Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Paris Motor Show: Scooters And Bikes Steal The Spotlight


The city of Paris is filled not only with cars, but even more so motorcycles, scooters and bicycles. So it wasn’t much surprise that we’d see a few on display at the Paris Motor Show. What is interesting is how some manufacturers are looking at bikes and scooters as an entry point into an automotive brand. Smart revealed this exact strategy during their press conference and following the reveal of the eScooter and eBike prototypes. Part of the rationale behind introducing these two products is to offer more affordable transportation alternatives to a car. Both in Europe and the US, insurance for young drivers costs a lot. Smart is looking at the eBike and eScooter as either steps up to car ownership or a more space conscious solution to urban mobility.


Smart describes the eBike as a muscle powered – electric hybrid. As a rider pedals, electricity is generated and  stored in a lithium-ion battery pack located just above the crankcase.  Power is then transferred to a 250 watt motor in the rear hub of the bicycle giving the rider a boost on flat roads and making climbing hills easier. Smart considers the eBike the first entry point into the brand because no drivers license is need to operate it. The top speed generated by the motor is limited to 15.5 mph keeping the bike from being classified as a scooter. When braking, the rear hub actually recaptures electricity and sends it back to the battery.


The eBike was designed to appear “uncluttered”. The safety cell frame and body panels of the Smart fortwo car became the inspiration for the design of the eBike frame. For nighttime riding, the eBike has integrated front and rear LED safety lighting. The small headlight is attached to the handlebars instead of the frame so when a rider turns, their direction of travel is illuminated.


Smart designed both the eBike and eScooter to have smartphone integration. For the eBike, the owners smartphone becomes the “starter” and the immobiliser. The bike will only work when the owners phone is inserted into the cradle on the handlebars and the motor ‘locks’ when the phone is removed. The phone also serves as an interface for a speedometer, and heart rate meter.


The Smart eScooter is the next step up from the eBike. The zero-emission electric drive scooter is powered by a 4 kW disc shaped motor in the rear wheel. Smart says the eScooter can attain a top speed of 28 mph and has a range of 62 miles on a full charge. The eScooter can be plugged into a standard household socket via a charging cord located beneath the emblem on the front of the scooter. A full charge takes three to five hours. Smart has integrated some interesting safety features into the eScooter. It is equipped with electronic front and rear ABS and the brakes are activated with a single twist of the hand grip. Like the eBike, energy is recovered during braking and sent back to the battery. The eScooter also gathers electricity from a section of solar panels located on the front fascia. The scooter employs more advanced smartphone integration and has features like a range and battery charge display, navigation, and ‘parking GPS’ which sends a homing beacon to the owners smartphone so they remember where the scooter is parked.


Mini debuted the Scooter E Concept in two variations at the Paris Motor Show. In contrast to the model from Smart, the Scooter E’s showed the potential for how a scooter could be customized to more reflect the needs and personality of the owner. The drive system of the Mini is similar to the Smart, standard plug-in charging, lithium-ion batteries, and an electric motor in the rear hub.


The Scooter E integrates a lot of Mini design ques. The headlight is very similar to the MINI Countryman’s. And the tail lights resemble scaled down versions from the Mini Cooper.


Even interior design elements from Mini road cars have found their way into the design of the scooter. The handlebar gauge is similar to the large center mounted speedometer of the road cars. Another carry over is the ‘center rail’ on which accessories like small storage cases and bags can be attached.


The Scooter E is activated via a smartphone which also serves as a display for scooter controls and navigation. The plastic panel in the center of the speedometer shown above opens and a phone can be inserted horizontally.


With a change in body color and materials, Mini demonstrated how the Scooter E can have a unique and distinctive appearance.


We also saw a lot of bikes displayed around the show. Here’s a rundown on all the ones we spotted. Above is a road bike and hybrid electric city bike from Peugot.


Opel mountain bike.

Individual Bike spotted in the Ford Stand.


Lacoste Bike.


Vintage Lotus time trial bike.


Skoda, who provides support vehicles for the Tour de France had two station where visitors could compete head to head on a virtual stage of the TDF. The bikes were hooked up to resistance and steering tracking controllers which interacted and controlled the rider on the screen.

Electric Bike Sales Picking Up in Brisbane


Brisbane, Australia — The sales for electric-powered bicycles and scooters in Brisbane have been slow, but Nope electric scooter and bicycle importer Harry Samson of Brisbane expects those sales to start growing by leaps and bounds.
“In 1997 they sold 98,000 electric bikes and scooters in China. Last year it was 25 million and they’re sending bike shops broke,” he said.
In Australia, those individuals who want electric-powered bikes do not want for choice, but there are only a few scooters and, as yet, no motorcycles.
Bike conversion kits are also available, such as the eLation system from Queensland.
The only electric scooters on the market are three Nope scooters. EVT offers two scooters, which are limited to 50km/h. There is also the Vectrix maxi-scooter.

E-Bikes to the Rescue - A Six-Month Review

by A.K. Streeter, Portland, Oregon on 10. 5.10

2-mile banner photo
Photo credit Richard Masoner via flickr and courtesy Creative Commons 2.0 Generic.
This post is part of series written by TreeHugger contributors about trading in your car for a bike for trips that are two miles or less in distance. The series is sponsored by the Clif 2-Mile Challenge.

Pedal assist electric bicycles, going no faster than about 15 kilometers per hour, are in my mind a savior of city women everywhere (even if they don't know it yet). In China the e-bike market is varied, rapidly expanding, and testosterone charged. Some of the bastardized pedal-free devices seen on the streets have no right to even be called "e-bikes." Here in the U.S., e-bikes haven't yet caught the attention of the bike-buying public in the same way as they have in Asia. But after six months of riding a Sanyo eneloop I think e-bikes are transportation's best kept secret.


Photo credit April Streeter via flickr courtesy Creative Commons license.

In taking the Clif 2 Mile Challenge, I must admit not every under-2-mile trip was by bike, and my record for logging miles was dismal. Yet I averaged my 17-20 miles weekly easily on my Sanyo eneloop. Here are the top three reasons I believe e-bikes are exactly the right transportation tool for cycle-interested city women.

1) E-bikes take the hills with ease. There are myriad reasons women choose not to bike, and in part they are the legitimate anxiety of distracted drivers and stressed-out traffic situations. One other top anxiety -i.e. that a city rider would not be able to conquer hills- is something the e-bike completely overcomes.
My e-bike, a first generation Sanyo eneloop, has three speeds, and in low gear, I can power up even the strongest incline easily. Because a hill or two will be part of many cyclists' daily commute, an e-bike is just the thing to take the sting out of the ride home at the end of a long day. But contrary to popular myth, a pedal-assist bike just adds a bit of help. It doesn't take away the exercise of cycling. Instead, it enables a rider to go farther without the fatigue that can be discouraging to new riders.

2) An e-bike provides a welcome edge in fast-moving traffic. I live in the inner valley of East Portland, so basically heading my bike either west or east will mean some hills. But I've found that the eneloop's best feature is not necessarily its hill-busting, but its ability to give me a small burst of acceleration after I am stopped at a light or a stop sign. The extra boost is just enough to meet stop-and-go traffic situations with a bit more ease. Simply put, the e-bike is a confidence booster, which can be important for female cyclists, who are known to be a bit less agressive in city cycling situations, sometimes to their favor, but as in the case of the higher number of female fatalities in bike versus lorry crashes in the UK, also to their disadvantage.

3) An e-bike gently expands a rider's range and strength. As we know, most trips in a city are under three miles, and yet, most are still taken in a passenger car. This is insane, and once the price of gas reaches a certain point, we become aware of the insanity of car-dependent culture. It is understandable that slightly inclement weather, stuff to haul and kids to take care of make a bicycle not the first choice for car owners.
An e-bike starts to shift that equation. In my six months of riding the eneloop I've grown accustomed to an easy 10-mile round trip, and used the bike to haul a lazy 11-year old, a trailer full of milk bottles, and a 46-pound mutt without getting tired or cranky. The eneloop may eventually not be the perfect electric city bike - at this point, knowing what I do, I would far prefer a pedal-assist Xtracycle or Yuba Mundo to meet my daily riding routines. I dream of a pedal-assist cycle truck, pained bright blue, with flowers attached to the front basket and the dog happily sniffing the air from a back trailer.
But the wonder of the e-bike is that it has gotten me to this point, to really wanting, dreaming about, a cargo-style bike with the power of pedal assist to keep me going when the cycling gets tough, the weather gets bad, and the kids get cranky.
The Sanyo eneloop is good looking, sturdy, and highly functional. The battery now gives me a good solid 15-mile range, fine for any city errands I take on. I stuff my wire basket and pannier with groceries and laundry, with no seeming drag on my energy or patience. I've learned the ABC of electric bikes (always be charging) and since my inital miscalculations have only been caught out without sufficent battery power three or four times.
To understand the understated power and ease an e-bike can bring to city transport, a test drive is required. I know I never would have purchased without having that taste of a bit of extra power plus freedom. Happy riding!

You can sign up for Clif Bar's Two Mile Challenge here.

Ottawa cop terrorizes E-Biker!

New e-bikes cause bylaw confusion

Cyclist gets go-ahead only to be stopped by police officer

Electric bikes can resemble conventional bikes or be like mopeds, like the ones above.

Electric bikes can resemble conventional bikes or be like mopeds, like the ones above.
Photograph by:
Ashley Fraser, The Ottawa Citizen

Electric bikes: Are they or are they not allowed on the city’s bike paths?
That’s the question on Jacki Leroux’s mind. She thought she knew the answer. When she bought her e-bike earlier this summer, she called the city twice to ask where she could ride her new purchase and both times was told
e-bikes were allowed anywhere a normal bike can go.
So imagine Leroux’s surprise Wednesday when an Ottawa police car veered off the road, cut across the grass, and stopped right in front of her as she was riding her
e-bike to work along the Rockcliffe Parkway bike path.
The officer told Leroux her e-bike was not welcome there, although he stopped short of giving her a ticket.
“I felt like a criminal,” the 44-year-old said. “Clearly, something is out of sync here between the city and police.”
An e-bike is equipped with steering handlebars and pedals, travels on two wheels, and can be propelled with muscle power alone. It also has a small electric motor that can power the bike up to 32 kilometres per hour.
E-bikes may resemble conventional bikes or can look more like scooters or limited-speed motorcycles. Leroux’s looks like a moped.
She said she decided to buy an e-bike because “they’re a safe, environmentally friendly option. Never did I think it was going to get me in trouble with the police.”
According to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, e-bikes are allowed to travel anywhere a conventional bicycle can.
The ministry has advised traffic enforcement officers on e-bike regulations, according to its website.
A potential grey area can develop, however, as municipalities are allowed by the MTO to pass bylaws prohibiting e-bikes from bike paths.
The City of Ottawa’s parks and facilities bylaw technically prohibits the use of motorized vehicles in a city park or on a city bike path.
However, e-bikes are considered bikes, not motor vehicles, under the law and were “not contemplated” by the city when the bylaw was drafted, wrote city spokesman Barre Campbell in an e-mail to the Citizen.
Campbell added that “the city has no objection to allowing the use of an electrically assisted bicycle in a park or one of its bike paths.”
The National Capital Commission has the same policy, said spokesman Jean Wolf. The path where Leroux was riding her bike is the NCC’s.
Sgt. Al Ferris, a traffic escort officer with the Ottawa police, said Leroux shouldn’t have been stopped, but said the emergence of new-fangled bikes and other new vehicles has meant many new rules for officers to memorize.
“It’s so difficult sometimes to stay abreast of all the new hybrids out there and the regulations that go along with them,” he said. “Perhaps the officer in this case was just ill-informed or unaware of the law on e-bikes.”
Leroux said she will continue to ride her e-bike to work.
“I bought it for that purpose,” she said. “I’m going to keep riding it. I just hope I don’t get stopped again.”

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