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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Local inventor’s ‘bike’ can do 35 mph, but what exactly is it?

September 9, 2006

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Crystal White, 20, a Kansas University senior from Lubbock, Texas, takes a spin on a Giant bicycle that has been modified into an electric-powered vehicle. Del Christensen, Lawrence, is building and marketing the bicycles, which are powered by four batteries and can reach 35 mph.

Crystal White, 20, a Kansas University senior from Lubbock, Texas, takes a spin on a Giant bicycle that has been modified into an electric-powered vehicle. Del Christensen, Lawrence, is building and marketing the bicycles, which are powered by four batteries and can reach 35 mph.

Lawrence resident Del Christensen has built hot rods all his life, but his newest creation doesn't roar down the road. It hums.

Christensen has built a ready-to-ride electric bicycle capable of going up to 35 mph, with a range of about 20 miles before it needs to be recharged. He plans to market and sell the bikes over the Internet through a new Web site, www.currentcyclebikes.com.

The bike is powered by four batteries attached to the frame, using a bracket that Christensen designed and built. The biggest challenge, he said, was loading it in a way that wouldn't interfere with the bike's handling.

There's no pedaling required, something that may cause people to turn their heads if they see Christensen giving a test ride near Kansas University.

"What I like is going up the hill by KU and slowly pedaling backwards," he said.

Christensen and his fellow electric-bike designers may be a step ahead of Kansas law.

He built the bike with a power system developed by Electric Rider, 628 N. Second St., which sells electric-bike kits on the Internet.

According to Electric Rider owner Dave Dierker, the kind of vehicle Christensen built is not, technically, street-legal in Kansas.

It doesn't fit the state's definition of a "motorized bicycle" because it can go faster than 30 mph and lacks an automatic transmission. That might make it a "motor-driven cycle," except those are required by Kansas law to have things like turn signals, brake lights and a license plate.

Del Christensen is setting up shop in Lawrence to build electric bicycles. He plans to market and sell the bikes over the Internet through a new Web site, <a href="http://www.currentcyclebikes.com">www.currentcyclebikes.com</a>.

Del Christensen is setting up shop in Lawrence to build electric bicycles. He plans to market and sell the bikes over the Internet through a new Web site, <a href="http://www.currentcyclebikes.com">www.currentcyclebikes.com</a>.

"It's in a gray area," said Dierker, who prefers to get around on his own electric bike dubbed "the Insane-o-cycle." It can reach up to 53 mph.

The more sedate Current Cycle Cruiser is listed online for $1,995, plus shipping and handling.

Dierker said he's sold hundreds of kits to people in states such as California and Florida, but just a handful to people who plan to ride them in Kansas. He said that in his view, Kansas is not "electric-friendly."

City prosecutor Jerry Little said it's a common thing these days for him to come across a hard-to-classify vehicle. The other day, he said, he took a case to trial in which a KU employee received a ticket for riding a "Gator"-style utility vehicle on the streets on campus. The judge found it had to be registered, he said.

As for the kinds of bikes Christensen is building, Little said he couldn't make a call on them immediately.

"It's a complex issue. We have to look at the standard traffic ordinance, all the various definitions and figure out if it falls into one of those categories," he said. "My guess is it's going to fall within the definition of a vehicle, and as a vehicle they have to be registered. That's subject to interpretation by a court, I guess."

Christensen said he hasn't researched the laws in detail, but that a love of speed and the spirit of innovation are what drives him.

"I'm coming from a little bit of a hot-rod, farm-boy and inventor viewpoint, and just sort of going for it," said Christensen, who also has a master's degree in sculpture. "At some point, the state is going to have to start dealing with alternative formats in a vehicle. They're not going to do that if nobody ever makes use of what we have."

Comments

pjmbom 7 years, 7 months ago

Ever wondered why so many people make such obviously silly statements about green energy and electric transport? They are probably regurgitating Exxon propaganda > http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,1875762,00.html

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Lazarus_Long 7 years, 7 months ago

To the any naysayers here all I can say is you are laughable and denial is not a river. Biking is so good in too many ways to list for our obese society.

I am familiar with this type of bike because I have been independently doing the same thing. I commend Del Christensen Del Lawrence. We are clearly on the same track.

I do use a roof top PV array to help keep batteries charged and I also can push beyond the 35 mph range. In fact I am trying to push 50mph with a twin motor design right now.

The issue of braking is real but not insurmountable. The heavier you make the bike and the faster you go the more the suspension tires and brakes matter.

I am building a third brake into the system and I am looking to build them with dual systems eventually based on the new hydraulic disks now available. As for battery packs I have designed a 44 a/h model that has extended the range on electric to almost 50 miles. I also developed a recovery braking circuit. Cost is the real limit not technology. The more we create a market the more competitive component and completed vehicle prices will become.

Keep up the good work and I hope to see you on the road. Want to race?

As a matter of fact Dave Dierker and Christensen Del Lawrence why don't we design an electric bike racing circuit and maybe even an American Grand Tour that crosses the nation.

Those of you that hate greenies that is just too bad. Our fleets of vehicles can run all week on what just one of your SUVs sit stuck in traffic idling on.

More power to us!

Our bikes run on body fat and lightning, our cars get near 60mpg and the ones we are building are going to go well beyond 100mpg, or like the new all electric Tesla sportscar go from 0-60 in under 4 seconds with no combustible fuel at all.

http://www.teslamotors.com/index.php?js_enabled=1

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d anderson 7 years, 7 months ago

Saw this article, just had to call my ebiking buddy.

He told me he just got back from going to a couple of meetings here in the city. combined distance was 20 miles. Picked up a few groceries on the way home. He has moderate asthma and a bad knee. 58 year old chap.

He wishes he could have riden a regular bicycle. the car would take about 2 gallons of gas in city trafffic.

Like thousands and thousands oflow profile folks in cities across the U.,S., he said, he took a legal low powered electric assist bike that he bought for well under $1000. He says he uses that bike 4 out of 5 days instead of a car.

Saves lots of money petro, pollution, and yes he gets a workout. He lost about 10 pounds this summer.

It has those new NIMH batteries and a "DC brushless motor", something new, on a lightweight aluminum frame bike.

Takes less than a kilowatt hour to recharge cause he still pedals a lot of the time. (less than a dime here)

Ask my utility how much polution is generated generating 1 KWH vs burning 2 gallons of gasoline? (have to get back on that)

He says he still uses a car for what it is designed for- like carrying 4 people or bring home stuff from Homes Despot, or going 100 miles, but for city commuting and light errand running, it is hard to beat his EBike.

"It was good enough for Lee Iacocca 8 years ago, and we have lots more technical advancements since then."

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pjmbom 7 years, 7 months ago

In London in times past there was a huge smog problem. Reform led to the curtailign of burning all that fossil fuel in the cities and the environment and health was massively improved Indeed people then caused an increase in burning of fossil fuels in central power stations or burned cleaner gas locally for central heating but removing all those chimneys made a big difference to air quality. Research has shown that replacing many car tail pipes which exhaust directly into the cities (and kiddies lungs) with EVs that "exhaust" via central generating towers is a big plus (as anyone might expect who has relfected a little) especially when they are fitted with efficient modern scrubbers. Of course in some countries the electricity is a lot cleaner than the car exhaust in that it comes from nuclear (France) or natural gas before we even mention renewables.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 7 months ago

Even Clark Coan, local "reformed " socialist and "Progressove" supporter agrees with ME:

http://www.forums.larryville.com/viewtopic.php?t=16248&sid=6bcd34f97701ce73504ef4610c1faa7c

Clark wrote on Looneyville:

"I read the recent J-W article about electric bikes. They sound pretty cool but somewhat pricey at $2,000. Also, you don't get exercise and unless you have a photovoltaic panel or wind generator, you are contributing to Westar's coal-fired plant pollution."

What CAN I say?

Thanks, Clark!

Thanks.

Marion.

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selene 7 years, 7 months ago

What on earth ws wrong with links to the HomoAvis?

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mellowdude 7 years, 7 months ago

Looks like the batteries are 12AH, which at 48V store 576 watts. A kilowatt of power here costs around 8 cents. I figure its charger at least 50% efficient.

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selene 7 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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prospector 7 years, 7 months ago

Marion:

A stationary bike with a generator rig to charge this thing. The problem is solved in a 'Rube Goldberg' kind of way.

You make very valid points. I guess I look at it as economics. The fuel cell can be had for a low, low price of $250,000 give or take. It will be the vehicle of the future, I just hope it is before we can get warp drive down.

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prospector 7 years, 7 months ago

The article does not tell me if the power to charge it is the equivalent of a night light or a microwave.

Posted by mellowdude (anonymous) on September 10, 2006 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

An electric bike goes 10-20 miles on 7 cents worth of electricity

=======================

Could I ask where you got the info? Thanks

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 7 months ago

mellowdude:

I am familiar with MOSFET, SRC, Zener and related speed control technologies and indicated in my posts that the speed controller on this bike is the only real improvement which makes it any different than a similar bike built in the early 1900s.

And that only if this bike does not use a resistance based controller.

Please.........

I once held a First Class FCC licence with radar and broadcast endorsements as well as having constructed or participated in the construction of several electric vehicles over the years.

The real reason that electric vehicles have not become common is that we had to wait for the battery and electronics technologies to catch up with the idea.

The problem with charge-from-the-wall vehicles is that although they are low polluters on the back end, the front end still requires the burning of fossil fuels or the use of environment damaging hydroelectrics.

Although this bike is cute, according to the article, it incoporates little that is new.

If the bike must be recharged from the wall, it is little different that the Baker Electric in the Watkins Museum.

A similar Baker Electric car:

http://www.oldrhinebeck.org/collection/groundvehicles/Baker%20Electric.htm

Don't get me wrong here, I believe that there is a wonderful future for electric vehicles but if such vehicles must routinely re-charged from the wall, that future is very limited.

Hybrid technology and improvements in multi-fuel; primarily compression ignition (Diesel) are probably the anwer although serious consideration should be given to fuel cells.

Thanks.

Marion.

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mellowdude 7 years, 7 months ago

An electric bike goes 10-20 miles on 7 cents worth of electricity.

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sybil 7 years, 7 months ago

Thats right and Electricity comes from the lightening fairies. Some folks need to go back to science 101. Check ou the chater on energy.

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mellowdude 7 years, 7 months ago

Marion, I don't think we had MOSFETS 100 years ago, so you clearly do not understand the technology.

Keep burning that oil. We need the spills and the wars to keep the economy going.

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gphawk89 7 years, 7 months ago

If each bike sold by Mr. Christensen included a fold-out panel of solar cells (and it would have to be a pretty large and expensive panel) to handle the recharging duties, then you'd have a truly "green" bike.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 7 months ago

oh wait

the guy will probably make a killing seeling to greenies who think that because a vehicle is electric that it is good

sorry

greenies, step right up

i need a plan like this to sell things to ignorant greenies

email me, re: such a plan, if you have any ideas

thanks

marion.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 7 months ago

Reality_check:

thank you.

I am a Car Guy De Luxe and have been fooling around with alternatives to the IC for many years.

As soon as you start talking about a vehicle which depends on the electric grid to run, you have done NOTHING to reduce pollution.

If the guy was touting a bicycle run by an IC fueled by ethanol produced from junk grain and a solar fired still, I would be ALL OVER IT!

What this thing is, is a FRAUD.

It is a bicycle run on batteries, re-charged from the grid, fueled indirectly by fossil fuels and sold to "Greenies" who think that they are really doing something for the environment.

The technology is over ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD!

Oh

it is electric

it produces no primary pollution

it must be good

never mind the coal burnt to produce the steam which turns the turbines which turns the generators which provide the electricty to run the charger which reduces the voltage which then charges the batteris

(Moonie-like eyes turning upwards)

Ohm!

Ohm!

Ohm!

Thanks.

Marion.

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gphawk89 7 years, 7 months ago

"Our future will not run on oil." I agree, it shouldn't.

"People with vision are using electric vehicles now." Yes, but like I said before, where does the electricity come from? The vast majority still comes from coal and oil, and unfortunately probably will for years to come.

I'm not at all against electric-powered vehicles - I think they're a great idea - but until we start seriously using alternative means to generate that electricity (wind, solar, geothermal, fusion, whatever) we're still really using fossil fuels to power the vehicles.

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Reality_Check 7 years, 7 months ago

Marion is correct. And I applaud him on the rechargability thing...he's right on the money. I'm sorry I ribbed him.

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buffalo_star 7 years, 7 months ago

Plastic, steel, clothing, everything made depends on the use of fossil fuels directly or indirectly no matter how a device is powered. Only pre-industrial age things were produced and powered otherwise. But a smaller pollution footprint is good. Here is a link to another bike conversion kit.

http://www.revopower.com/the_wheel.html

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mellowdude 7 years, 7 months ago

What Marion is saying makes sense: Let's stick with fossil fuels, keep our focus on the Middle East, and keep consolidating money in the direction that elects our governments.

Seriously, some education is necessary for the general public to understand this product. Yes, it takes coal or another source to charge the bike's batteries, but the amount is miniscule compared to the amount of gasoline required to go the same number of miles. Gasoline engines are around 50% efficient. They are small power plants - very wasteful compared to electric power generation plants. This bike's power system is over 90% efficient.

Our future will not run on oil. This product suffers from the same problems as the early automobile. Skeptics are in the majority, saying that nothing will replace the horse and buggy, and if man was made to fly, we'd have been born with wings. People with vision are using electric vehicles now. They are the driving force who, like early automobile enthusiasts, will push it into the mainstream. I'm glad someone has the vision and guts to take the lead.

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compmd 7 years, 7 months ago

gphawk89: Right on the money.

Also, batteries fail over time and need replacement. Lots of people would throw them out. Dead batteries are generally bad for the environment.

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gphawk89 7 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I love it when people refer to electric cars, electric busses, and electric bikes as "non-polluting". Well, they may not pollute while you're driving them, but the electricity that's used to charge their batteries has to come from somewhere. Unless that "somewhere" is a wind turbine or a solar panel, pollution IS being produced.

And since there's some energy loss (no 100% efficiency) every time you convert from one form of energy to another, in this case heat (burning coal) to motion (turbine) to electricity (generator) to chemical (charging the battery) back to electrical (discharging the battery) back to motion (electric motor), wouldn't it seem better overall to just use a small, efficient gas engine to power the bike?

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Silence_Dogood 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh, Marion, you're just jealous that somebody has a hobby and you sit all day spewing at your computer. Next!

Thanks.

Silence.

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smitty 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm more interested in how well hand brakes work at 35 mph in the rain.

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Marion Lynn 7 years, 7 months ago

rednekbuddha:

athanks for the support Kelley.

Regarding Wittmann; Free Speech or not.

Reality_check and Mellowdude:

This bike is NOT "non-polluting".

It must be re-charged from the wall socket which means that it ultimately relies on the burning of fossil fuels for its operation.

Unless equipped with a system which allows the bike to re-charge its batteries when pedalled or during the braking cycle, this bike is in no way pollution free and may actually require more energy for operation than would a conventional recip IC powered scooter.

The articel makes no mentinon of such a system and I therefore must assume that this bike is simply a slightly warmed-over version of an application which has been with us since the 1870s; a simple storage battery, electric motor and some form of speed controller attached to a bicycle.

If such is the case, there is nothing to see here.

By the way, I constructed a gasoline/electric hybrid trike in 1966 as Science Fair project.

Utilising a 2 1/2 hp Tecumseh gas engine stolen from an ancient lawn mower and an AutoLite Ford starter motor, sutiably modifed, the trike was capable of about a forty mile run at 10 mph on battery alone with a top speed of agout 25 mph.

When using the gas engine which could be used to re-charge the battery alone, recharge while powering the bike or run the bike only, the range was significantly increased and would yield about 35 mpg.

Limited by the battery and speed controller technology of the time, the thing was interesting, as is the bike in the article but really did nothing new.

If the guy had the bike mentioned in the article set up to re-charge from a solar cell bank or run by fuel cells, we would have something to talk about.

Like I said, nothing new to see here; move along!

Thanks.

Marion.

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MadAsHell 7 years, 7 months ago

I wonder how much that thing weighs. With those honkin battery packs, the thing is probably so heavy you'd need the motor to get up Oread.

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Kelly Powell 7 years, 7 months ago

people give it a rest about marion...At least he is honest about his opinions,,,,But I do have to say, there is a poster on his website that should be publically tortured...whittman is the name i believe.

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Reality_Check 7 years, 7 months ago

Now if only Marion would bless us with such an invention, instead of just tinkering on ancient polluting cars and motorcylces.

Harley did no such thing, sybil: They put an engine on a bike. It wasn't silent or non-polluting.

I am so tired of Harley worship. When they make them quiet, I'll think differently.

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billyflay 7 years, 7 months ago

now a car traveling at 35 mph strikes an on coming bike doing 35 mph for a 70 mile per hour collision,

brilliant

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mellowdude 7 years, 7 months ago

Harley made a silent, non-polluting bike?

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bulldawgs 7 years, 7 months ago

My dress always flies up into my face when I hit 35 mph

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Glo 7 years, 7 months ago

It would have been nice to see the rider wearing a helmet!

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