From the IDEO x Rock Lobster team | 13 Jul 2011
The mere thought of building an electric bike for the Oregon Manifest sparked immediate debate and disagreement between all members of our team. While some debated whether an e-bike's extra speed might be unfair, others resented the additional weight and doubted the utilityâ€”and more than one of us was convinced that electric bikes were simply destined to be hopelessly lame. We attempted to settle the matter by making a trip to a local retailer of electric bikes, where we test rode close to a dozen different commercial e-bikes. The result was disappointingâ€”not a single bike felt like something we'd ever hope to own. The takeaway seemed to be that commercial electric bikes are split between either monstrously heavy, over-powered mini-motorcycles, or flimsy folding models more akin to a folding scooter than an actual bicycle.
We found common flaws to be a baffling array of unnecessary instrumentation strapped to the handlebars, clumsily executed fist-fulls of wire, confusing controls, oversized, boxy batteries and bargain-basement components (despite the $1000+ price tags on most of these bikes). Shortcomings aside, though, there's something undeniably fun about the feeling of riding a bicycle with a motor. Going fast is funâ€”especially when it's half the work. Just check out the grin on the face of Kyle Doerksen (top right picture), electric vehicle wizard and the newest member of IDEO's Oregon Manifest team.
At the brink of despair over the prospects for a well-executed e-bike, Purin lifted our spirits when he brought in his latest project bike, nothing more than a clean, simple, small electric motor fitted to a nicely built vintage single speed.
Full article in the link...