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Old 01-10-2010, 02:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Huma-lectric Hybrid

I've been figuring out how to fashion one of my old bike frames into an Xtracycle type extension for my Greenspeed GTO in order to run a 26" hub-motor wheel without molesting the original Greenspeed frame.

In the meantime, I got my wheel kit and decided to install it temporarily on my Ryan recumbent to see how it works.

My goal in both cases is not to turn the bike/trike into a motor vehicle, but to be able to go faster and farther with the same amount of effort that I contribute by pedaling.

The kit is from ampedbikes and it comes with the wheel laced up and ready for a tire and tube, and a lot of the wires already connected between the controller and the brake cut-off levers and throttle, so installation is very straight forward and easy if you have any mechanical aptitude.

My original wheel is shod with a 1.5" road slick that rolls fast, but doesn't give much of a safety margin for constantly variable winter conditions. I haven't kissed the pavement recently, but I haven't been comfortable rolling on patchy black ice. With the extra weight of the motor and battery I took a tire from one of my mountain bikes that is a 2.125" with big knobs. Unfortunately this bike wasn't built for such a big tire and there is a very slight rub where about a 4" section of the knobs touch on one part of the frame. I checked the wheel for true, and that looks good so the problem is more of the cheap Chinese made tire. This is a temp setup, so I just taped some plastic to the stay where it touches so as not to wear through the paint.

I installed the throttle at the end of the bar and just put the controller and brake levers in one pannier, and the ping battery in the other.

The ping battery is 36V-20AH, and never got broken in after I bought it about a year and a half ago to try to get my Giant LaFree out on the road. That project fell by the wayside, but the battery was charged fully at that time. It felt strong, so I went for a shakedown ride. It felt good to be riding, so I just kept going, which is a pretty dumb thing to do on a temp setup with a battery that hasn't been charged in a year and a half, but this is a hybrid, and I'm counting on my power input more than the electrical.

I went in a direction that has a slight elevation gain with a number of small hills so my return leg would be more downhill in case of battery and/or motor failure.

One cool feature of this controller is cruise control, where if I hold the throttle in position for 20 seconds, the controller locks in at that point until the throttle or brake levers are blipped. This is perfect for my application because it gives a constant power output, and then it's up to me to match it. Hills where I would normally slow down to about 7-9MPH I could hold at about 15MPH. I lowered the input on the flats, and just turned it off on downhills. I ended up riding out 10 miles for a 20 mile round trip. On the last hill before my sister's house I stopped pedaling to see if the battery still had enough juice to get me to the top. No problem.

My average speed for this ride was up, and the uphill speeds were up significantly. The downhill speeds were down significantly, and I think this was a combination of the drag from the motor and the greater rolling resistance from the big knobby tire vs the high pressure road slick. I still got a good workout, and I'm anxious to test the limits of how far I can go. I won't be going any faster because this tops out at somewhere around 20MPH. I might experiment with the controller I have from the LaFree experiment. That shouldn't have the built-in speed limiter, but higher speed will cut my range, and range is what I'm after. If I need to go fast I'll just straddle my BMW.

In conclusion; this is going to be fun and informative until I can figure out my trike setup.

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Old 01-10-2010, 11:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can't see how knobbies would help on ice, unless you add studs. Maybe you can just use a knife to trim your rubbing parts. I still ride on skinny fast tires when even the pedestrians are in trouble. However, I won't ride a bike over icy ruts that are concealed by powder. That's trike time.
The human-electric hybrid is wonderful for a velomobile. It can be set to make you feel weightless, so you can stay with traffic while pedaling easily most of the time instead of sprinting and resting.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Knobs vs no knobs on ice: I don't have any theories about bicycle tire traction on ice; all I know is I landed on my keister more than a few times on skinny tired 10 speeds but not at all on my mountain bike.

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Old 01-11-2010, 06:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The downhill speeds were down significantly, and I think this was a combination of the drag from the motor and the greater rolling resistance from the big knobby tire vs the high pressure road slick.
If it works anything like the Prius, try a tiny amount of throttle on the downhills. It might be defaulting to regen at zero throttle, so the true neutral point would be at a nonzero throttle input.

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