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  1. #1
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    How can we get the price of these down?

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/spo...t-bike-av.html



    With a bike manufactured in California, this French engineering manager averages 28 mph on his 64-mile commute doing 35 mph on the flats....

    The engineering manager has raised eyebrows along the A27 on his journey to work in Portsmouth from his home in Angmering on a torpedo-shaped Lightning F40.

    Malcolm tops speeds of 30mph on the 80-minute journey but is regularly stopped by members of the public who want to know what he is riding.
    Think of how much longer of a commute you can make on a bike with this! Unfortunately, the article says it cost him about $8,000. Yikes!

  2. #2
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    It's probably economies of scale; if more people bought these things, the price would go down. Which leads to the obvious question: just how practical is this thing? Can you haul groceries with it? How well can the rider see the things around him/her? How visible is the rider to other traffic? Can you keep it upright if you're stopped at a light? I've never seen one up close, so I honestly don't know, but if it's a pain in the a** to deal with in traffic or to haul stuff, the extra 10mph isn't at all worth it, and if the price is high, too, the thing is doomed to oddball status forever.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    It's quite pricey. At $8,000, it's more money than I've spent on any car I've ever owned. For that price, I need to know I'm getting a practical and reliable mode of transportation.

    I'm looking at some pragmatic concerns here. How stable is it? Is it practical in snowy and icy winter conditions? Can I use it for my day-to-day needs? Can I get it repaired quickly and easily, or better yet, can I do the repairs myself? How will it work on the hills?
    Life is good.

  4. #4
    tinydr
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    based on the size of the wheels (comparing the cyclist to them) I doubt it would do well in inclement winter weather... according to the net it's rare for Portsmouth to get snow.

  5. #5
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    If someone has a long, simple, straight commute, he / she could do well with this by lashing a DiNotte or two to the back and laser-beaming any faster vehicles off of the rear.

    But snow, ice, very congested slow stop & go, partially off-road, paths & trails... and it gets less practical.

    Honestly... I could use something like this on my commute. I could go 20 miles one-way on major 45 MPH arterials.

    I think I'll look into it after $10 per gallon gasoline takes a good bit of the traffic off of the road, and slows the remaining traffic down.
    Peter Wang, LCI
    Houston, TX USA

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    Quote Originally Posted by donrhummy View Post
    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/spo...t-bike-av.html
    ,,,,
    Think of how much longer of a commute you can make on a bike with this! Unfortunately, the article says it cost him about $8,000. Yikes!
    You won't find a cheap Lightning F-40 anywhere, not to mention one with a full hard fairing.

    What you can do that's pretty fast is a long-wheelbase recumbent with a front fairing and a bodysock:
    http://www.easyracers.com/vbb/showth...p?postid=20443

    ...Easyracers are pretty expensive bikes ($2500+) but there are other similar bikes for down around $1100 or so. A front bubble fairing will cost $350, and the bodysock can be made cheap for a few bucks. 25+ MPH on level ground is easily possible, but you may need a outsized big chainring, 54 - 56T or so.

    ----

    The problem with hard fairings on 2-wheel bikes is that they are very susceptible to being pushed around from side winds. Body socks are fabric and so they have some "give" to them that makes this less of a problem.

    There are velomobiles (pedal-powered trikes) made with full bodies too, but they usually cannot hold nearly the speeds that a faired two-wheeler can. And they cost a pile of money too--the Waw for example is one of the best-looking examples, but it has a base price that's around $10K. The Quest and the Mango (shown down the page here) are two of the more popular ones.
    ~

  7. #7
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Well, according to the Lightning Web Site, the F40 does have foot slits for putting your legs down, and the American retail price is only $5,800, not $8,000. Very expensive to be sure, but much cheaper. I still have to wonder how much benefit I would get in the hills of Arkansas. Downhill yes, but uphill I'm not so sure of.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Ah, these mpv contraptions have been hit by inflation too. About four years ago, I made a pile of money and went out to get a new vehicle. However, rather than buying a cadillac, I went looking at the full-body-fairing human powered vehicle. They were knocking around $6,000 then. Even though I had the money, wanted a cool ride, and am a bicycle enthusiast, I just could not justify it.

    At $8,000+, it is even farther out of reach.

    Who knows, maybe with the cost pressures of fuels, there will be enough interest in production-manufacturing these things so that they are irresistable to buy. Who wants to be the first to go to China and have them made for $89.00?
    Mike

  9. #9
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    DIY may be the best way to make one practicable.
    The EAA is a global civilian aviation organization dedicated to experimental and homebuilt aircraft.
    Membership is cheap, and seminars on building techniques such as THIS one on composite construction are put on by the local chapters, and such seminars are at many of the major air shows. The EAA is an amazing resource of information and assistance for homebuilding.

    If one was willing to forgo carbon and use glass, you could build a lot of velomobile for eight thousand dollars.

    My current favorite velomobile


    AeroRider
    Last edited by Allen; 04-13-08 at 07:05 PM.

  10. #10
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    DIY may be the best way to make one practicable.
    The EAA is a global civilian aviation organization dedicated to experimental and homebuilt aircraft.
    Membership is cheap, and seminars on building techniques such as THIS one on composite construction are put on by the local chapters, and such seminars are at many of the major air shows. The EAA is an amazing resource of information and assistance for homebuilding.

    If one was willing to forgo carbon and use glass, you could build a lot of velomobile for eight thousand dollars.

    My current favorite velomobile


    AeroRider

    This looks pretty cool, but, again, it's only practical if you have a commute over flat ground with few stops. The Aerorider website states that these vehicles have a top speed of 45 km/hr (27mph). On flat ground, I can easily do 18-20mph on a bike with a steel frame, for which I paid $75 (before upgrades). I'm not willing to spend a bunch of money, and have to deal with an electric assist, for an extra 7 mph. And, over very hilly terrain, such as exists in Seattle, I'm not sure a velomobile will work out too well for riding around town.

    I don't have anything against them, mind you; they're very nice, and I wouldn't mind playing around on one if I had the chance, but I think their intended uses are too narrowly defined to make them useful for most people.

    Oh, and one more thing: since you're in an enclosed space, don't you get really hot riding one?
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    DIY may be the best way to make one practicable.
    ...
    If one was willing to forgo carbon and use glass, you could build a lot of velomobile for eight thousand dollars.

    My current favorite velomobile


    AeroRider
    Most of the European ones leave your head exposed--or if they have a windshield, it can be removed if you want. Windshields won't stay clear in high humidity conditions such as rain, or even will fog over from the rider's own sweat.

    As far as velomobiles go, the main reason people seem to get them is to enable comfortably riding in very-cold weather. People who do it say you only need to dress moderately even for below-freezing temperatures; the only part of you that needs a lot of clothes is your head. They don't ride them to go fast. Even over flat ground they average "trike speeds", which is a nice way of saying "well under 20 mph".

    The super-expensive velomobiles are all-carbon-fiber and might weigh 65 lbs; the cheaper ones can approach 100 lbs.

    ------

    The real utility of a velomobile comes when you attach a small 4-cycle engine. You could cruise along all day at 30+ MPH, at probably 250-300 mpg or more (I'm guessing here, since a normal motorized bicycle can get over 200 mpg with no fairing at all). And if the engine died, you could still pedal the thing home--just not quite at 35 mph.
    ~

  12. #12
    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    The real utility of a velomobile comes when you attach a small 4-cycle engine. You could cruise along all day at 30+ MPH, at probably 250-300 mpg or more (I'm guessing here, since a normal motorized bicycle can get over 200 mpg with no fairing at all).
    Electric would be cheaper.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Indyv8a's Avatar
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    http://www.lightningbikes.com/f40.htm

    Here's the factory web site.
    Slow, but at least still moving...

  14. #14
    The Idler Domromer's Avatar
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    I just saw this at the Earth Day show yesterday.

    It's called the bugE and it's an electric vehicle. It look pretty cool. I wonder how long the batteries would last.

    Here's a video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq8F_FY7sqw

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye View Post
    Electric would be cheaper.
    Not right now it wouldn't--at least in the US.

    This is a page of mine, comparing the cost-per-mile of an electric setup (Bionx) and a gasoline-engine setup:
    http://www.norcom2000.com/users/dcim...pisode005.html

    The cost of electricity for an e-vehicle is almost nothing, but the cost of replacing the batteries is enormous--and many e-bike owners fail to factor this into their figures.

    My figuring (using Bionx's own performance claims) showed that electric vehicle power won't become cost-competitive with gasoline until the price of gasoline rises to at least $14/gal, and with some setups not until gasoline costs over $27/gal.

    Battery technology is always improving of course, but currently it's nowhere near the costs that US gasoline is.... And the efficiency of gasoline engines could be increased ~50% today, just by going to long-stroke, low-RPM engine designs (crosshead engines).
    ~

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    I was following a couple of these on my ride yesterday. With no wind I was able to keep up on my slick tire MTB/hybrid, but into a 25 kph wind, they pulled decisively ahead.

    I also noticed that they slowed right down to make a tight right turn, which I was able to make at speed. So it seems that they have a problem with manouverability.

    Finally, how do these things deal with real world situations like - dirt paths, ravines, railway tracks that are parallel to roadways, big potholes, and rocks?

    If the velomobile only works on smooth pavement, it's not really practical. My 0.02 is that you could save the $8000 and live in a walkable neighbourhood.

    They did look super cool though

  17. #17
    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    My figuring (using Bionx's own performance claims) showed that electric vehicle power won't become cost-competitive with gasoline until the price of gasoline rises to at least $14/gal, and with some setups not until gasoline costs over $27/gal.
    That's because you're using an extremely overpriced product. Lithium Phosphate batteries are where it's at right now, high discharge rates and ~1000 cycles at 80% dod with little to no capacity loss, and even those are only ~$1000/kWh. Assuming we have something like a Quest, a $500 pack will take us ~60 miles at 30mph, and last at least 60,000 miles, with a cost of ~.8cents/mile in batteries. Gas, at 300mpg/30mph/$3.50/60,000miles, would cost at least $700. If Lead Acid is used, battery costs drop significantly, provided the pack isn't abused, and for the best of both worlds, I've heard that Lead Acid + Lithium Phosphate has low operating costs while allowing for plenty of peak power since the high capacity Lithium batteries act as a buffer for the Lead Acid batteries, so they don't see as much high current and get nailed via Peukert's. Kinda like the Lead Acid/Supercap combo in testing.

    Given current engine designs, the lower limit for gasoline fuel consumption in something like a Quest would be ~$250/60,000 miles in fuel costs. The problem being that the available power would suffer due to the extreme gearing, so the rider would need to be content with a max of 30mph on flat ground or have some sort of transmission for the gas engine as well. Since good deep cycle lead acids can be had for ~$100/1kWh and last ~40,000 miles, that's something like half the cost per mile of gasoline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    And the efficiency of gasoline engines could be increased ~50% today, just by going to long-stroke, low-RPM engine designs (crosshead engines).
    ~
    Source? AFAIK, there are design limitations for building small engines that are as fuel efficient as larger ones. I'd love to see a small engine with BSFC in the 200+g/kWh range instead of the 300+g/kWh range, but I don't think it's practical. Dropping the fuel consumption for industry use can really be advantageous, and even if they turn slower, there's always gearing.

    P.S. I coulda swore we had this convo before...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye View Post
    That's because you're using an extremely overpriced product. Lithium Phosphate batteries are where it's at right now...
    I can't do a comparison of something if it's not commonly available, and there's no reviews or independent figures on it.

    I picked the four that BionX offered, as those were (at the time) the more common hi-performance battery types available from BionX as well as other similar companies, and nobody at the time argued that the performance estimates that BionX gave were unreasonable either way.

    {On long-stroke designs boosting gas engine efficiency ~50%**
    Quote Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye View Post
    ...Source? AFAIK, there are design limitations for building small engines that are as fuel efficient as larger ones. ...
    It's a guess.
    Marine crosshead engines have efficiencies typically near twice what regular gasoline engines do. Part of that is being diesels, but part of it is having a stroke that's around four times the piston diameter. I looked for a long time for any similar small engine, and didn't find any. Apparently if one really wanted to know, one would have to build one yourself to find out.

    Quote Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye View Post
    P.S. I coulda swore we had this convo before...
    I don't remember.
    But if we did, I probably pointed out that the only common type of electric vehicle on the planet is trains fed by overhead wires--because they aren't limited by battery capacities.
    ~

  19. #19
    The King of Town manboy's Avatar
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    The main problem I see with these small EVs and HPVs is that I own a car in order to carry lots of stuff with me, carry friends, or go at highway speeds for fairly long distances. In general, these vehicles seem about as useful as traditional bicycles but more expensive. In fact, from what I've seen, you could probably carry more on a loaded tourer than on a bugE.

  20. #20
    The Idler Domromer's Avatar
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    What about electic power or a small gasoline engine on things that we already have that are relativiley cheap. Like a LWB recumbent with a fairing. I imagine due to the light weight of rider and bike a small gas/electric engine could get great mpg pushing a recumbent. Or an electric engine with a small battery that could be recharged at any plug?

    Would is be possble to have enough power to get 20mph at a range of 30 miles?

    I also like the idea of building off the technologies that we already have. I imagine a lot more people would ride/coast if the engine was doing the work. It's not a perfect solution but it's got a much smaller foot print than driving a car or suv.

  21. #21
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I can't do a comparison of something if it's not commonly available, and there's no reviews or independent figures on it.
    Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries are commonly available. They are not available in brick-and-mortar stores for the most part, but tons of people are buying them over e-bay, modifying them or using them as-is, and giving them glowing reviews. Check out the the endless-sphere electric vehicle battery forum to see more info than you could possibly want.

    DeWalt "36volt" tool batteries are Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries and so are the popular, reliable, highly regarded offerings from "ping" and "yesa" on E-bay.

    I have a Yesa pack and it works great.


    Would is be possble to have enough power to get 20mph at a range of 30 miles?
    Yes. If you are willing to provide moderate pedaling, don't get yourself out of breath or anything, you can get about 60 miles per charge out of a battery that costs $350 and is rated at 0.48 kilowatt hours (that means that the cost to charge it is about 6-7 cents, although the battery's purchase price averaged over the number of recharges, [1000 to 2000] is something like 35 cents per charge.) A realistic estimate of battery+electricity cost is therefore slightly below one cent per mile.
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

  22. #22
    Senior Citizen lyeinyoureye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    I can't do a comparison of something if it's not commonly available, and there's no reviews or independent figures on it.

    I picked the four that BionX offered, as those were (at the time) the more common hi-performance battery types available from BionX as well as other similar companies, and nobody at the time argued that the performance estimates that BionX gave were unreasonable either way.
    It's no unreasonable to use BionX per say, it's unreasonable to use just BionX in a gasoline versus electric comparison. The best bet IMO is to use a range of alternatives for both.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    It's a guess.
    Marine crosshead engines have efficiencies typically near twice what regular gasoline engines do.
    What what what? Maybe average efficiency including lost of low load. Bu I don't think ~175g/kWh is possible in a small engine. Regardless of longer stroke. I think that maybe longer stroke could drop the fuel consumption of smaller four strokes like the Honda GX series pretty close to 300g/kWh, but they would have to weigh significantly more to make the same amount of power, and compared to stock I don't think an extra 5-10lbs for 10% better fuel consumption would be worth while. Diesels may get twice the off load efficiency of gassers, but for small engines, they tend to run at high load and this isn't as much of a concern. The closest I can find to better fuel consumption would be one of those ~5hp diesels, but even then they're twice or triple the weight for ~25% better efficiency.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    I don't remember.
    But if we did, I probably pointed out that the only common type of electric vehicle on the planet is trains fed by overhead wires--because they aren't limited by battery capacities.
    ~
    I don't think ya did, but who knows.

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