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Old 12-02-2007, 12:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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new hybrid in the family: e-bike by Schwinn ... or Currie

This summer my mom expressed interest in getting a bicycle. She does a lot of short (sub 3 km) runs in her car that could easily be accomplished on a bike.

But easy is a relative term. She's approaching 70, smokes, isn't in the greatest shape and hasn't been on a bike for 25 years.

To me she sounded like a perfect candidate for an e-bike. So I did some shopping, helped her try out several bikes - some made as e-bikes and one e-bike conversion candidate. Turns out Schwinn has a relatively inexpensive ($600 CDN) aluminum frame folding e-bike that fit her best. She's relatively short - the generously large & low step-through of this bike was a big selling point:



Picked one up yesterday. I used it today to make sure it was in good working order because it needed to be "modified" to fit her better - by lopping an inch off the seat post and an inch off the seat tube. Can't return it now!

Modest specs: 24v lead-acid, 200w hub motor. Top speed under electric power: 20 km/h. Top speed under pedal power: about 20 km/h - because it's a single speed and geared fairly low.

It's advertised as having a 20 km range with "assisted pedalling". I rode it 24 km today using mild to medium assist (to put it in perspective: it was a hot, humid day here - low 30's C/90's F - and I didn't break a sweat), and only used about 50% of its capacity based on DMM readings. Probably averaged 15 km/h.


-------------------------------------------------------------------
See also the "fuel economy" test of this bike:
Test: 200w electric bicycle efficiency = 1512 MPG equivalent
-------------------------------------------------------------------


Mom hasn't tried the electric assist yet. She's taking it easy getting re-familiarized with the whole balance thing, just going up and down the sidewalk, and in & out of her driveway.

At her request I also bought a honking big basket to mount on the built-in rear rack.

Neat bike - I wouldn't have one personally because it's a single-speed. But she likes the simplicity. And being a hybrid, she'll be able to compensate for those times the single gear isn't appropriate for the conditions/terrain, or if she doesn't feel like pedalling.

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Old 12-02-2007, 12:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I let my 9 year old nephew try "grandma's bike". Should have seen his eyes light up when he first twisted the throttle:

"It's a motorcycle!!"
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Weight: it's 59.5 lbs

I opened the battery box out of curiousity: 2x 12v 12AH (@20H) valve regulated sealed lead acid batteries.

EDIT: it's odd that these specs aren't in any of the product literature or manuals.
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Dropped by the parents' this evening and mom was out again "practicing". She's really being very sensible about it, for not having ridden for 25 years.

She says: "I want to practice riding slowly because it helps me re-learn my balance. It's easy to ride quickly."

Unfortunately, since she had expressed no interest in using the e-assist up to now, I hadn't yet shown her how to turn it on or use the throttle, and she said she would have tried it today on a little hill she encountered. But she knows how it works now.

My dad on the other hand just treats it like a scooter. No point in pedalling it if he can just twist the throttle. Sorta like my 9 year-old nephew!
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hm! Apparently it's a Currie designed bike - the "Izip Easy Go" - with the Schwinn name slapped on. Someone just sent me a link to a somewhat cheeseball Currie infomercial about the bike:

http://www.izipusa.com/infomercial_f...mercial_2.html

Featuring everyone's favourite EV proponent: Ed Begley Jr!

http://www.izipusa.com

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Old 12-02-2007, 12:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Most of what you read above was written in the summer.

Year end wrap-up: truth is, my mom never rode the bike much. My dad ended up using it more, to go riding with my 2 nephews (his grandkids).

I used it a few times when it was stinking hot and I wanted to bike in comfort (instead of taking the Pirate Bike). E-assist is great for that.

"Next year," says mom. We'll see.
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Old 12-02-2007, 01:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
Most of what you read above was written in the summer.

Year end wrap-up: truth is, my mom never rode the bike much. My dad ended up using it more, to go riding with my 2 nephews (his grandkids).

I used it a few times when it was stinking hot and I wanted to bike in comfort (instead of taking the Pirate Bike). E-assist is great for that.

"Next year," says mom. We'll see.
Man I kind of like that. How do you think it would hold up under moderate to heavy use? Now that your an EV expert how do you think the batteries would hold up with about 15 miles a day on um?
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My brother in-law's brother has this low/mid range e-bike:



And he's apparently ridden it more than 5000 km (3k mi.) and is still on the original batts.

But his is 36v, and has a 500w motor. And I'd say that for regular use, you'd be better off with that those specs (for longevity) than the 24v/250w on my mom's bike.

The batteries will last longest if: 1) you minimize the amount you draw them down (ie. charge @ work and @ home, not just @ home every night); 2) don't leave them sitting discharged; 3) don't overcharge them (eg. if you have a "dumb" charger, don't forget to unplug it once topped up.)

I think eBikes are a great alternative to cars for people whose commutes are bike friendy.

I just found out a the husband of a friend of mine got an ebike. Interesting story: he teaches a course about climate change at UBC, and used to drive a Civic to campus. But as their family grew, they got a minivan. At which point he said: "I'm not commuting in that!" so he got a BionX li-ion ebike kit and that's how he commutes now, rain or shine.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Battery pack woes!

So, four years of light use later, the battery pack in this bike has given up the ghost.

Power output from the motor is low, and the "fuel gauge" LED's on the twist throttle show "empty" under anything but the lightest amount of assist. Also, the charger will show "green" (charged) indicator almost immediately after plugging it in, which isn't normal.

As mentioned in post #3, the 24 volt battery pack is comprised of 2x 12v 12AH (@20H) valve regulated sealed lead acid batteries wired in series. They're the type of battery you'd see as backup in an alarm system, for example:



(The two batteries on the left are the same type of 12 Amp hour ones used in the bike's battery pack. The three on the right are 7 Ah.)

One of the pair is dead. The other still has about 2/3 of its rated capacity, after doing a simple capacity test using a 12v DC/AC inverter.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It's ~130 bucks to replace the entire pack assembly, the store says.

I've already disassembled the pack, and will probably just swap out the single dead battery with a new one ***. Here's what it looks like:








The spade connectors on the wiring were soldered to the battery tabs.

*** I realize adding a new battery with full capacity to the older one creates an unbalanced pack, which could lead to the quick demise of the remaining original battery. (As the pack is discharged, the old battery will drain faster.)

The workaround is to monitor the battery voltage of the older battery, and ensure it's not drawn below the magic number of 10.5 volts under load. Below that voltage (1.75v per cell), a lead acid battery can be quickly, irreversably damaged.

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