Why I Invented an Electric Bike for Carrying Adult Passengers …

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Bikes As Transportation cargo family bikes, electric and complete streets

Jun 2012

Why I an Electric Bike for Carrying Passengers

On June 4, 1896 in a workshop behind his home on 58 Street, [Henry] Ford put the touches on his pure ethanol-powered car. After more two years of experimentation, Ford, at the age of 32, had his first experimental automobile The two engine could produce 4 achieving a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). would later go on to found the Motor Company and become one of the s richest men.

I m gradually my car dependance. I enjoy traveling to hauling groceries, and taking my to their dental appointments all on my But one of the few remaining compelling reasons for my car is to carry adult passengers.

For a of reasons my adult friends and do not feel comfortable hopping my longtail cargo bike. Can ever fulfill the role of adult passengers? I believe can, and (like Henry I ve built an experimental vehicle to my conviction.

Here are the design I began with: build a that can safely and comfortably both a 200-pound driver and a passenger at an average speed of The bike should be able to go up and a 20% grade. It should have a of at least 20 miles. It should less than 100 pounds, be than 30 inches wide and than ten feet long.

And it should cost less $2,000. I also have two design biases: I don t think three-wheeled or four-wheeled vehicles are enough, especially on the steep in my town. And secondly I prefer drivers and passengers be seated rather than side-by-side, because our autocentric society is too kind to slow-moving vehicles don t fit on the shoulder.

What kinds of or tricycles have been to carry adult passengers? The pedicab, and sidecar come to (see the photos below). Of the tandem comes closest to my design criteria. I would however, that the tandem has appeal for most adults. I can t my 80-year-old mom swinging her leg over the top and huffing up a hill pedaling in with me on the way to her doctor s appointment.

If not a pedicab, or sidecar, what What else is possible?

the electric hub motor is forcing designers to reconsider what is Hub motors are small, lightweight, and electric motors built the hub of a bicycle wheel. They between five and twenty yet have as much as thirty the power of a human rider.

advances have improved electric motors recently, better magnets and brushless motors. Battery technology has improved dramatically. Electric used to use heavy lead-acid the same kind used in Now a six-pound lithium polymer (such as those found in computers) can power an electric the same distance as a fifteen-pound battery.

These advances open design to many new possibilities.

readers may object with a such as If it has a motor, it s a motorcycle, not a Why don t you just get a scooter instead? is a good question, not easily off. It forces us to think what we value in a vehicle, and to a name to that vehicle than try to fit an existing name. I a vehicle that is slow, and lightweight. It has to be useful something than an exercise machine to fit on a roof-rack.

It has to be quiet and pleasant and Notwithstanding some attempts in the s to make motorcycles useful the gallery below) motorcycles and tend to be unnecessarily fast and incredibly loud, and foul And for some reason (possibly to do with their speed) have pitifully small space.

For these reasons I say No to scooters and motorcycles, and embrace the class of vehicle I am building.

the past three years I ve put kinds of electric cargo to the test (as have my blogging ). My first bike has high My second bike is capable of speeds. Lastly I ve started a third bike that has the of both worlds. Allow me to in some details.

The first bike is a Surly Big with a Stokemonkey mid-frame This bike has incredible It s like a winch on wheels. is because the motor is geared first with a chain to the and then through a second to the rear wheel.

It can easily 400 pounds of people up steep However, it suffers from I call the intimacy problem : must snuggle up behind the in a way that is just not socially to all but the most intimate of acquaintances. The BD is also somewhat slow. For me is a safety issue I dreaded a left turn in busy while going uphill a load.

I tried making the more powerful but then ran troubles such as broken and broken freewheels. The mid-frame is just not as elegant and trouble-free a as a hub motor.

So I built a second that is capable of carrying an and that uses a hub motor of the Stokemonkey mid-frame motor. I by putting an Xtracycle extension on a bike. The mountain bike has quality shock absorbers and disc brakes; I recommend for any bicycle intended to carry passengers. I outfitted this with the largest hub motor I find.

This bike is it s capable of going over but surprisingly it cannot carry a lot of up a steep hill. It is designed to maximum power at a high

I concluded that my ideal needs two hub motors: one fast and one It s kind of like a two-speed for an electric bike. The fast will be most efficient on the and the high-torque motor will on the hills. The fast motor be a high voltage direct-drive hub in a 26 wheel.

The high-torque motor be a geared hub motor in a 20 wheel.

issue is pedals does vehicle even need They add very little The average human only about 100 watts of power, a hub motor can produce 3,000 of power.

Pedals seem (In fact some Chinese scooters have removable pedals.) However, ideologically add a lot. They make it for this vehicle to mix with bicycles. They make it a bike. That s worth a Eventually our legal system judge a vehicle by it s weight and rather than its power and pedals won t be necessary for larger

But for now I plan to keep the pedals.

design issue: how can I avoid the extra weight of a seat if I m not an adult passenger? A tentative the whole back end of my passenger is detachable. I can potentially replace it back ends designed for purposes: carrying cargo, kids, farming implements,

This design direction has tried in the past in the late 20s motorcycles had detachable sidecars for trades during the week could be swapped out for carrying and families on the weekend.

So last inspired by Atomic Zombies Graham. I set out to build a passenger in time for the Ithaca Festival It was surprisingly easy. I started a bike that my kids

To this I added parts a discarded Mobo Triton adult trike. I welded my own Xtracycle-like extension out of a length of square tubing. I bolted the to the bike at the bottom bracket and the Then I added a 20-inch hub and the Triton seat to the backend. I replaced the bike s front with a 26-inch hub motor and I was ready to go.

The parade was a great (see photos).

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Did I meet my goals? I haven t quite the bike, so that remains to be But so far so good: it weighs 84 pounds, it about $1,400 so far, and it has hill-climbing ability.


I ll keep you It s amazing what an amateur builder such as myself can I think if cool bike like Yuba and Surly and embraced electric hub motors, could create a new industry.

Henry Ford had a similar start.

Thea and JJ model the bike prototype. Larry and Pat in the Festival Parade. Larry and Pat in the Festival Parade.

The extension to the bike frame at the bottom and dropouts. View of the backend. showing the modular backend

Ford s quadricycle. Sidecars for trades. Photo from The Excelsior ‘sidecarrier’ illustrated appears to be transporting bicycle Photo from http://oldbike.eu.

As you can see in the article pictured above The Family Sidecar, a motorcycle could transport as many as a small saloon car. from http://oldbike.eu. Sidecar Photo from http://oldbike.eu. for various trades.

Photo http://oldbike.eu.

Here s a bicycle bus. Fun for the whole family. The pedicab.

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