Bicycle Network: Bikes 'n' Bits
Electric or other motor-assisted bicycles can be great for people who need a bit of extra help to get up hills or carry a heavy load of groceries home, or travel a longer distance.
E-bikes: feeling a tingle?
13 December 2013. Have you put a spark into your life by jumping onto an e-bike and surging uphill and cruising through the suburbs, and saving on physiotherapy bills? Researchers want to talk to you.
The Institute of Transport Studies at Monash University is investigating what influences people to buy an electric bike and what their experiences have been using them.
Its findings will assist the development of future policies aimed at increasing the safety and sustainability of the transport system, including electric bikes.
The researchers say that Whether the electric bike provides a stepping stone from the car to a pedal bike remains to be seen.
But the individual benefits that can be gained by reducing people’s reliance on cars and increasing their physical activity will also help reduce congestion and vehicle exhaust pollution on our roads.
While some bicycle models are clearly electric bikes with a battery pack plain to see, many of the models are not visibly electric and are difficult to differentiate for other road users.
As with all cycling activity, the question of safety also impacts electric bike riders and feeds into the issue of adequate and connected bicycle facilities on and off roads, as well as behavioural issues with other road users.
So if you ride an electric bike (or know someone who does), the Institute of Transport Studies survey is here.
Victorians get new e-bike standard
18 September 2012. The Victorian Government has moved swiftly to gazette the new e-bike standard, clearing the way for local riders to get access to the latest in 'pedelec' technology.
The latest e-bikes are more powerful, handle better, and are better co-citizens when sharing the bike lane with standard bikes.
It is expected that the leading international bike brands will now introduce their e-bike models into the Australian market, supporting them with parts and after sales service.
The European Pedelec operates with a maximum of 250 watts, with a safeguard allowing the power assistance to kick in only when the bicycle is travelling at less than 25km/h and the rider is pedalling.
According to Victoria's Transport Minister, Terry Mulder, the new pedelecs are safe to be used in a cycling environment, while at the same time allowing riders to travel further and ride with less effort.
“We’re hoping this will encourage more Victorians to take up bike riding as a healthy and sustainable alternative to the car,” Mr Mulder said.
“They will also provide some options for older bike riders, or those who may not be as fit as they once were but still want to use pedal power.”
Other types of power-assisted cycles with auxiliary motor power that exceeds 200 watts are classified as motorcycles, and therefore must comply with registration and licensing laws. This new definition – allowing the use of Pedelecs – is in response to changes in technology and a growing demand for low-powered, efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles.
“The uptake of Pedalecs will have an environmental benefit to the community, with drivers being given the opportunity to substitute car travel for Pedalec travel,” Mr Mulder said.
VicRoads Manager of Vehicle Safety and Policy Ross McArthur supported the change as a safe way of encouraging sustainable travel.
“Victorians should consider the use of a Pedalec as a safe alternative mode of transport – a Pedalec is fun, efficient and convenient.
“However, riders need to remember to adhere to bicycle road rules, such as wearing a bicycle helmet which meets the Australian Standard and riding in a bicycle lane if there is one on the road,” Mr McArthur said.
For VicRoads information about Pedelecs.
27 May 2013 - Note that Vicroads mispelled pedelecs as "pedalecs" as did we initially. Its "ped - elec" not "pedal - ec". Thanks to member Frank R. for picking this up
Melbourne e-bike trial launched
6 July 2012. A group of bike riders from inner Melbourne will participate in a three year trial of e-bikes to evaluate their attractiveness for commuting and local trips around the city and suburbs.
At any time about 17 people will be testing the $3000 Dolomiti Smart bike, which have been made available by the company's Carlton dealer.
Each bike is fitted with GPS tracking devices to monitor the success of our program and gain valuable data which will be analysed by teams from Monash and Melbourne University to understand how electric assistance may expand the community of people who ride bikes.
Participants get to use the bikes for free. They were selected from applicants who had to guarantee to ride it at least 35 km per week to commute to work.
The Dolomiti bikes meet the latest European and Australian standards. They can travel up to 70 km per charge.
Some with WiFi enabling the bike to act as a hotspot.
The project,launched today, is part of the Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial aimed at information exchange to promote awareness, understanding and acceptance of electric vehicle technology.
The take up of e-bikes in Australia has been slow because until recently there was no modern, national standard for e-bikes.
This is expected to change now that the new Australian standard has been established making it simpler for modern European models such as the Dolomiti to have a presence in the Australian market.
Switch flicked for e-bikes
30 May 2012. Australia will adopt the Euro standard for e-bikes, clearing the way for the major bike brands to introduce the latest, modern e-bike products into Australian markets.
The move should lead to substantial growth in the use of e-bikes in Australia, opening up the benefits of bike riding to a wider range of people.
Some Euro standard e-bikes have been available locally, but the market has been dominated by Chinese machines that the local bikes retailers were reluctant to be associated with. Quality was poor, service and spare parts restricted and durability suspect.
E-bikes have boomed in Europe in recent years and have been responsible for keeping millions of older people cycling who otherwise would have been hanging up the bike for good.
The move came when the Gillard government's Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King, announced changes to the national vehicle safety standards.
"This change in the Australian Design Rules will encourage modern electric bicycles as a healthy alternative to other means of transport,” Ms King said.
“With the National Cycling Strategy 2011-16 aiming to double the number of people riding by 2016, the Government is keen to work with the cycling community to implement reforms that promote healthy lifestyles.
Ms King said that changes to the standard mean the allowable power output has now increased from 200 to 250 watts giving a higher level or performance, while maintaining safety by restricting powered speed to 25 km/h. Riders are required to pedal to access the power or to reach greater speeds than 25 km/h.
The change also means new construction standards for batteries, cables and connections as well as other requirements such as braking performance and the strength of frames.
Ms King said the changes are an important first step towards an overall review by Austroads of alternative vehicles, which would also include mobility scooters, and a key action identified in Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy 2011-20.
“It’s important that this continues to be a national process that is supported by all governments,” Ms King said.
Ms King praised state and territory authorities for working constructively with the Commonwealth on this change.
However, she said that changes to state and territory road rules may be necessary to allow use of the new electric bicycles and advised people to contact their state road authorities to confirm local provisions.
The standard that has now been adopted is EN 15194.
Here comes the sun
22 February 2012. Europe's first public solar recharging station for electric bikes has opened at Meckenbeuren train station in southern Germany.
Called the Biketower, the unit is part of an automated bike parking system that can be adapted to park up to 112 bikes as the tower is extended to six levels.
Bernd Reutemann of E-bike Mobility, which built the system, says seventy-two bicycles, pedelecs and e-bikes can be parked safely in the Meckenbeuren facility and if required, the batteries can be charged at the same time.
E-bike Mobility have developed a range of other technologies for public recharging of electric bikes, including a solar powered 'battery station' where empty electric bike batteries can be exchanged for full ones charged with green energy.
LAPD sings the bike electric
3 November 2011. The Los Angeles Police Department is singing the praises of the e-bike as it starts a trial of the technology.
It has added two e-bikes to its fleet to begin field-testing at special events to further explore their viability under actual patrol conditions.
Last year the LAPD tested prototypes of a special police model developed by Currie Technologies, which produces the well known IZIP Express e-bikes.
With input and feedback from officers, the electric bike’s components and design were further modified to ultimately become a special, purpose built, police edition model that could be added to LAPD’s arsenal of community policing tools.
The new IZIP Express Police bikes can travel 50 kilometres per charge and travel at 32 kph.
As well as operational advantages, the LAPD believes that e-bikes can help police agencies meet their responsibilities to improving environmental quality, especially as Los Angeles bas long suffered problems with air quality.
China flicks switch on e-bike standards
16 June 2011. In a move that could accelerate the acceptance of e-bikes in Australia, China will adopt the same European standard that is supposed to be mandated as an Australian standard.
Australia's move towards the Euro standard e-bikes, initiated two years ago, has stalled, causing the major bike manufacturers to delay the roll-out of their internationally popular models.
China is the world's biggest manufacturer of e-bikes and feared its market would diminish unless it aligned with the common standard.
Now that the Chinese are on board, the Federal Government may find the spark to reform the long-outdated old Australian regulations.
Chinese government wants all e-bikes made in the country to meet EU standards as from this month. Factories whose products do not meet the standards will be asked to close.
China made 27 million electric bicycles in 2010, with an estimated 700,000 units going for export.
Accounting for 70% of China’s e-bike export, Europe has been the most important export market for Chinese manufacturers.
One hub motor manufacturer, Bafang, exported 400,000 hub motors to Europe in 2010.
Posties spark up with e-bikes
23 March 2011. Australia Post is rolling out an e-bike fleet for mail delivery as it restricts the growth motorcycle posties in a bid to cut carbon emissions.
The first electrically assisted bikes are on Melbourne streets now, with many more to come.
Australia Post is also trialing electrically assisted trikes.
The mail delivery e-bikes are a e-kit-fitted version of the current model postie pedal bike, assembled in Australia using PowerPed EV03 technology.
Powered by a removable 36 volt, 10Ah lithium battery, the bikes have a 200w high-torque, geared brushless motor on the front wheel.
The exact number of motorcycle mail rounds to be replaced by human/electric power has not been determined, but Australia Post says it is aiming to cut carbon emission by more than 1000 tonnes a year as a result.
London bobbies on the charge
10 February 2010. Police in the City of London are all charged up, evaluating the use of e-bikes. Could policing become more of a whirr than a beat?
“We wanted to look at whether an e-bike would suit City policing and our experience has been extremely positive," according to Sergeant Antony Wolfson.
"The extra power of the e-bike allows an officer to move quickly and definitely fits with our objectives; helping us to cut crime in the Square Mile."
The London Police have been trialling a Wisper 906xc Tourer, which has a carbon matrix frame, Shimano eight-speed hub gear and disc brakes, and weighs 24kg.
"The Wisper covers ground more quickly, which allows instant access to areas usually inaccessible by car, such as alleyways and footpaths, Sergeant Wolfson said.
"Our Cycle Squad use a variety of specialist bicycles modified for police purposes and the e-bike bike offers another tool to help us to keep the City safe."
David Miall, director of Wisper, said an electric bicycle allows the Police to travel further at a quicker pace and was perfect for traffic congested areas. Wisper e-bikes are said to be capable of reaching speeds of 25 kph and distances of up to 80 kilometres on a long range battery.
“Several UK police forces use Wispers in community policing, as response vehicles and at high-profile events, such as the golf Open in St Andrews.
Our bikes are used by forces as diverse as Dundee, Surrey, North Wales and now trialling at City of London Police."
E-bikes have also been used by Belgian, Dutch, French and German postal services, and as medical first responders in the Netherlands.
Daimler jumps e-bike bandwagon
12 October 2010. German car manufacturing colossus, Daimler, has unveiled a high tech e-bike, signalling serious concern in the car industry as people take to the bicycle in increasing numbers.
Launched by the company's Smart division, the bike offers four levels of pedal assistance via a 250W hub motor, which cuts out at 25km/h. There is no throttle gripâ€”the hub motor activates as soon as the rider starts to pedal.
Range is up to 90km, depending on the power level used. Charge time is two to three hours, and braking energy is captured by the rear hub, turned into electrical energy and stored for later use in the battery. The bike is belt drive.
The 22kg ebike is powered by a 36-volt/9.6Ah Lithium-ion battery pack which is concealed within the frame paneling above the crankcase.
Dr Annette Winkler, head of Smart, said: "People of all ages, with or without a driving licence, fit or not, will enjoy experiencing the world by bicycle.”
The ebike will integrate with smartphones via a smart drive kit app. When placed in a special mount, the phone automatically activates the electric drive and becomes an information and control center for the vehicle.
A trip computer interface advises the rider of battery status, current and average speed and also includes a heart-rate monitor and navigation system. There's a GPS tracking function to help users locate a parked e-bike.
The rider can, of course, access other smartphone functions such as playing tunes from the phone's music library or going online to access a favorite radio station and so on. As an anti-theft measure, removing the smartphone effectively locks the drive.
Sales of E-Bikes in Germany are far exceeding predictions and could top 200,00 units by the end of the yearâ€”a 40 per cent growth rate.
Following sales of 160,000 in 2009 the industry expected to sell 180,000 this year in a generally flat market.
E-bikes zoom in Switzerland
31 August 2010. Electric bicycles are booming in Switzerland with sales doubling each year and now one in seven bikes sold is electric.
Last year 10,000 more E-bikes were sold than the total number of road bikes.
The battery assisted bikes have caught on for a number of reasons, but their multi functional use is a major attraction, especially in regions where hills are a challenge, but also in cities where the second car is being dumped as a result of sustainability concerns.
So popular are E-bikes that for certain models the wait is up to three months.
At the largest Swiss producer, Biketec company executives are planning to nearly double the size of its factory in the town of Huttwil in canton Bern after only a year into operation. The Swiss-made e-bike is also a success in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.
“According to experts, sales of electric bikes should make up 30 per cent of all new bicycle sales in Switzerland, compared with 10-15 per cent today,” says Kurt Schär, Biketec managing-director.
In the Netherlands, the electric-bike has a 20 per cent market share, while it is only 4-5 per cent in Germany.
The technical evolution of E-bikes is a major reason they have become so popular. The first lead batteries weighed between 10 and 15 kilograms and needed to be recharged after only 20 kilometres. Nowadays, lightweight (2.5-4kg) lithium batteries allow cyclists to travel around 60km.
The lifespan of the battery depends on how it’s used, but on average it’s three to four years or around 20,000km. Although replacement batteries are expensive it is a cheap mode of transport compared to motor vehicles.
Earlier electric motorized bicycles were mostly be power-on-demand, where the motor is activated by a handlebar mounted throttle.
But new standards favour the “pedelec” (from ped- alelectric), where the electric motor is regulated by pedalling. These have a sensor to detect the pedalling speed, the pedalling force, or both.
Range is a key consideration with electric bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. The range of an electric bike is usually stated as somewhere between 7 km (uphill on electric power only) to 70 km (minimum assistance) and is highly dependent on whether or not the bike is tested on flat roads or hills.
Shimano goes with the current
21 June 2010. The move of e-bikes into the mainstream has got a massive charge with industry giant Shimano releasing a complete range of components for use with standard bicycles.
The system stands out because its use of advanced electronics, but most significantly because the equipped bicycle remains in every respect a standard bicycle with bike handling and ease of use.
The front hub contains a 250 watt motor which also regenerates power into the battery when the brakes are activated, or when coasting downhill.
In line with the emerging world standard, power assist cuts out at 25km/h.
A sensor in the bottom bracket is linked to an eight speed hub-gear which can shift electronically via activation buttons on the handlebar, although standard rear derailleur options will be available.
A bike computer gives you an overview of e-bike functions such as riding mode and battery power, along with a gear indicator, speedometer and odometer.
New e-bike rules in Victoria
29 April 2010. VicRoads has clarified the rules on what can and can't power an electrically assisted bicycle.
The new rules, published in the Government Gazette on 21 April 2010, also clamp down on electrically powered scooters that were pretending to be bikes and travelling in the bike lane.
Under the regulations the maximum power permitted for e-bikes and e-scooters is 200 watts.
A e-bike is referred to as "a bicycle to which is fitted one auxiliary motor that has, or more than one auxiliary motor that have in combination, a maximum ungoverned and continuous rated power output of 200 watts or less."
The new law means that electric scooters capable of more than 10kph will have to be registered to travel on the road.
The gazettal comes just days before the announcement of the new European standard for e-bikes.
It is expected that all Australian States will move to adopt the new European standard.
E-bikes have tremendous potential in Australia, but so far they have failed to take off. The lack of a proper national standard has resulted in the the bike industry delaying the introduction of mass produced high quality e-bikes.
For the industry to be successful these bikes need to be available in every bike shop where maintenance is professional and top brands such as Giant, Trek and Gazelle are available in e-bike models, as they now are in Europe.
Electric bikes to spark tourists
1 April 2010. Melbourne journalist and photographer Murray Johnson has launched Melbourne’s first electric bike tours.
His company Real Melbourne has started daily three-hour “urban adventures” to places like St Kilda and Abbotsford Convent on French-designed electric Easybikes.
The Easybikes feature a twist-grip throttle like a motorbike, as well as “pedal assist technology” which kicks in automatically as you pedal.
Murray says it is like riding a normal bike downhill with the wind behind you – even when you’re going uphill.
Real Melbourne Electric Bike Tours will initially run 2.30 to 5.30pm, and include a sociable drink for $110 per person. They start and finish from Rentabike @ Federation Square – Melbourne’s dedicated bike hire business since 1976.
Regeneration is new e-bike buzz
21 January 2010. The bike world was abuzz recently with the release during the COP15 Copenhagen conference of a revolutionary new bike wheel that stores kinetic energy from braking for later re-use.
The development promises to save legs as well as conserve battery power and lower hills.
The wheel was developed at MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory, and has other features such as remote locking via iPhone.
Japanese electronics giant Sanyo already has an e-bike on the market which utilises regenerative breaking, although it stores the captured energy in the battery rather than in the wheel.
MIT claims its wheel can be fitted to any bike.
The 'electronic flywheel' has been a dream for generations of transport engineers.
As Einstein and his predecessors elaborated, kinetic energy is a combination of velocity and mass, so the more mass the more kinetic energy to be captured. But who wants a heavy bike?
Sanyo has revealed that its regenerative technology gives a claimed 18 percent increase in battery life on its 250 watt machine, which weighs in at about 23 kilograms.
New electric bike standard proposed
3 June 2009. A new standard for power assisted bikes has been proposed that could result in advanced European and Japanese products, which have been a smash hit with consumers, coming to the Australian market.
The new standard has been proposed by the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority. Bicycle Network Victoria has assessed the proposal and will support it.
The crux of the proposed standard is: power limit be lifted to 250 watts; maximum assisted speed at 25kph; auxiliary power only available when pedalling.
E-bikes are good for Australia in that our cities are low density and typical utility transport trips are longer as a consequence. Modern e-bikes provide a middle ground for citizens who would find a bike trip too strenuous, but a car trip too wasteful.
The e-bike concept
Electric or motor-assisted bicycles can be great for people who need a bit of extra help to get up hills or carry a heavy load of groceries home, or travel a longer distance.
They are particularly useful for people with arthritic knees or other physical constraints that can restrict cycling opportunities on an ordinary bike.
Power-assisted bikes with a power output of up to 200 watts are defined as bicycles and covered by the same road rules as ordinary bicycles.
Bicycle Network Victoria supports an increase in the maximum power output currently allowed, from 200 watts to 300 watts. This increase will help get more people with physical constraints riding. It will also have the added benefit of making it more affordable as the 300 watt motors are generally cheaper. Bicycle Network Victoria believes a motor with a maximum output of 500 watts is too powerful.
To put the power output in perspective, elite cyclists like Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans can manage 800 watts in short bursts.
Power-assisted bicycles should have a performance equivalent of no more than a normal cyclist on a normal bicycle under normal conditions. Bicycle commuting speed is around 25 kph but varies according to the conditions.
Read the road rules around electric and petrol driven bikes.
The PDF (right) has information on purchasing electric bikes.
No petrol bikes on trains
Note that petrol-powered bikes, because of the flammable power source, are not allowed on trains for safety reasons. In Victoria, the Connex rules state:
"Which items cannot be taken onto the train?
For safety reasons the following items/devices/vehicles are not permitted on trains:
- Explosives, flammable liquids, corrosive and poisonous chemicals, liquefied and compressed gas or other dangerous goods.
- Petrol driven vehicles such as motorcycles and lawnmowers.
- Other large items such as supermarket shopping trolleys, washing machines etc."
Feb 05 New laws for powered bikes
In late 2004 the Minister for Transport Peter Batchelor announced new laws for powered bikes, skateboards and scooters. Now the illegal use of motorised scooters and miniature motorbikes can attract penalties up to $818.
These changes in legislation are based on concerns for the safety of those using these products and other road users.
See the VicRoads website for a clear understanding of these changes in legislation. This link clearly defines the legality of each of the various powered recreational products.
These new changes in legislation do not effect pedal powered bicycles whether they are fitted with a motor or not as long as the power output of these motors does not exceed 200 watts.
Bicycle Network Victoria welcomes these changes to legislation.