About 25 people milled about in John Bidwell’s driveway, with about 14 electric vehicles. Represented were bikes, trikes, scooters, motorcycles, a PHEV-modified Prius, and a couple of push trailers. I rode several machines. The class act was an expensive souped-up Optibike, capable of about 40mph. The cheapest was a push-trailer, assembled from about $400 worth of motor and batteries. You attach it to any bicycle, fasten the throttle cable to your handlebar, and off you go. The rig handles like a normal bike, goes about 20mph, and hauls your groceries, or maybe a lazy pooch.
The simplest way to get an electric vehicle is to buy a hubmotor kit and bolt it to an old clunker bike. The most practical of these vehicles, for neighborhood errands, is some form of tricycle — it’ll haul a load of groceries, is comfortable and stable on a rain- or snow-slick street.
I was most interested in the motorcycles. The trick here is balancing performance against weight. If you start with a 400 lb sport bike — a Ninja or Katana for instance — then load it up with an Etek motor and 72 volts of deep-cycle batteries, you get a sexy-looking machine that may go 60 mph for 10 miles. It weighs about 550 lb without a rider. You need to do some fancy welding to support the batteries. Put yourself aboard and you’re way over gross weight, which makes me worry about the tires and brakes.
You could start with a lightweight dirtbike chassis and several thousand dollars worth of lithium batteries. You’ll have a 250 lb machine with good performance and about 40 miles of range.
I learned that I’m on the right track with my D&D motor and Alltrax controller. I’ll spend under $200 for four lead-acid motorcycle batteries, weighing a total of 50 lb. I’ll have a 210 lb street bike — well within the stopping power of its oversize racing brakes.
Thanks to Janice Arnold of DEVC for the photos, and to DEVC president Graham Hill of 21 Wheels for the hospitality.
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