Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

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Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby katou » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:58 pm

In chemistry (which I failed 3x so I know what I'm talking about) the limiting factor in a reaction is that thing which is in shortest supply. If the limiting factor is provided, the reaction rate increases massively.

What is the limiting factor in the Ebike world? What one thing, if added or changed, (in the real world - no vaportech - eestor) would make ebikes huge?

Is it small transmissions for RC motors? Is it motor tech at all? Is it battery cost? Is it restrictive laws? Is it the lack of an Ebike racing league? The fact that most commercial units look like ass?

What's your opinion? My bet is on battery cost. Although the commercial units DO look like ass.

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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby spinningmagnets » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:06 pm

I believe there will come a tipping point soon. Most people I meet have never heard of an electric bicycle, much less SEEN an actual E-bike. I know Ed Begley had an E-bike on one of the episodes of "living with ED", but most people have not seen that show either. Ed's a D-list actor and a green advocate. My hats off to him, but I still have yet to see a really big celebrity riding an E-bike.

If NiCD and Lithium batteries came down in price and E-bikes were well-known, they would really take off right now. Hub kits will be sold out again when fuel prices spike up as they have in the past. I think non-hub adaption kits will boom then...
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby gwhy! » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:07 pm

katou wrote:
Is it small transmissions for RC motors? Is it motor tech at all? Is it battery cost? Is it restrictive laws? Is it the lack of an Ebike racing league? The fact that most commercial units look like ass?

What's your opinion? My bet is on battery cost. Although the commercial units DO look like ass.

Katou


Restrictive laws ( really bad here in the UK )
Off the shelf e-bikes dont look to good unless you pay big big money
battery cost,, I think is not so much of a problem if you sort the other 2 things out.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby Metallover » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:21 pm

There are many things. Cost is big.

There is no US company with a great marketing plan/advertizing selling e-bike parts. Look at castle creations in the RC business. They established a great reputation, made great, low cost products, advertized and got their names out there at RC races/flying events, and made advances in small scale brushless technology. They are a step ahead of the rest too. Great job CC.

Battery technology hasn't been here until recently. LiFe/a123 is probably the answer. The way I see it, to sell ebikes to the normal user, you need to have great capaicty, lots of power, and foolproof charging. You need to be able to give an ebike to a retired 65-year old widow and have her not ruin the thing. LiFe will need to be a simple if not simpler then SLA batteries.

Another big thing is laws and restrictions. Who wants to have a 250w e-bike? For e-bikes to take off there needs to be little/no restrictions. A speed limit such as 15mph on bike paths, regular speed limits on the street, and general e-biking common sense when passing pedestrians/dealing with traffic would be enough.

As of now there aren't too many laws on electric vehicles, and as these laws are created, we EV owners need to fight to make them fair like the hunters protect their second amendment.

Luckily for me I live in a small midwestern town where you can ride unlicensed quads on the streets. A couple towns over we went into the bar, the only business open on sunday, and inside was the mayor/policeman having a drink. :D
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby Lock » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:31 pm

See also here:
http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=15296

Main limiting factor, same as pedal bikes... lack of safe infrastructure (aka too many large high speed vehicles driven by idiots)
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby Kurt » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:38 pm

I think they wont take off until there is no better alternative. At the moment we have cars, trains and buses . Ebikes for most people would be as a form of short distance transport. Predominantly city work trips lets say around 15km max.

On a hole most people are very lazy.

On a ebike you have to hold your self up over the handle bars. Brace your arms for bumps just in general takes a lot more concentration and effort and balance than just sitting in a car or bus. Then you have the cold wind in your face or hot sun on your body. It cold rain or you could be splashed with mud all that crap.

Most people want a car with a seat that's like a sofa and soft upholstery or leather to touch that feels nice. A insulated and air conditioned heated cabin. Perhaps some airbags for safety and a mp3 player. Most people will turn there nose up if the car doesn't have power assisted steering. What will they think about wrestling with a ebike all the way to work.

I like my ebikes and have a lot of fun with them but the only way I see ebikes really taking off is if there is no more oil to run cars and buses. Then people will be forced to make a compromise.But even then they are just going to want cars with a different power source.

People have high expectations from there transportation now days.The basic format of the ebike just might be to primitive for people's current expectations. But if there isn't an alternative they will take it over walking.

Its just like how many people would have a cold shower in the morning over a hot one? But if there wasn't an alternative they would have to .

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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby vanilla ice » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:43 pm

Pussification is I think what they call it..
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby 02jze » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:46 pm

In Australia everyone under 25 will have to ride ebikes as they will soon lise their licence if they havent already.
Like me i love my ebike because it gets me places i couldnt or wouldnt normally go and i have not been legally allowed to drive for 4 years now so getting a ebike is like having my independance back...
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby hozozco » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:57 pm

Lock wrote:See also here:
http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=15296

Main limiting factor, same as pedal bikes... lack of safe infrastructure...


Certainly a big problem is that very few people know ebikes exist, or how good they are. Cost is certainly a problem but I think that until there is better infrastructure people are not going to be riding on the roads around here.

I can travel to work and back on 95% bike paths. I had to cycles somewhere else recently on the road without even a bike lane. I was scared! If I didn't have such good bike paths there is no way I would be riding to work.

There's not an easy/cheap fix either.

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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby katou » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:55 pm

Seems like people are talking about what would be necessary for widespread PUBLIC acceptance, and that is a pretty reasonable reading of what I wrote. What I am interested in, is what would be the limiting factor for YOU, the ebike builders.

What single impediment, if removed, would open things right up? What's the pebble in your ebike shoe?

Or to put it another way, you all know people who think your ebikes are cool. Smart, good looking, wonderful people, that probably, given the opportunity, would like one of their own.

What's holding them back? I still think it's battery cost.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby katou » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:56 pm

Forgot the explanation:
9c kit from ebikes.ca = 350$ for front wheel
-kit includes everything, except battery, minus cost for CA

36V 9Ah lithium manganese battery 525$

If someone showed me those figures, I'd just cancel the whole order. The battery is getting up to 2x the motor and controller cost!

I understand why, but when I tell people about the battery cost, the excited look they had in their eye goes away.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby heathyoung » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:13 pm

Cost and poor energy density of batteries. Add to the fact stupid legislation and you have a pretty major limiting factor.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby liveforphysics » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:18 pm

#1. 99% of them are slugs for geeks. People don't want that image.

#2. I've never shown anyone my bike that didn't say they instantly wanted one. The hold up? Battery cost.



Fast e-bikes can ride just fine in traffic. Infrastructure is fine IMO.

The problems IMO are the geeky image that comes to mind when a regular person hears the word "ebike", and the cost of the batteries.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby Lock » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:19 am

...cost of batteries...
You guyz are tapping about cost equivalent to five-six months-worth of public transit monthly passes...
Peanuts
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby dogman dan » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:31 am

For those that would ride an Ebike. It's battery cost. Getting the whole kit to cost less than $500 is key, but not by providing sla's. Once gas is 4-5 bucks again though, then lithium looks cheap even at todays price. Funny thing is, gas, even at 4 bucks, is insignificant when adding up the real cost per mile of a car. Even the $3,000 ebike comes in as cheap as a small motorcycle, but the motorcycle is usually faster.

The trouble is, bike riders are comparing the cost to pedaling a bike, which is sort of free. Actually, food is more costly than charging a bike, but hey, you are eating it anyway, and more tastes good if you pedal it off.

For most people though, it's the little things that stop them. Little cement trucks, humvees, 4 cab pickups, that try to kill em daily if they ride a bike. Same stuff that keeps em from riding a 150cc scooter or motorcycle. Yesterday a one ton truck ran a stop sign on me. Suddenly there I was yelling at him through the drivers window as I passed him. :shock: They don't expect 30 mph out of a bike, so you better be ready for THEM.

Then there's the fact that work is at least 15 miles away, weather is perfect for a bike only 6 months of the year, hard to carry stuff, commute time doubles, etc etc. At least in the typical US city of more than 50,000 people.

For me the ebike hobby is almost free, since I put ten bucks in my pocket every day I ride to work. Free motors for reviews doesn't hurt any either! :mrgreen:
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby swbluto » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:08 am

Lock wrote:...cost of batteries...
You guyz are tapping about cost equivalent to five-six months-worth of public transit monthly passes...
Peanuts
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If you convert "upfront" to "long term", batteries are indeed pretty cheap for many people.

But, that doesn't matter. Most people don't take the "long term" view, they usually take the "Do I have enough money in my wallet?" view which is usually not an affirmative given the spend-what-you-got-FAST consumerist culture of America. So, until people can get "battery loans" similar to "auto loans", they're not going to be anywhere near as economically popular. (Unless the price drops precipitously)

In America, I think a lot of it has to do with the culture sure, but more importantly the per-capita-income / car-cost factor. If people were to rank the excellence of different travel modes, they'd usually say something like car > everything else. So, as long as 80% of the population has the income to make a car an expense less than 20% of their total income, you'll see a corresponding majority doing that. Also, since a large percentage can also afford a large vehicle AND desire one, there's a lot around.

It also has a lot to do with the infrastructure - America's infrastructure has evolved around cheap fuel and ubiquitous cars, so now there's a depedency on it. That means most people's distance needs is usually something like 10+ miles which is just unimaginable on any type of bike. Also, that very same dependency and the above income/cost ratio means the ubiquitousness of large vehicles is a heavy deterrent for bicycles as an everyday means of transport.

But as gasoline becomes more expensive, you'll see 2-wheelers of all types become more popular (As was seen in 2008), and ebikes will certainly have a boost from that.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby John in CR » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:41 am

Lock wrote:...cost of batteries...
You guyz are tapping about cost equivalent to five-six months-worth of public transit monthly passes...
Peanuts
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They don't want to ride public transit either. I've had freedom of transportation for decades and would never give it up.

Battery cost is the hold up, but the bigger issue is making batteries idiot proof or they might be cheap already. Even the experts around here are still having battery management issues. I'd spring for $1k/kwh+ for packs backed by a big company if they came with a 10yr prorata warranty. At this point those numbers work only for ebikes, not other EVs. If you approach it as an additional vehicle that replaces using your car most of the time, then it make real sense. Battery packs need to be bullet proof though, and hopefully get a lot cheaper too.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby geekybiker » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:44 pm

Weather? Safety?

We'll see a EV car like explosion far before we see an ebike explosion. The only thing that would force people to ebikes is if the standard of living dropped enough that an e-bike was all they could afford. Its better than pedaling, but not even as good as a motor scooter to most people.

Either way there will have to be some pretty fundamental changes in the US before ebikes become more than a niche market.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby Zoot Katz » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:59 pm

IMO, the single most limiting factor is IQ.
I'll willingly wager that the average IQ of ES members is greater than the average IQ of NASCAR fans.

Research indicates that the lack of bicycle specific infrastructure is what keeps more people from cycling.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby hozozco » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:38 pm

Hi All

Acutally thinking about some of the comments, I think there are at least 2 levels of limitations.

1) I think adequate infrastructure stops quite a few people from cycling. I have a number of friends that would cycle but the traffic scares them.

2) I think lazyness/fatness and just the general unwillingness to give up the comfort of the car will stop getting most people on to ebikes. I think we're going to need a major, major increase in fuel prices to get a change. Considering the number of people that drive fuel guzzling cars that could change to efficient cars and don't, I honestly think fuel will need to go up by about 10x to get them onto ebikes.

I think it would be good to address the first level. There are other considerations - safe locking of bikes at the workplace. Somewhere to shower and/or change (some of us pedal with the electric motor).

I'm not sure how to address the second level, I don't want prices to go up as I do drive as well (I'm not cycling the 50km for medical appointments with my Autistic and Visually Impaired 2 year old), but I suspect the prices will go up regardless.

Cheers

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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby katou » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:41 pm

So, if batteries were free, what would you do differently?

I'd build 4 packs and have them charging all the time, just hotswap and go, but then, I'm not very imaginative.

I know there are some crazy ideas out there.

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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby blue badger » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:28 pm

There are two key limitations to Ebike explosions: The amount of energy carried in the battery, and the stability of the chemistry.

...

Whaaaaat? >_>

Seriously, though, I think ebikes will really take off when they become at least as idiotproof as a standard bike, and the cost is driven down by a significant fraction. So far, I've found that it takes a lot of research, and a modicum of knowledge in electronics and bike mechanics to even attempt the project, and I haven't even gotten to the tinkering phase yet. Once the time and financial investments required to make an ebike project fall to reasonable levels, I think you'll really see the concept become mainstream.
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby enoob » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:25 pm

batteries

support when something breaks

for you average non-ES'ing ,non-diy motivated consumer both are to expensive and scary when compared to ice scooter of equivalent purchase price.

and the ice scooter buyer still gets to wrap themselves in a nice little Green jacket cause the thing gets better than 50mpg
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby hozozco » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:29 pm

blue badger wrote:...
Seriously, though, I think ebikes will really take off when they become at least as idiotproof as a standard bike, and the cost is driven down by a significant fraction. So far, I've found that it takes a lot of research, and a modicum of knowledge in electronics and bike mechanics to even attempt the project, and I haven't even gotten to the tinkering phase yet.
...


There are plenty of 'off the shelf' solutions you can buy - I bought an Elation kit and had the LBS fit it to a new bike. The Elation is pretty damn idiot proof and the types with no accelerator that you just pedal and the 'electronics' work out the acceleration seem even more so.

I do agree about the cost.

:-)
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Re: Limiting Factor for Ebike explosion?

Postby Mark_A_W » Thu Apr 29, 2010 6:12 am

The law.

The technology is fine. And it's not really that expensive at all.

(To the Aussie guy that lost his license for 4 years - you are a dick, that's why you lost your license. I've had two minor speeding tickets in 18 years).
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