Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' look?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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RWP   1 kW

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Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' look?

Post by RWP » Feb 04 2014 8:27pm

I did this sketch for my latest build:
Dyno-Glide-Design-Sketch.jpg
Dyno-Glide-Design-Sketch.jpg (80.01 KiB) Viewed 1034 times
In my mind it's clearly an electric bicycle with the batteries, controller, and other electronics hidden in the body work...And yet it does have a moto look to me.

Here is my question? Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' look?

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by amberwolf » Feb 04 2014 8:54pm

For what purpose? If you mean for something regulatory, I would strongly disagree.

There's no reason I can see to require an ebike to look any different from a regular bicycle (which themselves can look quite a lot of different ways).

There are commercial ebikes now for sale and/or planned that have batteries inside their tubing, with motors either in the bottom bracket or in a hub so small as to be no different than an old 3speed IGH, and that if they are in frames that look like bicycles would be indistinguishable from one unless you were riding it under power.

While it would be pretty hard to do that with a motorcycle-class-power-level ebike, I don't see any reason that it should be *necessary* to make it look different, other than whatever specific functionality-over-form requirements it might end up with.


Now, as for what you want to design yourself, or what would *look* "better", well, that's a different story. ;)


My CrazyBike2 is very different from a standard bicycle...but that was true of it even before I finally added motor power to it. :lol:
CrazyBike2AndMeAtNorthMountainPark1.PNG

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by RWP » Feb 04 2014 9:08pm

amberwolf wrote:regulatory...require
I don't think so... :lol:

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by amberwolf » Feb 04 2014 9:10pm

Oh, also, your sketch does not necessarily look "clearly electric"--it looks more like a gas motorcycle or moped because of the tank. If I try to think like someone that doesn't know anything about motors and engines, I just see a gas tank and that makes me think it's a gas powered vehicle. Something that had no "tank" might be more "electric looking", to the average person.

Remember that most people have no idea what they are looking at, other than whatever obvious similarities something has with other stuff they've seen and "know" what it is.

For instance, on my CrazyBike2 as it exists these days, it has a piece of handlebar bolted onto the cargo pod rail sticking straight backwards, for use as a clamping point for a trailer hitch. I regularly get people asking me what size engine it has and how many gallons my tank holds (or what MPG it gets), because they see that tube and think it's an exhaust pipe.

I also get lots of people that assume the big boxes on the back are for battery (or gas tanks).

I get others that think the front hub motor is a disk brake. Sometimes they come closer to reality by thinking it's a drum brake.


But really i'm just pointing out that unless someone knows what the parts are on the bike, they're going to just think they are whatever they look like that's familiar to them, personally...and most people do know what a gas tank on a motorcycle looks like, from movies like Mad Max if nothing else. :lol:

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by RWP » Feb 04 2014 9:26pm

amberwolf wrote:Oh, also, your sketch does not necessarily look "clearly electric"--it looks more like a gas motorcycle or moped because of the tank. If I try to think like someone that doesn't know anything about motors and engines, I just see a gas tank and that makes me think it's a gas powered vehicle. Something that had no "tank" might be more "electric looking", to the average person. ... But really i'm just pointing out that unless someone knows what the parts are on the bike, they're going to just think they are whatever they look like that's familiar to them, personally...and most people do know what a gas tank on a motorcycle looks like, from movies like Mad Max if nothing else. :lol:
Thanks Amber,
Yeah, this is more along the lines I was thinking about.
I like the look in the sketch...but it reads to me like a gas bike, because - as you state - the look of the 'gas tank'.
This troubles me enough to get your and others perceptions about this perceived look thing...I would like to SUGGEST 'electric' rather than gas.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by biohazardman » Feb 04 2014 10:40pm

Personally I think it's your bike and you can make it look any way you choose. I like the stock bicycle look for my rides. Not to say that I don't like the looks of the builds done here as many are more than outstanding. I just like to blend in/go unnoticed the best I can. It keeps me out of trouble so long as I am pedaling.
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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by e-beach » Feb 04 2014 11:42pm

Design is design. Function is Function. The law is the law. Can we abide by the law or even skirt the law through function and design?

I think most e-bike folk want better ways of moving around then by burning poison. (aka gasoline) That is function. And, I think most e-bike folk want bigger motors then the law allows in most places. That means stealth, also function. But, if one can use design to mask the function of an over motored bicycle where you live, then design comes in handy....Like paniers to mask the motor.

To my way of thinking, making an e-bike distinctly electric clearly depends on where you live an the nature of your rides. If you can skoot along on a 250w motor because the law demands it, more skooting to you! But if you need more power then the law allows, more function to you. Mask that motor!!!

Mask it if you must. Flaunt it if you want to.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by dogman dan » Feb 05 2014 10:18am

That question is clearly a matter of style. That's an area where I have a long history of no taste.

But I do tell people fairly often, "if you are riding ebikes because you have DUI's, look like a bike if you don't want to talk to cops". Some ebikes look exactly like real motorcycle class scooters, and I feel that's a bad strategy for people who have local cops that already hate them. There is no legal requirement to look bike, but if you know a cop hates you, it may as well be.

Your design looks a lot like a motorcycle, so if you take it to the beach boardwalk, expect people to think you are riding a motorcycle on the boardwalk.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by Kingfish » Feb 06 2014 1:34am

As with others - it's a personal choice.

I want mine to look cool though. And in that respect - my designs are evolutionary (as opposed to "revolutionary") 8)

Though I definitely pine for a futuristic look. Many a barleycorn has been sacrificed upon these thoughts.

As will many more :twisted:

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by dogman dan » Feb 06 2014 8:01am

Maybe I sounded like I hate your design. I don't. I think it will be a beautiful bike. I just wanted to express the reasons for the popularity of the "stealth ebike" design style.

Like AW, what I ride has no style whatsoever.
Bouncing Betty bomber forks.  1-2014.jpg
Bouncing Betty bomber forks. 1-2014.jpg (123.61 KiB) Viewed 862 times
People look at me all the time, and on their faces you can see WTF? This nightmare of a bike is driven entirely by function and my preferences. One of my prime preferences is to make it too ugly to steal.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by EVTodd » Feb 06 2014 9:37pm

Personally, I think your Cortina build had the perfect look. That has always been one of my biggest inspirations on the 'sphere.

I like electric bikes that look like normal bikes. I would be perfectly happy if I was the only person that knew my bike has a motor on it.
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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by RWP » Feb 07 2014 1:28am

biohazardman wrote:Personally I think it's your bike and you can make it look any way you choose. I like the stock bicycle look for my rides. Not to say that I don't like the looks of the builds done here as many are more than outstanding. I just like to blend in/go unnoticed the best I can. It keeps me out of trouble so long as I am pedaling.
I hear you!
e-beach wrote:I think most e-bike folk want better ways of moving around then by burning poison. (aka gasoline) That is function. And, I think most e-bike [ES...edit] folk want bigger motors then the law allows in most places.
Mask it if you must. Flaunt it if you want to. :D
Thanks Beach, I have a geared hub Townie that is 100% legal, fun for me, keeps me alive, and gets me around town and out of my car...but I do these builds to push the envelope in performance and looks - whenever I can. It's another thing that keeps me alive.
dogman wrote:That question is clearly a matter of style. That's an area where I have a long history of no taste. ... Your design looks a lot like a motorcycle, so if you take it to the beach boardwalk, expect people to think you are riding a motorcycle on the boardwalk.
I did not think of your point about riding on the boardwalk. Thanks!
Kingfish wrote:...it's a personal choice. I want mine to look cool though. Doodling on napkins, KF
Cool is KingFish - thanks.
dogman wrote:[attachment=0]Bouncing Betty bomber forks. 1-2014.jpg[/attachment
Now yous is one COOL bike! Your ride is something else - I just love it! Looks like a terrific work bike to me.
EVTodd wrote:Personally, I think your Cortina build had the perfect look. That has always been one of my biggest inspirations on the 'sphere.
That's the best complement I have had in a long time! THANK YOU :lol: :mrgreen:

I guess my response to e-beach says it all for me. I always wanted to race machines, but now that I am too old to be really competitive, I can get my kicks by designing and building bicycles that I can at least dream of racing.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by Projectitis » Feb 07 2014 5:34am

Personally I go for style :) Because electric propulsion is still relatively unique, and is free of many of the design constraints of petrol, I really like to draw attention to this fact.

RWP - is that a friction drive on the rear wheel in your sketch?

Dogman - sorry mate, when I first glanced at that photo I thought "oh my god - is that a coffin on the back?" :shock:

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by kiwipete » Feb 07 2014 5:42am

dogman wrote: One of my prime preferences is to make it too ugly to steal.
I think you have succeeded. :-)

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by dogman dan » Feb 07 2014 6:14am

The coffin is a box a cutting torch comes in. It's also 150 pounds of bike, so hard to pedal off on, or even load into a van. I still try to get in and out of the stores fast as I can.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by The fingers » Feb 07 2014 10:15am

My black bikes which are my main commuter bikes are dirty and ugly from constant use and the need to carry stuff. I save the prettier ones for casual pleasure rides with the family.
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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by RWP » Feb 07 2014 12:50pm

Projectitis wrote:RWP - is that a friction drive on the rear wheel in your sketch?
NO
Jackshaft to rear hub sprocket on the left is the final drive system.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by Projectitis » Feb 07 2014 6:38pm

RWP wrote:NO
Jackshaft to rear hub sprocket on the left is the final drive system.
Hehe. Thought it was a little low-tech :)

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by friendly1uk » Feb 07 2014 7:12pm

I notice in your sketch that your drop-out is 90 degree's out.
bmsbattery sent me broken and incorrect stuff, and won't even talk to me about it.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by RWP » Feb 07 2014 7:28pm

friendly1uk wrote:I notice in your sketch that your drop-out is 90 degree's out.
The drop out is sketched correctly. It's one of the reasons I like this frame. This drop out configuration allows me to easily tension the chain. BMX and some cruisers and other bikes have horizontal drop outs. Take a look at the new Felt Bixby 1 speed cruiser - horizontal drop outs.

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Re: Should an electric bicycle have a uniquely 'electric' lo

Post by friendly1uk » Feb 08 2014 12:03am

RWP wrote:
friendly1uk wrote:I notice in your sketch that your drop-out is 90 degree's out.
The drop out is sketched correctly. It's one of the reasons I like this frame. This drop out configuration allows me to easily tension the chain. BMX and some cruisers and other bikes have horizontal drop outs. Take a look at the new Felt Bixby 1 speed cruiser - horizontal drop outs.
Oh, my bad. The lack of chain had me thinking hub motor. I'm way off. Sorry bud. I like the concept. It looks great.

I see you fitted aero disc wheels too :)
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