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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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bicycle Hire Schemes for Sydney

According to Sydney Cyclst, University of Sydney is conducing a survey to see if a bicycle hire scheme is feasible. The Brisbane City Council have done a deal with JCDecaux for a bicycle hire scheme in Brisbane. JCDecaux is the company which maintains bus shelters in Sydney, in return for advertising rights. They would therefore seem the leading contender in any Sydney bicycle hire scheme. However, the JCDecaux system is complex, requiring significant capital investment and maintenance. A simpler option might be used for Sydney.

The JCDecaux Velib scheme in Paris uses an electronic kiosk for renting out the bicycles. This is lower technology and less flexible than the DB system "call-a-bike" I observed while bicycling around Berlin. With DB (the German national railway company) there are electronics on each individual bike, so you can leave it anywhere, rather than having to check it back into an electronic kiosk.

It may be that something in between the JCDecaux and DB systems would suit Sydney. Perhaps like the GoGet car share scheme would work. GoGet equip their cars with electronics to allow car sharing and have designated car collection points in Sydney. But there are no electronics in the collection points, just signs and only limited electronics in the cars. Instead you book via the Internet. This way GoGet do not need to install complex roadside equipment and maintain it.

For bicycles, it may be possible to set up collection points with a sign and bicycle rack. Each bicycle would be equipped with limited electronics to allow rental. The bookings would be done via the Internet or a mobile phone. If it can be assumed that the hirer has a smart phone, then very little electronics is needed on the bicycle.
The University of Sydney is considering establishing a bike hire scheme to help staff and students get around campus and to demonstrate our genuine commitment to sustainability and reducing our environmental footprint.

Thank you for offering to take this short survey, the information you provide will help us to establish an effective bike hire scheme.

While you will need to provide your contact details if you wish to be entered into the draw to win a 32gb iPod Touch PLUS an iTunes pre-paid card with $100 credit, none of your answers will be used to identify you. ...
From: Survey, David Carr, Director, Card Services, Unviersity of Sydney, 2009

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Freedom Wheels Program for Disabled Cyclists

TAB Freedom Wheels modified bikeTechnical Aid to the Disabled NSW, have expanded their Freedom Wheels program to supply specially modified bicycles to disabled cyclists. The program is mainly for children, but also supplies adults with a disability which makes riding a normal bike difficult.

TAD have developed a set of standard components which are custom fitted to a bicycle to suit the rider. TAD fit a set of outrigger wheels (similar to trainer wheels but heavier duty, with springs and removable) to the bike and any back support needed.

TAD NSW are planning to make the program available across Australia through the TAD organisations in each state. TAD is a non-profit organization which accepts tax deductible donations to help its work (I gave them the royalties from my first book).

See also:
  1. Frequently Asked Questions
  2. FREEDOM WHEELS Brochure.

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