Two wheel drive e-Pugsely…

3 01 2011

Electric monster Pugsely...

Ken at Power in Motion built this electric dual motor two wheel driver uber Pugsley. Looks cool!  I don’t know much else about it, but if you get a hold of Ken I’m sure he’d love to chat about how he set this up.





900 Lumen LED Bike Light

28 05 2010

Power in Motion 900 Lumen LED bike light...

Ken at Power in Motion gave me this 900 lumen LED bike light to try out.  Naturally I said yes!  My reference lights are a pair of Dinotte 200L-AA that are rated at 200 lumens each and run on 4 AA rechargeable batteries.  I’ve always thought the 200L’s were very bright so I was interested to see what 900 lumens was like.

Light engine, battery and charger in box...

This light kit consists of a LED light engine, proprietary rechargeable battery and AC charger.  The box the light comes in is easy to open with a flip top and magnetic latch.  That’s nice because typically I recycle product boxes because they aren’t very easy to open/close for day to day use.  I’d actually keep this box to store the light when not in use and reuse is better than recycling by a long shot.

Business end of light engine...

The light engine features a SSCP7 LED and simple reflector.  Note that the optics are not focused so you get a cone of light that extends from the light engine.

Heat-sink and control button...

The light engine case is waterproof and features a integral heat-sink to keep the light cool.  There is a single control button on the back that cycles between high power steady, low power steady, flashing high power and off.

Battery pack...

I have no specs on the proprietary battery pack other than a stated runtime of 3hrs on high steady.  I tested this and managed 3hrs 10mins with my unit.  Low steady should run for a lot longer and in flashing mode I imagine it will be a week or more of night riding before you would have to think about charging.  It took me 4hrs to charge the battery from empty to full with the included AC charger.

I should note it looks like the light engine may draw a small amount of current when off [same as the Dinotte] so I’d recommend you unplug the battery pack if you aren’t using it so you don’t drain the battery unnecessarily.

The plug is waterproof and easy to use.  Both the plug and the wiring look solid and should be robust enough for long term use.  Ken mentioned that this light can be connected to one of his e-bike kits so you can run it from the main e-bike battery. That would be a convenient option for a electric bike commuter.

The battery come with a nylon case that can easily be attached to your bike via a velcro strap.

My test light on the left and my Dinotte 200L on the right...

The test light engine mounts in a similar fashion to the Dinotte 200L using a rubber o-ring.  This is a very versatile mounting method that has lasted several years of regular use.  This means the light can be swapped from bike to bike in seconds without tools and the beam can be aimed up and down on the fly.  Of course this type of mount means the light can be stolen easily so you’d be advised to take it with you when locking the bike.  You get a large and a small o-ring with the light kit so you should be set for just about any diameter bar.

On the whole I really like these o-ring mounts.  The convenience of use outweighs the security issue for me.

Top view...

The test light is attractive and looks well made.  As you can see from the photos it’s quite a bit bigger than the Dinotte 200L, but at 4.5 times the rated lumens maybe that’s a necessary thing – the Dinotte 800 lumen light is much bigger as well.  The Dinotte case is a work of art to be sure, however, it comes at a cost.  The 900 lumen LED tested here sells for $145 CDN at Power in Motion compared to $229 USD for a 200L – LI proprietary [lithium battery version] or $351 USD for a Dinotte 800 lumen light.

Rear view...

The 900 lumen test light is controlled from the rear via a single button that is illuminated to show it has power and switches to red to indicate a low battery.  The button is not as easy to use as the Dinotte button because it doesn’t protrude from the case as much, but I was able to change settings with a gloved hand no problem.

The light engine and battery weigh 340 grams [12oz] – light enough I didn’t notice them on my bikes.

Dinotte 200L...

Here are two pictures to try and compare the 900 lumen test light and the Dinotte 200L.  This is not an ideal test as my camera adjusts settings differently between pictures, but it was the best I could muster on short notice.  In real life the difference is even more dramatic.  I have no way to measure the brightness of these lights to verify the stated lumens, but I can tell you the 900 lumen light is much brighter than the Dinotte 200L and illuminates a much wider area.  This means you’ll see more of the road both close and far than you would with the Dinotte 200L.  For higher speed night riding I often use two Dinotte 200L’s one aimed low and close to illuminate the near section of road and one aimed higher to illuminated the road further away.  With the test light only one light would be necessary to achieve the same result.

900 lumen test light...

Keep in mind I’ve only been testing this light for a couple weeks so I can’t speak to the long term durability of the unit although the construction leads me to believe it will be robust.  I am thinking about buying one to test over the next year, but I have a some existing lights that meet my needs and other bike spending priorities…not to mention living so far north it’s already light until 10pm+… so I haven’t made a decision yet.  This light is definitely a great value which is making me think it’s worth owning.

In summary:

  • the test light is well made
  • the price is excellent
  • the light is exceptionally bright
  • the battery provides 3hrs on high steady
  • the mounting system works well

If you are interested in one of these 900 lumen lights contact Ken through his Power in Motion website or call the store at 403.233.8841. Power in Motion ships to Canada and the US.

Now this is where I would typically rant about the need for focused optics in bike lights like they have in Europe.  However, nobody selling bike lights in North America seems to care so I’ll spare you the diatribe!…=-) I will say this – be responsible with your high powered bike lights.  Consider other MUP/road users and don’t blind people with poorly aimed lights.

10 min shower test...

Update:

Adrian [a blog reader] mentioned he has some waterproofing issues with his battery pack in a similar LED light.   So the investigative reviewer in me wanted to try out my test light in the wet.  So I placed it on a shelf in the shower and hit it with a full force water barrage for 10 mins.  I occasionally picked up the light engine and ran it through the various modes to ensure it was working fine.  The light worked great and exhibited no problems from being wet or sitting in a puddle of water.





Bike Friday eTikit Review – Part 2

29 04 2010

Temporary front mounted battery setup on eTikit...

I’ve given back the blue eTikit shown above, but before I did Kurt rigged up a temporary front mounted battery configuration to test out.  I also installed the 209 [standard] motor in place of the 206 [high speed] motor.  Kurt used tape and some stiff plastic to rig this up on a single pannier Bike Friday Tikit front rack.

Cabling is minimized...

As mentioned in my Part 1 eTikit review by placing the battery and speed controller directly over motor you are able to reduce the length of cable and its vulnerability significantly.  Folding the bike is simplified and handling is slowed down a bit. This will make installing an eTikit kit of your bike much easier and will also allow you to swap out the motor and battery/speed controller very quickly if you want to pedal your Tikit without the e-assist.

Max speed with this [209] was slower at ~30kph.  I didn’t have time to do a range test with this motor, but Kurt did one using both the 206 and 209 motors and the 5.6Ah battery which we will discuss in Part 3 of this review.  I did notice slightly more torque with this motor vs. the 206 motor, but not enough to justify the loss in speed.  If I was buying an eTikit kit I would definitely get the 206 high speed motor.

Production setup will feature a custom bag and a 2 pannier front rack....

Having used the eTikit with both a rear rack mounted battery/speed controller configuration and this front mounted setup I would definitely want a front mounted eTikit.  The slower handling is not an issue after 2mins of riding the bike once you’ve gotten used to it.  Once Ken has the production setup ready you should be able to use two front panniers on your Tikit without affecting the eTikit components.

2 pannier front rack provides a better mounting platform...

Note that you can simply put the battery/speed controller in a pannier on the right side of a single pannier Tikit front rack, but a 2 pannier front rack like the one shown above provides a better platform and by mounting the battery directly above the wheel you have no negative affect on the bike’s handling vs. putting all that weight on one side.

A third alternative is to mount the battery on the steerer tube/stem for use on a Tikit with no front rack.  Kurt tried this and we’ll discuss the pros and cons in Part 3 of this review.





Bike Friday eTikit Review Part 1

20 04 2010

Kurt demonstrating the eTikit grin...

I’ve been putting off writing a review of the eTikit because there is so much to discuss I just never seemed to have a whole day free to write it down. So I’ve decided to break the review down into 2 or 3 parts that I can blast off in a couple hours each. Here is part 1!

Production Prototype Disclaimer

The two eTikit kits I’ve been testing with help from my buddy Kurt are not production items.  Ken is still making changes and refining the kits so please keep that in mind.  Each individual component is a production item it’s just how it will all go together and the selection of components that is being worked on at this point.  As an example after our testing we’ve recommended that the batteries not be mounted on the rear rack or seatpost – instead they’ll be mounted low on the stem or using the front rack.   Ken is very keen on producing a high quality product and he’s eager to make changes that will improve his eTikit kits.

eTikit Components

  • standard Bike Friday Tikit folding bike [any size]
  • specialized electric hub motor with 70mm dropout spacing
  • handlebar mounted throttle
  • speed controller [takes throttle input and feeds appropriate power from battery to motor]
  • battery with case
  • wiring
  • charger

Bike Friday Tikit

Any standard Bike Friday Tikit can be electrified regardless of age or specification.  The only issue that could cause a problem is if you have a custom Tikit with front disc brake.  Other than that the eTikit kit simply replaces the original front wheel with a specially built hub electric hub motor and then the battery and other components are mounted to the frame.  One thing I like about the eTikit kit is that since it uses a standard Tikit the whole kit can easily be removed if you want to ride your Tikit without e-assist.  Using the front mounted battery configuration we recommend the whole process should take 5mins and the only thing left on your Tikit would be the throttle and a short section of wire. I should also note that Ken at Power in Motion is undertaking this project in partnership with Bike Friday so there should be no impact on your bike’s warranty.

High Speed 206 Hub Motor...

Hub Motor

Our eTikit kits came in two configurations:

  1. 206 Hub Motor – high speed unit [over 30kph]
  2. 209 Hub Motor – standard unit [30kph max]

Both are special brushless/gearless electric motors that are manufactured for the 70mm front dropout spacing used on the Tikit and other folding bikes.  The high speed 206 version is very special and only 4 exist in the world as a special order for Power in Motion. I had the high speed motor on the eTikit I tested and it would hit 35kph on flat ground without pedaling and with some easy pedaling I could get over 40kph.

These motors weight ~7lbs and can be run at 36 – 48 volts.  Anticipated service internals is approximately 2 years when the bearings will have to be replaced.  Given the short spokes the wheels themselves will be very durable, however, depending on weather and your braking habits rims will need to be replaced every 1 to 3 years.

Thumb throttle...

Throttle

The throttle takes input from the rider and tells the speed controller how much power to send to the motor which determines the speed of the bike.  We started with thumb actuated throttles on the right side of the bar, but eventually decided a left side mounted twist type throttle so we could shift with the right hand as we accelerated and used the left hand to control the hub motor.  I also found the thumb throttle was tiring to use for long periods of time.  This is a personal preference thing and the throttles are not expensive so it may be worth trying out a couple options.

If you use the twist throttle you need to ensure it is not pressed up against anything [brake lever, bell, etc…] or it can stick on [don’t ask!]  if you have a long flat empty commute you can use this as a sort of cruise control, but when you let go of the throttle the motor won’t stop so be aware of that implication.

Speed Controller and 8.2 amp hour battery...

Speed Controller/Battery

I don’t have much to say about the speed controller. It is the small black plastic box shown in the photo above just below the battery bag.  We’ve suggested to Ken that the speed controller be mounted inside the battery case/bag as the user doesn’t need access to it and it will simplify installation.  During our test both speed controllers worked fine and needed no attention.

We had two batteries on our test bikes.  I had the larger 8.2 amp hour battery with the 206 high speed motor and Kurt had the 5.6 amp hour battery with the 209 motor.  The higher speed motor draws more power and needs a bigger battery to achieve a decent range.  Both batteries were sealed lithium-ion units and came with chargers.  Ken provided a couple bags to allow the batteries to be mounted on the Tikit.  The batteries could also be mounted in hard cases depending on the owners setup preferences.

Battery Specs:

  • 37v, 5.6Ah, weight = 3lbs, charge time = ~2.8hrs.
  • 37v, 8.2Ah, weight = 4.6lbs, charge time = ~4.1hrs
  • 37v, 10.5Ah, weight = 6.2lbs, charge time = ~5.2hrs
  • Li-Ion chemistry
  • each battery has a service life of 600 cycles
  • a faster 4amp charger can be used which would reduce times above by 50%

eTikit wiring harness...

Wiring

The wiring harness used for the eTikit is a robust high quality unit that will take lots of abuse.  If you use a front mounted battery configuration as we recommend the extremely short cable runs mean that you should never have a cable related problem due to wear and tear when folding.  If you choose to put the battery under the seat or on the rear rack you should get lots of use out of your eTikit without problems, but the wiring is subject to a lot more mechanical stress and potential damage in these locations.

The wiring and connectors are water resistant so you won’t have any issues running the eTikit in the rain.  Naturally you should not submerge the hub motor or any other component of the eTikit kit underwater.

High Speed 206 motor

High Speed eTikit Setup

  • 206 high speed hub motor
  • thumb throttle on right side of bars
  • 8.2Ah battery mounted on rear rack with speed controller
  • large stock Tikit [other than eTikit items]
  • stock Schwalbe Marathon tires

Look Ma - no feet!...

High Speed eTikit Test Results

By the numbers:

  • eTikit [size large] weight as tested = 42lbs
  • Weight of eTikit kit components = 14lbs
  • rider weight = 175lbs
  • air temp = -5 to 15 deg C [23 to 59 deg F]
  • max speed on flats no pedaling = 35kph [21.7mph]
  • max speed up moderate sustained hill = 19kph [11.8mph]
  • max range on full charge = 18km/11.2miles [flat ground]
  • time to charge 8.2Ah battery from empty using standard 2 amp charger = ~4hrs
  • cost of kit as tested = $850 – $950

Handling

With the rear mounted battery the eTikit handled just like my Tikit does.  That means slightly faster than a 700c bike and excellent for urban road and MUP use.  I didn’t try the battery in any other location, but having used my Tikit with front panniers I expect the eTikit will exhibit slightly slower steering making it handle pretty much the same as a 700c bike.  The eTikit is heavier than my Tikit, but I didn’t really notice this when riding under e-assist as I remained seated.

eTikit folded with battery removed from rack...

Folding/Carrying

The rear mounted battery makes folding the eTikit a pain.  You have to remove the battery pack first and then fold the eTikit.  It works and I did this a few times when necessary, but it wasn’t slick and fast like my hyperfold Tikit.  Rolling the folded eTikit was no problem and was preferable to lifting it due to the extra weight.  Even lifting the eTikit by the saddle was problematic with the rear mounted battery as the extra weight made the bike fold when you may have wanted to just reposition the rear wheel.  As a result I can’t recommend the rear rack mounted battery position unless you don’t need to fold your eTikit.

I would note that if you mount the battery under the seat or above the front wheel the fold is not impacted and you don’t have to remove the battery.

eTikit folded hub motor side view...

E-Assist

The high speed [206 motor] does give you the benefit of an excellent high speed of 35kph without pedaling and over 40kph with some easy pedaling.  The unit does not have a lot of torque so I found it best to pedal away from a stop while giving the eTikit full throttle.  Once up to speed I often stopped pedaling and enjoyed the ride.  The low torque is good in that the e-assist provides a firm, but controllable pull.  It won’t do something so powerful or fast that you crash or need to worry about the e-assist.  I did not have any issues with the e-assist losing traction, but I only used the eTikit on paved roads and paved MUPs.

I was able to climb a moderately steep hill at 19kph using only the e-assist after I pedaled to get the bike up to speed.  You will find that due to the low torque of the 206 motor you won’t get much help from it on very steep hills.

I was able to get 18kms from a full charge of the 8.2Ah battery using mostly e-assist and minimal pedaling on a mostly flat route.  Note that due to the low torque I tend to just give full throttle most of the time which may not be the most efficient way to use this system.  You can extend the range of your eTikit by pedaling more and using the e-assist less.  Being a pedal to the metal kind of guy I didn’t try that strategy.  If I was buying an eTikit I’d buy a big enough battery to run under 100% e-assist for my entire commute.

Note my testing occurred during late winter/early spring conditions.  Temperatures ranged from cold to cool and I encountered rain several times.  The eTikit worked fine in these conditions, but be aware that batteries don’t work as well when cool so I probably didn’t get as much range on my eTikit as I would have running the same test in the summer.

Have look at my earlier eTikit post if you’d like more information on my overall impressions of this bike.

You’ll notice in some of the photos of the battery bag that there is a key hanging off the right front corner. This key allows you to turn off the e-assist when you aren’t going to use it.  This is an excellent safety feature that I recommend you use – especially if you have kids.

I experienced a vibration at a specific speed [~20kph] on my eTikit.  I didn’t expend the effort to track it down and correct it.  It’s coming from the rack/fenders, but lasts on a moment as you accelerate through that speed range.  If this was my bike I’d spend the time to sort out the issue.

eTikit drivetrain view...

No E-assist Riding

You can ride the eTikit without e-assist if needed.  Due to the extra weight and drag from the hub motor this is not recommended.  It’s a lot of work.  If your battery dies unexpectedly – no worries you’ll make it home, but if you want to go out for a Sunday pedal power only ride with the family you are not going to enjoying the ride.

This is one of the great things about a front mounted battery.  You can swap in your normal front Tikit wheel and ditch the battery in less than 5 mins.  Your eTikit will be transformed into a fun pedaling normal Tikit and can be switched back just as easily.

Charging/Battery

Charging was easy – just plug in the battery and wait ~3-5hrs for a green light depending on battery capacity.  You can reduce the charging time by 50% if you use a faster 4amp charger Ken has available.  As I noted above I would buy a big enough battery to last your entire commute/ride.  Note that you can charge a battery at work and at home so that it only has to last you 50% of your commute or you could buy two batteries and leave one at each end of your commute and recharge both at night.  Batteries are sealed and require no maintenance.  Each will last approximately 600 cycles before it needs to be replaced.

Since my typical commute is only a few kms downtown and I generally only run errands in my neighbourhood the 8.2Ah battery was more than enough for my needs.  I only needed charge it every other day or every 3rd day if I did fewer errands.

eTikit MUP action..

Cost

Since these kits have not been finalized the costs below are only approximations are subject to change:

  • $750-$850 for standard kit [209 motor & 5.6Ah battery]
  • 206 motor is not available yet, but it will cost the same as the standard 209 motor
  • upgrading to the 8.2Ah battery will be +$100
  • upgrading to the 10.5Ah battery will be +$200
  • the 4 amp fast charger will cost more, but I don’t have a price
  • kit cost will include throttle, speed controller, wiring harness and battery storage bag

What I’d change:

  • even if I’m not pedaling I’d rather have Greenspeed Scorchers on my eTikit for the more comfortable ride and better battery life due to lower rolling resistance.
  • I would definitely move the battery to the top of my 2 sided pannier rack to reduce complexity and the long wiring harness.
  • I would swap my bike back to a regular Tikit [remove hub motor and battery] if I wanted to pedal it rather than simply turn off the e-assist.
  • I’d wire in a LED headlight to the main battery so I could commute with one battery to charge.

Safety

The high speed eTikit can sustain speeds of over 40kph with a bit of pedaling from the rider.  The eTikit will start to roll as soon as the throttle is activated.  For these reasons I suggest you take extra care when riding it.

  • wear a helmet
  • wear eye protection
  • wear gloves
  • turn the e-assist off whenever you are not using it to avoid inadvertent activation.
  • if you have kids explain to them the eTikit can be dangerous and take the e-assist key with you when you are not with the bike.
  • ride at an appropriate speed for conditions and traffic.  The eTikit won’t slow down any faster than a normal bike in an emergency situation.

Up Next

I’ll be posting a discussion of the 209 standard motor eTikit kit that Kurt tested as well as a bit of comparison between the two over the next week or so.





eTikit Impressions

26 03 2010

eTikit's electric hub motor...

I’ll be posting all the gory technical details about the two electric motor kits Kurt and I are testing on two Bike Friday Tikits next week.  I’ve been a bit strapped for time so I haven’t managed to fit in all the testing I would like and I need to pull together all the numbers from Ken at Power in Motion to provide accurate specs on each system.

I have been riding the high power version of the eTikit kit on a loaner Tikit from Ken for a week now.  My rides have mostly been my short commute to work 2kms and some running around downtown.  While I haven’t tested the capabilities of this system to the fullest I do have enough experience to comment on how I feel about an electric Tikit and how I see it fitting in to my bike/transportation options.

I’ll admit I didn’t really “get” the idea of an electric bike.  Pedaling and exercise are the two things I really like about cycling so I couldn’t understand how I’d like a bike where you didn’t have to pedal??  I now realize that this isn’t a bike.  Ya that’s right this isn’t a bike.  It’s a folding electric scooter.

That may sound crazy, but when you look at it as a transportation device [not a bike] it’s fun to ride, it’s convenient, low cost and pretty darn cool.  It can replace a car/motorcycle and either be used with or instead of public transit.

I haven’t sorted out the range I’m getting from the motor/battery I have, but let’s assume I can get 15kms from it @ 30kph with no pedaling.  That gives me a pretty useful range from home to work with zero sweat.  I can add a transit leg in the middle to extend my distance.  If I ride the whole way to work I’m looking at 30mins to 40mins with a few lights.  I can fold the bike and take it in to my office and charge the battery while I work and ride home. I charge the battery overnight and I’m ready to rock in the AM.  No car, no parking no waiting for a bus. Less emissions. Less traffic. No noise. No license. No pain.  It’s a really great commuting tool.

I’ve used the eTikit to bomb home after work.  It has allowed me to cut my commute time by about 33% and arrive fresh.  I must admit I do pedal when in public just ’cause I feel funny using only the motor.  Perhaps that will pass???

Just to provide some basic stats I can cruise on flat ground at 30kph+ [35kph is my fastest electric only speed].  I can cruise up a moderately steep sustained hill in town at 19kph without pedaling as long as I pedal to get to that speed. I tend to leave my Tikit in 7th or 8th gear [out of 8] and pedal away from a stop slowly while giving full throttle.  The motor helps, but it’s not uber torquey so a little bit of effort on my part gets me to cruising speed faster at which point I can coast.

To be honest I can pedal the eTikit without using electric power, but it’s not fun.  You can feel the drag of the motor at each pedal stroke.  If I had to pedal the last 5km home once or twice a year it’s not a big deal. So running out of battery power isn’t tragic, but I wouldn’t be happy if that happen a lot so I’d make sure I had a big enough battery to get the mission accomplished 95% of the time.

Of course the beauty of a hub motor is that in less than 5mins you can swap in a regular Tikit wheel and ditch the battery to have a normal Tikit which is fun to pedal.  I think that’s very cool and it makes an eTikit a useful product for even a one bike cyclist who wants transportation Monday to Friday and exercise on the weekends.

Ken was smart to match an electric kit with a Bike Friday Tikit.  You don’t ever have to leave your e-bike outside at the mercy of thieves and vandals.  The Tikit design is clever and adding an e-bike kit to it that doesn’t impede the fold just makes it even more versatile.

Bottom line I “get” an electric bike now.  It’s not a bike replacement.  It’s a car/transit replacement.





eTikit Testing

19 03 2010

eTikit along the Bow River Calgary

Ken from Power in Motion [a Calgary electric bike specialist store] is letting me test the eTikit shown above as well as providing me with a slightly different electric assist kit I’ll mount on one of my Bike Friday Tikits.  I’m stoked to give these kits a thorough test and after a short ride yesterday I can see how this could be a deal maker for people who don’t want to drive there cars to commute, but can’t pedal a bike to work for whatever reasons.

To be honest I’m not an e-bike guy.  Which is why I don’t own an e-bike or talk about them much on this blog.  So I’m coming to this test with no real idea of how I’m going to feel or what’s happening in the e-bike world.  If you are an e-bike enthusiast please feel free to comment on what I write and point out any errors or misunderstandings on my part.  Also if you have any specific questions you want to see answered about these kits for the Tikit leave me a comment and I’ll answer your questions.

I’ll be posting my impressions at various points throughout the next few weeks.  I’ve also started a Flickr set for the eTikit and I’ll be uploading photos there as I take them.

I will also be posting some info about Power in Motion when I have a chance.  I had been in the shop last summer and it was pretty much 100% e-bikes.  When I dropped by the shop yesterday to meet with Ken I was surprised to see a Yuba Mundo, Xtracycle Radish and another Xtracycle equipped bike – cargo bike heaven!  I’m hoping to head back one day in April and do some back to back testing on all the cargo bikes as well as my Surly Big Dummy.  If you are from the Calgary area and interested in cargo bikes Power in Motion is well worth a visit.