Monday, October 4, 2010

Electric bicycle range reaching the 100 mile mark

By Ben Coxworth 16:59 September 9, 2010    6 Comments    2 Pictures
The 2011 Giant Twist ebike has a claimed maximum range of almost 100 miles
The 2011 Giant Twist ebike has a claimed maximum range of almost 100 miles

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Remember when the Segway was launched in 2001? The company proclaimed that it was going to revolutionize personal transportation, but... well, although Segways are still around, they’re hardly a common sight. What could soon be a common sight, however, are electric bicycles. While a variety of styles were on display at this year’s Eurobike show, commuting ebikes were by far the most common. An electric drive makes sense on a commuter – you still get some exercise and don’t have to register it as a scooter, yet you also don’t arrive at your destination all hot and sweaty. As with all electric vehicles, however, range is always an issue. That is now being addressed, however, with ebikes that can travel up to 160 kilometers (99.4 miles) on one charge. If your commute is longer than that, you really might want to consider, you know... driving.

The tradeoff with batteries has always been one of weight vs. range. Batteries with less cells tend to be lighter and less expensive, so they’re generally the way to go, unless you want to travel longer distances. German manufacturer Kalkhoff has kept this in mind with its new line of ebikes, which was presented at this year’s show. The bicycles are available with your choice of an 8, 12 or 18 amp-hour battery. Riders who just use their bike for popping up to the store could go with the 8, while more serious riders could get up to 140 kilometers (87 miles) out of the 18.
Giant bicycles is employing a similar strategy with its 2011 Twist ebike. Instead of swapping batteries, however, the rider can add a second one, to extend their range up to 160 kilometers. This figure has, not surprisingly, been disputed in at least one review.

User Comments (8)  

This would be required to be registered in the American state of New Jersey as a moped due to its electric motor. A helmet, registration and insurance would be required (plus a licence plate). However, the latter two would need a vehicle ID number, which are not assigned to bicycles. Hence, acquiring insurance would be impossible and that is why even putting an electric assist motor on an ordinary bicycle for help going up hills is technically illegal in New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Segway has been classified as a "personal mobility device" (the same category as an electric wheelchair) and thus you can ride it on a crowded sidewalk and even in the street with no helmet, registration or insurance, even at night with no headlights, brake lights, turn signals, etc. I'm not sure, but I bet that classification even allows you to ride it into stores. While that might entice Steve Wozniak to move here, for the rest of us it's mind-boggling. Here's hoping our archaic laws can be changed soon.

Oh, and if your 50cc moped doesn't actually have pedals on it? Then it's a motorcycle in New Jersey and brings with it all of the additional requirements and license restrictions. The downside of NJ classifying most anything as a motorcycle is that I could take the driving test for a motorcycle license on a 50cc scooter with automatic transmission and receive a license that allows me to go right out and buy/ride a chopper or a Ducati Monster sportsbike. We're probably not the only part of the world that's going to need to reform a lot of archaic laws in order to be ready for the coming electric/two/three wheel vehicle explosion.
- September 9, 2010 @ 08:09 pm CDT
You can probably relax, alcalde. Unless you run into a really anal retentive state trooper, I doubt most cops in Jersey would really care that you're riding an electric bike. That's what you get for living in the state that worships cars more than any other state in the northeast. Besides, one of the good things about the latest crop of e-bikes is that they look like normal bikes, so they're unlikely to even notice as long as you keep pedaling.
- September 9, 2010 @ 10:09 pm CDT
Am I the only one that thinks this is a little absurd?
- September 10, 2010 @ 09:09 am CDT
I guess NJ is backward, but that's not new. In most if not all the other states up to 20mph is a bicycle. Here in Fla you don't even need pedals or insurance on mopeds, MC's either or a helmet. Since the no helmet law was passed, MC injury rate/deaths/mile has NOT increased.
Pedaling to work isn't doable as one tends to smell by noon if any distance so all electric except starting is the way to go. BTDT. Having to pedal to get EV push just complicates things, raises cost.
A good e-bike takes about 20wthrs/mile so figure 80% of your battery in wthrs and divide by 20 and you get about the range.
For a reliable low cost EV, weld a MC seat to front end to a Golfcart seat to rear, put on bigger VW Rabbit or trailer rims and car tires, change the batteries from 6v to 12vdc and you get a nice 45mph 3 seat EV MC.
I built mine for $150 but I'm a good scrounger. It costs me $2/wk/$100/yr for tag, batteries and electricity, getting 600mpg equivalent.
- September 10, 2010 @ 09:09 am CDT
That 140km/87miles is in normal assistance mode with constant use - switch down to the lower assistance mode and it will easily exceed 100 miles. Not only that, these new Kalkhoff batteries have more than twice the lifetime of the old type.
The bikes themselves are brilliant - if you're even remotely interested you should take a test ride. Available in the States via and in the UK through my company,
Tim 50cycles Electric Bikes
- September 10, 2010 @ 10:09 am CDT
There are way to many variables to say that one bike will get 100 miles per charge. I can get 40 miles averaging 18mph top speed 20mph under power out of a 12 ah li battery but the bms cuts in at 9.3 ah so you have to take that in to account also. Hour and a half to recharge with a 5 amp charger. Costs about $.08. Hills, headwinds, how much you actually pedal all make a difference along with how much extra weight you want to carry to get the longer distance. The battery that Giant suggests you add to get 100 miles weighs in the neighborhood of 15 lbs I would imagine making a heavy bike heavier. For longer distances I'll stay with my ICE 4 cycle and 150 mpg and my elec setup for around town.
Bob Poor
- September 11, 2010 @ 11:09 am CDT
Why hasn't someone designed an ebike with an alternator to charge the battery as you ride? these things weigh as much as an elephant anyway so you may as well generate your own power or you could just ride a normal pushbike and get fit.
- September 18, 2010 @ 08:09 am CDT
Range UP TO 140km with an 18AH battery is NOT real world range.
As their website says it depends on how much one pedal assists, optimal wind conditions, no stop and start, the right outside temperature (up to 30% less range in cold weather...), flat terrain, the bike being in perfect technical condition, the battery being new etc.
Of course the range could be said to be 1000km IF you carry enough batteries.
Also the voltage of the battery is not given by Kalkhoff on their website so one can not roughly work out the range oneself.
Study the subject before buying an electric vehicle, see i.e. 'Endless Sphere Forum' for info.
I myself don't believe in electric vehicles for many reasons ( Misplaced ideology and dubious claims...see my blog for more info) and build my self a motorized bicycle that has no problem with range.
- September 22, 2010 @ 05:09 pm CDT