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The Sanyo Eneloop electric bike and more

Commuter, Electric bike 10 162

It has been a crazy week for me so far and I don’t foresee a slow down in the next couple of days. I will be leaving for a 2 week long business trip next week, so I have a lot to do in the office and at home before I hit the road (or I guess I should say hit the air since I will be flying). I had a different post planned, but I have too much on my mind to collect my thoughts. Instead I will pass along a few good links that have recently come to my attention.

A friend who lives in Taiwan pointed me to this article about the new Sanyo Eneloop bicycle. The two wheel drive electric bike, which I assume will only be available in Japan, sounds pretty interesting; the front wheel is powered by the motor and the rear wheel by the rider. Sanyo claims that the 1:2 assist ratio makes riding the bike easier. As the Akihabara News article points out, the bike can be about 70% power assisted and 30% rider powered. The most important feature, which they point out, is the self-charging (Loop Charge Function) Eneloop battery. It apparently provides a cruising range of 100km in automatic mode. I am not sure how this self charging battery works, but I would love to hear more from anyone who is knowledgeable on the subject.

The Core 77 blog posted an interesting Q&A with Aaron Hayes, founder of Courage Bicycle Manufacturing. Hayes is an industrial designer, formerly with Ziba, who left the world of product design consulting to start his own framebuilding company. He talks about his reasons for the switch in the post. I thought it was pretty interesting and I think you will too.

Bike Radar had a good article about aerodynamic equipment recently. It is hard to account for all variables when testing the effects of equipment and positioning in real world conditions, but I found the article to be quite interesting. Thanks to Jim for the tip on that one.

I noticed mentions of bikes on a couple of design sites this week. Cool Hunting posted about the Light and Motion Seca 700 light. Wallpaper mentioned a bike designed by Georg Jensen (the company that bears his name, not Mr. Jensen himself, who died in 1935). The bike looks nice and simple, but I see similar looking bikes pretty often. The price of 2,800 pounds is pretty steep for a simple fixie or singlespeed commuter. I suspect that this designer bike will more likely be sold as an expensive collector’s piece rather than as a bike intended to be used everyday.

I mentioned earlier in the post that I will be out of town next week. That means I will be reviewing the commuter bike competition entries at night in my hotel room. The rest of the jury and I will discuss all the entries to pick a winner, but I am not sure yet when I will be able to make that announcement and post the chosen design. My travel schedule over the next couple weeks is promising to make that a bit difficult for me, but I will do my best to post the winner as quickly as I can. Anyway, to those of you still working on your entries, get them in soon (you have a bit over 48 hours from now). I have enjoyed seeing the ones that have been submitted so far and I look forward to reviewing them all next week.

Photo credit: Akihabara News

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  1. B. Nicholson December 4, 2008 at 1:18 am -  Reply

    Hub motor regeneration has been done before by several companies, beginning with Ferdinan Porche back in the 1920’s. E.g. google the Bionx website. Hub motors are single speed, usually, and have a narrow efficiency band. Better designs, such as Panasonic’s crank motor and’s conversions, use the bikes gears to improve range, power and speed and have proven superior (if noisier) in head-to-head match-ups.

  2. B. Nicholson December 4, 2008 at 1:37 am -  Reply

    From the photographs, it appears that they have left off the down tube and are using a spina bifida open spine down “channel” instead. That seems extreme. Couldn’t they just use presure-sensitive flat wire tape instead? Wires could be flat against the tube, then round again to enter the motor. Oh well, what am I anyway. I’m just the guy who figured out how to cure crime and drug addiction in a single dose of human pheromones. What do I know?

  3. Ron December 4, 2008 at 1:46 am -  Reply

    James :

    This Sanyo bike has regenerative braking, so I guess during downhills and braking, the motor acts like a generator and stores energy for later use. The only other commercial bike I can think of that has this feature is one from Panasonic but I can’t seem to find it on the web. You might, if you know how to read Japanese…

    The 2:1 ratio seems interesting. If I heard right, the Japanese traffic rules courtesy of its Police authority were changed for electric bikes and so the new models of bikes in Japan have to supposedly stick to this standard to be ‘street’ legal, I guess. Whatever it may be, it seems it’ll help someone on a sloping road much better than the previous assist ratio.

    I’m looking forward for the designs from your competition.

  4. Ron December 4, 2008 at 1:49 am -  Reply

    Here’s the launch video of the Sanyo Eneloop. Its got a sweet looking battery. Stay warned, all the content is in Japanese.

  5. David December 4, 2008 at 2:40 pm -  Reply

    Yes, regenerative braking, more-or-less the same technology used in hybrid cars. The Sanyo website has more:

    This is great stuff–reducing the barriers that keep people from not-driving their cars.

  6. Ron December 8, 2008 at 5:22 pm -  Reply

    All the advantages seem to be in the claimed extended travel range of regenerated vs non-regenerated. Here’s Panasonic’s Li-ion bicycle that has the same concept.

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