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Electric Bikes Get More Elegant Every Year (Video) 164

Posted by Roblimo
from the he-huffed-and-he-puffed-his-way-up-the-hill-because-he-forgot-he-was-riding-an-electric-bike dept.
Tim Lord first saw Faraday Bicycles at CES, where their bikes drew plenty of attention and a fair amount of media interest. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and 2014 is when they are starting to ship their pre-ordered bicycles and hope to get new orders for lots more. Tim's travels later took him to San Francisco, where he had a chance to visit the shop where Faraday bikes are made, and to talk with some of the people who are designing and making them. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)

Tim:So Adam, here we are in the headquarters of Faraday Bikes. Talk about what is the thing that is standing next to you.

Adam:Well this is the Faraday Porteur. It is our flagship bike.It looks just like a frame right now, but it is actually going to be an electric bicycle. It has got a battery pack that is built completely into the frame.I won’t tell you where it’s going, our favorite game is to make you guess. As you guess, you may be surprised. And then everything else about it is like a bike, really high end nicely built bike to last a ride. It is comfortable.It is rough and light weight for an electric bike. And it is beautiful. And that was the point in the beginning as we sort of set up to say, “Electric bikes are great, they have a huge amount of potential to get more people riding bikes more often.” Which is something we want to see in the world. But how do we make that?How do enable that? How do we make them more attractive and appealing to people?

Tim:Speaking of attractive, you mentioned it is a Porteur.

Adam:Porteur, yeah.

Tim:Explain that phrase. That word.

Adam:So that gets mispronounced a lot.

Tim:By me at least.

Adam:Yeah, by everybody. You are not alone.____1:06Porteur a load carrying bike. One of the cool things about it is it has got this big rack in the front here. And it is a cargo rack. We meant for this bike as it goes it looks to be a workhorse. We want you to put your bag of groceries, or your laptop, or crates of coffee, or whatever it is in the front of the bike here and really use this bike for utility.And that is one of the cool things. It is attached rigidly to the frame here. We could shake the whole thing.

Tim:Show us a little bit how it is detached.

Adam:So this is a neat design. We basically have these bars on the rack attached to this bracket here in the frame, it makes it a really strong rigid connection. And so that means when you steer, the weight in the rack doesn’t affect the steering at all. So you can have a lot of weight in there, and it won’t wind up or swing around. You have a bike with a rack on the handlebars which is maybe more typical if you do it. It can really get erratic and hard to control. So this is really really stable.I like it a lot. The cool thing too is you can take the whole thing off. So three bolts come off and the whole thing just comes off.There is times you may not want this. Some people just don’t carry so much weight in the bike. It lets you customize the bike to your style.So that’s where the namesake ‘porteur’ comes from. We originally created this bike. It was part of a contest to sort of redefine the ultimate utility bike.

Tim:Jim, you are sitting here in the bully pulpit here where you get to design all the circuitry that actually goes into the Faraday bike.

Jim:This is my electronics workbench space, my electronic domain over here. As you noted, chatting about, there is a lot that happens electronically in this bike, and we’ve got to pack a lot of electronics in the small space to get that done. So there are some fascinating challenges that come along with that. I am spending a lot of time working right now on thermal considerations, there is a lot to power from more than just the motor powering the lights, powering everything on the bike—it generates a lot of heat. We have a lot of electronics crammed into a small space. That can be an interesting thermal mechanical challenge. Doing the whole design process from mechanical mounting to fixing things. Hugo, our mechanical engineer and I would go back and forth a lot just chatting across the room at each other—“Hey is it going to work like that?” , “No, let’s do it like it instead” things like that. So it has been good team integration.

Tim:Now as a background, explain what you did immediately before this.

Jim:I come from an engineering background stuff. Before this, I was making toys.I was working for a small design shop that would design children’s toys mostly for six- to twelve-year-olds age market, and doing more software and less hardware. So it is definitely more on the building of physical things side, building electronics side of things for me.

Tim:And also the hardware you were making also didn’t have to carry 200 pounds for 20 miles.

Jim:Right. Although it had to survive a six year old on Christmas day.

Tim:That actually sounds like a pretty tough challenge. So talk about the actual design of this, and the way you are interacting between electronics and hard physical environment—what do you have to do, is there anything different in designing what goes into a bike than what goes into a laptop?

Tim:Certainly everything needs to be reliable. It is a bike with an on button. And that keeps it simple from the user perspective. But that means that we manage a lot of details tucked away, hidden in that box there, that is in the bike frame. So a lot of it is just getting a lot of these systems, from the battery to the motor controller to the lights, to data logged in memory on the electronics getting all of these systems to play together nicely, and work as a single integrated bike.

Tim:Can you give us a quick rundown on some of the tools on your desk, and how they play into your day-to-day life?

Jim:Sure.You see as with any engineering, the laptop or the computer is the main design tool.

Tim:What are you using to program here?

Jim:I am just writing in a text editor there. And that’s not a programming tool necessarily. It is not programming that works directly. But we have some software here that will let us program up these test boards that I had built.

Tim:What is the software environment that you are using?

Jim:It is just the standard AVR Studio tools.

Tim:And some of the other tools on your bench. What are you dealing with here?

Jim:The typical electrical engineering suite where you have a power supply, you have some multimeters, you have some solder irons, you have an oscilloscope that logs some data there, so the essential EE tools.

Tim:And you’ve also got this desk one of the interesting things, so that is a nicely elevatable desk here?

Jim:I got to alternate between standing and sitting right, just at the touch of a few key buttons, which is handy. I like to stand up sometimes while I am working on some things or to adjust different heights for when I am working at the computer or soldering some circuit boards, it changes my operating level as it were.

Tim:Over the course that this project has been in progress, what sort of changes have you had to see? What things as being a bike, and the realistic environment cause you to do differently?

Jim:A lot of it is just dialing small things in, changing the brightness of lights to adapt to the urban environment that we have here, how bright do we need these lights to be, what is the most visible, so we will make these small changes, we get out and ride, we do lots of riding, we just had a motor controller response to startup and things like that, just based on the subtle feel of how the bike rides.

Tim:Although the Kickstarter supporters are going to be getting their frames pretty soon, starting at least, how many bikes like these are out in the wild, or you have been able to actually put wheels and motors on?

Jim:Just the few that you have seen around here so far. We have built up a handful of test bikes that have been riding around San Francisco. It is starting to get spotted in a while, it is kind of fun, to see that go up on Twitter sometimes.

Tim:Is the software updateable?

Jim:Yes.

Tim:Can you plug in a USB cord when Faraday comes out with a firmware upgrade?

Jim:Yeah, we are making sure that you can get new versions of firmware as we release them and put them on the bike to make it even better as we go along.

Tim:Will it not be long until you will be able to drive your electric to ride, on your electric car, on the back of an electric powered train, is it?

Jim:Not too long at all.

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Electric Bikes Get More Elegant Every Year (Video)

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  • Still ugly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:00PM (#46338719) Homepage
    I don't get why all these electric bikes have you sitting in such an upright position. I don't see why nobody takes an existing touring bike (like a road/racing bike, with drop bars, but a beefier frame and ability to add fenders and panniers), and adds an electric motor to that. With a much more aerodynamic position the motor would be much more efficient, and as most cyclists know, these bikes are much more comfortable anyway. Plus it would be a nice advantage to not have a completely unride-able bike in the case where your battery runs out.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because nobody can see you in traffic and you will be killed. The same reason people do not ride recumbent bikes on city streets.

      • by ne0n (884282) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:27PM (#46339085) Homepage
        No problem, just bolt a giant shark-like fin onto your recumbent so it sticks up into driverspace. Mount LEDs or even lasers to further enhance visibility. Patent pending, of course.
        • by Roblimo (357)

          I have an upright "old people's" trike and because you sit lower on it than on a standard bike, it has a flag. The flag is pretty much standard equipment for Florida old people's trikes.

          This morning I was sitting out on my front porch and an old lady (mid 70s, I'd say) zoomed down the street on an electric trike. Dead quiet, fast as most cars go in our quiet little trailer park. 20 mph at least. Her hair was flying out behind her, and her flags (the real Kool Kids have 2 flags on their trikes) were bent aft

      • by Cinder6 (894572)

        Apparently people in my area didn't get the memo. It seems like I see more recumbents than anything else--and yes, they're easy to see. Of course, I don't drive an SUV.

      • Because nobody can see you in traffic and you will be killed. The same reason people do not ride recumbent bikes on city streets.

        That's just standard with a motorcycle, people just don't see you. A flashing light is almost a requirement. A home security system comes with such a light (12 volts DC),
        that I almost hooked up to mine.

        I had a lady that had stopped and could tell she was confused, she turned in front of my motorcycle then pulled to the side of the road - thinking she had just noticed me and pulled to the side to let me pass; I gave it gas to pass her, when she flipped a U'ie on me - I hit her in the car door.

        I opened her do

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          There's a reason they advise against driving a motorcycle in traffic anywhere a full-sized car won't fit. In some places they go so far as to make it the law.

    • Re:Still ugly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:07PM (#46338813)

      I wouldn't call road/racing bikes comfortable, i find an upright bike much more user friendly. Those racing bikes feel like my butts up in the air and my chin is about to scrape the pavement. How is that more comfortable? Besides being a man i prefer my, ahem, "manliness", un-squished, as happens every time on a road bike.

      • by cruff (171569)

        I wouldn't call road/racing bikes comfortable, i find an upright bike much more user friendly.

        I agree 100%, riding in a lowered position causes numbness in my arms (noticeable after only 10-15 minutes) and causes neck pain. Not everyone who might like an electric bike is 20 years old! Same thing goes for motorcycles.

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          You don't use your arms to support your weight on a road bike, you use your "core" torso muscles. Try riding in an upright position until your core strengthens enough to ride in an aggressive road bike position.
           
          Source: 31 year old bicycle commuter on an aggressive road bike

      • Re:Still ugly (Score:5, Informative)

        by hey! (33014) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @06:34PM (#46339711) Homepage Journal

        Depends on the number of hours you put in the saddle. If you just ride an hour or two on the weekend, then a cushy seat and upright posture feels comfortable. If you ride many more hours per week it's a prescription for saddle sores and cut off circulation near the tops of your femurs.

        If you ride a lot, you get used to the drop handlebars, which afford a number of small but significant changes in posture over a long ride, and allow you to use more of your body muscles (along with cleated shoes). Also with drop handlebars you support more of your weight on your hands and legs, so no manhood problems. When I was riding over a hundred miles per week, I found the most comfortable saddle was hard plastic with no padding at all.

        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          The trick with road/racing bikes is to move around in the saddle. Even on shorter rides, I tend to change hand and sitting positions freqently. Also, don't lock out your elbows. If numbness/"squishing" is an issue, then you might consider using a saddle that has a cutout or depression for the perineal area. After a week or two of riding, it shouldn't be uncomfortable anymore. Actually, it should be more comfortable than well-padded seats over long rides.

          (If you don't do long rides, though, it's probably not

          • by hey! (33014)

            Subjectively, the bike becomes comfortable when it feels like an extension of your body. It's natural to shift around and be loose rather than stiff. If you were running you'd naturally move around obstacles or change your gait.

        • by emj (15659)

          If you just ride an hour or two on the weekend, then a cushy seat and upright posture feels comfortable. If you ride many more hours per week it's a prescription for saddle sores

          I've biked 300km during three days in upright position, it's easy and I had not problem. Further, there are thousands of people doing at least 100 km a week in upright position over here.

      • It's more comfortable because you have less weight bearing on the saddle. With a sufficiently high cadence your legs will support most of your upper body so your arms aren't as burdened as you might suspect. With the sit up and beg riding position your leg muscles are not configured to bear the bulk of your weight on the pedals.

        I ride a road bike with my hands on the drops 99.9% of the time and it is not tiring unless I ride with slow people who prevent me from using a high enough cadence to support my uppe

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        Don't blame incorrect saddle selection and sizing and poor (or no) bike fitting on the bike. Most bike shops don't know how to fit a bike properly to the rider or adjust it so you don't end up with a repetitive motion injury, all most of them know how to do is adjust the height (sort of at least) and ask you "does it feel right?". A shop that knows how to do a proper fitting will get you a the right bike for you, with the right frame size, the right saddle width, adjust the saddle height, level, and fore/af
      • If you have a battery and a motor adding pounds and horsepower to your bike, the old "shave every last gram of weight and drag" axioms become kind of moot.

        Why put up with the discomfort if you can still "get there" at a decent speed without hunching over?

      • by lord_mike (567148)

        They also cause impotence due to extra pressure on the perineum from the skinny seat and bent over posture [medscape.com]. It's much better from your manly bits to be in an upright position. Much less pressure on the nerves and blood vessels supplying those vital areas.

        I never liked the old "ten speed" or racing bikes. Maybe it's because I'm older now, but I'm much happier on a "comfort" or "cruiser" bike. It's easier on my carpal tunnel wrists as well.

    • With a much more aerodynamic position the motor would be much more efficient

      With the speed limitations in place for e-bikes in the legislature of many countries?

      • Re:Still ugly (Score:4, Informative)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:23PM (#46339025) Homepage
        A more efficient motor would mean that the battery could last longer, even if you were limited to low speeds. Speaking of speed limitations though, the literature for the Faraday Porteur says that it has a 350 W motor, which means its too powerful [wikipedia.org] to qualify as an electric bicycle in Europe and many other places. Personally I find that the speed limitations are another big problem. The highest speed limitations I've seen are 32 km/h, which I can easily maintain on my non-electric bike.
        • Speaking of battery life, there's no mention of regenerative braking on this thing. That's not going to help much when cycling long-distance, but it will in cities where you'll be accelerating and stopping a lot.
          • Re:Still ugly (Score:4, Insightful)

            by SpankiMonki (3493987) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @06:20PM (#46339563)

            Speaking of battery life, there's no mention of regenerative braking on this thing.

            Their FAQ claims "Regenerative braking may be great for cars, but it's not as good for bikes." Other e-bikes and the Copenhagen Wheel [superpedestrian.com] have regenerative braking, so I wonder if Faraday is making unfounded excuses.

            • Lots of e-bikes make the excuse - it may be a minimal return for the added cost and complexity. Figure that a car is decelerating a huge mass compared to the wind-drag.

            • by MDMurphy (208495)

              Regenerative braking appeals most to the people who think perpetual motion is possible. "If I go down a hill I'll get back the power I used to go up!" My guess is that most companies offer it more for marketing purposes than for actual usefulness.

              Here's a link to a good breakdown and a quick summary: Not all drive systems are engaged all the time to be able to generate power. Of the ones that are, the amount of potential power to be recovered while braking in normal stop & go is small. The amount tha

        • A more efficient motor would mean that the battery could last longer, even if you were limited to low speeds.

          It would, and most likely more than any aerodynamic contribution. So would high pressure tires, regenerative energy storage, and driving on quality roads. I think that around 25 km/h, aerodynamics is not likely one of your greatest worries.

          Personally I find that the speed limitations are another big problem. The highest speed limitations I've seen are 32 km/h, which I can easily maintain on my non-electric bike.

          "Big problem?" These are not racing bicycles, and as far as practicality goes, I'm not sure I want to see swathes of people riding around at 40 km/h just because they can.

        • I like the Florida laws in this regard: anything under 5bhp qualifies.

    • I find sitting in an upright position to be far more comfortable.

      But if you want an electric with drop bars, Google is your friend. Here's the first that came up. There are doubtless more.
      http://www.nycewheels.com/bion... [nycewheels.com]

      • Sitting upright also means that every bump goes straight up through your spine. Not very nice to the spinal discs unless you ride a full suspension bike.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      I don't get why all these electric bikes have you sitting in such an upright position.

      The racing position is favoured by people who race bikes. Those people wouldn't want an electric bike.

      The upright position is preferred by most people going to work, school etc by bicycle -- there's a better view, and it's more comfortable. Most people aren't bothered by the slight inefficiency, especially if the motor is helping.

      • The racing position is favoured by people who race bikes. Those people wouldn't want an electric bike. The upright position is preferred by most people going to work, school etc by bicycle -- there's a better view, and it's more comfortable.

        That really depends on how far you have to go. In my experience, upright seating might be more comfortable for short distances, and it's probably easier to get on and off. But I bicycle to my office most days, about 4.5 miles one way (which is not long) on a road bike outfitted with a rack and panniers. It is not a "racing" position, but I do lean forward and have drop handlebars. The seat is level with the handlebars.

        That position removes a lot of weight from your crotch area, and transfers it to your arms

        • by xaxa (988988)

          I also cycle to work, and it's about the same distance (6.5km). I use an upright position.

          Out of about 80 bikes that are locked outside my building, only 4-5 are racing bikes. If I was in the Netherlands, Germany or Denmark it would be more like 1 / 80.

          • by emj (15659)

            Out of about 80 bikes that are locked outside my building, only 4-5 are racing bikes. If I was in the Netherlands, Germany or Denmark it would be more like 1 / 80.

            Far less than that, normally people do not use racing bikes for everyday use. I stood in a busy bicycle intersection and saw ~200 upright bicycles not one racing bike.

          • by swillden (191260)
            I cycle to work and I prefer a road bike. But my ride is 25 miles one way, and takes better than an hour on my road bike. I also have a more comfortable bike, but it takes a good 20-30 minutes longer to get to work if I ride that. But most people won't ride as far as I do.
        • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @03:43AM (#46343257) Journal

          The bending over you do to reduce drag isn't needed on an electric bike because even with just 250 watt, you basically got another set of legs pedalling. I got one myself and the biggest difference you notice straight away, apart from the insane acceleration (even mopeds have a hard time keeping up) is that WIND, the eternal enemy, is NO LONGER A FACTOR. Whoosh, GONE!

          And the upright is not about BEING seen, in either position you are at the height of normal car windows, so plenty visible, it is about how easy YOU can see.

          There just isn't a market for electric racing bikes. Not just because most racers don't want a support engine OR because the weight of engine and battery would triple the bike weight but because most build their own custom bikes and the best electric bikes use custom frames (mid-motor is where things are going).

          The market for electric bikes simply ain't the health freaks, it is the people faced with a commute that is just to uncomfortable to ride themselves but who are not opposed to moving their legs a bit. People like me, I am neither fit nor unfit, I could ride 30 miles, I have done so when needed BUT I wouldn't do it of my own choice. I have a choice, go by car (longer commute and more expensive), cycle all the way (about 45 minutes) NO FUCKING WAY, go train + bus (extra waiting time kills commute time) or train + electric bike. WINNER! Fast, bit of excersize (downside, pants starting to fall down), cheap.

          I am the target of the bike in the article. You are not.

          This is no different from the eternal and rather boring debate about how electric cars don't have enough range to drive to another continent. NOT THE TARGET MARKET.

    • Because drop bars suck big donkey balls if you're not trying go as fast as possible.

    • by Bartles (1198017)
      Because the target market is the urban, manicured, hipster. Can't you see the natural toned brown leather and creme colored paint? The whole thing is supposed to look like a bicycle that someone found in Aunt Jane's backyard shed. It's not supposed to look cool, comfortable, or modern.
    • I don't get why all these electric bikes have you sitting in such an upright position.

      Did you actually look at the Porteur? The handlebars are lower on the frame than the seat. That's not exactly an upright position, particularly for a "utility" bike.

      One thing I find odd about this bike is the lack of regenerative braking. Faraday's FAQ notes that "Regenerative braking may be great for cars, but it's not as good for bikes." Anybody know why regenerative braking would be a disadvantage for an electric bike?

      • by Roblimo (357)

        Adds weight and complexity, for one thing.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        I've heard several DIY people echo the sentiment. It's not that regenerative breaking is a disadvantage, it's just that the benefit is far smaller.
        - On a bike your mass is low, and your aerodynamics suck, so most of the energy is spent just keeping the thing rolling forward. Contrast to a car which takes a lot of energy to get up to speed, but far less to maintain it, so regenerative breaking recaptures the larger portion of energy.
        - Often e-bikes do a simple hybrid system with a hub-motor in the front wh

    • Re:Still ugly (Score:4, Informative)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @06:23PM (#46339591)

      If you wants decent aerodynamics, you don't get a a "traditional" racing bike, you get a recumbent. Recumbents hold the world records for speed by a far margin and it's because they cut the aerodynamic profile in half.

      They are known widely for being way more comfortable than traditional bikes (which is why most exercise bikes these days use 'bent form). You don't get saddle sores from them, but they are much better for your lungs and midsection as well, as bending down in the proper form in racing bikes practically crushes your middle. So I don't get your comfort assertion at all.

      Of course, recumbents often are bigger and that's a down side, as well as visibility being a factor (the aerodynamic win trades off with being lower to the ground). And the ability to "hop" over objects. Uphill is reportedly tougher but I find that is more with newcomers because recumbents exercise different muscles, particularly midsection, and endurance comes from riding a long time.

      I think a lot of the bad characteristics of recumbents is mitigated in the "crank forward" design of recumbents, which is a hybrid of the traditional frame of the bicycle and recumbent - pushing the crank forward like the name suggests, elongating the frame slightly but still being high enough and able to jump objects.

      Google images has a ton of crank forward bikes to view.

      As to the topic, I've been looking into a 1500 watt scooter. Can stand or sit. Can go up serious hills. Looks possibly small enough that I can take mass transit without them bitching about my luggage. Has a 20+ mile range, a little more if I don't go all out. Since it can go 35+ miles, 15 more than I'm willing to go on a scooter of that type, I think I can exceed that easily.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

      I would consider it seriously if my area rained a lot less than it does, like if I lived in Arizona. $1500 is still a lot, but compared to 5 or 10 years back, leaps ahead of what I could have gotten.

      Previously, I was considering a gas powered Sym Symba (a Honda Super Cub remake) but I think that costs $3K, and only goes 45mph. With the electric scooter, I can go on bike paths, but on this, I would have to take roads, and that is too slow plus I would have to get a motorcycle license.

      • not so much if you want to turn. or having to hug the side of the road
        • by rolfwind (528248)

          That's why I recommend crank forward type of recumbent, it turns well enough and doesn't look weird compared to a full on recumbents:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

          Obviously doesn't have the full aerodymic efficiency of a full bent but it has the comfort.

          I would put up pics of full on recumbents but there are so many varieties of type, short wheelbase to long wheelbase, to canopied ones like a velomobile, that it would be pointless, as what holds for one might not hold for another.

          I'm guessing a short whe

    • by hey! (33014)

      You can certainly add a conversion kit to a frame of your choice -- they're out there for well under $1000.

      I think the reason for the upgright position is that it appeals to people without any experience bikes. I suspect that's the target market: people who find the idea of bikes appealing but are intimidated by being the motor.

      I used to be a regular bike commuter riding about 120-150 miles/week, but when I got a job with a 100+ mile round trip commute I gave it up. When I turned 50 I hadn't been on a bike

    • by Tugrik (158279)

      Racing bikes / drop bars are for the spandex clad assassins who'd view any EV assist modes as 'cheating' and the batteries/motor as unnecessary weight. Normal humans who happen to ride bicycles (instead of 'bicyclists') are quite happy with sit-up-comfortably-and-be-able-to-see postures. This is why the Electra Townies and their ilk are so popular with the casual bike commuter set. The SRS BZNS bike commuter types who want the monkey-humping-a-football position aren't the target market here.

    • You're thinking too small. Think a bit more radically, and you'll eventually land on the idea of an electric velomobile [wikipedia.org], which is already readily available. Plus, it also offers better aerodynamics than your proposal, more comfortable seating, and shelter from the elements, in addition to the benefits you cited. Alternatively, you can think even more radically and get something like the ELF [kickstarter.com], which was successfully funded on Kickstarter about a year ago, adds in shletered cargo space, and has solar panels to

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Ergonomics. Your back is not going to like the "efficient" position because it's not natural for human back to be bent like that.

      I am something of a cycling oldie, I've been actively riding since I was little and I've come to despise the racing style handlebars that make you want to go into aerodynamic position. Instead I have the wide "horns" style handle bars that let me sit straight.

      And mind you, my average riding speed, including all the stops and climbs is around 20km/h according to my bike's computer,

      • Nice one. Same slope here, but I used to max out at 65kph because I just could not pedal any faster (46-11).

    • Two reasons: One is that the target user base are people who want an assistive utility bike or are too out of shape to ride at a safe speed in traffic. The people who buy these are pedal mashers who want as little effort as possible to make the bike go.

      The other reason is that E-bikes are legally restricted to 20-25 MPH which a competent road/racing cyclist can exceed with ease without the burden of carrying around a heavy motor and battery pack. It would be sweet to be able to do 35 MPH hill climbs without

    • There are e-bike motor kits galore - Golden Motor (Chinese with a Canadian distributor option) comes to mind, but there are many others.

      Put a motor and battery on whatever bike configuration your heart desires - some of the motors have integrated controllers, others - like the Green Hornet - still require an external controller.

      There are also a number of pre-engineered battery mount solutions, of varying merit.

      End of the day, you'll need $400+ to get any decent range / performance out of a LiPo based conver

    • by MickLinux (579158)

      Look into velomobiles. Practically speaking, they have to be tadpole style trikes, but they'll do twenty-forty mph, at least until you add electric assist.

      Some velomobiles are the Mango, the Go-One, the alleweider, for starters. I built my own, but it isn't terribly useful. The useful ones cost $8k-$22k.

      Aside from that, visibility is not a problem.

    • Yeah right... your an idiot but at least you are not alone. In the Netherlands, one of the most cycle friendly countries in the world, the "normal" bike is known elsewhere in the world as the Dutch model. It is the upright because it is the easiest and most comfortable to sit on for typical city commutes where you are not trying to kill yourself like some drugged out courier.

      You can see a huge difference with the US where the majority of bicycles are hobby bikes, not used for daily commutes. This translates

    • I don't get why all these electric bikes have you sitting in such an upright position. I don't see why nobody takes an existing touring bike (like a road/racing bike, with drop bars, but a beefier frame and ability to add fenders and panniers), and adds an electric motor to that. With a much more aerodynamic position the motor would be much more efficient, and as most cyclists know, these bikes are much more comfortable anyway. Plus it would be a nice advantage to not have a completely unride-able bike in the case where your battery runs out.

      The Dutch disagree. In the #1 biking country in the world, everybody rides the upright bike. It's more practical (easier to balance, with more space to carry groceries or other luggage, and an optional extra passenger on the back) and safer (much better overview of the traffic, and easier to look behind you).

      Btw, the real revolution is taking place in China, where millions of people are zooming by on electric scooters. Some little startup who builds bikes in a shed in the USA is not gonna make any impact on

  • by tempestdata (457317) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:03PM (#46338747)

    I think that bike is pretty cool, and I've been lucky to never have a bike stolen, but at that price tag, they better have put a LOT of thought into security before I would consider buying one.

    Also, is it just me or does that bike scream hipster?

    • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:04PM (#46338767)

      At that price it does nothing but scream hipster.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:12PM (#46338855)

      It screams hipster so much so that I actually want to punch the bike itself...

    • by ZorinLynx (31751)

      Yup, no way in HELL I'd commute on this bike unless I had a secure place to keep it at work.

      (I actually do; I could just tuck the bike into one of our server rooms. Mmm, climate controlled bike locker! But most people don't have this luxury. Also I bet if all the employees started bike commuting, management would put a quick stop to it)

    • by number6x (626555)

      Regardless of what you pay for a bike, it is worth about $25 US.

      Because that is what the guy who stole it will get at the junkyard for it when he sells it. Unless it is made from carbon fiber. Then it is worth less than $25 because it has less metal.

      The best place to get a bike to commute on is at a garage sale. Let the hipsters ride the expensive dutch bikes and the nu-freds ride the road bikes.

    • by InitZero (14837)

      Theft isn't anymore an issue with this bike than a regular bike. My non-motorized bicycle costs about the same as the Faraday Poser. Heck, at more than 40 pounds - twice what my bike weights - the Faraday is probably safer than a regular bike.

      As a regular cyclist, I'm of two minds on electric-assist vehicles. On one hand, anything with two wheels, quite, minimally polluting and fun has my seal of approval.

      On the other hand, my experience has been that people who tend to ride electric bicycles (and gas-power

    • 1)Buy a U-lock.
      2)Change out anything "quick release" (aka quick-steal") to bolts or security skewers.
      3)Put the U-lock through the rear wheel, inside the frame's rear triangle. Now neither the wheel nor frame can be stolen.
      4)Attach the U-lock to something that is solidly and directly attached to the ground. Signposts that are bolted to something don't count. Porch railings don't count. Etc.
      5)Remove lights and such.

      Don't subscribe to the "cheap crappy bike nobody would want to steal." Guess what there's a lar

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "Don't buy bikes from guys selling them out of the backs of vans, fly-by-night-looking shops, flea markets, etc. THEY ARE PROBABLY STOLEN."

        those horrible poor people selling bike they are all criminals, don't trust them. THAT IS HOW YOU SOUND, Jack ass.

        Here is you precious uLock Security:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

  • by Eevee (535658) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:24PM (#46339043)

    The main problem with e-bikes is they don't fit the bicycle category; they're really underpowered motorcycles. One of the first things I noticed in the clip was a brag about being able to go 20mph--most urban bike traffic will be going at half that speed, say 8-12 mph. (For example, one of the local biking groups shows that 18-20 mph [potomacpedalers.org] is for top cyclist in a paceline.)

    These really don't belong on multi-purpose trails or in bike lanes. The speed differential between them and normal bikes is just asking for accidents.

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:37PM (#46339191) Homepage
      20 mph is 32km/h. I can easily maintain that on the flats with my bike, and my bike isn't amazing, and I am not in that good shape. The speeds you see quoted on that website are the overall average speed for the entire ride, which will most likely contain a few hills. The stopping distance of a bike, or even an e-bike is short enough that even going 30 km/h when everyone else is going 15 km/h will still give you plenty of time to react to other cyclists.
    • by xaxa (988988)

      I think those figures are average speeds. My top speed (on the way to work) is about 30km/h, which is just under 20mph. I don't attain that speed for long before I need to slow to turn or stop at lights, so my average is much less.

      The British recommendation is, "As a general rule, if you want to cycle quickly, say in excess of 18 mph/30 kph, then you should be riding on the road." (that seems a bit fast to me, but I'm not sure what kind of non-road they mean.)

    • by Jhon (241832)

      "The main problem with e-bikes is they don't fit the bicycle category; they're really underpowered motorcycles."

      I have an e-bike that I would not classify as an "underpowered motorcycle". It's a power assist bike. The motor doesn't activate unless I pedal.

      The bike will go zero mph if I don't move my legs. With "lazy" pedaling, maybe ~10 mph. I an also set how much "help" I get.

      The advantage of a bike like this is that the battery can be smaller, last longer and keep the overall weight of the bike fairl

      • by geekoid (135745)

        And motorcycles don't move unless you are pulling back on the throttle. your point?

        • by Jhon (241832)

          Stalker much?

          One possible point is that you are a prat who still hasn't answered my previous question in another thread yet continue to follow behind me and make annoying comments that are usually either entirely untrue based on shear ignorance (see my previous question) or just deliberately obtuse (see this one).

          But thank you for making me feel loved.

    • I don't know about "top cyclists" - I do know that the pro women's cyclists do "pleasure rides" through Miami before and after events, I followed a couple of them a couple of times, and they "cruise" at 18mph - once (when I was 20 years old) I hung with them for about 20 minutes at that pace on my mountain bike, then sprinted past them, turned down a side road and then virtually collapsed from exhaustion.

    • your numbers are wayyyy of , sorry you are very misinformed
  • by CaptBubba (696284) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:41PM (#46339233)

    For $3500 the components are a real mixed bag. Sure no visible battery is nice, but other bikes have that too and 195Whr is very low as far as e-bikes go. A brooks leather saddle is very nice, but Avid mechanical disc brakes are entry-level. That's not to mention the really questionable choices of a belt drive and bamboo fenders.

    Compare it to something like the Stromer Elite: http://www.electricbikesla.com... [electricbikesla.com]

    Same price, nearly double the battery (approx 350Whr), no visible battery, a standard shimano sora chain drivetrain any bike mechanic can work on, and hydraulic disc brakes.

  • by jakedata (585566) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @06:06PM (#46339457)

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/04/10/03/2137229/e-bike-e-xperiences/ [slashdot.org]

    Based on a steel mountain bike frame, it's decidedly INelegant and heavy, but super-effective on a commute that rarely exceeds 20 MPH by car.

    I got a solid 7 years out of a 36V 10AH NiMH battery pack before it croaked. Now it is resting in the basement until I decide to re-power it with some flavor of lithium.

    In the original post I asked if the Golden Island machinery motor was any good. Neither the motor nor the controller gave me a day's trouble though the original wire was too thin.

    I also asked about lead-acid batteries. They were garbage. Too heavy and the power faded below a useful level long before they were considered discharged. I got a good deal on an NiMH pack and was very pleased with it overall.

    I have since lashed up a 48V test pack and really enjoyed the power it gives. The original controller seems to work fine at 48V, the capacitors are all rated 60v.

    The best thing I did was add a Watts-UP meter so I can keep an eye on remaining capacity and monitor power flow.

    The most alarming thing about the bike is the brakes which are marginally adequate for the combined weight of bike and rider. They need to be upgraded before I hit the road again.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      If you're slapping NiMH batteries of any reasonable capacity on top of a steel frame, you will want disk brakes. The weight of the whole package including the rider is going to be far too much for anything less.

      • Oh please. I know 200+ pound guys who were bombing on mountain bikes before disks were invented, they survived just fine with cantilevers. A decent steel frame doesn't weigh much more than aluminum or carbon fiber, maybe a couple pounds, plus another 10-20 pounds for the battery and motor. [goldenmotor.com]

        Not saying disks are a bad idea, but no, an electric bike isn't so heavy that it just can't be stopped without them.
        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          Not sure about exact numbers, but when I switched from steel to aluminum I could pedal up the hill in my city (about 12-13 degrees for around 600m) all the way without significant problems. Steel bike, not doable for me. I think I managed it once, and I literally had to stop to rest at the top.

          On the newer aluminum bike, I had no problems getting back to speed after climbing the whole way without needing any kind of rest.

          You can certainly make due with a steel bike, I made due with them for at least a decad

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            Cheap steel bikes can weigh north of 40 lbs, yep. Heavy Aluminum bikes can weigh north of 32 lbs. My roommate has a folding aluminum bike, it's 36 lbs before you add on the rack, fenders etc.

            I have a late 70's lugged steel frame bike, it weighs about 24 lbs, probably closer to 26 now with the rear rack and fenders.

            By comparison my aluminum road bike weighs about 21 lbs, only a 5 lb difference between the two, but 19 lbs lighter than a cheap Walmart bike! A modern $1200 aluminum bike can weig

          • Modern 26" MTB steel frames weigh about 2500g where comparative aluminium frames weigh 1700g or so. Not a big deal, really.

        • by jakedata (585566)

          No room for disk brake on the front as the motor is a massively oversized hub. The goal is to put a disk brake on the rear and a heavy-duty cantilever on the front.

          Until I can justify the price of the battery pack I want, it doesn't matter anyway.

  • I know the sound varies from OK to less OK on here; that's because I somehow flubbed the audio recorded separately. Robin (Roblimo) Miller in editing the footage together did a great job of patching over some of the crazy industrial noises from the adjoining shop (which makes, of all things, electric motorcyles; the places are not related). I didn't realize I'd have a chance to shoot this video, so the footage is all from a point-and-shoot Canon camera that I bought via Craigslist for $80 a few weeks before

    • by wjcofkc (964165)
      Actually Timothy, that was one of the first Slashdot videos I have really enjoyed and watched the whole way through. I really do mean that as a compliment, but I see how you could take it either way ; )

      Keep up the good work and I'm sure it will only get better.
  • The Copenhagen Wheel is a much better concept, and cheaper, too. [superpedestrian.com]

    It goes farther, runs longer, weighs less, uses regenerative braking to charge on the go, and best of all, you can remove it easily for security purposes.

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      Nope you should buy the wheel I invented... its powered by an interocitor for infinite free energy so you never need to pedal or recharge it...and just like the Copenhagen wheel it isn't actually available yet either.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    the riders aren't.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @07:56PM (#46340405) Journal
    People are getting fatter and fatter, they need to be the engine so they can lose the excess baggage, not spend $3500 on something that allows them to continue to be lazy. Also E-bikes are way overpriced for what you get. I recommend getting a regular bike and saving yourself $2500 to $3000 instead. If it's really just for transporation then buy a used scooter or small motorcycle, they're a much better value.
    • by MickLinux (579158)

      I got a Currie Tech Trek from Walmart.com, $450 plus $100 for an extra battery pack. It does well. If you want to convert another bike to e-bike, they also have a neat electric bike wheel, with batteries and everything in the wheel, powered by something like bluetooth.

    • Fat people are not going to on a pedellic to begin with, they are going at most for an electric moped.

      And if you buy a 500 dollar bike, you are not buying the same class of bike as 3500 dollar electric bike. 500 dollar bike is equal to a 1000 dollar electric bike.

      Never go into business, you have no idea about market segmentation.

  • For all the wrongheaded transit ideas in NYC, banning electric bikes is on the list of bad ideas. Something between a bicycle and a taxi cab is needed, and Americans don't do mopeds.
  • by Dr Max (1696200)
    From someone who built his own electric bike, the one shown is pretty crap. zero suspension on a heavier than normal bike is a bad idea, and will limit what you can do. Also 250 watts is nothing, i know thats all that is legal in europe, and actully too powerfull for australia, but you can have 750 watts in america, and i havn't met a cop with multimeter yet; ultimately the more power, the more usefull, and fun (although it adds to the price of motor and battery). Lastly its too expensive, mine using a moun
    • by unimacs (597299)
      Actually, for riding on the streets, a typical bike suspension is completely unnecessary and just uses more energy.
      • by Dr Max (1696200)
        If the bike is light enough and you stick to the smooth road no suspension is fine (a lot if not most bikes have no suspension). If your bike has the weight of a motor and a battery on board, and you like to take immiginative shortcuts over curbs, side walks, and parks, then front suspension is preferable (maybe even rear suspension if your bike weighs enough). Most suspension can be manually set these days, so if you ussually obey the law and only ride on the road you can set it to be quite stiff. You are

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