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..
One of the things I've learnt as a parent of 3 kids under 6 is to remember to ride only as far as the kids can go...and still be able to return! What also helps is the ability to work out how to ride one handed whilst hauling a kids bike across your shoulder.
Handling the spread of skills and interest across a 2, 4 and 6y.o makes for some interesting riding challenges. Whilst my 6y.o. is capable of much better distances and adventures now, we're still a little limited by her 4y.o. brothers ability to go the distance. At least the youngest is happy to kick back in the kiddicarrier with a handful of snacks and a teddy..
it seems to me that a lot of riding policy and infrastructure is, however, still geared towards the individual cyclist, when there are a whole bunch of emerging riders in young families wanting to get out and about, exercising their autonomy and skills mastery whilst being close enough to the parental wing in case of emergency..or hunger..or exhaustion..or a nose needing a wipe. The list goes on...and on..Having a bit of extra power can transform short to medium-range family rides. Where adventures had previously dissipated into unending coaxing, cajoling to return to home base for an overtired kid, now I can pop the pooped-one into the trailer, sling their little bike over the shoulder and carry on (mostly) cheerfully to the end of the ride. It's no bakfiet or cargocycle, but at least the middle one has had a go at getting out, building skills, safe in the knowledge that they can still participate towards the end (if a little more passively as a trailer passenger.
I have noticed a local rider recently working themselves as a bicycling B-double equivalent, with a tagalong for their eldest rider and trailer attached to the tagalong. Makes for a pretty long rig, and very demanding load on single bike brakes when pulling up all that extra weight.