AuthorTopic: Electric Bicycles  (Read 56273 times)

Offline RE

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Electric Bicycles
« on: May 04, 2014, 08:50:11 PM »
I'm toying with buying an Electric Bike for zipping around the Valley in a slightly more eco-friendly way than my SUV.

The model I am favoring at the moment is a Jetson



I also looked at the XB-700 from Extreme Scooters



They both come in around $1800.  I like the design on the XB better, but a few bad reviews on customer service, a flimsy plastic windshield, charger that doesn't work etc put me off it.

They have a range of about 30 miles and do up to 20mph, with a max load of about 275 lbs.  This is plenty for my daily trips around the valley.  You can actually get them to go faster by unplugging the speed limiter, up to around 26 mph.

By having pedals, these bikes fly under the radar of the DMV, so you don't need a license, registration or insurance for them.  However, the pedals are close to useless and just there for show and legal reasons.

A few things are holding me back from making the purchase.

1- Lack of Cargo Capacity

They don't have a rack installed, and I'm not sure I could find a rack that would mount on them.  If I can't carry my Camera Bag and have a place to put beer when I stop at the store, it is close to useless.  I have a bike trailer, but I don't think it will mount to the rear hub like on a typical bike.  So I would need to have something custom built.

2- Cold Weather

Will it operate at temps below freezing, and with how much range and speed?

3- Security

The Motor key switch is easily jimmied, and besides that anyone with a van or trailer could just pick it up and throw it in the trailer.  I could use a heavy duty bike lock with it, but you have to find things to attach to.

On the plus side, I probably would be the only person in the Valley who has one, so it could be identified by the Gestapo if somebody is riding it around.

4-Battery Life/Replacement

Claims are for 7 years, but this appears to be bullshit.  Based on reviews, I think 2 years is more likely, possibly 3.  Will I be able to get replacement batteries in 3 years?  I could buy an extra battery or two now, but not sure on the shelf life of these things when not being used.  If left on a trickle charger the whole time they are stored I suspect they would still be pretty good, but not sure there either.

5- Safety

They aren't designed to ride off road, so you need to be on pavement, which most of the time doesn't have a bike lane around here.  At 20mph, you are way slower than the cars are zipping by, so you need to stay to the right and let them pass you.  Many drivers are not too considerate here and will get way too close making these passes.

A real Electric Motorcycle would resolve most of these problems, but I don't like the models available and besides they are more money than I care to spend on such a prep.

All that considered, I may still buy one just as a Prep, and not use it much until Gas is being rationed and the roads are a little safer to be travelling on with one of these things.

Thoughts welcome.

RE
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Offline RE

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Razor Ecosmart Scooter
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 10:19:04 PM »
After reading more, I am now looking at scaling down here to a Razor Ecosmart Scooter for the electric 2-wheeler Emergency Vehicle.


It comes in at a much cheaper price of around $375, and is probably good enough for what I would use it for.  Much shorter range of only around 7-8 miles, but don;t think I would use it for much more than that anyhow.

It has a rack and basket, so you can carry some stuff on it.  Security is still an issue of course, as well as Safety.  However, it is also small enough to carry easily in the SUV.

The cooler look and the greater range and speed of the Jetson and XB-700 still appeal to me though.  The number of negative reviews for all these devices bothers me though.  Seems like you can be lucky and get a good one, or you get a real Lemon.  At least with the Razor, I would not be dropping so much money if I end up with a Lemon.

This is a tough decision.

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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 11:58:03 PM »
Just checked the cost for the Battery for the XB-700, it is $700.  I can't see buying this toy without a spare battery, so jack up the cost to around $2500.  This is getting into car cost territory.  In fact a good deal higher, since my 1983 Mazda MPV I picked up used for $900.

What is the lifespan on this scooter in a SHTF scenario?  Max with luck I could keep it on the road is 5 years I think from today.  Any number of things can fail, from the Batteries to Tires to the Motor, and if I actually NEED to use it, the chances I can find replacement parts for it are slim and none.

I have to compare this against the costs for Gas.  I average about $30/wk in gas at current prices, call it $1500/year.  So even if I used it all the time it would take 2 years to pay off.  I also won't use it all the time, certainly not in mid-winter, when it probably would not run at all.

All it really does is buy a bit of time and security in the case of temporary Gas shortages/rationing.  In no way can it really substitute for the Car.

Then there are the issues with it being stolen or wrecked in an accident.  It has a very limited lifespan overall.

On the one hand I really want one of these devices, on the other from a pragmatic view of the economics, it is a waste of money.

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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2014, 01:59:38 AM »
My recent exploration into buying an Electric Bicycle/Scooter has led me to think more closely about the overall economics of this, and whther we might have substantially increased the timespan of running an Industrial Economy had we wholesale shifted to using this type of transportation instead of Carz.

Clearly, these devices use a lot less energy to get you from Point A to Point B, in the 20-30 mile range that is typical for the daily commutes most people have to work.  However, if everyone had one and was using it every day for this, we would have needed to build many more electical generation facilities to charge all of them up every day, and a more robust grid as well to handle the larger load.  On balance, you probably save some energy here, but the infrastructure would eat up a good portion of the savings.

The next issue is batteries.  Li-I batteries were not available back in the 70s, so the new fleet of Commuter Electric Bikes would have needed many more Lead-Acid batteries, which would wear out more often since they were being charged/discharged so often.  More mining necessary to keep up the supply of batteries here and replace them.

Then of course is the issue of Bulk Transport, and unless the paradigm was also changed where most products were produced locally, you would still need some kind of fleet of Trains, Trucks and Container ships to drag everything around all the time.  Electric Bikes do not substitute for Trains or Container ships.  So these still are burning Oil.

Would we have put less CO2 up into the atmosphere if we had done this instead?  Perhaps slightly less, but as long as we burned Fossil Fuels to generate the needed electricity, we still would have been adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Overall, had we made a transition this way back in the 70s, my WAG is that maybe we would have extended the lifespan of Industrial Civilization by a Century or so, but no more than that.  Besides that, the slowing economics which would have resulted would have caused the credit system to implode that much faster.  We would have faced the collapse of the economic ponzi much sooner, probably in the 80s if not 70s.

So, overall it seems unlikely that "Green" devices like E-bikes would hve made much difference over the time period, even had they been wholesale produced and adopted.  The very fact such devices are dependent on a very large scale Industrial economy functioning means they go when the JIT shipping paradigm goes, and when you can't access the materials needed to create them at a price people can afford, which they never can because you always need debt to finance all of it.

For now, if you have the surplus FRNs and can afford one, an E-Bike provides a temporary measure of additional transportation security.  It probably does not save you much money, by the time you factor in the cost of the bike, its lifespan and repairs compared to an automobile.  It defintely won't "Save the Planet" if you buy one and drive it regularly instead of your SUV.  It is a very marginal improvement overall.

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Offline MKing

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2014, 07:54:32 AM »
EV is great with enough battery to handle all commuting. Expensive, and not as effective in cold.



For the commuting you are describing, gasoline based, (excluding walking, bicycling and mass transit, all of which are available in any decent suburbia) these work year round except when there is really snow on the road surface or the temps are <20F.



I paid $1200 for a new one (albeit a few model years old), they travel 120 miles on a single tank (1.3 gallons) and I fuel them from the lawnmower can. 5 gallons is good for all summer, so if you wanted to use it as bug out transport you put the 5 gallon jerry can at your feet and could escape all the way to the Yukon if you wanted to. Storage under the seat, reliable as a hammer, hits the speed limiter regularly at 42mph on the flats with a tailwind or going downhill, is able to carry an extra person in a pinch (at least a 5'8" weighing 110#), insurance cost is $10/year, registration $10/5 years, and you are allowed to park wherever the bicycles do.Sidewalks are perfectly legal.

The Volt is 3X more efficient in terms of liquid fuel efficiency (300 mpg vs 100mpg) but cost 30X as much and its operating costs alone are more in 18 months than the purchase price of the scooter. The scooter was purchased on the basis of using rather than my old SUV, and at 6000 miles will have paid for itself based on fuel savings alone. But it can't beat the Volt economics the same way it does the SUV because the Volt is more efficient than the scooter, not less.

Of course, if fleeing in a non-cage is really a priority, I recommend something less limited to road travel and with enough carrying capacity for a summers worth of gear. More expensive than a scooter, but much more capable, and can still be used to bomb around town fairly efficiently.

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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2014, 04:20:37 PM »
That answers the question of how useful an electric would be up here in the winter, which is not much.

A full size car makes no sense,  that has an even bigger battery replacement issue than the Electric Bike.  Similar with the full size Electric Motorcycle.

Public Transportation is virtually nonexistent up here, cab service is about it.

I also want it to be small enough to fit in the SUV.  The EBs are just a bit too big and heavy.

I think I found the right balance with this Zippy 500 from Extreme Scooters



or maybe the Ecosmart from Razor



The Zippy has the nicer styling, the Ecosmart has a longer range.

My main concern is the variable quality that seems to come out of these companies, which all pretty much are Chinese.  However, at $400, the Zippy is not too big a risk.

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Offline Petty Tyrant

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2014, 04:40:45 PM »

You were going well saying it was more eco friendly until you started the usual drop in the ocean difference copout. I dont know what your power source is there coal or nuke or what but the oxygen consmed to charge an ebike is nothing compared to running your car. Dont you tell the NBL mob that we should at least give it our best shot?

I think your nabe is too cold for the full range or to ride around without frostbite. Having said that Peter in  that sort of climate uses an electric polaris. That would give you sone shelter and gun racks and carrying capacity IF youre allowed to use one where you are, way better but hes probably just getting away with it because hes so remote.

Also buying spare batteries now is not going to work as a replacement in a few years, they wont be any fresher than the one you use.  it is only good to have them to extend your range.

 The good ones are made in USA, its a myth they are all made in china. The US ones are a fuckin FAST mountain bike that sprint like a startled hare, with a bunch of models and look really cool in camo or matt black or orange. They can also be pedalled properly with decent length cranks unlike the chinese ones.

Get solar panels if youre worried about the grid going down or have an ordinary pedal bike for that case. I have 7 mountain bikes here.

Lastly dont be a miser be an example.

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Offline MKing

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2014, 04:48:45 PM »
That answers the question of how useful an electric would be up here in the winter, which is not much.

A full size car makes no sense,  that has an even bigger battery replacement issue than the Electric Bike.  Similar with the full size Electric Motorcycle.

Battery replacement is turning out to be a non-issue with hybrids and I would presume, EVs. Winter is the issue, and ownership of a garage is a near necessity.

Quote from: RE

I also want it to be small enough to fit in the SUV.  The EBs are just a bit too big and heavy.

Why the need for electric secondary transport when there is enough liquid fuel to run the SUV to haul it around?

Quote from: RE
My main concern is the variable quality that seems to come out of these companies, which all pretty much are Chinese.  However, at $400, the Zippy is not too big a risk.

RE

Chinese scooters (gas powered) are sold locally in hardware stores and PepBoys even. Quality is worse than shoddy, and I've seen the same thing in various types of power equipment. If reliability is a concern, which for me it is, I don't even look at the chinese stuff, even at the stiff discounts offered.
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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2014, 04:50:28 PM »
Also buying spare batteries now is not going to work as a replacement in a few years, they wont be any fresher than the one you use.  it is only good to have them to extend your range.

If the batteries haven't gone through the charge/discharge cycles and are kept charged, I think they would still be pretty good, though not as good as new.

Quote
The good ones are made in USA, its a myth they are all made in china. The US ones are a fuckin FAST mountain bike that sprint like a startled hare, with a bunch of models and look really cool in camo or matt black or orange. They can also be pedalled properly with decent length cranks unlike the chinese ones.

Got a website for this bike?

Quote
Get solar panels if youre worried about the grid going down or have an ordinary pedal bike for that case. I have 7 mountain bikes here.

I have a couple of solar panels.  Probably enough juice to charge a bike over a few sunny days.

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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2014, 05:00:33 PM »
Battery replacement is turning out to be a non-issue with hybrids and I would presume, EVs. Winter is the issue, and ownership of a garage is a near necessity.

Not talking about battery availability now, I am talking 5 years from now.  If there are gas shortages, I suspect new batteries will be in short supply too.  Anyhow, no garage in my current living situation.

Quote

Why the need for electric secondary transport when there is enough liquid fuel to run the SUV to haul it around?

Riding in the Colony Days Parade and July 4th Parade for one thing, zipping around after I park to shoot pictures over a wider area, cruising the aisles of Home Depot in style... :icon_sunny:

Quote
Chinese scooters (gas powered) are sold locally in hardware stores and PepBoys even. Quality is worse than shoddy, and I've seen the same thing in various types of power equipment. If reliability is a concern, which for me it is, I don't even look at the chinese stuff, even at the stiff discounts offered.

So far I haven't located comparable Amerikan made items.  Even if they are assembled here, components like the motors wheels etc are sourced out of China.

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Offline Petty Tyrant

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2014, 06:14:26 PM »


Got a website for this bike?



http://www.stealthelectricbikesusa.com/

you would also get better mpg than the mpv from a good size chainsaw. Take out the bar and cutting chain, put a bicycle sprocket on the motor/clutch drive, mount it down near the pedals and put a bike chain on it to your back wheel. Ride to the forest reassemble to a chainsaw, cut firewood so you dont freeze.





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Offline Petty Tyrant

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2014, 06:17:53 PM »
I might sneak into RE's house and install servo's on his e-bikes throttle, brakes, and steering, and then change his name to RC. LOL
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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2014, 10:44:54 PM »

http://www.stealthelectricbikesusa.com/

That is one Kick Ass Electric Bike UB!



It is so kick ass they don't put the prices down for it on their website.  You have to go shopping to find prices.

The Stealth Bomber comes in at around a cool $10,000 or so.

I admit to being tempted because it is clearly the Lamborghini of EBs, and if it had come in at maybe $3,000 I would go for it, but $10K is insane.

It's likely a lot more durable than the Chinese shit, but for $2000, I could buy 5 of the Chinese Scooters and have spare parts out the Wazoo.

In the course of my life, I have had 5 bicycles stolen.  It killed me when my first $300 Peugot got snatched.  I can't imagine my depression when coming out of a store to find my $10K Lamborghini EB gone.

For just a teensy bit more than $10K I could buy an Electric Polaris Ranger like the one Peter has


Around here, I could get away with driving this, everybody cruises around here on 4-wheelers.  If I am going to drop $10K on an EV, this would be how I spend it.

However, I just don't need that type of vehicle, and I don't see them as that much more sustainable long term than the ICE Carz.  For right now, I will buy something cheap, and see how it works.

Quote
you would also get better mpg than the mpv from a good size chainsaw. Take out the bar and cutting chain, put a bicycle sprocket on the motor/clutch drive, mount it down near the pedals and put a bike chain on it to your back wheel. Ride to the forest reassemble to a chainsaw, cut firewood so you dont freeze.

You should design a Chainsaw/EB Transformer model.  I am sure it will sell like Hotcakes.

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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2014, 11:15:32 PM »
I've run into a major glitch as far as getting ANY of these scooters up here, which is SHIPPING.  Apparently the size and weight of these things (even the smaller folding ones) is bigger than the standard shipping carriers will handle.  I worked my way down to trying an eZip e500, available from Walmart for $319.  They won't even ship it to the local Walmart store for pickup!  The shipping problem may also have something to do with the Batteries, not sure.

I emailed one company to see if I can get Custom shipping, but this is guaranteed to be expensive, probably near the cost of the scooter itself.  Another possible option is to have one shipped to some address in the lower 48 where one of my friends who is in the Oil Patch can have one of his trucks pick it up and bring it back here for me.  His company has trucks running up and down from here to North Dakota fairly regularly.

Another option would be to try to bring it back with me on my next trip to the lower 48 on the plane, but even assuming they let me bring it as baggage, I would have to wait until the next trip, which is earliest August.  I would lose many months of the best time for riding it round this year up here.  I really wanna have one in time for the Colony Days Parade in June.

Unfortunately, ordering something like this to get here in Alaska is not as EZ as Cameras and other small electronics.   :(

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Offline RE

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Re: Electric Bicycles
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2014, 02:04:59 AM »
Well, after perpetually downsizing, I found an Electric Scooter I could get shipped up here on the Cheap.  It's an Ezip 450, which came in at the bargain price of $255. The Alaska Surcharge for Shipping jacked it up some to $315.



As usual, it comes with very Mixed Reviews.  Some folks think it is FABULOUS, others think it is JUNK.  Some say it takes hills well, others say you better be on Flat Ground.  Some say it gets the rated 8 miles or so on a charge, others say you are lucky if you get 4.

I suspect the great variation here in Reviews is the result of low Quality Control in the battery department, and there is a certain amount of Luck involved in how good a battery set you get.  Your own Weight is a big issue here as well, it is only rated up to 180 lbs, so if you are a big type person this thing probably won't pull your weight too well.  I come in these days at around 165, so it should do OK.  I could trim down to 150 if I made an effort at it too.  I think you also could quite significantly increase Range if you "Scoot" with your foot from standing starts and on uphills.  Acceleration is what really eats up the juice.

With heavy use, these batteries don't have a long lifespan regardless, maybe 6 months.  So I probably have to replace the batteries every year, for around $115 or so if I go with what they sell.  Hoping for Good Luck with the first set.  Regardless, my guess is I can get the dimensions and get better Li-I batteries that will last a whole lot longer after the first set wears out.

My Goal for it is to get around 5 miles on a charge, this would take me comfortably around the Parade Route for Colony Days and July 4th.  Routes have some hills, but not too bad.  Very small unit, easy to pitch into the back of the SUV and have with me all the time.  Actually small enough to carry with you without too much issue on Public Transportation like Trains and Buses.

This isn't the End of my Electric Scooter/Bicycle investigations, just the beginning with one I could get hold of up here cheap and fast for this year.  I'll look for a better upgrade unit and way to get it here at a reasonable cost for next year.  I will review it after it arrives and let you guys know how well it works overall.

I don't see Security as a big issue with this unit, because when I use it, I'll ride it right into stores.  It's smaller than the little Rascal Go-Karts the other Invalids use in the stores, so I don't see why they wouldn't let me use it inside.  Mostly though I expect to use it just to cruise around shooting pics.  In any event, if it gets stolen, a $315 loss is not the KILLER a $10K loss would be.

Should be here in about a week.

RE
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 02:12:04 AM by RE »
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