The following article is a reprint of our original post at QuietEdVenture - a joint initiative with Nepal based partners to stimulate cycling based tourism as a skills and economic development initiative, enhanced by eBikes if we can get the solution mix right. We've been distilling all our learnings over 5yrs of rugged eBike dealership to work out what can be viable as a fleet bike for such extreme operating conditions and use this venture as a testbed baseline measure when assessing eBike builds.
I first visited the Himalayan region in 2003, a time that coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the Edmund Hillary - Tenzing Norgay Summit. I went there trekking with a close friend and marvelled at the beauty of the mountains, the serenity of the experience and learnt the value of high country tea-houses and hostels and the families who hosted. My friend and I walked the three main valleys of Sagarmatha National Park, seeing micro-hydro schemes, stupas, high passses, the frozen, shifting beauty of glaciers and sharing stories with travellers we'd meet along the way. I had come from a background of Mountain Bike racing and touring in Australia, and was continually taunted by thoughts of how good it would be to explore the region by Mountain Bike. It's an area with inhospitable terrain - no roads, accessible only by walking or yak trains for most, helicopters for the few - and constant geographic movement, causing landslides, slips and rockfalls.
Years later, I crossed paths with a local, Ram Gurung, who shared my passion for high country cycling and the value of two wheels as an alternative to the traditional "foot or Yak" transport options. We stayed in touch, sharing images and stories of high country travellers. In Australia, I had been exploring the role of rugged, off-froad oriented eBikes as a transport option for areas with rugged terrain, augmenting rider effort. In 2017, motivated by the desire to create an alliance that delivers social impact and extra transport options for high country villages, we joined forces to create QuietEdVenture. The fact that Ram had recently fractured his spine in an accident provides him with some downtime to look at how we can scale his efforts, whilst also building in safety engineering + quality controls into the business.
Our mission is to create viable local entrepreneurship pathways for the regions youth, building the capacity of the region to use cycling as an extra transport + tourism option. As capacity builds, we'll be able to look at the extra value offered by eBikes, which augment rider effort and act as a form of portable energy with their onboard batteries. I've been actively exploring this through a related initiative, SolarEdVenture, where we containerise eBikes, capturing and storing renewable energy in a convenient, compact format ready for use by travellers, tourism operators and villages. These can also act as STEAM skills development hubs, training locals in the capture + storage of energy from formats other than micro-hydro, building additional energy security for the regions without further jeopardising their important forests, which are used for lighting, cooking fuel and warmth.
We know that the Himalayas is a region that depends heavily on tourism revenue, with high levels of seasonal variation in tourist traffic. The Nepal earthquakes had a devastating impact on high country villages and tourism numbers - by diversifying the transport + logistics options in the area, we add to regional resilience and their capacity to move supplies, energy + people around in times of need. We welcome you on our journey.
So now you know a little about what we're trying to do - what eBikes do YOU think would withstand this kind of operating environment? We're all ears - our legs + minds are ready to test ride if you think your product has what it takes..keep in mind we're looking for a robust supply chain and world class warranty, manufacturer support (a hard thing to find).
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.
The image below is a record of biostream data captured from Strava during the 2013 HunterEVPrize race, showing elevation, heartrate and speed. Make of it what you will, but one thing is clear - with an average heart-rate of 150bpm, the Adrenal circuit was clearly working well.
Sample image of Trailbike erosion.
In one word, NO.
There are substantial differences between the two as a riding platform, both in the way they deliver power and a combination of force vectors that involve contact pressure, rider+bike weight. The trail impact damage potential they DO have comes down to how a bike is ridden. Mountain bikes are still capable of making an ecological impact on trail areas without appropriate trail design, trail armouring or riding styles suitable to the area. You can read more on that at http://flowmountainbike.com/features/please-take-the-time-to-learn/
Of equal importance is thinking about how riding needs to be done in multi-use trail areas where there may also be walkers, horses or other recreational area users (the social impact of riding). That's why we advocate for riding in line with the IMBA Rules of the Trail, and recognise the excellent guidance work of groups like Leave No Trace, who've put out specific trailbike resources which apply equally to riders of all kinds.
The following material is set out on the Stealth USA forums to explain the answers to some of the common questions that get asked about Stealth eBike riding and their trail damage potential.
Does the extra weight mean more damage to the trail? No. Sure the bikes weigh about 30kg more than a heavyish DH bike, but it's not the weight that leaves impression on the ground, it's the pressure (Force/Contact area).
Update: The guys at Flow Mountainbike magazine have been writing a good couple of articles on this exact issue, which we thought we'd include as a courtesy for more reading on the issues associated with shared trail use and the need for respectful, careful riding techniques. Thanks Flow!
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.
Now that the Hunter EV Festival is all done and dusted for 2012 and we're back into the swing of daily business and the demands of the IT Consulting day job, I've had some time to reflect on the festival and lots of conversations held whilst we were there demonstrating. Before I get into the details of it though, I've been checking out some of the stuff coming out of Interbike 2012 (where Stealth Electric Bikes will be attending and demonstrating - see their nice white Bomber at left), including this moped redux from GasBikes in the USA (below left).
I'd made the point during a brief interview with 1233 ABC Newcastle that this is exactly the kind of stuff being built in sheds all around the country, by backyard tinkerers and kids looking for some easy speed, with some real frankenbikes getting churned out that I don't think I'd throw a leg over anytime soon. I'd also mentioned during that interview that people could make a brief visit to Campbells Store in Morpeth to check out the museum section there and have a glance at an old Malvern Star petrol powered Auto-Byke (pictured below right, circa 1950).
Note the similarities between the two, with the superior standover height, low CoG and comfy saddle on the old skool rig. Just don't ask me to take either of them off-road. Got me smiling when I thought of the advantages of going electric - no more 2 stroke to mix, riding in blissful silence free of fumes, able to enjoy the places I find myself in without creating a disturbance.
Seeing these got me thinking about what's happening with the SmartGrid-SmartCity initiative for Newcastle, which we discussed as part of an industry workshop during the Hunter EV Festival. They'll be using a fleet of 20 Electric Cars across Sydney, Central Coast and Newcastle to do some modelling of electricity demand on electricity grid to see if they can make some predictions about how that load and user behaviour might extrapolate at scale. Current market prices put a Mitsubishi iMiev at around $48,000 excluding OnRoadCosts, giving us a vehicle that has an effective range of 155km maximum.
Gee. Wow. Gosh. Oh My. It reminds me of one of the posts from a US-based Stealth electric bike owner that had participated in a group ride with 15 other standard bikes for up to 145 miles (230km). And had a blast, being able to chat along the way with the group whilst averaging about 25-32km/h. Not that you can do that in Australia, with our 25km/h power assist cut-out limit.
I wonder what sort of modelling went into thinking about the net impact of the iMievs on longer term health of its occupants, who'll remain sedentary. Who'll still be just as stuck in traffic congestion as their non-EV'd car based cousins. Who won't feel the pleasure of wind across their face as they cruise past lines of stuck traffic in their morning commute. Who'll be stuck behind glass, disconnected from their context, coccooned and sated.
I bet they won't be having as much fun as the guys in the video below, who are getting waaaayy more bang for their buck, on a bike that represents a very modest investment compared to an EV'd car. Remember people, an EV car is still a box on wheels that does little to fix congestion issues. They get stuck in traffic too. They also need to be parked, just like any other car. And there's no way you can use one for a quick ride on a local bush trail with all the grin factor and fun that's involved.
I also wonder why someone hasn't yet set up an EBike or Active Transport CRC in a city where obesity is a looming health issue, with some decent cycling infrastructure. Maybe it's because there's plenty of the former, too little of the latter. I'm sure they could do a lot with the $980,000(49k x 20) that's just been spent on Mitsubishi EV's. When I asked the question of attending Infrastructure Australia representatives, health and social benefits don't factor directly in their decision making for community infrastructure projects. Go figure.
It's time for change. If there is anyone wanting to partner on Active Transport research involving Ebike trials as part of that mix, I'm all ears and ready to help. Or perhaps the role they have to play in replacing dirtbikes as an environmentally friendly alternative. Either way, there's more modelling to be done than just presuming we're all buying into a transport future that's centered on car usage. Because that's a one way trip..