My first hybrid: an Electric Utility Bike

I’ve always been interested in alternative/distributed energy systems and that includes things related to transportation.  So over the last few months I looked into the current state of things to find out if there is a viable electric vehicle that could be had today.  While there are some very interesting things out there.. nothing is available in NC today or in the near future that is what I’d call reasonable. Some of the more interesting ones are the Vectrix and the Venture One.  The Vectrix is a large electric scooter that has reasonable performance but what I’d call an unreasonable price of about 10k. The Venture One looks like a really fun tandem two seater that will be avliable in all electric or a nice hybrid drive system.  No firm pricing or availiablity on that one yet though.  Many of these new vehicles are being developed in CA and will only be for sale there for a while.. since no dealership or support system is yet in place for them.

So once I knew where I’d be moving I started work on another option, an electric bike.  It’s now basically finished and I’ve started trying to get the hang of it.  It’s based on an Electra Townie frame with the Xtracycle extension. The low seat and forward pedal position makes this comfortable to ride and even I can put my feet down without getting off the seat.. which should make it safer and easier to handle. The Xtracycle extension gives it a longer wheel base, cargo bags in the rear and a nice place to mount the batteries.  To that I added a Crystalyte 5305 electric motor, Cycle Analyst computer, speed controller,  and a 4 pack of 20AH BB batteries that are made for electric vehicle use.   I seriously considered some of the new LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) batteries but it seems there isn’t a good source for high quality, small quantity cells (that are the right size) or a proven battery management system for these yet.  Hopefully by the time my pack is ready for replacement there will be.. I can then loose about 15lb and gain about twice the performance.  Read more for a collection of Ebike and related links.

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