Sunday, March 14, 2010

Glow Worm Bicycles

Maurice Wells, Managing Director, Glow Worm BicyclesLooking for the Addison Road Centre in Sydney on Friday, I noticed a group of people in a brightly lit shop with electric bicycles. This turned out to be the opening of Maurice Wells' Glow Worm Bicycles store. On display were a few different models of electric as well as pedal-only bicycles. Glow Worm claim to have the lightest electric bicycles in Australia, at 18kg. The lithium 36V 10Ah battery packs are in removable cartridges locked onto the bicycle frame with a key. You can remove the battery and carry it indoors by the built in handle, for charging.

On the bike I took for a brief test ride the battery is mounted vertically, low down behind the seat post (even more so on the "Lucky Legs" step through model). This helps with the balance, having the weight low down. However, it results in a more complex frame. Other models, such as the one in the photo with Maurice, have the battery horizontally under the carrier over the back wheel. This requires less engineering but results in more weight higher up.

The bikes have standard gears, brakes and other equipment. Apart from the battery at the back, there is an electric motor mounted in the oversize hub of the front wheel, and a throttle lever next to the left handgrip. It only takes a few seconds to get used to controlling the motor speed. The hard part is remembering to pedal, rather than just let the electric motor carry you along. Claims performance is 25km/h and a range of 20-50km.

Maurice said there was also a folding electric model available, but not on display. Other options include solar charging.

At the launch I met Jerry Desousa, CEO, Timor Air, (flag carrier airline of East Timor) who pased Maurice's skills as an alternatvie energy technology engineer, installing solar systems in East Timor (Timor-Leste).

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