While we're still fairly new to the solar ebike game, Mark is among the (suprisingly numerous) Grin customers who've been thinking about and experimenting with solar bikes for many years. After he shared pictures of his latest project and mentioned his round the world touring ambitions, we thought we had to do a small feature on this guy. A quick last minute trip to Maker Faire was arranged to meet up, and here we present, Mark Havran:
Ontario is one of the last provinces in Canada to move toward legalizing power-assisted bicycles (PABs) for use on roads, even though they have been federally defined and legal in Canada since early 2001. In November 2005, "Bill 169" received royal assent allowing the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to place any vehicle on road. On October 4, 2006, the Minister of Transportation for Ontario Donna Cansfield announced the Pilot Project allowing PABs which meet the federal standards definition for operation on road. PAB riders must follow the rules and regulations of a regular bicycles, wear an approved bicycle helmet and be at least 16 years or older. There are still a number of legal considerations for operating any bicycle in Ontario.
I do not recommend hacking a bike into s-pedelec, i.e. make a 25km/h bike go at 45 or faster. If you have an accident you will be in trouble. Just get a legal version. In addition you will have good insurance. Of course, in countries like France or the UK that so far do not know S-Pedelecs, you will have to make a difficult moral choice.... At least, make sure that your rig is safe...
Rose Heyer and Josie Tabor of Dept Tech, Department of State Information Center, the Secretary of State and the office of ROCK AND BORGELT, P.C., Attorneys at Law, 24500 FORD ROAD, SUITE 10 DEARBORN HEIGHTS, MI 48127-3106, determined electric bicycles are considered mopeds and need registered and licensed. In order to operate an electric bicycle on public streets, the driver must have a valid operator, chauffeur, or special moped license. However, not all electric bicycles are street legal unless they have the following safety equipment: operating brake light, headlight, and turn signals. The local police department must inspect the bicycle using Form TR-54 which is taken with proof of purchase to the DMV. The fee for the plate is $15 for a three year decal, whereas the fine for no decal is $150 per incident.
The recommendation depends a lot on what you plan to use the bike for and how you plan to ride. That said, I would recommend at least a 750 (if not 1,000) watt motor, and, if you want reasonable range, 48 or 52v cells with a minimum rating of 19ah. For shorter rides, you can use a smaller battery. Multiply battery voltage by amp hour rating to get battery watt hours. Divide the watt hours by the motors power rating to get a general idea of how many hours of heavy use you might get. I’d also recommend a mid drive as opposed to a hub drive, or to find a hub drive wheel rated to take your and the bicycle's combined weight.
Like most electric bikes, the Rad Wagon is also fairly heavy, weighing 72 pounds. The last drawback is that it comes in only one frame size (which I imagine helps to keep costs lower) that fits rider heights between 5 foot 2 inches and 6 foot 2 inches. My 6 foot 4 husband, however, can ride the bike just fine, so there’s some wiggle room to this range.
The other motor is the G311, a front equivalent to the wonderfully silent G310 rear motors we introduced late last year. This motor will be replacing the G01 hub for our front mini geared kits. It's a tad lighter (2.3kg), much quieter (spiral gears!), but still has the features from the G01 that we loved. That means a side cable exit, ISO disk rotor compatibility, and 10mm round axle.
How do the State Laws relate to the 2001 Federal Law? This is a difficult question to answer and know how they apply to you individually. From the Federal Law, one would hope that your purchased ebike is simply classified as a bicycle, with all the rights and privileges allotted to a normal cyclist. However, State Laws are confusing because they may be more restrictive in parts and add other requirements. About 30 U.S. states still have confusing regulations around them. Either the bikes are technically classified as mopeds or motor vehicles, or they have equipment, licensing or registration requirements that cause problems for riders. Thanks to the People-For-Bikes/Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) partnership with local advocacy groups, they have been able to make the case for streamlining state regulations so that e-bikes are essentially treated like regular bicycles.4
The batteries are the most important parts of the bike, because (if you don't do any pedaling) they contain all the power that will drive you along. Typical electric bike batteries make about 350–500 W of power (that's about 35–50 volts and 10 amps), which is about a quarter as much as you need to drive an electric toaster. In theory, you could use any kind of battery on a bicycle. In practice, however, you want to use something that stores lots of power without being too heavy—or you'll be using half your power just moving the battery along! That tends to rule out heavy lead-acid batteries like the ones that start cars, though some electric bikes do use them. Lightweight lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in laptop computers, mobile (cellular) phones, and MP3 players, are now the most popular choice, though they're more expensive than older rechargeable battery technologies such as nickel-cadmium ("nicad"). Typical batteries will give your bicycle a range of 10–40 miles between charges (depending on the terrain) and a top speed of 10–20 mph (which is about the maximum most countries allow for these vehicles by law). You can extend the range by pedaling or free-wheeling some of the time.
Perhaps the cleverest thing of all about the Electric Brompton is that despite all the extra stuff, it folds up exactly the same as the non-powered variety. It's so simple, and unlike certain folding bikes we could mention, what you're left with is a genuinely small thing, rather than something that's about the size of a bike with the front wheel taken off.