I had to go home early so that I could go to a job interview yesterday so was on the road a lot sooner than normal. First of all, the number of parked cars on major thoroughfares at 1:00 PM is amazing! Normally empty curb lanes are packed with parked cars. I am not used to that and rode as far into the middle lane as I felt comfortable. I don't like the thought of being "doored" by anyone who isn't aware of a cyclist coming towards them.
Anyway, when I was on the last major double yellow lined street in my neighborhood, I was blasting along at 28 mph (3mph over the legal speed limit), a Ford Focus passed me in the middle lane, honking their horn! The middle lane is past the double-yellow line so I was very surprised and looked over. The woman was driving at least 35 mph (10 mph over the speed limit) and was on the wrong side of the road! She was waving her arms at me as if to shoo me off the road! I was speechless!
As you know, cyclists have every right to the road as drivers do. I was not hindering her because I was going faster than the legal speed limit. I was on the right side of the road! :-) I couldn't figure out why she was trying to wave me off?!
I got home fine and it gave me a good chuckle to think about it!
Monday, September 28, 2009
I thought I had a fairly solid rack with the Megarack that I bought from L.L. Bean, however, it can't take the beating that I've given it on my Tidalforce bike. The screws that allow it to adjust to different frame sizes just won't stay tight. The two thin bars that attach to the frame by the brake mounts are also very flimsy and can't keep the 25 lbs of batteries I carry stable. I worry about the whole assembly wobbling free one day. So I asked around on the boards and found out that the Topeak Explorer MTX frame is an inexpensive but sturdy one piece frame. I bought it from my REI store and mounted it over the weekend. It's a much more solid rack. The two bars that attach near the brake mounts are twice as thick and much longer than the Megarack's bars. There are very solid large headed hex screws which mount to the frame. I put in a couple of lock washers and some Loctite to help hold the screws in so I don't have to worry about it. It seems the extra heavy duty welding and the three stays make a huge difference in the solidity of the rack.
Now when I go over bumps, the rack and my battery pack does not wobble one bit. It feels much tighter and more controlled. I still need to reduce the weight of the battery some since it still isn't great going over potholes or manhole covers, but the ride is much steadier now.
Thanks JD on Endless-sphere.com
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I had a package waiting for me when I got home last night. The MagicShine P7 headlight arrived! The box was a bit bashed, but the contents survived intact. I'll have more photos later. This thing is definitely bright!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I was blasting home last night at almost 30 mph most of the way and was keeping up with the rush hour traffic pretty well. Near my home, I stopped at a traffic light and a BMW pulled up beside me. The driver rolled down the window and said that I'd been following him for about 5 miles now. I reminded him that he pulled up next to me so I was technically leading him! We had a good laugh. I told him that I was testing out the higher voltage bike at speed and the light bulb went off and he gave a big OH! Of course, that's why I was able to go so fast! We had a good long laugh before the light changed and I blasted past him. He turned on the next street!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I took my jury-rigged 48V pack and put it on my Tidalforce today for the ride in. The pack consists of the ebikekit.com 36 volt 12AH sealed lead-acid battery pack with an additional 12V 18AH SLA battery in series with it for a total of 48V. It was an exhilerating ride and a blast to be able to easily keep up with rush hour traffic. I also felt safer because I could pass parked cars at regular traffic speeds instead of slowing down to wait for an opening in traffic.
All-in-all, a very satisfying experience. I like 48 volts on my ebike. All I need now is to reduce the weight by swapping out the SLAs for lithium.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I just checked on my order for the MagicShine 900 lumen headlight from dealextreme and it is ready to be shipped. Packages from China tend to take about a week to get here so I am eagerly awaiting it's arrival next week.
Here's a shot of a country road lit by the MagicShine...
Monday, September 7, 2009
I installed the two 24V NiMH 3.3AH packs in series for a 48V 3.3AH pack and took my ebike out for a spin. First, it accelerated quite rapidly. The bike felt light and nimble and it performed quite well. The flats were 27 mph and the downhill sections were 29-32 mph. Very nice! However, I could only get about 2.5 AH out of the pack. It was 5 miles but the pack was sagging very badly at the end dropping down to the 34V range. Both batteries were also very warm almost hot to the touch. Obviously, they were quite stressed by it all!
So for short quick rides, I may use the 2x24V NiMH, but for long hauls, use the LiFePO4 pack.
I took the ebike out for a test ride at 48 volts yesterday. On the flats, I was able to get up to 27 mph. On slight downhill sections, it was up to 29 mph. Not too bad. However, the extra weight made the bike very top heavy and sluggish to get started.
I had a thought while riding. I have an old set of 24V 3.3A Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries which I used to use with my old Amplifier A7 stand up scooter. They are very small and compact. Two of them in series would produce 48V and be very easy to easy to place and carry on the ebike.
I discovered during my first week of commuting with the ebike that I was only using 4AH on the way in to work and 4.5AH on the way back. This 48V NiMH pack would provide enough juice if used judiciously.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I wanted to see how much faster a 48V battery would push the 36V 500W motor. I emailed Jason at ebikekit.com and found out that I need up install Anderson PowerPoles in place of the 3 standard bullet connectors on the controller. Jason also stated that the controller was 48V capable as it is. No modifications needed! The bullet connectors didn't seem to critical for a test so I plugged in an extra heavy duty 12V 18AH sealed lead acid battery in series with the 36V 12AH battery to make a 48V battery. This is the result of an unhindered speed test!
With a 36V battery fresh off the charger, the ebikekit motor did 28.6 mph. With the 48V battery fresh off the charger, the ebikekit motor did 36.3 mph! That's a 7.7 mph improvement. I need to give it a test ride in the morning to see if it responds the way I expect it to. Right now, I can get up to almost exactly 23 mph on level ground. If the 25% improvement holds up in the real world, I should get close to 30 mph at 48V!
I've just added some lighting to my bike helmet to help me be seen better by automobiles. It consists of a Coast 1W Luxeon headlight powered by 3 AAA batteries. I've also added a Planet Bike Superflash taillight which I've mounted to my helmet instead of the bike. I've got two other lights that I plan on mounting on my battery pack and on the rear rack. I needed something small and light, yet powerful enough to not make me feel odd about the extra weight on top and put out a ton of light. This seems to fill the bill.
I've posted a video here.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Now that the ebike is running smoothly. I'm thinking about upgrades! :-)
The first thing that sounds interesting is to increase the voltage of the bike to 48V from the current 36V. 36V is fine, however, I'm always looking for a bit more oomph. That being said, the other problem with my 36V battery is the weight. The 36V battery weighs 21 lbs. That doesn't sound like a huge amount, however, I'm finding that I'm only using about 3.5Amps on my ride in! That's a lot less than I expected. I can reduce the size of the battery and increase the speed if I were to switch to a 48V 10 or 15AH battery.
The other important thing to think about now is lighting. The hours of daylight here in Washington, DC is shrinking and lights will be necessary soon. Both front and rear lights. I found this very interesting light online.
It's supposedly a 900 lumen light in a relatively tiny package for only $80. That sounds like an amazing bargin and I may need to try it out to see how well it works!