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E-bike E-xperiences? 520

Jakedata writes "I am in the process of building my first e-bike. I intend to use it to commute to work a couple times a week, weather permitting. I can only assume that many members of the /. crowd are already riding e-bikes and would be only too happy to share their experiences. I am looking at a very affordable e-bike conversion kit from Golden Island Machinery. They offer a 36 volt lead-acid battery pack for it, but I am concerned that it will be too heavy. Rabbit tool has a selection of components and power options but they are pretty pricy. So, is Golden Motor's kit any good? Is lead acid OK to start off with? Does someone want to donate a direct-conversion methanol fuel cell to the project?"
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E-bike E-xperiences?

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  • eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by va3atc ( 715659 ) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:07AM (#10425750) Homepage Journal
    This thing has a top speed of 36km/h and 50km distance. I'd say it would come in handy to complement your peddling when the wind is not in your favor.

    Though I would have liked to have seen it hooked up to the derailleur as the motor specs says it has 'high torque'.

    I can usually maintain 35km/h effortlessly, but with this beast 45km/h could be the crusing speed if peddling and motoring can go hand in hand.

    Wouldn't go any faster on a pedal bike, leave that to the stunt people.
    • 35km/h ? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jjga ( 612356 )
      Do you really mean 35km/h on average? For how long? That is almost as good as a professional cyclist can get...
      • Re:35km/h ? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by va3atc ( 715659 ) *
        I don't have a speedometer but I generally keep up with in city traffic quite nicely.

        I'd say I can usually keep that speed till the next red light, by then I'm recharged and ready to go again :)

    • stunt people? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TamMan2000 ( 578899 )
      I can usually maintain 35km/h effortlessly, but with this beast 45km/h could be the crusing speed if peddling and motoring can go hand in hand.

      Wouldn't go any faster on a pedal bike, leave that to the stunt people.


      What kind of bike are you on? You should be plenty stable up to 40mph (~65km/h). I hit that on almost every ride I go on (I live at the bottom of a few rather large hills, every ride I do ends in a steep decent). Hell 3 weeks ago I was on a 70 mile ride, and I went down a long ~10% g
  • Why not... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:10AM (#10425761) Homepage
    Why not just invest in a good, light weight bike. It will cost you a lot, but the light weight construction will be a LOT easier for you to bike with.

    Something like a Trek or Cannondale.

    • by ImTwoSlick ( 723185 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:50AM (#10425997)
      Why not just invest in a good, light weight bike. It will cost you a lot, but the light weight construction will be a LOT easier for you to bike with.

      I don't think there's a bike light enough to make up for my heavyweight ass.

      • Re:Why not... (Score:3, Informative)

        by recursiv ( 324497 )
        Once you start riding, you might be surprised to see how quickly you lose the ass. It won't happen overnight, but I am sure you or anyone else would be able to gradually lose weight, increase endurance and general health, even if starting from a very low level.
        • Once you start riding, you might be surprised to see how quickly you lose the ass.

          It was mostly a joke. During the spring and summer I take my mountain bike out on the trails every other weekend.
          BTW.. Why am I talking about my ass on slashdot? :-)

  • by brer_rabbit ( 195413 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:13AM (#10425780) Journal
    when I was employed (oh so long ago...) I biked to work 2-3 times a week, about 12 miles each way. Screw the e-bike, get the real thing. Peddling your ass that distance will get you in great shape. On top of that, I find cycling a lot less stressful than driving, it's relaxing really.
    • when I was employed (oh so long ago...) I biked to work 2-3 times a week, about 12 miles each way.

      Hmmm.... biking 12 miles to work on a hot summer morning.... Now, I'm not a rocket surgeon, but is there a teeny possibility that this could somehow be related to being employed "oh so long ago"? :o)
      • > Hmmm.... biking 12 miles to work on a hot summer
        > morning...

        The trick is, to get up early enough, so it's not too late in the morning.
        And you must try not to ride too fast.
        Also, after some training, you're not going to sweat that easily ;-)

      • I do it all the time in Tokyo weather. No problem. You get there early, wait a few minutes to stop sweating, and do the "towel wash and change of clothes" thing.
    • Though I understand your thought, I tend to get irked by bike enthusiasts who decry the e-bike and take an (often) macho approach to human-powered transportation. Maybe the poster isn't as concerned with "peddling ass" and is more worried about environmental issues, or simply agrees with you about the stress issues of commuting, and doesn't want to get all sweaty before work. (Thus begins "peddling ass" jokes.)
    • I find cycling a lot less stressful than driving, it's relaxing really.
      Relaxing? Not really, when I'm on my bike, I feel the ultimate urge to cycle as fast as I can. Well maybe that's because I'm always late :).
      However, I hope I'll reach my destination tomorrow in time: 170 km in 8 hours on a mountain bike :/
    • There're a couple twits in my office that do this (Bike to work every day as exercies).

      You can pick them out easily, because they end up smelling up the place.

      For the sake of all that is good and holy, DO NOT bike into work unless you intend to SHOWER when you get there.
      • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:10AM (#10426344)
        I cycle 10 miles to work some days. This isn't actually too bad a problem, provided:

        1. You allow yourself enough time. If you don't have to rush, you won't sweat very much on a ride of that length. I like to leave myself an hour so I can take it nice & easy.

        2. You live in a relatively flat area. I wouldn't want to do it if the office was halfway up the side of a mountain, for instance...

        3. You pack aerosol deodorant and a change of clothes. This will remove the worst of your sweat problems.

      • by whookey ( 102450 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:30AM (#10426440)
        I find the odors emanating from the fat and lazy, the smokers, and those who need to distance themselves from smelling like real people by applying an excess of chemicals to their bodies to be much more bothersome. I pedal in to work every day awake, usually with a smile on my face. Try biking sometime, it's great.
    • by really? ( 199452 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:02AM (#10426315)
      Indeed, but "peddling your ass that distance" would also land you in jail in most countries, not to mention making you late for work.
    • by webgit ( 805155 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @05:15AM (#10426648)
      On top of that, I find cycling a lot less stressful than driving, it's relaxing really

      Cycling is relaxing, but only if you're doing it where there are no idiot drivers anywhere near you.

      I spent a year cycling the 45-minutes to work, unfortunately I don't now as I work much to far away from home to even consider cycling. When I was cycling, and even now when I cycle, not a journey went by without some idiot driving to close, pulling out in front of me or doing something completely idiotic within a few metres of me, putting my life in danger.

      The main reason I cycled was because I had no other means of transportation, I mean there was the bus, but it was often full and therefore wouldn't stop for you, the cost adds up paying for it everyday, and the majority of the time it was quicker and easier to cycle, although it was good to know I had the option if I couldn't cycle for whatever reason.

      I don't know about any other country, but here in the UK you are required by law to leave at least six foot between your car and any cyclist you're overtaking, that is the approximately the space that a cyclist would need if they fell off their bike into the road. I'm sure that 99% of the drivers are completely unaware of this.

      Everyone wonders why more people don't cycle and I think one of the main reasons is that it is outright dangerous. Until there are more cycle routes that don't use roads, or drivers are more considerate towards cyclists, I don't think any more people will cycle to work.
      • by MKalus ( 72765 ) <> on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:39AM (#10427500) Homepage
        My solution to the passing problem is to be bold and ride in the middle of the lane, especially if there are two lanes.

        According to the highway traffic act here in Ontario (and I think all of Canada) a bike is "vehicle" and thus the lane is mine.

        I got into shouting matches about this with drivers, to a point where a cop was interested and told the guy if he doesn't shut up and move on he'll gonna ticket him for dangerous driving (he saw how the guy almost ran me off the road).

        Why do I take a whole lane? Because that way I have at least some "escape" room if need be.

        Interestingly enough, a lot of guys I know down in the states always tell me that they "ride on the shoulder" wherever they can or "squeese to the right" as to not be "hindering" the car traffic.

        Personally I give a shit about this, If I am already squeezing on the side they sure as hell won't respect me when passing, and most of the time people go the wide way around me, if they can't do it safely, then I guess they shouldn't pass at all.

        [rant off]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    from TFA: Does someone want to donate a direct-conversion methanol fuel cell to the project?"

    Why methanol? Wouldn't an ethanol fuel cell be better, because then you could share a drink with it?

    but jokes aside, does anyone know of advantages of methanol over ethanol fuel cells?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:37AM (#10425934)
      I'm not sure why on the fuel cell, but from racing I can tell you a few things.
      You can't (not as a fuel) buy ethanol, you can buy e-95 (95% ethanol, 5% methanol) Drinking ethanol (100% ethanol) is strictly taxed. They use e-80 and the like a lot in brazil instead of fossel-fuels. e-95 got a bad name as of late becouse it can be used in explosives with ease. Methanol works better as a fuel becouse it absorbs less water from the air (but is still really bad about it) and its cheaper. Also, it smells really good when its burning, but if you drink it, it will pickle your liver. In world war II the us used methonal in torpeados, some people still call it torpeado juice. Also methanol has a higher octain rating (really high, like 130 or something like that) and it can cool your manifold better then gas.
      • Methanol is necessary because it can work with existing polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Methanol is CH4O...that can be ionized and transported through the electrolyte OK. Ethanol is C2H6O. It can't be ionized into a form that can diffuse through the electrolyte. Direct methanol fuel cells are special in that they don't require a reformer for their liquid fuel. That makes them really attractive for compact power laptops and cell phones.

        I am not a physical chemist, so I don't know if it i
    • In the UK it would be cost, there's a huge tax on pure ethanol (to stop people drinking it) or they add nasty poisons to it for the same reason.
  • Have you considered buying an E-Bike? Something like the Sharper Image One... l [] $1000
    • Well, at first glance, $1000 is a helluva lot more than the $400 or so this would cost, if you just bought the kit he referenced and payed all the shipping (rather than get the batteries locally) AND got a cheap new bike, or a nice used one.

      Plus it wouldn't be nearly as much fun to build?

  • True Story (Score:5, Funny)

    by mixmasterjake ( 745969 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:16AM (#10425797)
    Once I was riding my bike to high-school and some jerk dumped their coke on me as they drove by. True Story. Had I been riding an e-bike, I might have been electrocuted.
  • Young Geek (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BarakMich ( 90556 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:18AM (#10425813) Journal
    When I was a young geek of 9, I got my ham radio license.

    I tricked my bike out with an old 2M radio bolted to the handlebars, 6V golf cart battery under the seat, and a whip antenna attached to the frame, down by the rear axle, running up like one of those flags

    More than doubled the bike's weight. I was, however, the kid with a real mobile rig.

    I only really talked to my parents with it, but it was still cool. And ultra-geeky.


    • I wish these existed when I was younger. So cool! []

      I can't wait to have kids so i can buy them stuff like this :)
    • by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:20AM (#10426392)
      I tricked my bike out with an old 2M radio bolted to the handlebars, 6V golf cart battery under the seat, and a whip antenna attached to the frame, down by the rear axle, running up like one of those flags

      I have worked at three bike shops as a mechanic. One in the country, one in the city, and one in Sweden. At EACH AND EVERYONE, I have had at least one customer who had welded, screwed, or zip-tied a HAM or CB-type radio to their bicycle. I would like an explaination you sick HAM bastards! Why do you have to demand a better word for "weird"???
  • GoMotorboard 1500X (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:24AM (#10425854) Homepage Journal
    I've been riding a GoMotorboard 1500X that I got refurbished for $150 (down from $300 retail). It really does go 15MPH for about 10-15mi on flat, paved streets on a charge. Small hills (30 degrees) slow it to a crawl and eat the battery, but it keeps chugging, though the rises in Manhattan and most of Brooklyn are no problem. And the regenerative braking seems to work, albeit at much less than 100% efficiency. I've had some battery charging problems, but I got a couple replacements that I can now carry charged, extending its roundtrip charge life to up to 45mi or so. Best of all, it snaps down into a 25lb package over my shoulder, so 10 minute walks from subways are now 3-5 minutes. And it's really fun whizzing around nearly silently. But I wish it had inflatable (less efficient) tires, because the ride over any roughness, including sidewalk seams, can be too much. And quits immediately if the drivewheel gets even a little wet. Worth it.
    • Small hills (30 degrees)

      Holy CRAP!

      Where on earth do *you* live? I'm not too far from San Fran, and let me tell you .. I don't consider those 30 degree inclines small!!!

    • It's already been stated by another poster, but 30 degrees is not a "small hill". It is a gargantuan monstrosity of a hill. I have seen precious few paved roads in my life at this incline. This would be a 50% grade, whereas most cyclists would consider a comparatively "tame" 20% grade to be pretty brutal. If any battery powered vehicle can carry a human up this sort of incline for any significant distance at any speed > 0, I would consider that a major achievement.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      According to, it can do a 6 degree (10% grade) climb.
    • by Ezza ( 413609 )
      Most people significantly overestimate the steepness of hills, often by 3-6 times.
      What you percieve as "30 degrees" was probably 5 or maybe 10 degrees at worst.
      Most councils restrict roads to an incline of about 10 degrees maximum!

      (google for "overestimate hills")
    • by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @09:10AM (#10427767) Journal
      And the regenerative braking seems to work, albeit at much less than 100% efficiency...

      And the collective scientific community breathed a sigh of relief.

  • I think you might get into trouble for operating a motorized vehicle without the proper license or registration. Since you stated that you want to commute to work, why not get a scooter? You can ride legally on all of the same roads as a car can and not have to worry about cars passing (and nearly hitting) you on busy streets while on a bicycle.

    I ride a motorcycle to work and it is the funnest thing! I blow past all of the cars and cut in front of everyone at stop lights.
    • You can ride legally on all of the same roads as a car can and not have to worry about cars passing (and nearly hitting) you on busy streets while on a bicycle.
      I blow past all of the cars and cut in front of everyone at stop lights.

      Somehow I think you might want to watch out for people trying to hit you.

  • Get run over out here in colorado. Everyone bikes or walks and it seems like almost every day the radio traffic report talks about some pedestrian or biker getting run over. Far more so than anywhere I've ever lived out east. It's more predictably sunny here, so people can bike or walk more, I guess.

    I was coming down out of the mountains last year and got stuck behind some flatlander doing 35-40 mph around the curves. On that road it's all curves. The funny thing was, there was a bicycle behind him and th

    • It's more predictably sunny here, so people can bike or walk more, I guess.
      I live in the Netherlands, the weather sucks all the time, it's either raining and/or cold, or it's too warm/humid (happens a few days each year, rest of the time it's cold and raining), still we have more bicycles than people here, and no one wears a helmet. ofcourse, it's as flat as a pancake out here, so no crazy downhill speeds.
      I think the reason bikes are so popular down here is that it's just too crowded for cars, and the dist
    • " I suppose the helmet is to protect your brain while the rest of your body is horribly crushed and mutilated. Or something."

      I've heard that one of the most disgusting aspects of dealing with traffic accidents is when people have had their heads smashed open and their brains everywhere.

      I suspect that the helmet law is not 'nanny state' forcing you to wear a helmet for your own good, but rather its in the interests of morale in the emergency services.
    • by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:00AM (#10426306)

      I was coming down out of the mountains last year and got stuck behind some flatlander doing 35-40 mph around the curves. On that road it's all curves. The funny thing was, there was a bicycle behind him and the guy on the bike was tailgating the flatlander.

      FYI, not all vehicles handle curves the same, nor do all tires. Also, many people don't want to feel the centrifugal force while going around the corner, or have everything in the back shift to the other side of the vehicle.

      Is it the car commercials that creates the race-car mentality in most people? Is it the long commutes to work? What? Its amazing how irate people can become when you do "only" 5 mph over the speed limit. Or when you slow down on a curvy road so that your stopping distance is less then your field of vision. Speaking of stopping distance, its amazing how many people think that a 20 year old pickup, fully loaded, with trailer, will stop as quickly as a compact car. At least, that's what I'm assume they are thinking, why else would they pull out right in front of me?

      Slow down.

      • by MKalus ( 72765 )

        Is it the car commercials that creates the race-car mentality in most people? Is it the long commutes to work? What? Its amazing how irate people can become when you do "only" 5 mph over the speed limit.

        Okay, personally speaking I like the feeling of getting into a curve, especially if I know the area very well.

        Maybe 10 years or so ago there was a stretch of road where I grew up that was very very winding. THe cool thing was that there was a long straight away (~2km long) where you could see who entered

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Ah yes, well the mountain run is also littered with routinely-ignored signs that say "Slower vehicles use turn-outs." If I recall correctly, failure to do so can result in a citation if you you have more than 3 cars on your back bumper. There are plenty of places where the turn-outs are visible with plenty of stopping distance for even the most ancient of vehicles, and yet 14-car lines are a regular sight up there. Usually someone in a rented brand-new Pontiac sedan at the front of the line, too.
      • by drew ( 2081 )
        as somebody who just spent a large part of yesterday stuck behind a car very similar to the one the parent mentioned, i must say that i have no problem being behind somebody who is not going around the corners at the posted speed limit. however, ifyou are going to drive down the entire mountain at 10 mph below the posted speed, you could at least have the courtesy to use the slow vehicle pullouts provided every few miles specifically for those drivers. personally, i'm starting to believe that police shoul
  • Why lead-acid? (Score:4, Informative)

    by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:25AM (#10425865)
    If it were me, I'd dump the lead-acid cells and use Li-Poly (Lithium Polymer).
    Sure they're more expensive but they're much, much lighter due to their greater power density (hence a lot easier to pedal when you're not using the batteries).
    Just make sure you use a real Li-Poly charger otherwise they could go bang.
    • They are quite dangerous, even with the proper charger. I know people who use them in model airplanes and one nearly had his house burn down due to a problem with his battery while it was just sitting there doing nothing!

      • Re:Why lead-acid? (Score:4, Informative)

        by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:43AM (#10426492)

        Anything can be dangerous when abused and mistreated. It is also possible to blow-up lead-acid batteries if they're not charged correctly (eg: in a poorly-ventilated area with a spark igniting the hydrogen efflux Car Talk []).

        I have been using Li-Poly batteries in electric aircraft for a while now, even a "hot liner" glider which pulls around 65-amps through a geared-down Astro-05. I haven't had any blow-up yet, but I have heard of the occasional one doing so. The only one's I've seen so far have been postings to the internet where people have forced them to blow-up by overcharging them causing a thermal runaway (eg: BANG! (5.1MB) []). I've blown-up the occasional Ni-Cd and Ni-MH cell over the years by overcharging them, too.

        Oh well, I guess FUD has moved into the battery world too.
  • Use a Velomobile! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyh ( 55741 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:31AM (#10425904)
    I use a Velomobile to get to work and back ( []). It is fast and wether proof. (and there is a lot of nasty wheter over here in the Netherlands.

    • by NtwoO ( 517588 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:50AM (#10425996) Homepage
      They are really amazing. My distance to work is 70km and I do it twice a week. Best time for the 70km is 1h53. The superiority of a Velomobile is proven in bad weather conditions. The vehicle is relatively insensitive for wind. This is due to a Cx (wind drag coefficient) of .15 A normal bicycle is above 1. The price is a minor problem. It is only a problem untill you have it. The 9 month delivery time is a major problem.

  • by mrgreen4242 ( 759594 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:33AM (#10425911)
    This is something I have been thinking about for a good 6 months now, and it may be my winter project this year...

    What do you know about the kit that was linked in the article? It seems that this kit powers your front wheel, while you power the back with a stadard pedal arrangement. That's something I haven't seen in an ebike before. Would you be limited to going the fastest that the motor/gearbox in the front wheel can move, or would you be able to add your pedal power and the electric motor to move at a greater pace? I obviously see the potential for greater acceleration and easier to maintain speed while going uphill, etc, but I'd like to be able cruise at a high speed for longish distances. Or, alternatively, add a little extra speed to my cruising for long durations.

    The battery, I agree looks pretty hefty, I'll be interested to see what the /. crowd comes up with on that. Does the "power braker" = a regenerative braking system, or is it some sort of power assited brake to help you slow down at higher speeds and with the extra weight?

  • Two words people: MO-PED. Yah... it's already been invented. You can pick one up from the neighborhood kids for about 50 bucks.
  • I don't see why won't you just be the ubergeek and build an android with your image and send it to work every day so you won't have to even get out of your bed ? You wouldn't even have to sit on a bike, let alone pedal the darn thing.

    Man, if laziness would be a lethal disease, we'd have many more IT jobs open.

    • but i can undeerstand your frustration. however, try constructively saving this kind of arguement for when you can have a clear head and then review your post, remove the antagonising tone putting it to a postive light and then, only then, posting it.

      it'll serve you well. and probably land you that job you wanted.
  • Bicycle commuting (Score:5, Informative)

    by angio ( 33504 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:50AM (#10425998) Homepage
    I spent a summer in the bay area without a car (interesting experience; not recommended). Part of that involved a 12mi each way commute by bicycle. It was usually the highlight of the day - took about 50 minutes if I didn't want to get sweaty, about 5 minutes longer than it took via caltrain and walking. I'd highly recommend attempting your commute on a normal bike for a while and see how it pans out, particularly if it's under, say, 10-15 miles. The exercise is great, and it's a nice way to flush work from your system on the way home---and you get to pass all of those poor suckers in cars during rush hour. :) The advantages to a non-powered bike are several:
    • Easy storage - you can haul it into your office / apartment / up stairs, etc., with no effort.
    • Value - bike theft is a major problem in some areas. A good commuter bike is cheaper than an e-bike, and (because of the easy storage thing) easier to secure.
    • Efficiency - the MPGs are a little higher... ;-)
    • Maintenence - maintaining your own bike is easy and rewarding. I suggest Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenence [] (or mountain, if you're of that persuasion). Verrrrry good book. With no engine to take care of, it's easier to deal with on your own.
    • Exercise - goes without saying.
    • Easier to stuff in a car... just in case. :)

    If you can shower at work, it's easier, but it's also very possible to take it a little easy on the way in to work and not show up smelling. Then you get the option of hammering it on the way home or just taking it easy. :)

    Good luck with whichever way you decide to get to work -- far better than hauling a 3000lb steel beast to and fro every day!

  • The best E-bike [], IMO.
  • by omarKhayyam ( 544074 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:54AM (#10426016)
    The poor guy asks for advice building an e-bike, and 50% of the +3 comments are "Why don't you just peddle (you lazy f*ck)?" Because I'm sure that thought NEVER CROSSED HIS MIND. Ever.

    • "...'Why don't you just peddle[sic] (you lazy f*ck)?' Because I'm sure that thought NEVER CROSSED HIS MIND. Ever...."

      Sadly, given the (general) state of our health and our fitness levels, this could easily be true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @02:58AM (#10426034)
    i dont know how many comments ive see that say something like "why dont you just peddle the bike and forget about the e-bike stuff"

    making jokes about being Tubby and this and that..

    this is a common (but unfortunate) attitude i often find in the OSS community at large (bad pun, i know)

    the question is NOT "what do you think about e-bikes" or "do you like the idea of ..."

    the question is about how to build one regardless of your opinion on the matter.

    i often encounter this attitude in IRC aswell somebody asks a question about how to use a program and people say things like "what you are trying to do is stupid, you shouldnt be doing that at all, instead you should " rather than helping the person do what it is they are asking about in the first place.

    point is: if you dont have something constructive to say that helps the person asking the question they are posing to you, butt out and let people who are actually interested in the specific topic in question to help add productive comments to the thread.
    • by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Monday October 04, 2004 @03:59AM (#10426304) Homepage

      I don't agree. If someone asks you for help doing something that is obviously stupid, you should tell them that it is stupid and why, and not help them do it - that's not "helping" at all!

      I agree that that's not the case here (saying e-bikes are always a bad idea is just wrong), but it is true of, for instance, some programming questions people ask, probably similar to the "OSS" stuff you're talking about.

      If someone has variables named x0, x1, x2, x3, x4 etc and wants to do strange hacks with introspection and manipulation of namespace tables etc to change them all inside a loop, but has no idea how to do that - you don't explain how it could be done, you tell him "you don't want to do that, use a list" (I'm thinking of Python things). That is constructive.

  • by Ambush_Bug ( 106102 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @03:03AM (#10426050)
    I thought he was talking about making a bike that
    distributed WiFi... like this: []

    I read half the discussions about being a fat ass before
    I realized what the hell was going on...

    that'll teach me not to follow the links.
  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @03:05AM (#10426058) Homepage
    Why not add gadgets to a regular bike? Like say a Palm Pilot or a GPS? That would, IMO make it an E-bike. If you are looking for an electric bike, then why not build an electric motorbike or perhaps a scooter?

    I mean, having a bike and NOT moving it under your own power (Kinetic or Potential energy here) really defeats the purpose.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Check out

    They have a nice kit. But if you want better quality, for about $160 more you can get the Go Hub kit from:

    Also here is a great site for reports on EBikes:
  • Conversion, consmerzion. If you're going to go electric, go in style. [] [] []

  • E-bike / BattleBots (Score:5, Informative)

    by SLOviper ( 763177 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @03:26AM (#10426141)
    After getting into BattleBots years ago, I decided to reduce my commute to college (before I graduated) by building an electric scooter out of "spare" parts. It's not an e-bike from the standpoint that I didn't want to have to input any energy into the system myself (i.e. the motors had to do all the work). For cost and simplicity reasons, I chose to go with SLA (sealed lead acid) batteries and a couple of overvolted motors. With the proper timing, I achieved a flat speed of 16.5 MPH on two 1HP motors. With 64Ah (@12V) of Pb-acid chemistry onboard (this weighed a whopping 50 pounds), I had a maximum range (tested on all terrain including large hills) of just over 12 miles.

    That's what I did and perhaps you can learn from what I would have done differently. First off, I would have used NiMh batteries. This would have cut the weight in more than half and also would have allowed me to customize the pack more both in shape and capacity (I only needed to go 9 miles in a day). The only downside to this was the charge time. SLA batteries are pretty indestructible and I could charge the full 64Ah in around an hour. With NiMh, you're talking about several hours or less if you don't mind compromising lifespan (with the right charger you could charge the same capacity in NiMh in the same time if you didn't mind getting only ~100 charges out of your packs). If I had the cash, I would probably use the high capacity, high discharge Li-Ion batteries from PowerStream ( []) as they would be incredibly light (~10 pounds for the same capacity).

    As far as the motors went, I was fairly satisfied with the power output, but would have liked more. If you compare it to a car (~100HP for ~2000 pounds), you should have ~10-15HP available for the same performance. Now with electric motors, due to their differing torque curves (in comparison to internal combustion engines), you can achieve similar results from significantly less overall horsepower, but I still would have preferred having 3-6HP on my project.

    Of course, if you go with high output motors, you need a speed controller capable of handling the current. And if you go with the Li-Ion batts, you need a fairly expensive charger.

    You can take a look at some basic pics of my scooter at: []

    A good place for parts is: []

    Cheap Ni-Mh batteries can be found at: []
    I have used them in BattleBots before and they hold up decently, almost as well as the "expensive" ones from []

    If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me. I love discussing this sort of thing and have had tons of experience. :-)
  • It really didn't sound practical at first: over 15 lbs. of gear, around 25 min. or 50 kms in range.

    Maybe there are a bunch of motivated e-bikers out there but apparently Slashdot is only concerned in the other type of "e".

    Good luck!

  • iBike (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bgackle ( 597616 )
    Why not make an iBike? It would be slightly more expensive, but much sleeker and more stylish.
  • Predictably... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:20AM (#10426393) Journal
    ...there are already dozens of comments saying "Why don't you peddle your bike to work you lazy bastard".

    It's PEDAL, not peddle! Peddling is marketing. Pedaling is using your feet on the pedals of a bicycle.
  • by Zhlobko ( 694460 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:49AM (#10426528)
    I was seduced by the idEa of an Ebike about 18 months ago.

    I bought an Aprilia enjoy ebike.

    This was not a Harley, but was certainly a fat and useless hog.

    What a dog!!! about 4 (four!!!) km range going up and down hills here in Sydney.

    So...I did what some other reader here suggested...bought myself a super duper light mountain bike, stuck some thin style phat boy kevlar tyres...pump'D them to 100 psi.

    Man! You don't need a motor.

    Float like a butterfly instead of riding the Hog.

    Get a real bike. Should fuel cells...or flying cars ever emerge..then pigs too might fly.
  • Some better sources. (Score:5, Informative)

    by justin_le ( 780223 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @04:51AM (#10426537)

    Hi, I would avoid trying to deal with Golden Island Motor directly for ordering a single conversion kit, they don't do the english/communicating thing very well and the cost to wire transfer and ship just one hub motor will exceed the listed kit price considerably. You can get very similar value hub motors that are distributed locally through [] and [], a supplier of the []. These are all direct drive motors, no gears to wear out and perfectly silent, but also fairly heavy for their power output.

    I've also ordered reasonably cheap hub motors from []. They have an interesting selection including some internally geared models, and are quick to respond to queries.

    Good Batteries continue to be the biggest hurdle for DIY e-bike experimenters because even though there are tons of asian companies that reportedly make them for cheap, there are simply no local suppliers. If you don't mind trying to import from China, some companies to check out:
    1 [],
    2 http://http// [http],
    3 [],
    4 [],
    5 []

    Personally haven't ordered from 1 or 2 yet, 3 has very reasonably priced lithium polymer ($.82/watt-hour) and NiMH ($.40/w-hr) packs and will sell in individual qunatities. My favorite so far are the prismatic NiMH packs from 4, GMBattery, because you can access each individual cell and restack them easily. Finally there is the infamous thundersky who have lithium-ion batteries for less than most companies' NiMH. Their old 10Ah 36V setup had no protection circuitry and a few problems, but their new 20Ah 36V ebike pack looks a bit more reputable. Note that the 24V 4Ah NiMH packs from that someone recomended are GARBAGE. Ours turned out to have only 2.6 Ah capacity and couldn't deliver more than about 5 amps. If you buy from batteryspace, be sure to get the 30Amp high rate pack.

    Lead acid isn't really that bad if you're generally doing ~20km ish trips so you can get away with lower capacity pack. NiMH has about twice the energy density, and Lithium packs are 2-3 times better than NiMH.

    I see a lot of people here have misconceptions about ebikes and exercise. I find I pedal as hard or harder riding an assisted bicycle than a regular bike. The difference is that I move at 42km/hr instead of 26, I don't slow down on the hills, and no matter how hard I work I don't get sweaty because the breeze at those speeds is so strong. This is a much overlooked fact of ebiking, the wind keeps you cool and dry.

    Justin Lemire-Elmore
  • by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @05:36AM (#10426725)
    This is a geek site. You're a geek, I'm a geek, we're all...

    As a geek you need body activity because sitting behind the screen just doesn't get you any. So get yourself a regular/racing/mountain bike.

    Within a couple of weeks you notice a better condition and an increasing average speed. And, if you really need to, you can add a cardio/speedometer to increase the geeky factor.

    As a real geek you could also get into the details of bike training. The different body types and their specialties, the different goals in training (muscle building, endurance, agility, fat burning etc...), the food to take etc, etc...
  • by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @05:41AM (#10426753) Homepage

    I have been biking to work now for almost a year. I've long since gotten in shape, and I have no problems with hills or smelling at work (just change cloths, it takes 1 minuet).

    But there are days I just don't feel upto it. Seriously. Sometimes I just didn't get enough sleep, sometimes I'm sick (though rarely thanx to all that regular exercise), and sometimes I'm bruised from falling off my bike. So some times I'm just not capable of putting out that much effort.

    It would be nice to have something that could pick up the slack. "Help" pedal as it were so that I can still ride my bike, even when I don't have the energy. There may be days when I don't have the energy to ride, but there is never a day that I don't want to ride.

    That and for longer inter-city trips, some kind help would also be good.

    But batteries don't have any where near the power density for longer intercity trips. And the system ways so much that it's more of a burden than a help on daily commutes. (since most days you won't need it)

    I know I'll get flaimed for it, but what about a small petrol/gas motor? Easy to refule, there often made light weight, and have the power to make a real difference in both scenarios.

  • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @09:12AM (#10427779)
    I had the DX kit from ZAP [] for several years when I was at college in San Francisco. I had a number of interesting experiences.

    I opted for the dual battery kit because the claims of distance on a charge were optimistic by about a factor of two. I'm sure if you were on some ultralight bike riding on perfectly flat roads at low speed you could achieve the rated numbers, but in the real world cranking up twin peaks with both you and the motors straining for all you're worth it was alot shorter.

    The motor will become less efficient as it heats up. It will heat up as it has to provide more torque, so it will usually quit right on the steepest hill in your journey about the time you've become too tired to pedal the heavy bike without it. Then you'll walk the rest of the way up.

    If you have a friction drive like the zap kit did, where the motor drives the wheel via a roller that rides on the tire, it will be useless anytime the tire is wet, dusty, or you're going up a hill where it produces significant resistance. The solution I found to this was to install an extra gear shift on the handlebars, and run a line down the frame to a point opposite the motor. Then ran the cable to a convenient mounting hole in the motor casing so that when I pulled the lever the motor would be pulled into the tire. This let me keep traction in any condition, even snow. I showed this to some people from zap, and they thought it was great. But not great enough to put in their kits apparently. I also designed a roller that worked kind of like a thick spring that could change diameter with pressure so using this you could change gear ratios, but that never went anywhere either. If anyone wants the design to work on building it, let me know.

    It won't electrocute you or short out in the rain, even in El Nino, even if you're stupid and go out in El Nino and get drenched. Your brakes however, will fail when they're hydroplaning on your rims as you careen down into the Noe valley at breakneck speeds.

    Bike thieves will still steal your bike despite the fact they don't have the charger for it. Either that or someone will steal your battery and headlight and smash them in the street for no good reason. Kryptonite locks will not save you, it'll still be stolen even in broad daylight at a busy mall. I gave up after losing 2 bikes.

    If you have to transport it a long distance, like to another state, don't ship it, fly with it. Most airlines have a flat $50 bike fee, just get a bike box from the local bike shop and pack it. Pack your batteries seperately in your luggage on top, so you can show them to the people at the counter in the airport before they check your bag. Lead acid gel cells are safe for commercial airline trainsport, and will likely have this printed on the batteries themselves, as mine did.

    If you use the bike every day expect to replace your batteries every year or two, as they'll wear out.

    Beware of other cyclists, alot of them will be mad at you for "cheating".

    You'll hear lots of interesting things about better technologies, such as improved lithium ion batteries [], and small fuel cells [] which are always "just around the corner". I waited and searched for 5 years to get either one. Even when they actually demonstrated a bike with the same kit as mine running on a li battery with half the weight and 6 times the range, they wouldn't sell it to me. They went on to make $450 laptop batteries instead and refused to license the tech to anyone interested in other applications and refused to build any other size or shape batteries unless you wanted like 100,000 units. As for the fuel cells, saw one on a bike too. But they were always experimental and "Oh we'll have this out in 2 years." It won't happen anytime soon.

    You'll also hear about new and improved electric vehicles [] that are
  • by tecfhweenie ( 818963 ) on Monday October 04, 2004 @01:21PM (#10430631)
    No hub motor-powered e-bike is going to operate as a pedal bike. The unsprung weight, lack of gearing, and the fact you're fighting the inertia of the motor detracts from the experience.

    At ZVO, we tackled that series of problems and created an e-bike that's light (39 lb.), easy to pedal and uses whatever gearing is currently on the bike -- from derailleurs to hub transmissions. As a result, we have a bike that will do over 35 MPH and climb hills, as well, without pedaling, but encourages dual drive modality -- pedal with motor assist -- for the most daunting hills while you're training. []

    We don't think powering a bike is sacrilegeous. Anything that gets more people out among other folks and encourages a sense of community is a good thing. Anything that relieves road congestion is a good thing. Anything that encourages excercising more than the right foot is a good thing.

Only God can make random selections.