August 12, 2014

Biking into the Future - DIY Electric Bike

Please welcome my friend Seth to the blog! He’s here to share how he added an electric assist to a couple of everyday bikes and how it’s helped him bike more often. - Alyson

I love to bike for the thrill of being outside with the wind on my face and feeling close to nature. Still, there are days when I wake up late and am pressed for time, or when it seems so easy to just hop in my car and drive that I forget why I like biking to work.

I wanted to avoid these kinds of mornings and make going by bike the easy decision. How could I get to work faster, but without the rush? How could I still get in some exercise, yet ride when I am dog-tired or unmotivated? Enter modern technology.
Prefabricated electric bikes can be bulky and expensive, but it’s possible to convert existing bikes at a fraction of the cost and with little extra weight (about 7lbs). This seemed like just the thing to get me and my girlfriend on our bikes on those days we might not otherwise ride.
After about an afternoon’s worth of work, our bikes were sporting inconspicuous, lightweight, motorized hubs powered by rechargeable battery packs. The hubs are controlled by a handlebar-mounted throttle with a tiny display panel indicating power usage. It’s easy to use - engage the throttle for a boost or ride the old-fashioned way when it’s disengaged with no additional drag.  
How much the throttle is engaged + the amount of pedaling = how fast the bike will go, as well as how much juice is drained from the battery. With the throttle fully engaged and without any pedaling, our electric bikes go about 15 miles an hour, for 8-10 miles. With pedaling, we can reach 20 miles an hour and a much longer distance.
Each charge of the battery costs only about $0.03 worth of electricity. I just need to remember to bring it in and charge it!
Our trips by bike have gone beyond simply getting to work. Now we’re running errands and heading out to see friends on our bikes. If you hear a slight whirring sound on the bike path and see a couple of smiling faces, it just might be us.

You can send me email at lakowske at gmail dot com for any questions about the electric conversion.  Feel free to stop by my website to learn more about what I am up to.