The PWF article ‘Melbourne to Sydney? An electric bike is ’suit-able’! has received a lot of attention, and the big ride is underway right now. There are over twenty assorted ‘bods’ tackling the ride and we have just received this thought provoking email, ‘cc’ed to www.goelectric.com.au, from polio victim and electric bike rider Ray Fealy:
“As an electric bike rider for the past 13 years (I designed and built my own, as there were none available commercially in Melbourne 13 years ago). I have learned a great deal about the feasibility of electric bikes – bikes with the LEGAL power limit of only 200Watt.
I have a disability and cannot use pedal power to assist. I cheated and bought a 250 Watt motor. Have you any idea as to how we go about getting the ‘Authorities’ to raise the power limit on electric bikes to say 350 Watt? If that was done we could travel up most of the common inclines on suburban roads even without pedal assistance.
I firmly believe that the greatest cause of unpopularity of the electric bike is its inability to cope with the average ‘steepish’ inclines encountered in suburbia. There are many people in the community like myself (Polio victim) who cannot pedal assist and therefore use the expensive and very slow electric wheelchair we see so often on roads and footpaths.
It is a simple matter to limit the speed of an electric bike to, say, 30K/Hr and raise power to 300-350Watt thus making it more acceptable to use on the roads. Batteries now in use would still give a good enough range (at least 20Km).”