Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

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

September 9, 2006


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,

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=""></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=""></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."


pjmbom 11 years, 9 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 >,,1875762,00.html

Glo 11 years, 9 months ago

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

bulldawgs 11 years, 9 months ago

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

mellowdude 11 years, 9 months ago

Harley made a silent, non-polluting bike?

Kelly Powell 11 years, 9 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.

MadAsHell 11 years, 9 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.

gphawk89 11 years, 9 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?

compmd 11 years, 9 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.

mellowdude 11 years, 9 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.

Stephen Prue 11 years, 9 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.

gphawk89 11 years, 9 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.

gphawk89 11 years, 9 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.

mellowdude 11 years, 9 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.

mellowdude 11 years, 9 months ago

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

mellowdude 11 years, 9 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.

selene 11 years, 9 months ago

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

selene 11 years, 9 months ago

What on earth ws wrong with links to the HomoAvis?

pjmbom 11 years, 9 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.

d anderson 11 years, 9 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."

Lazarus_Long 11 years, 9 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.

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