Bob’s Electric Catrike…

7 07 2011

Bob's triker grin...

Bob has been enjoying his Catrike for the last few years in stock trim, but has been thinking about a electric bike assist kit for it so he can conquer the local hills that are giving him grief. I connected Bob with my friend Ken over at Power in Motion who specializes in all things for electric bikes. Ken had a new kit called the Mega Motion kit that he recommended for Bob’s Catrike e-assist needs. Ken’s shop did the install quickly and Bob’s been very pleased with the result. He’s out and riding more than ever now that he has some help for the steep hills he faces on his rides and he’s excited to explore further afield than he has done in the past when he only had his own leg power to rely on.

Since I’m not an expert on electric bike kits I’ve uploaded a PDF brochure of the Mega Motion Kit that anyone who is interested can download and read for themselves. Ken is an electric bike guru so if you have any e-bike needs [e-Tikit, e-cargo bike, e-commuter bike, etc…] don’t hesitate to call or email him at Power in Motion.





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.





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.