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Electric Bicycles: A Guide to Design and Use

ISBN: 978-0-471-67419-1
204 pages
November 2005, Wiley-IEEE Press
Electric Bicycles: A Guide to Design and Use (0471674192) cover image


Design or build a battery-powered electric bicycle

For much of the world, bicycles are a transportation mainstay. Electric bicycles--powered by a rechargeable battery pack--are proven to deliver the highest possible energy efficiency, even compared to pedal bikes. A transportation alternative to fossil fuels, electric bicycles are fast catching on, in part because they don't require factory assembly. End-users can easily construct them with available components.

The text reveals important techniques, data, and examples that allow readers to judge various propulsion setups--used in both home- and factory-made bikes--and estimate speed and travel distance for each. Numerous charts clearly present the costs, benefits, and trade-offs between both commercial and user-converted models.

Key features include:

  • Estimating motor-performance for wind, hill, and cruising power requirements
  • Estimating battery capacity and a thorough description of battery charging
  • Motor and motor-control options
  • Evaluating motor-to-wheel coupling options
  • Placement of propulsion components
  • Configurations and performance
  • How systems-engineering techniques can produce electric-bicycle designs that have long travel range and low life-cycle cost
  • Testing
  • Developments to watch

A comprehensive resource for harnessing innovation, Electric Bicycles is the definitive practical guide to taking full advantage of this exciting alternative energy technology.

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Table of Contents


1 Electric Bicycles — History, Characteristics, and Uses.

1.1 Introduction.

1.2 History of Bicycles.

1.3 History of Electric Bicycles.

1.4 Some Uses for the Electric-Powered Bicycle.

1.5 Examples of Electric Bicycles.

1.6 Future of Electric Bicycles.

1.7 Laws and Regulations Governing Electric Bicycles.

1.8 Conclusion.

2 Fundamentals of Electric Propulsion.

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 Mathematical Model of Bicycle Performance: Power Required.

2.3 Estimating Required Motor Power.

2.4 Selecting a Battery for Minimum Life-Cycle Cost.

2.5 Unique New Two-Wheeled Vehicles.

3 Sources of Electric Power for Bicycles.

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Requirements of Batteries for Powering Electric Bicycles.

3.3 Characteristics of batteries Suitable for Electric Bicycle Propulsion.

3.4 Fuel Cells for Powering Electric Bicycles.

3.5 Best New Electric Power Sources.

3.6 Bicycle Propulsion Power Sources to Watch.

4 Battery Charging.

4.1 History of battery-Charging Technology.

4.2 Basic Functions of battery Chargers.

4.3 Battery Characteristics Pertinent in Charging.

4.4 Lead-Acid Battery Charging.

4.5 Charger Design for Long Battery Life.

4.6 Smart Chargers for New Nickel-Cadmium and Nickel-Metal Hydride, and Lithium Batteries.

4.7 Smart Batteries for Smart Chargers.

4.8 Self-Discharge Rate of Nickel and Lithium Cells.

4.9 Recoverable Energy.

4.10 Solar Panel Battery Chargers.

5 Motors and Motor Controllers.

5.1 Fundamental Principles of Electric Motors.

5.2 Motor Characteristics for Electric Bicycle Propulsion.

5.3 Gear Ratio Determination.

5.4 Motor Control.

6 The System Design.

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Setting up the Electric Bicycle Systems Design.

6.3 Some Examples of Bicycle-System Trade.

6.4 System Design Example.

7 Measurement of Performance.

7.1 Measuring Propulsion Power to determine Propulsion Efficiency.

7.2 Measuring Motor Efficiency Includes Measurement of Motor Power.

7.3 Measuring battery Characteristics.

8 Developments to Watch.

8.1 Bicycle Systems.

8.2 Energy Sources.

8.3 Solar Charging Systems.

8.4 High-Efficiency Motors.

8.5 Controllers.

Appendix: Table of Conversion Factors for Units of Measure.


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Author Information

WILLIAM C. MORCHIN has been a registered professional engineer since 1963 and holds an MS in electrical engineering. Mr. Morchin is President of Electro-Bicycle Company, which has optimized designs and performance-tested electric bicycle propulsion systems. He has also been a practicing consultant for sixteen years, prior to which, he was a manager and engineer of radar test and analysis for the Boeing Company for eighteen years. Mr. Morchin has written engineering articles on electric bicycle design and testing, and two previous books on radar.

HENRY OMAN earned an MS in electrical engineering in 1951. He worked for six years in diesel-electric marine propulsion at Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co. and for forty-three years at Boeing on projects such as electric-train propulsion, variable-speed motor control, and batteries for aerospace and ground applications. He is an IEEE Fellow and was the founder of the Power Electronics Society. Mr. Oman is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine. Mr. Oman is a registered professional engineer and has written the Energy Systems Engineering Handbook as well as chapters in other energy books and over fifty technical papers.

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