Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Money where my mouth is

Well, one of the things that lead me to my last post, was the fact that its killing me to waste so much freaking gas just to get my lazy ass to and from work, or to and from home depot, or to and from the supermarket.

It now costs me 50 bucks to fill my Ford Escape Hybrid. We got it because we wanted good mileage but also really needed an SUV (daughter, 2 dogs, schlepping lots of stuff while we renovate buildings). but a good 90% of my driving is to and from work, supermarket, or home depot.

I'll probably need the car for when I get big stuff, but often I need just one more copper fitting, or just one half gallon of milk Its so stupid to take a car for this.

So, I dropped 2000 bucks and got an electric bike.

Did you know that despite rising oil prices, gas prices, food prices, construction material prices, etc etc, the cost of electricity has been going down since the 1980's? sounds great, but this is mostly due to remarkable increases in coal production and consumption and far more efficient ways to get the coal. Basically, we are consuming a local resource at a huge rate, and each pound of coal puts two pounds of CO2 in the air.

So while I plan on benefiting from this coal use, I see good things on the horizon. Solar thermal and windpower is starting to make its way into our energy market. Nuclear is clean too. I'd take a switch to nuclear, before continuing to increase our reliance on coal.

Anyway, back to my bike. It will cost me 1 penny per mile. Its pretty fun to ride (even if the top speed is about 40 on flat road). We'll see how the rest of the summer goes with it.

I looked at three bikes. The Zapino, the EVT, and the XM-3000. They are all made in china and they all are expected to have some issues as these are relatively new devices.

I found this site and forum very helpful in choosing the one I wanted. All the bikes come with Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (SLA), but some of them can be upgraded to Lithium ion for extended range.

I ordered my bike form Revolution EV LLC. The owner John Harding is very nice, knowledgable, and helpful. He has been riding his e-scooter for over 2000 miles. After reading about tons of failures in the EVT, and the newness of the Zapino, I chose to go with XM-3000 as they seemed to have the best record with regard to reliability (the 3000 is new, it was the 2000 that seemed to have pretty good reliability).

The XM-3000 has a big motor in the rear wheel. Its a 3000 watt motor, which brings the horsepower of the bike to 4HP. It also has regenerative braking, to help keep up battery life. The rest of the specs are here. If you have the dough and a motorcycle license, you can also get the XM-3500. Its more powerful, higher range, and looks different. But I thought I'd start out with the less expensive (about 1/2 price) bike that just got me around.

Shipping was only an additional 50 dollars (how can that be? it weighs over 300 pounds). But I was unsure what to expect when it arrived. Would I have to assemble big portions of it? Would I have to charge the batteries before I use it? Would I have to wire the thing up? I had no idea. but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

It arrived on a shipping truck in a large cardboard box (eek!).
But, happily, it was inside a metal frame. There was some plastic to remove, and then I had to take off the middle struts.
Once that was done, the frame comes apart in half. Once you remove a few bolts, the top comes off.
Then you need to undo the wires that holds the wheels down to the frame.
Then, honestly, this is how difficult it was...Flip the circuit breaker under the seat, Lift the front wheel out of its support, and push the bike forward - then you can ride!
Of course taking a moment to attach the mirrors is probably a good idea.

In full, between the time it arrived the the time I was riding it, was about 20 minutes. The batteries came fully charged. That circuit breaker is actually part of the security of the bike, the seat opens and you can store some stuff in there, but it locks too. So when you leave the bike you can turn off the power and lock the seat down. The seat hinge is pretty flimsy, though, but once locked down the seat is stable.

I'm not sure if the speedometer is in KPH, but its way off. I quickly figured this out when I had it cranked up and it said I was doing 65 MPH. I had my wife drive next to me, when the bike read 40, i was only doing 20, when it read 55, i was only doing 30.

The motor sounds weird. There is no chain, but the power is pulsed to it, and it sounds like there is a chain. But I gotta say, it was fun to drive, and sure is cheap to fill.

There is a break in procedure that I need to follow to optimize my battery life. But lets face facts, I couldn't just sit there and slowly discharge the battery with the lights before trying it out. Maybe on my next set of batteries when the thrill is gone!

Being an engineer I have some mods in mind that I plan on doing:

  • remove the idiotic decals on the sides and replace with some enviro-conscious stickers, maybe:
    • I may go slow, but its faster than you if you had no gas
    • $0.01 per mile
    • Laughing at you while sipping energy
  • Install a Batt-EQ. I'll do a post on this device later if I can. It keeps the voltages of the battery equal, this way a single battery doesn't get reversed. It is supposed to extend the life of the stack of 5 SLA batteries.
  • Replace the SLA batteries with LiFePoS batteries. These should give me extra range and can be recharged up to 2000 times.
  • Mount the charger right on the bike.
  • Create some sort of solar shield that I can pull out like wings, so I can charge while not near an outlet. Its just an idea, we'll see. I doubt I can get enough surface area to make a difference.
If anyone has any other ideas on how to mod it, I'd love to hear it.


On 7/5/08, 3:06 PM , Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I've been looking at electric scooters too and my eye is now on the XM-3000. How well does it accelerate?

On 7/6/08, 6:48 AM , Techskeptic said...

Well, shall we say that I dont expect to be doing any wheelies!

That said, it feels pretty good! Its not soupy, it feels right. It gets to top speed in a few seconds.

On 7/6/08, 9:02 PM , Unknown said...

On 7/7/08, 4:38 AM , Techskeptic said...

Not sure what you are pointing at there. Are you sparc5?

As I said, these are all pretty new bikes (relative to the age of ICE technology) and none of them are made by companies with strong quality programs. Problems are expected from all bikes.

However in this case, it looks like the owner found the problem:

"Found the disparity between batteries to be as great as ~300mv. I'm worried this will cause an overcharging condition when string charging tonight. I really need to build my bank charger."

He was not using a battery equalizer like powerchek or batt-eq, and one of his batteries crapped out. A bad battery in the string is a very common issue. Why they dont just build the bikes with the equalizer in it, i may never understand.

On 7/9/08, 2:30 PM , Spoony Quine said...

` I like that! One cent per mile! That would be an awesome bumper sticker! Myself, I feel like a fool every time I drive two miles into town. So, I usually walk.

On 7/10/08, 7:45 PM , Techskeptic said...

I'm having a little trouble getting it on the road. The machine is fine, its the fact that in NY I need a motorcycle lisence to operate it. Plus the company doesnt send the correct paperwork automatically, ugh.

I getting itchy. So, the bumper sticker will have to wait.