be made and to be used... require a lot of elements and have also batteries. I was are not talking about eliminating pollution, just about reducing it.

Edited 2011-08-02 09:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: impractical
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 14:47 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: impractical "
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Switching to vespa style scooters instead of cars would also be a huge step in reducing fuel consumption and pollution. With our lazy population, it would also be more likely to be accepted. I was looking at moving to a small town and downgrading from car to vespa, but it just wasn't the right fit for me.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: impractical
by zima on Sat 6th Aug 2011 22:35 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: impractical "
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Relatively more likely, maybe. But don't keep your hopes too high for the place, considering even supermini cars aren't exactly accepted.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: impractical
by Splinter on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 09:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: impractical "
Splinter Member since:
2005-07-13

Batteries have a short effective lifespan (~1000 charges). Processing rare earths to make electric motor magnets is extremely hazardous and highly polluting.


Most lithium batteries quote well over 1000 cycles to loose only 20 percent of their original capacity. They still work just 80% of original energy storage.

Most push bike motors use NO rare earth metals they are just too dear. And most of the concern with rare earth elements in batteries are derived from the Toyota's NiCd batteries... not newer LiPo or LiFePo batteries.

Reply Score: 1

RE: impractical
by Splinter on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 09:17 UTC in reply to "impractical "
Splinter Member since:
2005-07-13

You do know he was using a mountain bike in forest trails. I don't think the cheap scooter would do that.

Reply Score: 1

bionx - bosch
by spinnekopje on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 09:37 UTC
spinnekopje
Member since:
2008-11-29

I've got a bionx on one of my bikes. I like the system, and for braking I almost only use the regenerative brake.. (I live near Antwerp, Belgium, so it's quite flat). The system certainly doesn't work perfectly, but when you're used to it it is very nice.

Last Spezialradmesse I could test ride a couple of bikes with a system from Bosch, that one really works like a charm. There is no regenerative braking, but the (software of that) system really works good.

Talking about software: the gocycle even has a plug for usb to install updates! ( http://www.gocycle.com/ )

Edited 2011-08-02 09:38 UTC

Reply Score: 1

laws
by ssam on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 11:50 UTC
ssam
Member since:
2006-03-12

In the UK electric bikes can only assist your pedalling
http://www.electricbicycles.co.uk/uk-laws.php
otherwise they would be classed as motor bikes.

but they make cycling feasible in a lot of cases that it otherwise would not be. so it may not be as much exercise as a normal bike, or as fast as a motor bike. but for some people it can replace a car, which is a huge saving (cost and energy).

Reply Score: 1

DetunizedGravity
Member since:
2009-06-17

"While I was riding, I was also wondering whether it would be feasible to do a completely drive by wire system wherein the pedaling only charges the battery, and isn’t connected physically to the wheel at all, similar to the way ..."

What you forgot here is that battery charge while riding is always achieved thanks to the motor, which produces electricity when rotated by mechanical forces. If you want to pedal to charge the battery while not using the existing motor then you need to add a generator, that is another electric motor. And BOTH would have to be big enough to generate enough energy for the whole propulsion. That's the point after all.

You MIGHT gain a slight improvement in efficiency in energy conversion over a transmission chain (which is not the best of trade but has many other benefits), but I'd bet on a huge overall efficiency loss due to the added weigth. And you'd still have to use the first motor for regenerative braking anyway.

The example you give are of fixed powerplants with no weigth constraints, where mechanical transmission of energy can prove less than practical. Different needs, different contexts lead to different designs.

Reply Score: 1

Been eBike active since 1997
by curio on Tue 2nd Aug 2011 13:30 UTC
curio
Member since:
2010-05-03

Dave, I seldom post here but read OSNews often. I can save all of you a bunch of time with one single link. I've spent thousands of hours since 1997 researching this topic and subsequently building eBikes from kits. If you're really interested in the cutting edge of eBike technology today at far more reasonable prices than the Bionix kits, with all the replacement parts you need, the link below will provide you with a fast-track to becoming current on the topic. Including your desired motor/trip control computer with customizable firmware. This Canadian company is the preeminent kit eBike company that everyone tries to copy.

http://www.ebikes.ca/index.shtml

eBike Law:
Here in the US there is a federal law that supersedes all state laws regarding the classification of eBikes. By law they don't need a drivers license, minimum age or registration of any kind if the bike has pedals and is kept within the various legal wattage and speed limits set out in the legislation. Here in the states you can have a full power from a dead start version and don't need to have the pedal assist-only versions required in the UK.

Practical Exercise:
They say the best exercise for you is the one that you'll do. With an eBike the hills are flattened, thereby making them far more viable a solution for more people. Where I live the old joke about the gran-dad who had to walk barefoot five miles to school everyday, uphill both ways is the real deal. I live on a river at the base of a mountain valley where everywhere you go of any distance is truly uphill both ways.

Regenerative Braking:
Regen braking, while still quite useful, will not ever reclaim much more than 20% of the energy available during braking due to the internal forward resistance inherent in all current battery technologies.
Also, with hub motors the shaft is held stationary while the whole motor turns. Regen braking causes both a positive (when powering) and negative (when braking) torque to be applied to the motor's shaft the effect of which causes the wheel fasteners to become loose over time. A torque washer is normally used and adequate for non-regen setups. A special torque clamping system is needed for this problem. The reason I mention it here is that the company at the link above hasn't as yet figured it through fully in that regard. I have been fabricating my own design for some time now because allowing a situation where bolts come loose all the time is poor design.

I don't have any ties to this company. Just trying to set any of you interested parties on the right track to save you some of the time and aggravation I've gone through. Questions?

Reply Score: 1