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09/29/2005 - 12:26pm

Electric Bike (aka E-Bike)


After many months of wanting to build an electric bike, I've finally done it. And there were a couple of things that finally pushed me into it. The biggest were gas prices. We've recently dropped to about $2.80/gal here in Arizona, down from just over $3.00/gal. The other reason was simplicity. Why do I need an extremely complex Jeep (I love my Jeep, BTW) to make basic trips of only a few miles? And if something breaks, there's very little to it, and there shouldn't be any problems for me to fix it myself.

I used my electric bike to go to a client's for the first time today. They are in the downtown Tempe area. For anyone familiar with the area, they know that ASU traffic in the morning is awful. It would take me 30 minutes to drive a mere six miles to this client's location because I'd be sitting in traffic most of the time. Today.. I was able to fly by all of those vehicles just sitting there waiting, and it was a great feeling.

Once I made it to Mill Ave., the speed limit drops to 25mph, which is just about what my bike will do (I might be able to hit 30mph, haven't clocked it yet), so I have no problems keeping up with traffic, and therefore using things like the left turn lane when it's convenient, or zipping passed waiting vehicles.. it's the best of both worlds.

Now for a little details on the bike. It's a cheap $50 bike, and I chose it because it was cheap and this was my first ebike I've built, so I didn't want to make major mistakes on an expensive bicycle. It has a 1/2 horsepower hub motor on the front tire, and all of the pedals and gears have remained intact. If I run out of power, I can still pedal my way to my destination. The bike is powered by 3 12V 18AH SLA batteries wired in series (it's a 36V motor). The motor is controlled with a throttle on the right handlebar, similar to that of a motorcycle. The breaks have wires that instantly cut power to the motor so you cannot accidentally apply power to the motor while using the breaks.

All of these peripherals connect into a controller box as a central location. Right now, it's a mess. The wires are hanging everywhere and it's the opposite of what I'd call "sleek." My goal at the time of assembly was to complete it quickly because I was anxious to test and use it. Now that I've tested it for a few days and found that it's reliable, it's time to design where everything should go for the best look and functionality.

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