We are all too aware of the population health challenges of the Hunter region, with spiralling obesity rates and transport modes that do little to encourage human movement and active transport. The need to rethink how we move has never been more urgent, in the face of spiralling rates of chronic disease, mortality and morbidity rates associated with lifestyle risk factors. In the face of this, cycling is well proven as a form of lifestyle medicine that can positively impact health at a whole of population scale when it's convenient, affordable and safe. A large scale epidemiology research case (http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/04april/pages/hard-times-in-cuba-linked-to-better-national-health.aspx) confirmed the impact cycling had in needy times on the Cuban population, with obesity, heart disease and diabetes rates plummeting as the country took up cycling in the 90's economic crisis.
The recognition of our innovation themed offering comes on the back of our Land Forces 2014 (APAC Region Defence Industry Conference) Agile Logistics entry, recognised as an SME Innovation Finalist, where we combine a high capability, Australian designed off-road electric bike with smart portable solar generators from our alliance with Laughing Mind as a Goal Zero dealer.
We've built on that work, with recent partnering alliances with other local innovators like New York TropFest Winner Jason Van Genderen's Pocket Film Academy, using a CargoCycles trike as a "Pocket Film Academy on Wheels", which we plan to have roaming through the upcoming LumenMotion festival in Tuggerah Lake and Newcastle.
To find out more about the detail of what we're looking to bring to the Hunter, you'll need to come along to their Smart Ideas breakfast briefing on 14July 2015 to hear our 90second pitch ;-)
The following content is posted on behalf of the upcoming Smart Future Cities conference, which Quiet Rush is participating in behind the scenes effort to bring to Newcastle.
"The University of Newcastle’s Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and The City of Newcastle have joined forces to deliver the Hunter region's first Smart Future Cities conference and exhibition, which is to be held from 1 - 3 October 2015 at Newcastle City Hall.
Smart Future Cities 2015 is the first of its kind to be held in Australia and will bring together international and national experts, researchers and businesses to present their latest findings on how to grow a Smart City. The conference is being held on 1 and 2 October 2015 and will address the importance of renewable energy technologies with a focus on future transport, innovation and emerging technologies in the built environment, electric vehicles and driverless cars. It will culminate in a free public event at Newcastle City Hall showcasing Newcastle's Smart City Initiative.
On day three (3 October 2015), an Electric Vehicle (EV) and Clean Energy Expo will be held in Wheeler Place and on the ground floor of City Hall. The EV and Clean Energy Expo will showcase electric vehicles and associated technologies as well as clean energy technologies. Now in its fifth year, the EV Expo was recognised in 2014 as the largest electric vehicle show in Australia attracting attendees from manufacturers such as Renault, Tesla and Nissan. The expo will be open and free to the public.
Professor Tim Roberts, Director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, says that: "The Institute is extremely excited at the opportunities Smart Future Cities 2015 will generate. We will have some of the brightest minds from across Australia and the world here in Newcastle for three days, helping to promote Newcastle and the Hunter region as at the forefront of planning for a renewable energy future, and indeed a Smart City future."
"Research will be showcased at this event from locally and internationally recognised experts in the coming era of electric vehicles, renewable energy, autonomous electric vehicles, and the Internet of Things. The presentations will impart valuable skills and knowledge to our local researchers and businesses and industry, which are on the ground solving the problems of the future."
Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes says: "Councils across Australia must take a leadership role by embracing smart city technology and the opportunities it provides for our communities and businesses. Council acknowledges the role we must play in making our city a smart city and we are extremely proud to have launched our Newcastle Smart City Initiative, in partnership with Newcastle NOW and Cisco. This conference provides a unique opportunity for us to talk as a community about what it means to be a smart city and to embrace the opportunities it will provide."
The conference is an initiative of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment at the University of Newcastle in partnership with the Regional Clean Energy Program of NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and The City of Newcastle. An estimated 50+ speakers will bring the latest information in their fields to delegates through presentations and networking sessions and this will aid in business development and growth within Newcastle and the Hunter Region.
Details of the Conference and Expo can be found at www.smartfuturecities.com.au
For interviews or further information please contact the UON Media Team on 02 4921 5577 or email email@example.com"
We're delighted to see this important evolution of the Industry aspect of the HunterEVFestival, which is still happening for 2015, see www.hunterevfetival.net for details.
New possibilities for Electric Action riding
With the 2014 Hunter Electric Vehicle Festival now done and dusted, capped off with a 1500 Class win and Energy innovation award, Quiet Rush have started to reach out to new regional destinations to see if we can bring a taste of electric riding action a little further south. The proposed new facility at CASAR Park represents a great option for motor sports enthusiasts of the Central Coast, with the potential to become something more than just a motor-sports venue and broader appeal for boosting already healthy regional tourism numbers.
What we've seen and proven in the Hunter EV Festival is that motor-sports are evolving and innovating in new directions, with exhibitors showcasing cutting edge vehicles in Electric Superbikes, Electric Motorcycles, Solar Racers, Electric Bikes (for On and Offroad action) and Electric Cars. The great example being set by Newcastle based ELMOFO as they redefine racing with their own vehicle, drivetrain and power source systems is a shining example of what's possible, leading to results that see them thumping its petrol powered competitors. Within our own modest racing class, we've experienced the thrill of seeing what its like to ride a bike that blends the best of human and electric performance to create a unique racing format, done at human-scale speed where you can still chat away with competitors whilst racing elbow to elbow in a clean, emissions free racing format.
Within adventure seeking always comes a compromise between adrenaline (proportional to perceived and actual risk) and survivability in the event of adverse outcomes - it's why GP riders often start out racing 125's, before progressing through 250s to higher power machines, honing their race craft, riding and racing skills. With a rehabilitation and human factors background highlighting for us the downside risk potential when things go wrong, we think there's ample space in the adventure sports space to innovate and create a new racing class for introducing new riders, using new zero-emissions machines such as our Stealth Fighter, racing at what we call human-scale speed. We use this to describe a speed that is fast enough to create the perception of risk, induces adrenaline and requires focus, but still occurs within an acceptable risk envelope where the risk to the rider is mitigated by modest power, with lower top speeds, lighter machines and nimble handling. You can read about what it's like to race a Stealth Fighter on a GoKart track to get a bit more background on why it's such enjoyable format, or take a look at others impressions.
With an initial orientation ride offered to Brad Wilson from CASAR Park to get a feel of what its like to ride one of our Australian made Electric Off-Road bikes from Stealth Electric Bikes, we're entering into more detailed discussions to see how we might be able to jointly create an entirely new riding experience, where novice riders can take part in a socially inclusive venue, getting a chance to try powered riding in a low risk riding and racing format. With plenty of sunshine, the CASAR facility is ideal for running an electric race format, powered by solar options, with people able to get a taste of how energised riding can boost their own riding skills and confidence. It can also be a place to participate in non-racing formats, where people of all ages might wish to experience an electric bike, ranging from mild to wild, build their skills and confidence with graded challenge areas (see this example of the The Playground Bike Park at Mt Stromlo to get an idea of what's possible). By combining the option of motorsports and family based activities achievable for all ages, with a road safety and competence building focus, places like CASAR park can help ensure cyclists and motorists leave after days fun at the facility with mutual respect and enhanced road safety behaviours.
Wow. We've been delighted by the interest shown in our bike range on display as part of the inaugural 2013 DiG Festival (Design, Interactive and Green-Tech) and the nice things people have been saying about us.
It's been great to come and support the event in its first year, with some world-class speakers, covering a great variety of topics and workshops. I just wish more Novocastrians realised what an awesome event is taking place right there in Town Hall.
I've included a curated set of tweets that stood out from the pack below:
Our Vimily interviews
We were approach by the nice people at Vimily to answer three questions about DIG. You can see our set of answers
We're proud of the work being done by schools as part of building their entries for the HunterEV Prize, so we thought it fitting to make a contribution by adding in an incentive prize to the overall potential prize pool for school entrants - we're calling it EcoGeekFactorX, recognising the importance of the Festival in National Science week as a breeding ground for the next generation of manufacturers, makers, designers, innovators and -maybe- physicians.
We wanted to have a way of rewarding and recognising integrated responses to climate science challenges, based on hands-on engineering and 'making' whilst also building an understanding of the role of considered design, taking into account materials selection, intended functionality, versatility of use and the ability to integrate human effort.
Whilst the EV Prize requires entrants ebikes to be solely powered without pedal assistance, we know there is also a need for designs that can allow for rider input, so we're going to be looking for adaptable designs that can be easily retrofitted for accommodating rider effort. That means having a way of thinking about the design to incorporate another of the sciences - the science of Ergonomics (see more on that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergonomics)
EcoGeekFactorX will be an incentive prize based on the best integrated design that embodies eco-design principles, visual aesthetics, versatility, ergonomics and responsiveness to climate change and population health challenges. After all, eBikes are sometimes also about their ability to be pedalled in comfort for extended distances, across a wide variety of terrain, making sure we're also able to be active when we want to. We think our Stealth Fighter and Bomber ebikes handle that brief pretty well, but want to reward teams efforts for matching such a profile.
After all, the Hunter, whilst recognised for its innovativeness, also has some serious population health challenges that we encounter in work done at our sister company (Laughing Mind) - see http://www.newcastle.edu.au/news/2012/07/23/shed-it-motivates-blokes-to-battle-beer-bulge.html and http://www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au/medicare-local/ml111 - which need appropriate responses.
We want to recognise the work of each schools entry and their role as future makers, wish them well in getting their entries in place and ready.
We'll look forward to announcing the recipients of EcoGeekFactorX at the event and awarding our incentive prize to the winning team.
We had a chance to spend a brief bit of time this week at Cameron Park raceway with the good folks behind the Hunter EV Festival as part of the Hunter EVPrize and in the leadup to National Science Week.
It was primarily a practice and shakedown day for schools sorting their electric bike entries - we thought it was also a great opportunity to have some of our commercially available Stealth Fighter demonstrators there on show to help give some added inspiration to the school students, teachers and visitors attending.
Whilst the race day itself is on 18August 2013, this was a good opportunity to see how our bikes fare in standard form on a fast GoKart track dedicated to racing, ridden at full power output of 3kw. The verdict? More fun than a barrel of monkeys!
It was great to have a chance to compare the relative stickiness of our Schwalbe Crazy Bobs (on the yellow Fighter) with the Duro Razorbacks which come standard with the Stealth Fighter. Naturally, the Crazy Bobs come up well ahead, with some quite impressive lean angles possible. It's the first time we've seen tread wear getting closer to the sidewalls.
The Duro Razorbacks, as you'd expect with a hard compound rubber, were predictably squirmier on the margins of traction, walking across the bitumen when pressed into hard lean angles. Still, it was manageable and gave good feedback to the rider about the impending loss of traction, allowing me to back off safely without sliding out. After all, we're still talking about the downside risk of hitting tarmac hard at 50km/h, so we're looking to ride within a safety margin.
One aspect we loved about the day was a chance to see what some of the school students had cooked up, with some really novel approaches and inspired designs. it's a great opportunity to blend some practical lessons in science, electronics, maths, physics and construction. Whilst there might be less emphasis on commercial viability, there were one or two designs that leapt out, including some inspired work with plywood. Which of course invites natural comparison against other awesome bikes made of wood. We're always keen to hear of rides with an ecologically sensitive design edge, for which timber is a naturally inspired material.
With a strong emphasis on rider safety and hands on participation, its an event that we'd love to see well supported and attended, so spread the word. Also keep an eye out locally for other National Science week events near you.
Sincere thanks to the supporting sponsors listed at the Hunter EV Festival website. We'll have more material up after race day - we were too busy doing laps to grab too many shots, so we're using images supplied at https://www.facebook.com/hunterevfestival.
Here's a small sample clip - even the wind on the circuit is louder than the bikes themselves..
You'd think that there would be a lot in common between groups of people who share:
It's interesting to observe the comment threads for articles like the following:
It seems from reading through the comments that people fit into roughly three camps: Deniers, Integrators and Challengers
- Deniers take the line that anything with a motor is definitely not a bicycle - human effort alone is what counts, getting to the top of a hill can only be done by the applied use of personal sweat and determination (never mind if you've got a health condition that might compromise your ability to do so);
- Integrators take a more open view, noting that there is merit in giving some level of assistance to riders who need it or desire it, who might be happy to share a trail with an assisted rider, but it's not quite their cup of tea;
- Challengers are open advocates for mixed trail use and wanting to question why they might not be allowed to share trails, seeking well supported evidence to demonstrate why they should be excluded.
The thing is, they also have a lot in common:
Getting those trails endorsed and supported by land managers takes advocacy effort, time, clearly expressed positions and goodwill between the groups. But it can be done.
Using a multi-use trail in a way that endangers any other user risks the viability of that resource for continued use by anyone on two wheels. That too, can be done. It's a shared problem.
IMBA have made their position clear at the present moment, through:
Here's an extract from the first IMBA link
Will IMBA eventually need to retool our approach to sustainable trail design and construction to accommodate these bikes? We recognize the benefits of e-bikes, yet also recognize that this type bike creates many added challenges for land managers and for IMBA's approach to mitigating the impacts of bicycling in natural environments.
I wonder if advice like this would be given if the writer had bothered to actually try an eBike. Once you do, you very quickly realise that they're a long way off being a motorcycle. Especially at the lower end 200W output bikes.
Whilst the two tribes are recognised, their ability to play together nicely is not supported. It seems a little sanctimonious and elitist given the scale of the challenges our planet faces and the extent of population health issues. Which would you prefer: seeing an overweight relative die an early death, or making the modal switch from car-use with a bike that makes the transition easier to going completely unpowered?
I'd ask you to consider, when we have so much in common, why this should continue to be the case when the world needs a combined, urgent and relentless focus on getting onto a lower emissions trajectory - two wheeled transport is a big part of the solution opportunity for doing that. Especially when bikes such as these are fully capable of being charged in offgrid setups.
I've been following a conversation about eBikes occurring over at https://theconversation.edu.au/electric-bikes-at-250-watts-the-view-has-opened-up-nicely-10465 and seeing a pretty interesting stream of comments rolling in, with the full spectrum of inspirational stories through to trenchant trolling and cynicism. I was curious to see the cynics observing that there was no way an ebike would provide an observable benefit to fitness, nor make much of a demand upon a rider for effort. Having a background in exercise science meant that it was time to gather some data and bring some evidence into The Conversation. I know just how hard I work riding off-road, so thought it was time to back this up with a little rigour.
I've done three tests now under reproduced conditions - standardising clothing (smart business clothes, flat shoes), weight of extras (bike lock, helmet), terrain (5km local off-road loop with a steady sustained climb, noting that 5-10km is an ideal car-replacement ride distance) and varying only the bike with the following changes:
Test 1: Unpowered mountain bike (PACE RC200 - my old race bike converted to commuter duties)
Test 2: Stealth Fighter @200w limit, with a 40km/h limited hi-torque motor
Test 3: Stealth Fighter @3kw, with the same motor
For each test, I used Strava (http://www.strava.com) to track my HeartRate, speed, elevation and overall ride length, with a Wahoo Fitness BlueHR heart monitor hooked up (yes, we sell them). For each test, Strava generates a nice plot of elevation, speed and heartrate, which I've included in the result sets. Across all results, I've highlighted the highest values in red.
Note: I'm 44, so have a theoretical maximum heart-rate of 176bpm (using the least objectionable formula of HRmax = 205.8 − (0.685 × age) listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate). For an indication of the intensity of riding effort used based on average and maximum HeartRates, I've included the following guide:
Standard MTB 5km Loop
Strava Plot for Test 1, based on unpowered mtb on 5km test circuit.
Heart Rate: Avg=167 Max=182
AvgHR % of (theoretical)Max:
Max Speed: 55.8km/h
Avg Speed: 23.1km/h
Stealth Fighter @200w 5km loop
Strava Plot for Test 2, based on 200w limited Stealth Fighter eBike on 5km test circuit.
Heart Rate: Avg=158 Max=171
AvgHR % of (theoretical)MaxHR: 90%
(1m13s quicker over 5km than Test1)
Max Speed: 47.9km/h
Avg Speed: 25.2km/h
StealthFighter @3kW 5km loop
Strava Plot for Test 3, based on Stealth Fighter eBike running at 3kw on 5km test circuit.
Heart Rate: Avg=157 Max=172
AvgHR % of (theoretical)MaxHR: 89%
4m29s quicker over 5km than Test1
3m16s quicker over 5km than Test2
Max Speed: 49.8km/h
Avg Speed: 36.2km/h
Yes, I can get a great workout on an eBike - in Tests 2 and 3, I was within 1bpm average sustained at a fairly level output throughout the ride, working at 85%MaxHR or higher, but not as high as I have to when riding unpowered (see Test 1).
Test 2 and 3 showed negligible difference in peak speeds on a downhill section of this 5km loop, but a marked difference in average speed. This is a clear demonstration that the average speed is most impacted by the use of power when climbing, which is the sort of terrain where the benefits of an eBike are most noticable and where maximum assistance is provided. To see the magnitude of difference, look at average speeds in the 2-3.5km stage of the ride.
Interestingly, I was fastest on the test loop downhill on my old MTB.
Also interesting was that I was only marginally faster in terms of average speed on a 200w limited eBike over 5km than I would have been if I'd stayed unpowered on my old bike. However, I'd have taken 4min20s longer to arrive at my destination than if I'd been allowed to use a speed limited eBike of higher output. By the time you extrapolate that out to a longer trip of 5-15km, clearly the gap in elapsed commute time would start to stretch out further.
Also consider that these tests were done unladen - in commuting practice, I usually need to also be carrying a backpack with food, laptop - spare shoes/clothing if I'm unpowered, as I'd ride in cleats - to a range of different destinations. As a consultant, my workplaces are a little more diverse and transient than a standard 9-5 role. The role of power-assisted riding when dealing with a load, especially when climbing, should be considered in that.
Couldn't resist taking the chance whilst on holidays with the kids last week to have a quick crack at some loose berms on a nearby (very degraded) BMX track, which has been cut to pieces over the years by pitbikes, motocross bikes. Track was on a sand base, with lots of loose cover and some berms.
It was interesting seeing how much fun was involved in building up speed to drift into the berm, and the minimal wheelspin created by the motor in those riding conditions - quite different to what I'm used to with enduro bikes. Still achieved an easy maximum heart-rate workout and had quite a sweat up. But that might have been the pneuomnia I was coming down with..