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Tag Archive: electric bike

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.

Review: Ridekick E-Trailer

Right after Interbike we got our hands on a demo unit from RideKick. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s basically a utility trailer that has an electric motor which in turn propels any bicycle forward giving it e-bike capabilities.

This was our demo unit. My daughter graciously help “model” these photos for me.
RideKick Review bikecommuters.com

Features/Specs

Pushes your bike up to 19 Mph
Lead Acid Battery Ridekick Trailer weighs 43 lbs and the Lithium Ridekick Trailer weighs 38 lbs.
Simple throttle gives you variable speed control
Ride 10-12 miles on a full charge on the Lead Acid Battery and 25 miles on the Lithium
Room for a briefcase or bags of groceries
Clicks on or off your bike in 15 seconds
Weather resistant storage case with combination lock
Installs on most any bike in under 12 minutes
Designed to be safe, stable in turns and when stopped
Your bicycle feels comfortable even with a full cargo load
Provides all the benefits of an electric bike or ebike conversion kit without modifying your bike

Cool little feature, the trailer has a built in LED tail light. Great idea, but it would have been great if it was bigger and brighter.
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The left drive wheel is powered by the motor via chain.
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To attach the RideKick, simply place it on the rear, loop the strap and run the throttle control to your handlebar.
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Access to the trunk/battery compartment is guarded by a combination lock. This area allows you to store all sorts of goodies like groceries, bags and whatever else can fit in there.
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On a depleted battery, it took 5-6 hours for the RideKick to fully charge. My top speed via GPS was 18.2 miles. The site says it can reach up to 19mph, but I’m sure that could be easily achieved with a lighter rider. I was able to travel 11 miles on a single charge. One of the things I liked about the RideKick was its throttle. Most e-bikes will surge forward as soon as you twist or hit the throttle. But the RideKick will gradually increase speed. So that means if I’m at a stop sign, I hit the button; it will start moving and within a few feet will be up to 100%. It’s a bit of a safety feature if you think about it.

The RideKick is pretty fun device. It allows the rider to carry extra cargo in its trunk and get ample speed if needed. The price for the trailer ranges from $699 to $1359, depending on features. To some this may be steep, but if you compare it to other e-bikes out there, it’s relatively affordable. Most e-bikes start with a price point over $1000, and they’ll charge you an extra few hundred for battery upgrades and etc.

So how does this feel when you ride it? It’s a blast! The Ridekick is very stable and when you weigh it down with load, it will bounce less. During our testing period, we took it through various terrains such as street, grass, dirt and gravel. On the street is where the RideKick excels, but on wet grass or loose gravel, the drive wheel will spin out due to lack of traction. But then again, I really don’t think it was made to ride over that terrain. The only thing I really didn’t like about the RideKick was its size. Granted, it’s a trailer, but having to store it if you’re not using it or even when charging it will require some space. Lucky for me, I have garage with ample room, but for folks with limited space who live in apartments or smaller homes, this might become cumbersome.

I need to mention that our demo unit suddenly died during one of our tests( jumping off the curb). I sent an email to the folks at RideKick and a person named Mike W. responded. He reassured me that the issue I had was nothing but a connection that had gone loose (from all the times we were hopping the curb). All I had to do was open the battery bag and reconnect it. Sure enough when I check it, that was exactly the problem. So if you decide to get one of these, you’ll be in good hands if you ever have any technical issues.

Overall, we were pretty pleased with the RideKick Trailer. It performed well during our tests and their customer support was excellent. So if you’re in the market for an e-bike, you may want to consider the RideKick Trailer for the mere fact that you’re investing into something that will attach to any of your current bikes and gives you room to carry a small load. The advantage of going with this trailer versus getting a whole new e-bike is repurposing your current bike.

Our disclaimer.

Interbike 2012 Energie/Reeves Bicycles

Another Electric bike??? Yes.

Their slogan? “Exercise on your own terms.”

The company is very new having made its first bicycle to be sold in May of this year.

Energie is for the U.S. market and Reeves is for the Mexican market. They’re very similar bikes but some of the specs have been downgraded on the Reeves to make it more affordable.

Energie is based out in Las Vegas, Nevada. MSRP varies between $1500-$2400 with dealer prices receiving a discount.

When I asked why Energie was created when there are plenty of electric bike companies that exist, the spokesperson shared that the company was bridging the gap between the battery company with a bike company. It was at the end of the day so I wasn’t able to get much information from the spokespeople there. So I went to their website and got their press release. According to their website,

“There are only a handful of e-bike manufacturers that offer more than the bare minimum rechargeable power capacity. What’s more besides us there are absolutely “0” bike distributors that are directly connected to a leading lithium cell manufacturer and have access to their own top battery pack engineers.

Ours have managed to fit a massive 36 volt 16 amp hour LiCoMn rechargeable Lithium pack inside the same space normally used by a 10Ah battery. This combination of super high quality cells and additional power adds both distance and hill-climbing torque.

The team also designed and built our own battery management system and charge protection circuitry.

Besides our primary battery pack, we have developed one of the most advanced secondary external battery packs built on the famous Tubus rack from Germany that include sensing intelligence that first knows when the second pack is connected and when the primary pack is low enough to make the switch. No more carrying a duplicate battery in a backpack just to go longer and get home.”

  • 36 volt
  • 16 amp
  • Can travel 30 miles on one charge
  • 20 mph w/out pedaling

Interesting take on why to start a company. I wonder if their bikes will be better than other electric bike companies because of the in-house relationship between the battery manufacturer and the bike manufacturer.

Company site: Energie

Interbike 2012: Pedego Electric Bikes

Interbike 2012 Sign

Pedego, a company based in Irvine, makes electric bikes that function a lot like scooters with pedals. Their designs are catchy, colorful, and cater to those that don’t bike often.

Tricycle

I had a chance to talk to Jenny Nguyen, Director of Social Media for Pedego, and when I asked her why anyone should consider purchasing a Pedego, she said that Pedegos are for those that may “have never ridden a bike–it’s convenient, fun and perfect for the non-cyclist.” I know that most of the readers, if not all, of Bikecommuters.com already own a bike but maybe I could shed some light on what she meant. At first, the idea of making a bicycle (let alone a bicycle company) for those that don’t ride a bike seemed like a crazy idea. But then I remembered when I didn’t like bikes. The only bike I wanted, if I were to ever buy one, was a beach cruiser. And even when I rode that beach cruiser, I thought that it was too much pedaling to be relaxing. So, in other words, I wanted a bike that could both be pedaled and throttled like a Pedego.

Comfort Cruiser Step Through

Comfort Cruiser, Men's

Shown above are the Comfort Cruisers. They offer the bikes in a variety of colors as shown in their catalog.

City Commuter

City Commuter in White

Battery

Display

Front Light

I spoke to two different employees of Pedego and both talked more about the City Commuter model. It makes sense — it’s a pretty bike. While priced similarly at around $2,ooo, the slightly more expensive City Commuter was the prettier of the two. Nothing against the Comfort Cruiser, I just dig the looks of the City Commuter better. It can go 15-30 miles per charge without pedaling and 30-50 miles per charge with pedaling. The really cool thing is that the bike can go 20 mph! To most, that’s normal for an electric bike but I know what it means to ride 20 mph without any assist and it’s not easy to maintain.  The City Commuter weighs about 50 lbs plus an approximately 7lb battery.

Product site: Pedego

New Hybrid Bicycle Technology from Giant

Here’s a little tidbit that came from our new friends at Dispatch Marketing, the PR firm used by Giant Bicycles:

Giant Hybrid

From the press release:

Advanced Technology That’s Simple to Use
Fusing human energy with the power of an electric motor is the essence of Giant’s Hybrid bicycles. What makes their function so unique is that Giant’s Hybrid bicycles engage the rider through a host of hidden technological features that work in unison with the body’s power output. The more human pedal power put in, the more supplemental electric power in response from the bicycle, all while being as simple to use as turning on a switch and pedaling.

There are several key technical elements to Giant’s Hybrid Cycling Technology, yet the advanced EnergyPak lithium ion battery technology and intelligence in Giant’s proprietary PedalPlus power sensor and I² driver technology are two crucial technological highlights that enable the unique Hybrid ride and offer a drastically increased range of use. At the heart of Giant’s Hybrid bicycles, rider input is read in real time through a highly receptive PedalPlus power sensor in the bicycle drivetrain that senses rider pedaling input and then interacts with the I² driver that intelligently and instantly reads pedaling motion, creating a smooth power transmission message to the SyncDrive motor in the front wheel.

Giant’s EnergyPak lithium ion batteries are lighter, smaller and provide more power and convenience than traditional batteries found in powered bicycles, ultimately creating a lighter, better performing, more agile feeling and drastically more stylish bicycle. EnergyPak lithium ion batteries also offer far greater range, allowing Hybrid bicycles to travel approximately 70 miles versus less than 20 miles utilizing previous battery power sources. The included SmartCharger charges the EnergyPak batteries in approximately four hours – half the time of older generation batteries. Riders utilize the RideControl command center, a handlebar interface that offers three power settings that enable a rider to travel farther or faster at their own command.

Quality, Dependability and Availability
Hybrid bicycle quality is second to none as every bicycle is made by Giant, the top producer of quality bicycles, in a dedicated Hybrid-only manufacturing facility. Consumers can depend on unparalleled service and support as every Giant Bicycle dealer will be a local resource for Hybrid consumers. For 2009, Hybrid Cycling Technology bicycle models include the Twist Freedom DX and Twist Freedom DX W for women, each available for $2,000 at authorized Giant Bicycle retail locations.”

In addition, our contact at Dispatch indicates that “[This] bike is a HUGE deal for Giant and will be for years to come as the company has a stand-alone factory ONLY making these bicycles…consumers can rest assured that it’s gone through arguably the most strict quality control process in the world and it’s backed by a global support team.

sweet hybrid

Very intriguing, indeed…who knows? Maybe they’ll let us borrow one to try out! This really sounds like the best of both worlds — electric assist for the tougher parts of a commute, pedaling effort for exercise and efficiency.