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Tag Archive: Electric Bikes

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.

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.

E-Bikes On the Rise (Again)

We just got this tidbit from one of our PR industry friends…an article from a new digital magazine put out by GE called The Txchnologist. The following article is on the continued rise of electric and electric-assist bicycles in the U.S. market:

No news story or movie about China is complete, it seems, without images of throngs of people riding two, three and four abreast down the street on bicycles, both manual and electric. This latter type, known as the e-bike, has seen exponential growth in recent years; one estimate had 100 million e-bikes plying China’s roads in 2009.

Now Americans, prompted by high gas prices and growing eco-consciousness, are slowly embracing the e-bike, too. E-bike sales in the U.S. have been growing at a 21 percent annual clip – albeit from a modest base – and could reach 785,000 a year by 2016, according to Pike Research, a clean energy market research firm.

Read the rest of the article by visiting the Txchnologist site. We’ve been talking about the rise of e-bikes here for a while now, especially the past year or so. Still, I haven’t seen too many “in the wild” — and absolutely ZERO since I moved to Ohio. Have any of you noticed more e-bikes on the streets where YOU live?

“Urban Commuting” and E-Bikes at the Big Shows…

Well, Eurobike — Europe’s largest bicycle trade show — kicked off yesterday, and as many of you know the U.S. equivalent Interbike is coming up in a few short weeks.

A few of us are signed up and ready to go for our annual coverage of Interbike for Bikecommuters.com and our sister site Mtnbikeriders.com…this will be the first year that I get to join RL and Moe and the other folks from Mtnbikeriders.com. Now that we’re signed up to attend, we’ve been getting bombarded by dozens of previews, press releases and invitations to vendor meetings at their respective show booths. It’s a great “sneak peek” at what we can expect at the show.

Overwhelmingly, the press releases for both Eurobike and Interbike focus on so-called “urban commuting” bikes (less racy, more practical) and electric/electric-hybrid bikes. Supposedly, this is the big year when E-bikes reach a sizeable market penetration into the U.S. They’re already wildly popular in many Asian countries and there is a decent market in Europe, but currently they still hold a tiny percentage of the U.S. interest. That’s fixin’ to change, if the PR is accurate…

What do YOU think? Are E-bikes going to take off here in the U.S.? Are there still too many skeptics here? Rest assured, we’ll be taking a look at the offerings at Interbike and sharing our thoughts with you…and will hopefully get to report on some promising technologies. Stay tuned!

Is electric the way to go?

I’ve noticed more people riding bikes powered by battery or gas around my area. I’ve also noticed an increase of electric bike and gas kit offerings on the L.A. CraigList.

We had a chance to review the Wilderness Electric kit back in ’05 on another site; and I also had a chance to ride with one to work.

The electric kit was fun to ride, but the biggest drawback was the weight. The bike pictured tipped the scales at 80lbs making it hard to brake and also a slow handling bike. I commuted with the Electric bike kit for about a month, I then realized that I didn’t need it. I found myself pedaling more than using the electric kit. The biggest reason was that I didn’t want to run out of juice; even though the kit was supposed to last for at least 30 miles.

One great thing about the electric bike is that you can arrive to work rather fresh. I rode the last two miles with the electric kit so I was not sweaty at all. The kit also has a top speed of 20 MPH, not a slow bike by any means, but then there was the braking issue… a heavy bike meant a longer distance to come to a stop.

Prices of electric bikes and kits vary a lot, from $439 for the Wilderness Electric Kit to $950 for an E-bike. Another advantage of an electric bike is that you don’t need a motorcycle license nor does it need to be registered or insured.

Electric bikes may not be for everyone, specifically those who are looking into benefiting from the exercise that riding a bike provides. But for those who are looking into ditching the car and are really concerned about arriving to work sweaty or may not be in the best physical condition, an electric bike may be the way to go.