Friday, October 8, 2010

Zerotracer motorcycle throws down gauntlet to electric cars

Zerotracer motorcycle throws down gauntlet to electric cars
02:11 July 6, 2010
The Zerotracer
The Zerotracer

The Zero Race will see contestants dash around the globe in 80 days in zero emission, electric powered vehicles... and one of the most distinctive entries is the Zerotracer. Designed by a group of engineers from Winterthur, Switzerland, the Zerotracer is an electric motorcycle that encloses its two occupants in a Kevlar shell and is capable of a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) and a range of 350 km (217 miles) on a single charge.
The vehicle is based on a MonoTracer body but replaces that vehicle’s 4-cylinder in-line BMW K-engine with a battery-powered electric motor that provides 135 kW/183Hp to propel the Zerotracer from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. Without passengers the body of the vehicle weighs less than 80kg (176-lbs) and the 18 kWh, 400V battery pack can be fully charged in two hours, while a quick charge can charge the battery pack to 80 percent capacity in less than 30 minutes.
Since the driver and passenger are enclosed in the vehicle’s Kevlar composite outer shell and can’t use their legs to stay upright when the Zerotracer isn’t moving the vehicle uses a pair of retractable wheels to stabilize itself when stationary. When retracted these wheels protrude from the side of the cabin to act as a “knee” to skim the road when cornering at high speeds.
Inside the cabin the occupants are treated to an almost noiseless ride thanks to the silent electric motor, unless of course they are listening to the Zerotracer’s stereo system. The vehicle also boasts a heating system and two bucket seats from which to enjoy the panoramic 250 degree-plus views provided by the plexiglass windshield.
The rules of the Zero Race state that the race teams must produce their own electricity using renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and/or geothermal. This electricity must be then fed into the grid system in the home country of each team to offset the electricity used by the vehicles during the race. Taking care of this aspect is the team’s main sponsor, Oerlikon Solar, which will generate electricity from thin-silicon solar panels at the company’s headquarters in Trubbach, Switzerland.
With its aerodynamic design and impressive performance statistics the Zerotracerstands to be a real contender to take out the honors when the Zero Race kicks off in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 15. 2010. We’ll take a look at some of its competitors in the coming weeks.

Bubble-bike: US$750 Electric three-wheeler

Bubble-bike: US$750 Electric three-wheeler
09:12 July 13, 2010
The US$750 Bubble Bike urban commuter recharges from a domestic power point
The US$750 Bubble Bike urban commuter recharges from a domestic power point

The Bubble Bike might look like the love child of a scooter and a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller, but it’s an ingenious response to the needs of Northern China and some of the more northern Asian countries where temperatures drop well below zero in winter and the roads get a liberal coating of snow and ice, making them not nearly as suitable for scooters and motorcycles as they are in summer. The recipient of a 2009 Red Star Design Award (China’s equivalent of the red dot awards), the three-wheel Bubble Bike sells in China for RMB 5000 (around US$730).
Low cost transport is imperative in many developing countries, and the Bubble Bike's price-tag makes it the only game in town if you want more than two wheels, or want to carry three people or a lot of luggage and keep them/it dry and warm.
Most importantly, the Bubble Bike is electric, meaning it recharges from a power point for a negligible cost and has oodles of grunt for getting up to its 45 km/h top speed. Now we understand that's not so fast by the standards of the big cities with lots of space that we're accustomed to, but it's plenty fast for urban running in the highly congested streets of China's megacities.
The Bubble Bike has a range of 100 km and takes between six and eight hours to charge from a standard household power outlet in its current configuration. The manufacturers are currently trialling alternative batteries which decrease the charging time to three hours and increase the range of the vehicle to 200 km, plus the cost of the Bubble Bike by several hundred dollars. I'm presuming those batteries are lithium ion but translation between the designer’s Shandong dialect and English was an issue, so I can’t be sure.
The biggest benefit of the bike is apparently roadholding. Bubble Bike's representative said that because the bike is very light and has three wheels and a low center of gravity, it really hangs onto the road. Given that its specifications and geometry are very similar to the Spira that I tried in Thailand last year I imagine that the handling would be similar (i.e. sensational).
In many ways, it's a scooter with a bit of protection, and there was some discussion amongst those of us looking at the machine whether there was adequate crash protection in comparison with a Western motor vehicle. One of those present contributed, "I'm sure it crash tests better than the scooter it will replace though."
Export inquiries on the Bubble Bike can be directed to the web site.

The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter

The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter
22:00 June 28, 2006
The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter
The Fhybrid front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter
The Fhybrid scooter is a hydrogen electric hybrid two wheeler that has emerged as Crijn Bouman's graduation project at Delft University in Holland and it is a very different form of two wheeler than almost anything that has come before it. For starters, it’s the only front wheel drive two wheeler going around that we know of, has a reverse gear for parking (another first on a scooter), and a range equivalent to that of a normal scooter in that it can travel approximately 200 km on a full tank of hydrogen. Oh, and it doesn’t make any noise or produce harmful emissions and looks very different to normal scooter fare.
Bouman, an Industrial Design Engineering student at TU Delft, developed a working prototype of the 65 km/h FHybrid scooter with acceleration superior to that of a standard 'petrol scooter'. The FHybrid was designed to be hydrogen-powered, but for now the prototype is powered by batteries, with the help of a special fuel-cell simulator that was specially designed for this project.
"A special course and various permits are required to build a hydrogen-powered engine. It wasn't possible to achieve this during the time period of my graduation project," Crijn Bouman explained. "The faculty is now trying to assemble all the necessary means to fully develop the hydrogen-powered scooter."
The FHybrid is the first front-wheel driven hydrogen-powered scooter. The scooter has an electric engine that mainly derives its power from a (Li-ion) battery. This battery is charged by a compact fuel-cell system, which derives its energy from hydrogen (from a tank) and oxygen (from the air). The FHybrid also has a regenerating braking system that reduces the hydrogen consumption by 10-20 percent.
Bouman has equipped the scooter with a “traffic assistant”, which enables the scooter's electric engine to be very precisely controlled when travelling at low speeds. The FHybrid's complete drive system and energy management system were built by Epyon, a TU Delft spin-off company, of which Bouman is one of the founders, and in partnership with the Delft Design Institute.

Sanyo and Suzuki collaborate on experimental electric scooter project

Sanyo and Suzuki collaborate on experimental electric scooter project
15:00 September 27, 2010
Sanyo and Suzuki have announced a collaborative project resulting in the development of an...
Sanyo and Suzuki have announced a collaborative project resulting in the development of an electric drive system for an prototype scooter named e-Let's

    Sanyo and Suzuki have announced a collaborative project resulting in the development of an electric drive system for an prototype scooter named e-Let's. About the same weight as the petrol scooter it was based on, the prototype has a claimed range of 18.6 miles and its battery pack can be charged using a household outlet. The scooter is currently undergoing on-road trials leading to possible commercialization.
    Based on a petrol-engined model called the Let's4 basket, the e-Let's features an in-wheel electric motor to the rear with regenerative braking, a dedicated charger and battery system, a "high efficiency control circuit" and a Li-ion battery pack. The developers have managed to keep the new prototype at about the same weight (74kg) as its petrol predecessor.
    The e-Let's scooter is charged from a 100V household outlet and a single charge is said to take about four hours and should be good for a journey of around 18.6 miles (30km), not exactly ground-breaking but sufficient for most inner city journeys. The prototype is said to offer the kind of "smooth acceleration, nimble performance, low noise, low vibration" that is making electric scooters an attractive short commute option.
    Last week, Suzuki began testing the prototype on public roads in Japan and plans to use the data gathered to create a production model. The road trials will also be conducted as part of the Hamamatsu Social Experiment Project on Next-Generation Eco-Cars announced in May.

Radical electric bike concept saves on space

16:00 April 6, 2010
The Electric Bike Version 2 also features a compartment for storing and charging mobile ph...
The Electric Bike Version 2 also features a compartment for storing and charging mobile phones, notebooks or MP3 players
Yuji Fujimura has taken the bicycle design manual and thrown it to the wind with his concept Electric Bike Version 2. Ditching the popular and familiar diamond frame design, Fujimura has opted for a flat solid box on wheels where the handlebars, seat and pedals fold away flat to help squeeze the bike into tiny parking spaces.
Parking bicycles can be a troublesome affair if you're in an area where an awful lot of people use two wheels to get around. As electric bikes grow in popularity the issue is unlikely to improve. The Electric Bike Version 2 concept from Yuji Fujimuratakes a slightly different approach to bike design which also offers a possible solution to overcrowded parking woes.
The concept bike would have pedals for human propulsion, which could both be set at the lowest position when traveling under electric assist. The upright seating position appears similar to that of more familiar diamond frame bicycles but that's where the similarity ends. As you can see from the gallery examples, Fujimura has gone for a flat, solid body box design with all the electronics and lighting enclosed within the housing and solid wheels.
Being a concept design, details on the electrics are limited to revealing that the designer proposes using a Li-ion battery, an electric rear wheel hub motor and that the bike would include a charging compartment for mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players and so on. The handlebars, seat and footrests/pedals fold away flat so that the flat, wheeled box can slide into the slimmest of parking spaces.
Whilst the Electric Bike Version 2 concept is imaginative and aspects of it make a lot of sense, just how stable the bike would prove in strong winds with nowhere for gusts to go except to slam against the solid body is cause for great concern, especially when cornering. Fold-away handlebars, seat and pedals to help squeeze the two-wheeler into tight parking spaces though - now there's a good idea.

User Comments (12)
I wonder how it will handle cross winds. My guess is that it won't.
Looks more like a home appliance on wheels.
Roger Kummert
- April 7, 2010 @ 11:04 am PDT
very kewl concept for crowed cities ... i'd be wary of crosswinds however ...
- April 7, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
oops, meant to type "crowded"
- April 7, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
A gust of wind and the rider is scraping the ashphalt.
It's ugly too.
- April 7, 2010 @ 05:04 pm PDT
Wow. Leave it to the Japanese to make things one-size-fits-small. Also, there doesn't seem to be room for escaping nut-crunching short stops...
Ceilidh Madigan
- April 7, 2010 @ 07:04 pm PDT
i thought it was a... credit card on wheels...
- April 8, 2010 @ 08:04 am PDT
Hello back pain! People who aren't riding competition speed bikes don't like leaning forward due to the strain it puts on their lower back.
The handlebars should be made to raise up to a level that allows the rider to sit upright.
Facebook User
- April 8, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
Yuji Fujimura has taken "art and beauty" manual and thrown it to the wind with his concept Electric Bike Version 2.
- April 13, 2010 @ 04:04 pm PDT
I LIKE IT. Modern and reminds me of somthing ....lets call the thing an, ibike.
Put an apple sticker on it and...hello, it's cool dudes. Gotta have one, Steve baby does bikes, who cares about cross winds.
- April 22, 2010 @ 11:04 pm PDT
Yes, I agree that crosswinds will be an issue, particularly on bridges (where there is nowhere to fall except into the bus lane)! So the design will have to be more of a lattice work, still strong and very light weight but also able to let the wind pass through. Love the iBike moniker - every time you pedal, you charge your gizmos.
- April 29, 2010 @ 12:04 pm PDT
he diamond frame in a box they forgot to unpack it from. Owch the sharp turn where hand meets box. Great crankset, bet that set you back big bucks and is unobtanium for repair parts in the open market.
There are street people here who come up with better solutions to get stowage! I could get exhausted citing the commercial models that run circles around this one.
Does the "designer" still dress like an extra for 2110 the movie? ibike indeed. sterile ugly, inhumane layout, uninspired....does that just about cover my thoughts? close to it!!
- April 29, 2010 @ 02:04 pm PDT
this has to be the ugliest, least user friendly bicycle ever thought up, so for me it is a big thumbs down
- April 30, 2010 @ 07:04 pm PDT

The PG-Bikes BlackTrail - world's fastest ebike!

The PG-Bikes BlackTrail - world's fastest ebike!

18:56 September 7, 2010
The PG-Bikes BlackTrail - world's fastest ebike!
The PG-Bikes BlackTrail - world's fastest ebike!
It’s no secret that as gas prices soar and battery technology evolves, electric bikes are fast becoming the next big two-wheeled thing. That trend is clearly evidenced by the strong showing ebikes are making at this year’s Eurobike trade show, currently taking place in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Over the next several days, we’ll be showing you a few examples that we’ve spotted at the show, but to start things off... well, let’s kick out the jams and go with the “Oh come on, you can’t be serious” ebike. It called the BlackTrail, and with a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), it’s officially the world’s fastest commercially-available electric bicycle – and probably the most awesome-looking, to boot.
The BlackTrail is the result of a collaboration between two German companies, namely PG-Bikes and carbon fiber products developer UBC, which also designs parts for Formula 1 race cars and Porsche Carrera GTs. The bike itself is striking – it has the classic styling of a 1930s motorcycle (complete with brown leather saddle and battery cover), but with the sharp angles and undisguised carbon fiber of a rocket bike.
The non-human-generated speed is supplied by a 1.2 kW CM48 V hybrid motor, powered by a 48-volt lithium-ion battery. It charges up to 80 percent in 30 minutes, and up to 100 percent in 150. At its top speed, the bike has a range of 40-60 kilometers (25-37 miles). At its cruising speed of 30-50 km/h (19-31 mph), that range extends to 160-200 kilometers (99-124 miles). No acceleration specs were provided.
Besides carbon fiber, its body is composed of high-alloyed aluminum (“used by NASA”), titanium and magnesium, for a total vehicle weight of 19.8 kg. (43.65 lbs.)
Is it cheap? Nope. If you wish to purchase one of the 667 BlackTrails that will ever be built, be prepared to part with approximately US$75,460. You could certainly get a full-on electric motorcycle for much less money, but... with a huge ticket item like this, bang for the buck is hardly the point.
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    User Comments (11)
    60 mph on a bike with NO suspension?
    No thanks!
    Keith Reeder
    - September 7, 2010 @ 09:09 pm CDT
    Why would I pay $75K for a bicycle? That Oregon based company has a motorcycle, with a suspension for less than $20K, does a sustained 100mph.
    - September 7, 2010 @ 10:09 pm CDT
    I've been riding my ebike every chance I get, it is unbelievably fun. My commute is significantly faster and actually rewarding in so many ways. I can't even begin to explain how incredible it is to blow through standstill traffic with the speed of a professional athlete while getting around 1000 mpg equivalent. Also, I get to park at the door and have a bunch of money suddenly not being spent on car stuff. Srsly, cars are for suckers, just like this absurdly overpriced bike.
    - September 7, 2010 @ 10:09 pm CDT
    Gad, that thing is FUGLY.
    At first glance I thought it was a photo of a motorcycle from the turn of the LAST century.
    - September 7, 2010 @ 11:09 pm CDT
    This is a bad joke. Going 62mph without suspension is not doable as the rider would get thrown off on normal streets. Next 1.2kw isn't enough to push a bike that fast without aero body. It would take 7-10kw to do that.
    In the US it's not a bike but a MC, pedals or not.
    Ebikes and MC's are a great idea but this one isn't. Plus unlikely to be the fastest Ebike under their difinition either.
    - September 8, 2010 @ 09:09 am CDT
    The speed record was 64 mph on a 3-wheel human powered streaminer from the early 1980s (Vector). That record held for many many years. Now it is up over 80 mph on a 2-wheel streamliner. I don't know if spending $75K and finding about faster bicycles will make customers very happy.
    Chris Jordan
    - September 8, 2010 @ 11:09 am CDT
    Makes me wonder if they actually did market research before coming up with the production limit of 667. For what they are offering at that ridiculous price point, I have the feeling that they will be waaaaay overstocked!
    Will, the tink
    - September 8, 2010 @ 03:09 pm CDT
    Its a bit early for an aprils fool joke right? no suspension, $75k. sure. I wouldnt pay $7k for that.
    - September 8, 2010 @ 06:09 pm CDT
    I have done 130Kmh on a bicycle - down a HUGE steep and long hill, towing a trailer full of heavy stuff......
    Quite good actually.
    For the people who shit can first and think nothing later......
    1. If you are going to do much more than 20 - 30Kmh.... and way up too 100 kmh, dump the velcro and wear more and more heavy duty stuff like joint pads, gloves and leathers.
    2. Avoid surfaces that induce excessive vertical accelerations.
    And - Or:
    3. Buy a motorbike.
    Mr Stiffy
    - September 9, 2010 @ 01:09 am CDT
    Very clean looking, but as far as being new or "the fastest"....No
    I made one of these about 4 years ago (60mph ebike)... Terrible idea. Recently i made an electric moped with a 65mph top speed and a 40 mile range. Great suspension, full lights and all, much better idea then this death machine.
    Marc Breitman
    - September 10, 2010 @ 05:09 pm CDT
    Yes 'jerryd', you are right about it needing a lot more KW to do 100km/h (62mph) but you CAN do it without suspension and without getting bucked all depends on the road condition... (for a real world motorized bicycle check this out:
    - September 20, 2010 @ 05:09 am CDT