BikeCommuters.com

technology

Adaptive Use Electric Bike Makes Trails All-Access

Did you catch any of the Sochi Paralympics this year? Wowza. Olympic-level athletes are hardcore, but paralympians take it to a whole new level. Just goes to show that often, the only limiting factor of human ability is the speed of innovation and current technology. The human mind and body together can tackle the most demanding, rigorous sports—and that includes road and mountain biking.

This fact was most recently brought to our attention by a company from North Carolina, Outrider USA, which is launching an innovative adaptive-use bike, the Horizon. The electric cycle is a rugged all-terrain trike designed to allow riders of different abilities, including many paraplegics and quadriplegics, to get out on the roads and trails.

Though the company has been building electric trikes since 2011, it wasn’t until teaming up with Christopher Wenner, Ph.D., a quadriplegic adventurer, a little over a year ago that the Outrider team focused on adaptive technology. Chris Wenner wanted to recapture the feeling of riding his mountain bike prior to an injury that made the sport inaccessible until now.

“The driving mission behind the Horizon trike is simple: Just because an individual has a physical disability, doesn’t mean they don’t still crave the adventure and freedom of riding a bike,” says Jesse Lee, Outrider Co-founder. “When we combined that mission with our experience building the world’s highest performing electric bikes, the Horizon was born – and the feedback on the prototypes has been incredibly positive.”

The Horizon adapts to the abilities of the rider – from riders with full leg and arm function to riders with limited function such as paraplegics and quadriplegics. It is possible to ride the Horizon:

  • with full function of your arms and legs
  • with left hand/arm only
  • with right hand/arm only
  • with upper body function but limited leg function
  • with upper body function but no leg function
  • with limited function in both your arms and legs (you’ll need some amount of arm function for steering, braking and throttle.)
  • with any combination of the above

Horizon: Like No Other Electric Bike

Horizon is not your typical electric bike. Outrider describes the Horizon as “the bike for your super-hero alter ego.” With its adaptive-use design and powerful electric assist technology, Horizon is ready for adventures on the street or the road less traveled.

Features of the Horizon: Adaptable and customizable for a range of physical abilities

  • Foot Pedals or Hand Pedals (with foot-tray)
  • Standard hand controls or adapted use hand controls (tri-pin)
  • Actuated seat (rising) to make getting in and out of the seat easier
  • Fold down handlebars for side entry to the seat
  • Three wheels and low center of gravity make balancing simple

Electric assist:

  • Twist the throttle when you want a boost, pedal when you want, or do both together. It’s totally up to you.
  • Horizon is capable of tackling steep mountains and seriously long distances
  • Speeds reach up to 30 mph.
  • Forward and Reverse

In order to get the Horizon into production, Outrider recently launch a Kickstarter campaign to “help with the tooling and production costs of the first production run” and to get feedback directly from adaptive sports and rehabilitation centers. With the help of crowd-sourced funding, the Outrider team aims to get the Horizon into production and delivered by the end of the year.

Interested in learning more about the Outrider Kickstarter campaign? Read more here.

Bike safety to the extreme: Laser lights, vibrating handlebars and more

This morning I was zipping down a six block descent on my way to work, eyeing a sporty black car that was creeping suspiciously down the hill. As a good defensive bicyclist, I slowed my roll, covering the brakes as I gained on the car and an approaching intersection. The light was green; I was headed straight through the intersection and so was the car until it made an unexpected, unsignaled right turn, cutting me off. Luckily, I had slowed significantly and changed my trajectory, turning right alongside the car. Not sure if the driver even noticed me.

I was lucky. Sometimes defensive biking isn’t enough to avoid a collision.

This was not my first near miss, not even the first one of the week, so when a friend told me about the BLAZE Laserlight, my first thought was, “I could definitely use a little green bicycle fairy.” Because that’s what the BLAZE light is: a high-powered LED that projects a green bicycle shape onto the roadway about 16 feet in front of a cyclist, warning drivers of an approaching rider. Hopefully, the green bike will alert space-cadet drivers and make cyclists less vulnerable to blind spots and other potential dangers.

A little green friend.

It’s true, BLAZE Laserlight is just the newest iteration of an idea that’s been around for several years—check out these laser beam bike buffers—but I have yet to see this concept in action on the street. Maybe it seems like overkill to have little green bikes (or laser beams) announcing a cyclist’s every turn.

On the other hand, maybe laser beams are just the beginning. A group of engineering students at Northeastern have taken bike safety to the extreme, creating the Interactive Bicyclist Accident Prevention System (iBAPS). The “smart bike” prototype incorporates a plethora of safety features.

Extreme safety measures.

Smarter than your average cyclist? The iBAPS features:

  • Sensors to detect cars impinging on a cyclists space
  • Laser beams (of course) that project a 3-foot wide virtual bike lane
  • If a car comes too close, the bike “emits a loud message, telling drivers to move further away.” (I think we’re all wondering the same thing, what is this message and is it customizable?)
  • When approaching an intersection at high speed, the handlebars vibrate as a warning to slow down. (Frightening.)
  • Using Bluetooth tech, the bike can sync up with a rider’s smartphone leading to all kinds of excessive data extrapolation. Like tracking riding trends to inform the biker how likely it is that their riding behavior will lead to a crash.
  • With the smartphone GPS, the bike can vibrate the handlebars, alerting the rider to make the correct turns to reach a destination. (I just can’t get over the vibrating thing. It would scare the crap outta me.)
  • As cars get smarter too, eventually the bike will be able to communicate with vehicles on the road. (Where’s  my self-riding bicycle, Google?)

Read more about the iBAPS smart bike from the Boston.com.

All these features make my measly helmet & flashing lights seem antiquated. I’m all for bike safety measures and, although some of these seem a bit extreme, to ensure I arrive to my destination unscathed, nothing may be too extreme.

How far would you go to ensure your safety while bike commuting? Is it possible that the iBAPS is missing any features?

 

How technology is changing the face of bicycle commuting

Here’s an interesting article that appeared in our Google News Feed the other day — from Fast Company, folks who know a thing or two about technology and new businesses:

Bicycles, with their gears and pedal power may seem like the Luddites of the transportation family, but the technology available to improve your ride is out there, it’s growing, and it’s helping more Americans consider bikes as a method of transportation than ever before.

If you’re a cyclist, or have friends who prefer two wheels to four, you are aware of how passionate people can be about bicycles, and specifically their enthusiasm for bike evangelism.

Tyler Doornbos, of Bike Friendly Goods in Grand Rapids, Michigan, chatted with me about some of the “barriers to entry” for getting more people on bikes, and how new technologies are addressing some of those issues. I’ve taken his advice and put together this short guide to digitizing your bike commute.

Read the full article by visiting the Fast Company page here. The article serves as a rundown of emerging new tech and devices to make your commute safer and easier. You may have heard of some of the technology already, but there were a few products in the article that were completely new to me, and I try to stay abreast of the trends in the industry. The article is worth a look, in any case.

Review: Bushnell SolarWrap Mini

Just before we went off to Interbike, our friend Jim at Bushnell sent us a sample from their new PowerSync line of portable solar chargers. The sample we received was the SolarWrap Mini:

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Some details directly from Bushnell’s website:

-Durable, flexible solar panels roll up into a small lightweight package for easy storage
-High solar collectivity even in less than full sun conditions
-1x USB outputs for charging your devices
-1x Micro USB for charging from a wall outlet
-On board dual long-life Li Ion batteries

Also, according to Bushnell, the SolarWrap Mini will:

-charge the internal batteries via wall outlet in 4 hours
-charge the internal batteries in full sun in 10 hours
-provide 2.5 charges to camera or GPS, 2 charges to an MP3 player or 1 charge to a smartphone.

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The solar panel itself is made of a very thin and flexible film over a woven nylon backing. It’s pretty amazing how far solar technology has come in the last 20 years — no heavy plastic or glass panels here!

Rolled up, the SolarWrap Mini is about the size of a BMX handlebar grip (about 4″ x 1.25″). It easily fits into a pocket or bag. The SolarWrap Mini comes with a “bikini-style” endcap system (rubber caps, elastic cords) to keep dust out of the USB ports. There’s a port on each end; one side houses the Micro USB “input” end (with LED charge/full indicator), the other has a standard fullsize USB port for output.

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Unfurled, the device is just a hair over 18″ long. Hook-and-loop fasteners on one side of the solar panel keep everything tidy when it is rolled up. There’s a sewn eyelet on the end of the panel to lash the device to something. I would have liked to have seen additional lashing points so that I could securely strap this device to the top of my rear rack or over the top of my backpack as I rode.

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(carabiner clip shown not included)

As claimed, the SolarWrap Mini charged in about 4 hours via wall outlet, and about 6 hours via computer USB. In the most direct sunlight I could find, I left the charger out for 12 hours and the red charging lamp was still lit. I have no way to test how much charge was in the internal battery, but the red lamp indicates that there was additional charging room to spare. Granted, the sunlight shifted throughout that period and I may have gotten some inadvertent shade at times — this is why being able to securely lash the device out into full sun would be a great addition!

The SolarWrap Mini was a godsend during our trip to Interbike. With all the time spent in airports on my way to and from Las Vegas, I put the hurtin’ on my smartphone’s battery. By plugging in the SolarWrap Mini, I was able to fully recharge the battery. Eventually, I just used it as an auxiliary battery, leaving it plugged in to my phone while I texted, chatted, and Facebooked in the various terminals I visited. The SolarWrap Mini also came in handy out in the desert — allowing me to trickle-charge my phone via solar panel while I walked around the Outdoor Demo.

The Bushnell SolarWrap Mini retails for $89.99. I think that’s a reasonable price for this device — a little extra power when you really need it can be a lifesaver! Other than the issue of securely lashing the device, the SolarWrap Mini worked as claimed and kept me in contact during long trips away from electrical outlets.

Bushnell offers a few other sizes in their PowerSync line. That means there’s a charging solution for everyone’s needs!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Leed Bicycle Solution: Custom made E-bike wheel for the sidecar

You all may have seen photos of the sidecar project that I have going on. One of the complaints I have with the sidecar is how heavy it is to pedal. As much as I wanted to try and find some sort of multi-geared solution for the bike, that option just can’t be executed due to the way the sidecar mounts on the rear axle. So I was stuck with a single speed configuration. But it gave me an idea after I saw an ad online for Leed Bicycle Solutions. I then got in contact with Mike Merrell over at Leed and we began talking about creating an e-bike solution for the sidecar.

After a few emails, photos and text messages, Mike got all the info he needed to make this happen. Mind you, the sidecar uses 20″ wheels. So this meant Mike had to acquire a 20″ rim and build a motor into it. The whole process took about a week and once it arrived at the Wold HQ of BikeCommuters.com, I immediately went to work to install it.

Before we get on with the rest of the article, here’s some tech info about the kit I received: 30k powered by Samsung Li-Ion Batteries. The kit is everything you need to convert any bike to electric. The online price is $699 and MSRP is $799.

Here’s more technical info about the kit:
30k E-Bike Kit powered by Samsung:
http://www.e-bikerig.com/products/30k-e-bike-kit-samsung-li-ion.html

8Fun Planetary Motor:
http://www.e-bikerig.com/24v-bike-hub-planetary-motor/

10.4 Ah Li-Ion Battery powered by Samsung (Leed 30k):
http://www.e-bikerig.com/products/30k-extra-battery-samsung-li-ion.html

Ok, now that we got all that technical stuff situated, here’s what the finished installation looks like. That clear, square box in the spokes are LED lights that I’m also reviewing. Notice the fork strut? I had to make a small cut in order to open it up to fit the larger sized axle. This also meant that I had to drill out the strut a bit bigger so it will fit. Once I got the strut on, I just snugged it up on both sides.
ebike side car

The “throttle” is a basic On-OFF Switch. You just push it to make the wheel go. Can be strapped on either side of your handle bar.
electric sidecar

Wires can be neatly zip tied to the frame.
bicycle sidecar

I originally wanted to install the battery pack under the seat board of the sidecar, but the way the wiring worked out, this was my best option. Besides, I was able to secure the pack to the frame of the sidecar with the velcro straps that it came with.
custom electric sidecar

Voila! All set up and got a max speed of 12mph. That’s including my weight, the bike/sidecar and my daughter. That’s a pretty decent speed considering the weight of the sidecar itself.
leed bicycle solutions

Here are those PBLights (LED) that I mentioned earlier. The Leed Bicycle Solutions e-bike kit makes the sidecar even more fun to ride. We have a whole series of articles that will pertain to this project build. We plan on getting the sidecar either powder coated or painted and finish up the upholstery as well.
photo

Here’s a couple of short clips of the e-bike kit in action. Forgive the quality, not sure what happened there.
The motor has enough torque to where you don’t have to pedal just to get it going. Here’s my daughter riding it.

Then it was my turn.