Seattle commuter e-bike: now parted out in Denver

General Discussion about electric bicycles.

Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Mon May 04, 2009 8:07 pm

dewy eyed inventors throughout the decades have tried to come up with the optimal urban commuter vehicle, one that would meet all the needs of a typical commuter while using less resources to build, run, and park than a conventional automobile. these attempts have some common features despite being all over the map generally. in this post i will point out some of these commonalities that i have noticed as well as their applicability towards my current ride.

the first feature is small size and a layout with less than four wheels. this aids in parking, reduces the amount of resources required to build one, cuts down wear on roads, and allows companies to skirt regulations designed for four-wheeled automobiles (including safety regulations!). a lot of these vehicles tend to be swiss, too, for some odd reason that i can't quite fathom…

some three-wheeled examples in roughly chronological order:

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CityEl

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SAM

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BugE

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Lumeneo Smera, a rare four-wheel entrant that nevertheless has the same narrow profile of its three wheel conceptual kin

the second feature is protection from wind and rain. you'll note that all of the above vehicles are at least partially enclosed, with a full windscreen and a roof if not a fully enclosed cabin. being buffeted by 60 mph winds isn't conducive to a relaxed commute, let alone the need to change into and out of a rainproof, armored jumper suit every time one heads into work in the wet. motorcycles and scooters often are "naked" and have no windshield when seen in around-town guise, and sportbikes often have only a vestigal windscreen in the interests of aerodynamics. one will note that many if not most of the motorcycles one sees cruising long distances on the highway have windscreens of various sizes, however.

interestingly enough there seems to be a mantra among the powered two-wheeler crowd that one must never actually look through this windscreen. instead, the conventional wisdom is that the windshield should be just short enough that one is able to look over the top of it and see the road about 50 feet ahead. the rationale is that looking through a wet, blurry helmet visor as well as a wet, blurry windscreen together would make for doubly compromised vision. this is true in one sense, but what it misses is that a sufficiently large windscreen could invalidate one of the premises behind the argument, namely that one's helmet visor must become wet and blurry while riding in the rain.

how would this be possible on a scooter? the answer is with a roof and freakishly large windscreen, under and behind which the commuter could stay comparatively sheltered from the elements.

various designers' ideas over the years on how to tack on a roof to a scooter (which, aside from wind protection, is a platform actually quite well suited for urban commuting):

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BMW C1. note the seatbelt (!), windshield wiper, and lack of helmet on the rider.

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Benelli Adiva. the roof is a manually operated convertible top that can be folded into the "trunk" behind the backrest.

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Honda Elysium, a concept commuter machine with many compelling features: a 750cc 4-cylinder engine and shaft drive like a motorcycle but with the riding position of a scooter, and a power-retractable convertible top. given all the bells and whistles it's odd to not see a windshield wiper, one of the tip offs that this concept wasn't ever close to production intent.

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Peugeot Hymotion3 concept, the ungodly spawn of a BMW C1 and a Piaggio MP3 to some eyes.

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a Doken "Super Roof & Wiper" mounted on a Yamaha Majesty. Doken manufacturers these as aftermarket add-ons, and incidentally showed a quite nifty commuter concept that integrated its roof design as well as its unique "retractable training wheels" "Touch-Down" product that essentially turns motorcycles into tricycles under 5 km/h and then returns them to proper, leaning form once underway.

at this point, any readers remaining might well be wondering, "ok, this is quite the freak show of roofed scooters that toshi has assembled here. what sparked him to troll google images for this particular breed of fish?" the answer lies below:

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the lettering on the bike on the right reads Bowen, for the curious. it's not the dude's name but rather the name of the island he lives on. having it on the front of his vehicle allows ferry workers to send him to the correct queue more efficiently.

what is the above? it's the largest windscreen i have ever seen that doesn't have a roof. it goes up, goes up some more, and then extends backwards to the point that it almost goes over the rider's head creating a quasi-roof of its own. it almost seems that someone at Piaggio had a roof in mind when they designed this alien-looking thing…

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what do ya know, i guess they DID have a roof in mind! the above image is an official press photo from Piaggio, and they demonstrated several bikes at motorcycle shows with the roof (as well as one with both a roof and a matching trailer!). unfortunately the roof never made it to production for unknown reasons.

how does this relate to me? well, i have the giant windscreen from Piaggio in the mail, for a start. i'm very curious to see how i fare in seattle's rain with the big windscreen given its lack of a windshield wiper, another convenience that car drivers take for granted. and come wintertime, given enough free time, access to some waterproof canvas and proper sized metal bar stock, i might just try to fabricate a roof of my own for my MP3.

i figure when i do something weird, i might as well go all out with the weirdness, after all! besides, it's reassuring that Doken, a japanese company, continues to have a market for their own aftermarket windscreen+roof conversion. i figure that's a decent enough sign that if i'm crazy, at least i'm not alone in my insanity. (hopping in a car would be far, far too easy, you see…)
Last edited by Toshi on Mon May 04, 2009 8:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby swbluto » Mon May 04, 2009 8:23 pm

I wouldn't say you're crazy at all. If a person wants a motorcycle/scooter for whatever reason but yet doesn't want to deal with the elements directly, that's a fairly logical progression.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby vanilla ice » Tue May 05, 2009 12:04 pm

Ahead of the times, insanity.. Ta-may-toe, ta-mah-toe.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby voicecoils » Thu May 07, 2009 7:30 am

That mega windscreen is madness. I saw an MP3 parked recently with the same one, it's huge. You couldn't park it under any low trees :lol:

You could DIY a canopy yourself quite easily off that shield, but how much extra weather protection would it really afford? It's still totally open from the sides.

You've gone for the 3 wheeled, tilting scooter, and the fluro riding gear, you may as well get the mega windscreen too!
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Thu May 07, 2009 7:45 am

the mega windscreen is already in the mail 8)
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby vanilla ice » Thu May 07, 2009 4:05 pm

This thread reminds me that *most* of the drawback of the average vehicle isn't the fact that its ICE. Its the fact that it weighs ten times more than it really has to for the job..
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby The Stig » Thu May 07, 2009 4:38 pm

vanilla ice wrote:This thread reminds me that *most* of the drawback of the average vehicle isn't the fact that its ICE. Its the fact that it weighs ten times more than it really has to for the job..


It is quite heavy. I guess if your going to get a scooter you want it to be able to carry two ppl plus a bit of weight AT highway speeds... It needs to be built heavy for that.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Thu May 07, 2009 4:51 pm

vanilla ice wrote:This thread reminds me that *most* of the drawback of the average vehicle isn't the fact that its ICE. Its the fact that it weighs ten times more than it really has to for the job..

The Stig: i don't think vanilla ice--this thread is full of celebrities! :o --was referring to my scooter in particular. (the MP3 250 isn't light at just shy of 450 lbs.) instead he's referring to how cars are an order of magnitude heavier yet serve the same function as my scooter the vast majority of the time: to transport one person and their personal belongings from point A to B at highway speeds.

i want access to a Prius, an Aptera, an MP3, an adventure/touring motorcycle, an electric bicycle, a set of rollerblades, a pickup truck when needed, an electric airplane, a hang glider (..., etc.) as well as the free time and opportunities to make the most proper and efficient use of each in turn. 8) i don't necessarily want to own all of these things, of course, as with ownership comes all manner of obligations, fees, and headaches.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Thu May 14, 2009 12:21 am

when i installed this ginormous windscreen on my MP3 people said that it'd be a handful in the rain, as it has no windshield wiper.

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the astute reader will also note that i currently live in seattle. thus, by freak occurrence :D i was able to test out my new windscreen in everything from brisk, freezing rain to light mist tonight, at speeds ranging from stop and go and stoplights to 115 kph on the interstate.

what did i do to prepare for this? first, the windscreen was clean, and i had cleaned and polished it further with Brillianize. Brillianize is a plastic and glass cleaner that's reputed to be superior to Plexus, which in turn is reputed to be superior to the standby, Lemon Pledge. i also have RainCoat Water Repellent around but haven't applied it yet. furthermore, i'm a bicycle commuter 95% of the time so am used to riding in the rain with poor visibility (no faceshield, no windscreen, and rain on my sunglasses or eyeglasses). with that said, let's get on to how the windscreen performed:

situation 1, freeway speeds in light mist: when treated as above (Brillianize, no RainCoat) mist forms small beads of water that streak to the side thanks to the wind at freeway speeds. thus the view is relatively clear. there is some glare when passing under sodium street lamps but once used to this phenomenon it isn't too bothersome.

situation 2, freeway speeds in frank rain: again, water beads up, albeit in larger droplets, and streaks to the side thanks to the wind. another pass for the screen. i did find, however, that my Scorpion AXO-700's faceshield is quite useless in these situation: when wet there are several streaky, thin, vertical bars right near the center portion of the faceshield, likely due to its manufacturing process.

these streaky bars are annoying when riding a bike with no windscreen as they can't be wiped away with the squeegee on winter gloves, but they are more than annoying when combined with a windscreen with droplets on it, as in this situation. i found that i was much more comfortable riding with the faceshield up, looking only through the windscreen. (thanks to the enormous size of the windscreen my face was just fine in terms of wind blast and buffeting).

situation 3, slow speeds in mist or light rain: the worst situation of the bunch, and the one that i encountered right as i wheeled out of my doorway into the alley. the light rain formed multiple small beads of water and the slow speeds kept these from being swept away. i could still ride but it admittedly was distracting.

overall i'm still happy with the screen as it has greatly reduced noise, buffeting, and keeps my hands quite a bit warmer. furthermore, i don't feel that it has reduced performance perceptibly. i definitely am going to give the RainCoat a try before my next trip in the rain (likely after my 1000 km service next week), as it seems to be just the product indicated for this kind of situation. note the right side of the helmet's faceshield treated with RainCoat, with the helmet's left treated with auto polish:

Image Image
Last edited by Toshi on Thu May 14, 2009 11:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby gogo » Thu May 14, 2009 2:40 am

Have you found a feeling of being sucked forward into the windshield?

Brillianize is excellent stuff, I've used it for 40 years. I used Eagle One non-abrasive plastic cleaner/polish to get a film that the Saran Wrap adhered nicely to. It seems Eagle One was sold to Valvoline and the plastic polish is no longer available.

If you ever have to clean bugs off the windshield, make sure to soak them with soapy water and try not to drag the bodies against the plastic. Bug bodies are extemely abrasive and can ruin your windshield very quickly. I used the Saran Wrap method on my Windjammer windshield from the first day it was new and was able to avoid scratches. The previous windshield was so covered in fine scratches that in the setting Arizona sun I couldn't see through it. I was just reading on Craig Vetter's website where he gave this advice about winshield height:
When you are all done, sitting on the bike in riding position, the upper windshield edge should appear to be about 1” below the horizon. Cut it off to that height. You don't want a windshield above your eyes because in rainy weather, when the windshield has water on it, you cannot see the road ahead!
I don't think there were good plastic windshield treatments back in the 70's when he was making fairings.

I had the extra tall windshield and I do remember having to get up on the footpegs to look over it a few times. Here's a picture of the windshield with the electrical tape across the bottom:
bmw004.jpg
bmw004.jpg (89.89 KiB) Viewed 9229 times

That fairing with the tall windshield really sucked me forward at speed.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Thu May 14, 2009 7:59 am

the feeling of being sucked forward is definitely there. it means i probably should have a fairing on my back or near the pillion seat that is shaped like the backside of a teardrop or Aptera to maintain laminar flow and improve my mileage ;)
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Thu May 14, 2009 4:36 pm

Toshi wrote:the feeling of being sucked forward is definitely there. it means i probably should have a fairing on my back or near the pillion seat that is shaped like the backside of a teardrop or Aptera to maintain laminar flow and improve my mileage ;)

i'm really tempted to put a fairing on my e-bike! ahha, i'm sick in the head :D

http://www.zzipper.com/products.php
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Wed May 20, 2009 1:29 pm

i'm at the 997 mile mark on the e-bike, effectively 1000. it has done its job, something that i wasn't quite so sure about myself when i set out on this lark. here's my energy use over its life: one can see how i initially rode it like a bike at bike-like speeds with assist only at exceptional times, and now have settled in on a riding style that hovers right around 30 Wh/mile.

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these last few miles were racked up on my commute home. (yes, home at this hour: i was on call last night.) i used REI's BikeYourDrive iPhone app to map it out: you turn on the app at the start of your commute and leave it ticking away as you ride, and then at the end of your ride it plots out GPX coordinates with elevation and such. much nicer than gmaps-pedometer... here's the commute from UWMC to my house, in any case:

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=213976

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note that most of the year was spent at a different, closer hospital.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Sun May 24, 2009 5:05 pm

Toshi wrote:today was my last day of vacation for this year. i took advantage of it by hunting down the windy roads of suburbia. my route of just over 100 miles including some side jaunts, starting and ending at point J (A is hidden), traveling clockwise:

Image[/img]


i rode a similar but not identical route in reverse today on the MP3. just shy of 130 miles on the scooter under the bright, blue sky. good times, and i wasn't the only one with the same idea, judging from how many other riders were out and about!

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no pics from the ride: did it without stopping save for getting costco gas right at the end. the new, huge windscreen worked fine but i have to remember to keep it very clean! i can't see riding anything less powerful than this 250 cc scooter on the freeway: i think it's about the smallest that's safe, and it has 22 hp. it'll be very difficult for electrics to match this while maintaining range...
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby swbluto » Sun May 24, 2009 8:22 pm

Toshi wrote:no pics from the ride: did it without stopping save for getting costco gas right at the end. the new, huge windscreen worked fine but i have to remember to keep it very clean! i can't see riding anything less powerful than this 250 cc scooter on the freeway: i think it's about the smallest that's safe, and it has 22 hp. it'll be very difficult for electrics to match this while maintaining range...


Indeed. At this point in time, gas definitely has the economic edge on electrics when it comes to the combination of higher speeds and range.

That's why, if I pursue electrics and longer-range, I'd probably be limiting myself to ~<40 mph roads except for short stints.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby swbluto » Thu May 28, 2009 1:24 pm

I'm making a comment that shares content resemblance to the post made at the top of page 21. The comment made by Toshi that had lots of pictures of roofed motorcycles.


Hey, dude, guess what? I saw someone on a regular bi-wheel motorcycle heading north near Aurora Ave. and 185th ave. around 4:26 P.M. yesterday that had a roof on it very similar in style to the roofs in the pictures in the post I was referring to. It appears you're not the only Seattle motor-cyclist with that idea, which is kind of understandable. :lol:
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Thu May 28, 2009 1:41 pm

swbluto wrote:Hey, dude, guess what? I saw someone on a regular bi-wheel motorcycle heading north near Aurora Ave. and 185th ave. around 4:26 P.M. yesterday that had a roof on it very similar in style to the roofs in the pictures in the post I was referring to. It appears you're not the only Seattle motor-cyclist with that idea, which is kind of understandable. :lol:

sweet. did he have a windshield wiper?!
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby swbluto » Thu May 28, 2009 2:33 pm

Toshi wrote:
swbluto wrote:Hey, dude, guess what? I saw someone on a regular bi-wheel motorcycle heading north near Aurora Ave. and 185th ave. around 4:26 P.M. yesterday that had a roof on it very similar in style to the roofs in the pictures in the post I was referring to. It appears you're not the only Seattle motor-cyclist with that idea, which is kind of understandable. :lol:

sweet. did he have a windshield wiper?!


I remember some black stick-like object hanging off the side which would suggest it did, but I can't confirm that.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:22 pm

no posts from me in a while but not because i've neglected the e-bike: been working long hours finishing up this surgical intern year, commuting in on the e-bike almost every day. (i have been riding the scooter in maybe one day in 10, so that i can jet up on the freeway after work to see my wife.)

the moving truck comes this friday, june 19, and both the e-bike and the scooter will be loaded up and hidden away until mid-july. my last day here at work is june 24. we fly out to new york on june 25. i start orientation on that same day, technically while i'm en route, actually... whoops. my wife's brother will meet us at the airport in nyc with our car--he's driving it across the country now--and then we'll live at an extended stay hotel until about the second week of july. at that time our apartment should be ready, and hopefully around that time our goods will be disgorged from the moving truck, including my two powered two- and three-wheeled rides. until then i'll have to rely on her driving me to work each morning!

8)

overall i'd say that my electric bike experiment has been a success. over 1100 miles so far. only a few days missed with electrical gremlins, namely the fried Hall sensor and motor controller. the vast majority of time it has been smooth, reliable sailing, and i've been very thankful for the ~650W assist as compared to my normal bikes, all of which i sold over the course of the year.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby TylerDurden » Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:31 pm

Kudos on your many ambitious projects and insightful posts. Very enjoyable to follow your work. Best wishes for you & yours in The Apple.
Have a Nice Day,

TD

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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby The Stig » Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:31 am

They don't seem to exist on the west coast but there is this fascinating thing called a subway in NYC and it works! ...depending on where your staying and working, but it covers most of the city.
Its an option.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:20 am

The Stig wrote:They don't seem to exist on the west coast but there is this fascinating thing called a subway in NYC and it works! ...depending on where your staying and working, but it covers most of the city.
Its an option.

indeed it is a good option for manhattan residents, and i used it when i grew up in manhattan. for better or worse, however, we're going to be on long island: east meadow, to be precise. here's my wife's commute (mine will be a 0.25 mile walk across a field at point B, not bad!):

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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:23 pm

we've been out in long island for a few weeks. we're still waiting for the moving truck but thankfully have been able to move out from the $125/night extended stay hotel and into our own apartment. it was one of the better apartments in the spectrum of this particular hospital's on-campus resident housing but still was pretty shabby.

my wife's father flew out this weekend, however, and we all pitched in to patch this place up. we spackled and sanded like mad, then repainted everything save for the kitchen cabinets. trim, ceilings, everything. it was quite the extravaganza. on the upside we now have quite a nice looking little place and our repairs are very difficult to pick out without prior knowledge.

living in a relatively small one bedroom is going to require some adjustment. i'd been in a one bedroom last year… by myself. when the moving truck finally arrives we're going to have a lot of stuff. the bike may still be able to live inside, but the scooter is definitely banished to the street! heh.

the upside to this place, of course, is that my commute is unbeatable: it's a 1/4 mile walk. i can mosey out the door at 7:50 AM and be there in plenty of time for 8 AM morning conference. yeah, that's radiology hours for you: an 8 AM start to the day. much better than rounding at 5:45 (with prerounding and thus me being there at 5:15) as was the case for much of last year! (the days are much shorter, too! this basically rocks.)

anyway, if we find this place to be acceptable in the long term, as in for my four years that i'll be here, then the e-bike and scooter will see scant use save for errands, and that'll be quite alright.

oh, if anyone's still reading at this point:

1) if i continue to use my scooter then jessica has given me the ok to trade in my MP3 250 when the MP3 Hybrid is available!

2) if her 2001 corolla dies within 2 years then we'll upgrade it to certified pre-owned 2004-2008 prius. if it dies after 2 years or makes it to 2013-2014 then we'll strongly consider upgrading to a new Lexus HS250h, their prius-based new model.

3) chrismartenson.com, home of the crash course, has a second part to their article on electric bikes. it basically outlines the same train of thought as espoused by yours truly in the first several pages of this thread. note that the author of this article and i came to different conclusions. this is because i am, or was, a "real cyclist" who doesn't like super-upright seating positions, and because i had incentive to stick with a normal-wheelbase bike so that it'd fit on the seattle buses' bike racks. anyway, the article links:

part 1 of 2: http://www.chrismartenson.com/quiet-rev ... ers-part-i

part 2 of 2: http://www.chrismartenson.com/quiet-rev ... rs-part-ii
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby OneWayTraffic » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:18 am

The person who wrote that has got to be Morgan, CEO of cycle9 and a member of this site.
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Re: Seattle commuter bikes: e-bike (p1), ICE scooter (p19)

Postby Toshi » Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:16 pm

OneWayTraffic wrote:The person who wrote that has got to be Morgan, CEO of cycle9 and a member of this site.

yup, you got it.

turns out that here in long island i'm not riding my electric bike much at all. drivers here are scary and riding on the sidewalk frankly sucks. furthermore my "commute" is a five minute walk so i don't need a car or a bike to get to work. thus it's going up on eBay…

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 0418578435

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