My first EV...

...was my Haluzak recumbent. 'Bought a Heinzmann hub motor "kit" from a fellow who had a spare. Right outa the gate however, i discovered that the NiMH battery pack was pretty much shot. So it didn't turn out to be the deal i initially bargained for. 'Sent the pack to an outfit in ID that was able to bring it back to life by replacing cells. 'Want to do that myself, next time.

The bike's always been a slow ride, and the motor didn't change that much, but i am able to haul more heavy stuff w/o breaking a sweat if i don't want to.

The Heinzmann motor is "brushed" (vs "brushless"). It's rather noisy. 'No sneaking up on people with it. Actually, i was told that it's the built-in reduction gearing that really makes all the noise, and it has nothing to do with the brushes(?). And even at the rated 500W, it really is slow. 'May get ~13 MPH on the flats with it. Whoopie. But still, with a trailer full of groceries or whatever, it helps lots. I might replace the motor with something zippier and brushless at some point, or perhaps look into a mid-drive system for it.

I can actually motor-pedal the thing up the stupid-steep driveway. Amazing.

At present, the seat frame is broken, right at a weld, and i haven't much pursued getting that repaired, so it's gathering dust in a corner of the garage.

'Thinking to utilze this Heinzman wheel on a cargo trailer instead of a bike. I've already demonstrated the concept on an old Burly trailer that i have, and it worked quite well, hauling my ~110 lb Malamute up steep roads in the neighborhood. If i had a controller capable of regenerative breaking ... now, that'd be sweet.

The Huluzak seat-frame broke a while back, so i donated this bike (sans motor-wheel) to Community Cycles. Someone with aluminum welding skills will have adopted it, i hope.

Haluzak w/ Heinzmann

My next effort was...

...a Golden Motor kit, ordered direct from China. Believe you me, i wasn't psyched about that. I would have much preferred to buy something domestically, but at the time i wasn't finding good options. That may be changing now, finally. Dealing with GM was a pain in the ass... between the language barrier, and the time difference it was bad enough, but then i always felt like they just didn't give a damn about customer satisfaction.

'Built a 26" front wheel around the hub motor, and that went on to this old, Serrota mountain bike... a real tank of a bike, but perfect for this application.


NEWSFLASH: the Serrota is DEAD!

It's been replaced by a Giant frame.

Turns out that the Serrota was rusting from the inside-out. I had pulled everything off the frame, but it wasn't until i took paint stripper to it that i discovered the damages. Mark Nobilette expressed his opinion that it would be ~futile to try and repair. I'd given it to him to inspect, and if reasonable, put disk brake mounts on it, plus a few other minor things. My friend, Dave Kruetzer gave me that bike so many years ago. Originally, it was to be a UCAR Blue Bike, but right about then, i found myself lacking a proper commuter bike, so i adopted it for myself.

The Giant already had disk brake mounts, and is honestly a more worthy frame. Once the decision was made it only took a couple of days to reassemble the kit on it.

The original controller from GM was advertised as a "regenerative breaking controller". Pffft. What a joke that was. It seemed that if you weren't actively engaging the throttle, it was then in breaking mode. 'Went round-n-round, getting no where with 'em about that. But then nevermind, because with the first few miles of use, the stupid thing burned up anyway. Part of the round-n-round was getting them to concede that it was a P-O-S, and they owed me a new one ... but not just another clone of this one that would likely do the very same thing in equally short order. Eventually, they did send me a non-regen controller, though i have burned one of those up already too. 'Bought a replacement for that from the former Pete's Electric Bikes here in town, as i knew i didn't want to hassle with GM again.

I was digging the 10 AHr 36 V LiFePO4 battery pack. 'An excellent value. I have ~6 years and perhaps a few thousand cycles on it by now and i am seeing some loss of capacity ('maybe worth ~7+ AHr now). This is a first for me. I'm not ready to replace the cells just yet, but i do have to be careful with it... a trip into town from work, particularly with a Malamute in tow, ... well, i can't do that anymore, or at least not without ejecting the 'Mute and making her hoof it once on our mountain road (or sooner). That, or taking a charger along with me, so's to "fill up" while in town.

'Moved up to a 20 AHr LiFePO4 pack, from Electric Rider, as i had been pulling double-trailers with 2 big dogs. That pack was composed of "pouch" type cells, and it served me for 1.5 years before suddenly going south on me. 'Am disappointed, but not surprised that they didn't warranty it (1 year, only). They did at least cut me a good deal on a new pack composed of metal-clad cells. 'Still keen to see if i might be able to figure out what went wrong with the first pack (single bad cell?), and then reconfigure it as 12 V for other applications.

More recently still, i swapped out the front Golden Motor hub, for a rear Crystalyte hub (also from Electric Rider). 'Was keen to get the rear hub motor, because of the steep driveway. Initially it seemed like a cool thing to have "two wheel drive" with the front hub (Golden) motor, but it really wasn't an asset, because it took too much effort to keep the balance just right fore & aft on the steep ... too much weight forward and the rear wheel would slip, or too much back, and the front would spin-out. 'Truth is, with the rear motor, you have to keep some weight forward else you'll "wheelie" over backwards. There is no free lunch. Oh, and also, i was keen to switch over to disc brakes, and the GM hub didn't accommodate a disc. Good brakes are imperitive on a heavy e-assist bike + trailer.

People always ask about speed & distance: On the flats, w/o pedalling, in still air, the Crystalyte does about ~22mph. The GM hub was a close second. More if pedalling, of course, and i always do, not wanting to appear to be the slacker that i am. And distance/duration: With a 10 AHr pack, you can maybe do 15 or 20 miles... depends on how hard you're pushing it.

All together, e-bikes have revolutionized my ability to avoid using the car. With a trailer, i can get tons of stuff home. Then it's just the last ~125 yards of steep, gravel driveway to negotiate ... usually i just walk the bike & trailer up the driveway, using the motor to mildly assist, so's not to burn anything up (motor, controller).

Bummer... i've now stripped the freewheel threads out on not just one, but two coverplates (the freewheel threads are integrated right into the plate) on the Cyrstalyte. They sent me a replacement plate, but then on it's maiden voyage, coming back up our steep, shared driveway, it also stripped out. And actually, it wasn't the threads holding the freewheel, but rather the connection between that cylinder and the rest of the plate body that gave up (press fit?!?).
So far at least, the latest replacement plate is holding-up.

The Tandem

Tom was having a garage sale at his home next door to my friends Jan & Amy. 'Spied this old Univega Tandem that he had. Couldn't pass it up. 'Am thinking in terms of making it available to housemates & guests of the BB&B. Further thinking to make it convertable into a utility bike, ala "XtraCycle", as Chuck Ankeny at Pete's had done with his. And i definitely want to rig it as a mid-drive system, so as to fully utilize the bicycle's gearing / drive train... no doubt be working extensively with Chuck & Dean on that. Walt of Waltworks, has helped me with a suspension fork & rear braze-on for the disk brake. Hope to have him help me with the "cargo module" -rack too.

Utility Tandem

Double trailers, complete with Malamute

Wow, it's worked out great. The thing hauls-(Sitka's)-ass, and it's too fun to peel-out from an intersection and be shifting through it's range of gears. But then it's also prone to overheating... gotta pace things, ya know? When it does overheat, one has to pedal without assist for a couple of minutes before the controller will re-energize (which is plenty-enough).

The guts, a Cyclone, 900 W kit, w/ motor, controller, throttle & special free-wheeling chainring.

After all that work, i stripped it down naked, and had it powder-coated a fairly flat black

'Been using it to fetch house guests from the bus stop. And for a Boulder "Ciclovia" event, i had my automotive trailer (a 4x8' bed) hitched behind the old Burley trailer with a ball, and was parading around with 3 dancers on that.

Installing the Cycle-Analyst was key to minimizing overheating. I'd like to see about further adapting it to work with the throttle to limit power... i believe that's theortically possible with the CA.

Alas, the internal reduction gearing in the Cyclone kit isn't holding up well. My second one is now sounding like it's going to give up soon too. I'm sure the motor itself is fine, but the reduction gearing just can't take the punishment that i tend to subject it to.

Specialized Sirus
with a Bafang kit & NuVinci N360 hub

This is my favorite bike of late. I've had it for several years already, but just added the Bafang kit to in the Winter of '15. Very slick kit, with a nice, tidy cable harness & such. The NuVinci is new on me, and i love it. I've had to rebuild that rear wheel around it using stouter spokes (13 ga) however, as i was frequently breaking spokes.

Another project along these lines...

I have a "gutted" Honda 250 dual-sport bike that i'm wanting to convert. Photo to follow. 'Hope to launch into this project soon.

Power Source

With my home producing over 100% of it's electricity from the 7+ kW PV system,
i feel pretty safe saying these are "solar powered EVs", even though i sometimes charge-up while at work, or other places. The equation could change if i or a housemate ever had a "full-size" EV, that was used routinely.


I'm scheming to build a side-by-side tadpole tricycle for two, with an enclosure to keep you & some cargo fully out of the weather. 'Guessing a dozen or so kilowatts working through a variable transmission would be plenty zippy + torquey. 'Think Aptera, but even smaller & lighter. Other criteria:

  • low CG
  • crash~safe
  • regen' braking
  • capable of fast charging
  • 55+ mph, 350+ (cold!) mile range
  • probably motorcycle wheels & tires
  • fully & well suspended ("comfortable")
  • cargo capacity &/or removable seat for 3rd person
  • a CVT with delivery of power to rear wheel, but also front wheel traction* ... AWD!
  • fully enclose-able ("convertible") / weather-proof (else, why not just ride an e-bike)
  • light-weight & hyper-efficient

'Anxious to meet with others and discuss the prospects s'more.

*Someone needs to build a lightweight hub motor with internal, reduction gearing, and no ambient drag.