>>Silent bike rally

The Denver Electric Vehicle Council held its monthly meeting in Fort Collins on Saturday. I rode over to see if I could pick up some ideas and advice about the YamaVolt project.

About 25 people attended, with about a dozen electric bikes, trikes, scooters, motorcycles and a PHEV-converted Prius. I got to ride some of the bikes. Aside from a classy souped-up Opitibike capable of about 40mph, most of the bikes were hub-motor conversions — very practical 18-mph machines capable of about 10 or 15 miles of range. There were two push-trailers — that is, two-wheeled trailers carrying batteries and a motor, with a flat platform for cargo. You can attach the push trailer to any bike or trike, run the throttle cable forward to handlebars, and go. When I tried it, I found the bike handled normally at about 15 to 20 mph.

I was most interested in the motorcycles. When you take a 400 lb sport bike — a Ninja or Katana for example — and put in 72 volts worth of deep-cycle batteries, you wind up with a 550 lb monster that will go 60 mph for 15 miles. Put a rider aboard and you’re way over gross vehicle weight, so I wonder about braking power.

Start with a light dirt bike and put in very expensive lithium-ion batteries and you can have a 250 lb ride good for 40 miles. Much more practical but rather uglier.

I learned that I’m on the right track with my D&D motor and Alltrax controller. I can throw together four 12 volt motorcycle batteries, weighing a total of 50 lb, for under $200, or invest $1000 or more for NiMh batteries at half the weight, or far more than $1000 for lithium iron at much less than half the weight. I’m trying to keep total cost at under $1000, so sealed lead acid (SLA) is the way to go, at least for a summer of testing. That will still bring my race-chassis bike in at about 200 lb — well within the capacity of the brakes.

Thanks to Janice Arnold of DEVC for the pix; thanks to John Bidwell and DEVC president Graham Hill for staging this event.


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Effective Dec. 9, 2008, the SOLAR TODAY blog has moved to

Comment by Seth Masia

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