The Blog

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oliver - Green Riders go to Santa Cruz

A happy rider returns!

4 electric bikes and a trailer loaded up.

Onkel Reinhart taking a spin!

Michael and I went down to Santa Cruz yesterday with 4 electric bicycles in the back of the pick up truck. Michael talked for about 25 minutes to the students from the bike co-op who were interested. (I tried to record the talk but failed!) After the talk, we let the students ride the electric bikes around campus. They all came back grinning, delighted with the power and speed. Michael's talk highlights the challenges with current electric bicycle technology. It's a rather complex story but very interesting. My take away from the afternoon was that there are a lot more challenges ahead than I had anticipated with getting the electrics worked out for this trip. Since Michael is taking on this part of the project, I hadn't paid it much attention. I now realize that getting this project to work is a big deal in that we will have to develop technology that will bring electric bicycles to a new level where they will greatly broaden their appeal due to improved performance. Existing electric bikes don't climb well and don't have great range. We need to achieve range and hill climbing ability without adding huge battery packs. No matter what system Michael has tried, he still gets about 1 mile per pound of battery. 60 miles is a lot of weight!!!Michael and I have a great conversation going about how to charge batteries on board the Vixen while we are underways. One equation we thought of is how much gas in a generator would it take to charge a battery pack? Another idea is to create a trailer with regenerative braking to carry and charge extra batteries as the Vixen rolls down the road.