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Electric bicycles and safety?

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  • Liza Anulao
    Howdy, I am investigating electric bicycles, and had a few questions. First, I wanted to know if anybody could kindly share statistics or other information on
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 22, 2008
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      Howdy,

      I am investigating electric bicycles, and had a few questions.

      First, I wanted to know if anybody could kindly share statistics or other information on the safety of electric bicycles. I had visited a bicycle shop in Venice/Palms, CA, and the bike store salesperson indicated that electric bicycles are known to have lots of problems, like starting fires from the batteries overheating.

      When I looked online into the Giant Suede E, which was being used by the Pasadena MyGo program, the site said this bicycle had been discontinued. Why was it discontinued? Similarly I have noticed that the Stokemonkey is not available for sale yet. Are the reasons why related to safety issues?

      Lastly, I understand that the Pasadena MyGo program is on hiatus. Does anybody know when it will kick back into operation? I think it was such a wonderful plan!

      Thanks! I am so glad this group is available and sharing resources and knowledge.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • fred_dot_u
      hello to you, Liza, As a former e-assist velomobilist, assisted by a Stokemonkey, I can offer a few insights of my own. I don t have statistics to offer,
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 24, 2008
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        hello to you, Liza,

        As a former e-assist velomobilist, assisted by a Stokemonkey, I can
        offer a few insights of my own. I don't have statistics to offer,
        because statistics can be ignored unless you are the one collecting the
        data. The information I've seen from personal experience can be skewed
        in too many ways to be meaningful. If the journalist wants
        sensationalism, he skews one way; if the green bike shop owner wants to
        sell a bike, he can skew it another.

        My skew (and that's what it is) is that education and understanding is
        critical to safe use, care and operation. Batteries with poor
        connections due to weather exposure will generate heat, usually melting
        a wire, but rarely causing a fire. A defective charger can cause a fire,
        but it's rare and no one would purchase a known defective charger.

        Many users of e-assist bikes are not aware that a battery life is
        shortened by operating it until nearly exhausted, and the dealer wants
        you to think that it can go 20 miles (which it can) but safe range for
        the batteries is ten. If you continue to go 20 miles per charge, your
        batteries might last only a few months.

        I would not be able to guess why a particular model has been
        discontinued, but often enough the sale cost of an e-assist bike
        discourages sales and the profit isn't there. I know from experience
        why the Stokemonkey was put on hiatus. Todd is very conscientious about
        his product and has a great customer service attitude as well.

        Since the Stokemonkey was installed in my velomobile, I can suggest that
        if you want efficiency, performance, and flexibility, you can't do
        better than a Stokemonkey equipped bike. It was designed to be used with
        the Xtracycle, but I think it's also going to fit another "long bike" if
        you want a complete bike, rather than three pieces/parts.

        The Stokemonkey system had a throttle/controller flaw. If a specific
        wire failed in throttle connection, the motor would go full tilt. It was
        not a problem for me when it happened, but for other installations,
        there would be increased danger. Todd has corrected that problem and
        expects to be resuming sales soon. I understand from his web site that
        he has received components for the new system, but I don't know much
        beyond that.

        One characteristic of the Stokemonkey is that when the motor is running,
        the pedals are turning. It might seem unusual or uncomfortable, but it
        works great in practice. Clipless pedals are a must, as you want your
        feet to remain on the pedals while in operation. This results in you
        providing your own contribution all the time, a true electric-assist,
        rather than an electric powered bike.

        Because of the aerodynamics of my velomobile, I recorded the lowest
        electricity consumption of anyone on the power-assist group on Yahoo.
        That's also because I pedal all the time, not just let the motor do the
        work. I had added a monitoring device called the Cycle Analyst to the
        vehicle so I could see how much power I used and how much remained, so I
        would not over-discharge the batteries, maintaining their lifespan.

        On the bicycle side of things, I would highly recommend to anyone to
        view the practices presented by the LAB, called vehicular cycling.
        Regardless of power-assist or straight human power, one would find that
        VC results in a much safer ride. I have been a VC proponent for about a
        year and my riding has become all the more pleasant for the increased
        safety I enjoy.

        Vehicular cycling means getting out of the gutter, into traffic and
        operating as a motor vehicle would operate, within the restrictions of
        your state's laws. Florida law is more generous than most, in that I'm
        not required to ride in the shoulder or bike lane if I feel it's
        dangerous to me. Since my current (human-power-only) velomobile is wider
        than the shoulder, among other reasons, I always ride in the traffic
        lane. Another aspect of Florida law is that if the lane is less than 14
        feet wide, I am permitted to use the entire lane, which I do.

        Most of the roadways on which I travel are four to six lanes, so there
        is no problem with traffic getting around me, presuming (sometimes
        incorrectly) that the other drivers are competent enough to pass me.
        Those drivers on cell-phones tailgating me for two miles at 20 mph are
        automatically presumed incompetent, of course.

        If you'd care to have any additional insight to the Stokemonkey or VC
        practices, please ask away. I'm somewhat fanatic about my riding and
        commuting, so I'm always happy to expound.

        fred


        --- In CarFree@yahoogroups.com, Liza Anulao <synapse5317@...> wrote:
        >
        > Howdy,
        >
        > I am investigating electric bicycles, and had a few questions.
        >
        > First, I wanted to know if anybody could kindly share statistics or
        other information on the safety of electric bicycles. I had visited a
        bicycle shop in Venice/Palms, CA, and the bike store salesperson
        indicated that electric bicycles are known to have lots of problems,
        like starting fires from the batteries overheating.
        >
        > When I looked online into the Giant Suede E, which was being used by
        the Pasadena MyGo program, the site said this bicycle had been
        discontinued. Why was it discontinued? Similarly I have noticed that the
        Stokemonkey is not available for sale yet. Are the reasons why related
        to safety issues?
        >
        > Lastly, I understand that the Pasadena MyGo program is on hiatus. Does
        anybody know when it will kick back into operation? I think it was such
        a wonderful plan!
        >
        > Thanks! I am so glad this group is available and sharing resources and
        knowledge.
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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