Category Archives: electric technology

Car Bike Rack for an elMundo

People frequently write in to ask us what bike rack we recommend for the the car to transport an elMundo (or Mundo) long distances, say between a winter residence and a summer residence.

Over the years, we have recommended several products,  but each had their drawbacks. The roof racks designed for tandems or recumbents weren’t ideal for elMundos because it is difficult for many Yuba riders to lift 50-70 lbs over their heads. The “remove the front wheel” type of rack requires remembering to bring the tools to pull off the wheels, and then lining up those little suckers while lifting the bike up. Then there’s the racks that aren’t designed for bikes over 35 pounds, which we haven’t recommended but people have tried.

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A elMundo and a Mundo NuVinci Lux, ready to go on an adventure!

We finally found a rack that’s easy to use, and can accommodate two (yes two!) elMundos. The Hollywood Racks Sport Rider for Electric Bikes (HR1450E) is an easy-to-use hitch mounted rack that fits standard 2″ trailer hitches. Loading the bikes is easy, because the rack is fairly close to the ground, so you can put the front wheel in the rack first, and then lift the rear wheel (and motor) into the rack.

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We  were concerned that the sideloaders would rub and scratch the paint on the second bike. In our test, this did not happen, because the sideloaders rubbed up against the rubber of the tires on the second bike. If it was a major concern, a user could tape or zip tie some cardboard between the bikes to prevent any contact at all.

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The rack conveniently folds up against the vehicle when not in use.

**Please remember to remove the electric batteries before putting your electric bike on a car rack, because the vibrations of the road can decrease battery life.

The Street: The Digital Skeptic: Best Battery-Powered Car May Be a Bike

The Digital Skeptic: Best Battery-Powered Car May Be a Bike

BY Jonathan Blum

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — George Bliss has something, uh, shocking to say to all those fanatics of troubled electric sports car maker Tesla Motors.

“We’re backing the wrong battery-assisted vehicle,” Bliss told me as he assembled handlebars in front of his West Village bike shop, Hudson Urban Bicycles. “When you get people riding around upright, not looking like some angry street racer, batteries that help you ride easily make a difference.”

Bliss had assembled for me as critical a future as any in the world of alternative vehicles: The elBoda Boda electric pedal-assisted cargo bike, made by five-person, Petaluma, Calif.- based Yuba Bicycles (models start at $2,797).

I am as stunned as you are, but even in these fat-butt United States of America, the emerging generation of smart electric bicycles such as the elBoda Boda will be the critical driver in the battery-induced transport market, which includes trendy-with-investor electric vehicles including the Tesla, Chevy Volt, and the Nissan Leaf.

“There were 31 million electric bikes sold in 2012, mostly in China. That’s a $5 billion worldwide market in batteries,” Frank Jamerson explained to me. Jamerson is publisher of Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports, a Harbor Springs, Mich.-based eBike analyst firm. “Compare that market to pure EV vehicle types. There only 60,000 of those sold last year. That’s $630 million in total battery sales.”

Jamison is no eBike front runner. He first rode one back in the 1990s as part of his 35-year General Motors engineering career. He headed the electrochemistry research department, where he became the assistant program manager for GM’s doomed electric vehicle, the EV1.

“I’m a futures guy. I tried out an electric bike in Europe. I figured it would get folks to buy the EV1,” Jamerson said. “I even tried to import them. It was a disaster. But I know a lot about electric bikes.”

Jamerson says that the electric bicycles market is so massive that it moves the commodities market. The otherwise bike-obsessed mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, is expected to ban the things due to overpopularity.

“It’s basically the messengers,” Bliss explained to me. “They ride like maniacs and you can get going really fast. It pissed everyone off.”

If my month riding the elBoda Boda around town and out near my home in suburban Harrison is any indication, it’s easy to easy see why The Man is cracking down. Battery-assisted bikes are the crack cocaine of new-age transportation.

Use one once and you will never want to use anything else again.

Not battery powered. Battery “assisted”

If you’re smart enough to get a ride on a smart bike such as an elBoda Boda, you’ll realize instantly there is no throttle. Instead, this normal, seven-speed, external-geared bicycle carries a hard-drive sized battery that impels an internal hub-mounted motor that helps only as you pedal.

It all takes a bit of tinkering. But once I got comfortable with the handlebar-mounted control system, I found I could zip up all the way from the West Village to The Garden when the Knicks sparred with the Pacers, then head back down to the Lower East Side five miles away for a light Vietnamese dinner and some serious wine. Then back here to the West Village, all in my dress clothes, without breaking much of a sweat.

Or having a designated driver.

“It’s an incredible tool for threading the needle of moving around with a car,” Benjamin Sarrazin, owner of Yuba Bicycles, told me. “For local transport, they perform like cars, but without the weather protection.”

When it rained, I did get wet. And the battery, the bike and the stuff I carried are not light. They easily can add up to more than 200 pounds, which is manageable in traffic with the battery-assist. But it all takes practice. Plus the battery charges lasted just 25 miles or so and takes a full four hours to recharge, so it sucks when the battery is dead. Planning is needed. And then there is the cost — $2,700 is not cheap, even though a legit argument exists that the elBoda is a car replacement for certain users.

Bottom line: Smart folks will demo a smart bike carefully before buying one.

The smart bet on eBikes 

Now let’s make some money with eBikes: Electric bicycles will absolutely, positively not be a big U.S. product anytime soon. Jamerson said it will be big news when even 750,000 are sold in a year here. It’s the 40 million that will move around the globe in 2014 that matter. And battery makers doing that business will be Samsung, Panasonic, Sony (SNE_), Lishen in China andLG Chem.

Far more intriguing is how traditional carmakers are testing eBikes. Daimler and BMW are offering models. German parts maker Bosch (BOSCHLTD) is selling an eBike drive system to other bike makers.There’s even a sexy little start-up here: Canadian firm BionX, which made the elegant battery-assist unit for my test elBoda.

Jamerson thinks this car market interest will be the bellwether for eBikes.

“If the auto guys get in,’ he says, “The whole industry will change.”

Read full article here….

Bicycle Times: First Impression: Yuba Boda Boda

By Maurice Tierney

The Boda Boda “Cargo Cruiser” is only the second bike from the Yuba braintrust, following the Mundo cargo bike released in 2006. Hard to imagine a bike company paying the bills with only one bike to sell, but Yuba has flourished with the singular purpose of the Mundo, which is carrying stuff affordably, comfortably, and efficiently.

I ride a Mundo, and it’s a great bike that can carry up to 440 lbs. of stuff, plus driver. Four bags of groceries? Two passengers? No problem. But It can be a bit much to handle sometimes. Stairs, small rooms, and public transportation all present challenges.

Enter the Boda Boda, which in simple terms might be described as half a Mundo. With its aluminum frame it’s half the weight (35 lbs.), half the payload capacity (220 lbs.), and twice as easy to maneuver. Surely not the same cargo bike.

On the contrary, maybe it’s not a cargo bike but a regular city/cruiser bike with some added room for stuff. It’s just a little bit longer than a regular bike, easy to maneuver onto bus racks and other public transportation, and its longness is perfect for a child seat or adult passenger, two full bags of groceries, or both.

There’s two models available; the step-through model comes in apple green or white and is more suitable to smaller riders (5’0″ to 5’7″) while the step-over model, which comes in green, is designed for humans from 5’7″ to 6’2″ and still easy to mount. Included are a Bamboo rear rack, cork grips, ding-a-ling bell, and kickstand. The spec is entry-level. At less than $1,000 it’s priced to get more people on it. The parts selection is perfectly functional without too many bells and whistles. A deluxe edition is soon to be, and it will up the ante with fenders and dynamo-powered lights front and rear. 

The ride is cruiser-like and functional with an upright position; big, wide, comfortable handlebars; and good pedaling efficiency. An 8-speed SRAM derailleur provides enough gear choices for most conditions. A custom Yuba saddle is a nice touch, although female tester Poppy found it more comfortable than I.

I see the Boda Boda perfect for folks just getting into the idea of the utility cycling lifestyle. Imagine hauling your kid to school while getting a little exercise—sure beats sitting in a steel box with a brain-frying device to your ear. Kid hauling, grocery getting and such are all good times (assuming the infrastructure is good in your town). Parking lots at the grocery store become a joy instead of a nightmare as you roll right in and park by the door while the automobilians struggle. That’s the life!

This life is yours for the low low price of only $999! Step Right Up! Other accessories include the Peanut Shell child seat at $169, Baguette bags at $77 each, and a center stand (recommended) for $69.

But wait! There’s more! What are all those other accoutrements attached to the Boda Boda pictured here? Why it’s a battery and motor! Yes, you are looking at the electric version of the Boda Boda, priced at $2,697. Well, yes that’s quite a few more dollars, but those bucks might make the difference between embracing the lifestyle and staying in your car.

The electric assist Boda features a BionX motor system for pedal assist and battery regeneration. The BionX system is the real deal. After a long day it can really make a difference between riding or not if you’ve got a lot of hills in your way. The 350 watt motor is good for speeds up to the gubmint-regulated speed of 20mph. And the 9.6 amp hour battery is good for up to 37 miles, depending on terrain and load of course.

And it’s fast! I hit the turbo button on the trigger and hit the top speed of 20 in half a city block, about seven seconds. It’s also rad that the BionX has regenerative powers, such that you can set the bike to slow you down and recharge the battery at the same time. This is best on downhills, but the brake lever switch can be adjusted to regenerate the battery as you approach stop signs. I actually used the system for a few days without charging the battery. I’d set the BionX into re-gen mode, ride the Boda like a resistance trtainer, and then expel the power when I needed a kick. The BionX system adds 22.5lbs. to the total weight of the Boda Boda, bringing it to 57.5 lbs.

Allright, let’s wrap this up. The Boda Boda is a great way to expand the endless possibilites of cycling. Priced right, it’s a no-brainer for those looking to get deeper into the possibilities. The electric verision, while costing more money, breaks down even more walls to cycling nirvana.

Read the full article here….

 

The Commons: Can a bicycle replace the family car?

BRATTLEBORO—In a culture as car-centric as Vermont, Dave Cohen may seem like he is swimming against the tide when he advocates for bicycles as a way to reduce pollution, improve public health, and save people money.

But the Brattleboro psychotherapist has been at this a long time. When he lived in the San Francisco area, he created specially-designed cargo bicycles that could haul up to 1,000 pounds of cargo, and started up a human-powered delivery service called Pedal Express.

“We changed the idea of what bicycles can do,” Cohen said. “Bicycles are still seen as toys in Vermont, but human power is the largest untapped source of energy in the nation.”

So Cohen has taken it upon himself to become an evangelist for a new type of bicycle — the cargo bike — and is touting it as a vehicle that can replace the family car, or at least replace the second family car.

Read more here….

Electric Bike Report: Electric Bike Scene at Interbike, Part 3

Here’s an excerpt of the Electric Bike Report’s Interbike reporting:

Yuba had a couple of their electric cargo bikes on display.  Their new Boda Boda is cargo bike that is somewhere between a traditional bike and their sturdy cargo hauling Mundo bike.  The Boda Boda looks like it will carry quite a bit of cargo but it will be nimble enough to maneuver in congested areas.

They had a Boda Boda set up with a Bionx kit and they had their Mundo set up with an eZee electric kit.  The Mundo was displayed with a surf board attached!

 

Pimp my Ride, iCargo Bike! (Part Deux)

The fine folks at iCargoBike in San Clemente sent in a bunch of pictures of custom builds they have completed recently. They’re so sweet, that we thought we’d share them one by one. Today’s bike is their shop bike; for those of you who don’t work in the bike industry, that means the bike that every employee in the shop can use to run errands, or barrow when their ride is broken down. And what a sweet shop bike it is…..especially the surfboard rack (clearly just for work purposes, eh?)

Shop Yuba v3 with avid bb7 disc brakes and Swalbe Fat Frank tires, with 36 volt li-on amped front drive geared kit.

 

 

 

Two years at the beach and the spokes are rusty but amped motor and battery still working strong, nice iCargoBike custom surfboard rack.

Stay tuned! More of their awesome builds coming your way. If you see anything that sparks your interest, please contact the fine folks at iCargoBike.