Bicycle Wheel

e-bikes

The Good, Bad and Ugly

electric bicycles are currently undergoing an evolution
of exponential proportions.
Engineering issues include,
- Battery Systems
- Electrical Cabling
- Drive Motor Mechanics
- Maintenance & Durability
AND, ... Lack of Regulatory Standards allow many e-Bike manufacturers to be able to claim ridiculous and unsubstantiated battery range.
!!! OMG !!! here is an e-bike startup funded on Kickstarter. They started off with a very good concept and finished off by ruining their frame with an integrated middrive by Shimano. A perfect example of the corporate mentality of obsolescence. Here is the article which addresses some of issues i've seen, and shows how good it was before they went to production.
Lithium-ion batteries can contain: Lithium, Nickel, Manganese, Cobalt, Copper, Gold and Mercury.
They also contain liquid electrolytes consisting of lithium salts, such as LiPF6, LiBF4 or LiClO4 in an organic solvent, such as ethylene carbonate, dimethyl carbonate, and diethyl carbonate.
Lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous under some conditions and can pose a safety hazard since they contain, unlike other rechargeable batteries, a flammable electrolyte
Also, the cells are individualy wrapped
similar to AA batteries. Typicaly, this means, that in order to be recycled, each cell needs to be individually un-wrapped,
usually BY HAND - (very toxic)
SLA, Sealed Lead Acid, batteries might weigh a little more, and won't take you quite as far, BUT, they are far less expensive, much easier to repair, a lot less toxic and far more recycleable, ... AND with a range of 15-24km, will meet most people's daily e-bike needs.
AND, we've been recycling them
for more than 100 years,
unfortunately, they are noticably heavier
and their range degrades rather quickly with use.
Electrical control cabling is the one weak link every e-bike seems to have in common. Lack of strain-reliefs or reinforcements at the cable attachment points, non-exsistant weather proofing, and light duty wire guage mean failure of these cables is going to be a reoccuring issue.

The 3-phase power harnesses yellow,green,blue typically become brown,brown,brown after a year or so, and motor wire gauges are too light and cooked windings are common. Most of these issues would be moot if e-bikes were ridden only in Regina.
In some cases, Hub Motors laced into a wheel provides the ability to re-charge the battery while coasting downhill - (regenerative braking).
Unfortunately, they create additional issues when having to service a wheel, such as fixing a flat.
Hub Motors are also hard on spokes, especialy when laced into the rear wheel.
Front wheel Hub Motors can cause stability issues when operating on gravel.







Now, ... again, ... having said all of this, ...
I am excited about the possibility of bikes powered with comprssed air.




Check out my e-bike repair blog
and my essay on the