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bionx electric motor

E-Bike Grocery Shopping and Errands

by Electric bike guru on July 15, 2011

First. If you don’t have one already, you will need a luggage rack for your bicycle.

Figure 1 First. If you don’t have one already, you will need a luggage rack for your bicycle

Owning an E-Bike, like a BionX Electric Drive System presents the perfect opportunity to perform errands, stock your refrigerator, save money, and get healthy exercise, all at the same time. Grocery shopping with a regular bike can be inconvenient and awkward; the added weight can slow you down to a crawl and affect the handling of the bike, especially on hilly terrain or heavy traffic. The powerful proportional assist motor of the BionX system can easily handle the extra weight of your weekly grocery shopping, with no degradation of performance, and the faster transit time to and from the supermarket is important to get your perishable items home before the summer heat has a chance to cause any damage.

Get started shopping with your electric bike

First. If you don’t have one already, you will need a luggage rack for your electric bicycle. Rear luggage racks are the most common, but racks are available for the front of your bike as well. Expect to pay $40 – $50 for a sturdy, well-made, light-weight aluminum rack, and make sure to attach it securely. Next, select panniers, or saddlebags that are large enough to carry several bags of groceries. Be sure to specify whether they are going to attach to the front or the rear of your bike, as they must mate to the luggage rack you have installed.

Figure 2 Select panniers, or saddlebags that are large enough to carry several bags of groceries.

Figure 2 Select panniers, or saddlebags that are large enough to carry several bags of groceries.

In the supermarket, self control is essential. If your refrigerator is nearly empty, or you have just returned from a two-month stay at your vacation villa, maybe now is not the time to go shopping with your e-bike. Start with a grocery list, and stick to the list. Remember that liquids add the most weight, and be careful not to buy too many boxed items, which are bulky and take up a lot of space. Once you have checked off the items on your list, you can add impulse and last-minute items to the extent that space allows.

When you are done shopping, think about how you will organize and pack your groceries into your bike bags. The basic rule is to keep the load balanced on your bike by dividing the items into two groups of approximately equal weight. If possible, try to do this before you leave the store. This may be easier if you go through the self-check.

Loading up your ebike

When you get back to your electric bike, load the groceries into each pannier and close it. If you cannot close the panniers, you may have to leave the top open. This is easier if the bag is equipped with a zipper rather than a top flap. If you do have to leave your saddlebag open, try to tie the supermarket bag closed to prevent groceries from bouncing out in the event that you are traveling on a bumpy road.

Figure 4 Organizing Your Groceries

Figure 4 Organizing Your Groceries

Still can’t fit everything on your ebike? Here are two additional tips/tricks you can use.

1) Look for items with unnecessarily bulky packaging, such as breakfast cereal and potato chips. Remember that with some items, like chips, the inside of the bag is mostly air. If you puncture the bag with a small knife or apartment key, it will release the trapped air and allow you to compress the bag (you may be disappointed when you find out how much air you have been buying). Also, if you have “hamburger helper” type mixes, or cereals which are packed in plastic pouches inside a cardboard box, in a pinch, you can take the pouches and leave the cardboard boxes behind.

2) If you are still struggling for space, as a last resort, and only as a last resort, you can put some of the lighter items into a plastic grocery bag, then slide the bag onto the bicycle handlebars through the bag handles. Keep the weight of the bag as light as possible (no liquids!) as the bag will swing on your handlebars as you ride, and the shifting weight will make your bicycle’s steering and handling more difficult and less predictable.

Grocery shopping by bicycle is challenging, but planning ahead and thinking creatively will allow you to use your e-bike to save money and provide healthy exercise while accomplishing a necessary household chore.

Dave Balzer


The Best Electric Motor for Bicycles

by Electric bike guru on July 14, 2010

Electric bikes are everywhere these days – from department stores to big retail chains to tiny closet-sized bike shops. With their popularity comes an ever shifting technology based around their efficiency. What lets one electric bicycle outperform another? All mechanical parts aside, let’s take an in-depth look at the electric system.

The electric motor for a bicycle is one of the most important aspects of an electric bicycle. Though a simple concept, the type of electric motor for bikes can make a huge difference in the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of the bicycle. Some will run forever without any problems, while others need to be serviced pretty often to keep the parts from wearing out. The electric motors for modern electric bikes are getting better and better with each new model that comes out. Let’s take a look at some different types of electric motors for bicycles.

Chain-Driven Electric Motor for Bicycles

Brushed Electric Motor for Bicycles

An external, chain-driven brush-les electric motor for bicycles (Currie)

In the mid-1990′s, when electric bikes were starting to become popular, they were designed with electric motor for a bike that drove the rear wheel using a chain. This was by far the most efficient electric motor for bicycles developed in years, but it still had a lot of drawbacks. For one, the chain tended to wear out faster than a standard bicycle chain. This meant that after about six months of regular riding, the motor needed to be serviced. It also hung from the side of the bike like a heavy lopsided boulder. In addition to throwing off the balance, this subjected the motor to curbs, doorways, and other elements that could damage the internal moving parts. Needless to say, while it was not the most ideal solution, it was a step in the right direction.

Electric Motor for Bike: Brushed or Brushless?

This is a specification that is often stated when an electric bike is for sale. It either has a brushed motor, or a brushless motor. What does that mean? Well, the good, old chain-driven motor mentioned above used brushes. A rotating disc on the inside of the motor uses magnets to rotate the internal brushes. This was cheaper to produce, but constant rotation eventually causes the brushes to wear down and need to be replaced. A more efficient design, developed in the late 90′s, is the brushless motor.

Brushless Hub Motor for Bicycles

Bionx electric motor for bicycles

The BionX electric motor for bikes, as well as many other leading manufacturers of electric bikes, use a brushless electric motor. With digital chips controlling a rotating magnet, instead of mechanical brushes, the brushless electric motor for bicycles is much more maintenance free. In fact, most brushless motors will never require service because there are seldom any parts that wear out.

Another step for electric motors for bikes came with the development of the hub motor. Built into the wheel, this not only balanced the bike, but prevented anything from hitting the motor during the ride. It was now a sealed entity within the spinning wheel. The utilization of a brushless hub motor is one of the reasons BionX is considered to be the best electric bicycle motor on the market.

Bottom Bracket Electric Motor for Bikes

IF Reach DC, bottom bracket motor

IF Reach DC, bottom bracket motor

Many brand new electric bikes utilize this new technology for pedal-powered electric motors for bikes. Built into the bottom bracket, where the pedals turn, this motor will actually serve to assist the rider with pedaling, instead of turning a wheel. One of the most efficient ways to power an electric bike, the bottom bracket motor is becoming very popular with newer electric bikes.

Although it is hard to predict what the future holds for an electric motor for a bicycle, it is evident that as new technology becomes more affordable, it will be utilized in more production models of electric bikes. These new motors are far more efficient than they were, even five years ago! Maybe this means that more people will begin to ride electric bikes as they become more maintenance free. We’ll just have to wait and see.


Man and Machine: The Pedelec Bike

June 26, 2010

Electric bikes are pretty common these days, with all of the different kinds of electric bike motor kits and battery options available. You’d be hard pressed to find a bike shop who didn’t carry an electric bike, especially since all of the big bike manufacturers like Trek and Giant have electric bikes of their own. [...]

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The Scandinavian Affair – Velomobiles

May 22, 2010

Imagine your favorite electric bike transformed into an automobile.  How could such a thing happen?  It makes no sense!  Okay, let’s slow down a bit.  Let’s start with a recumbent bike – you know, one of those machines where you sit close to the ground and recline, or lean back, to pedal.  Now, instead of [...]

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