Bikes are supposed to be Power Objects, Bikes are supposed to be Mean, Masculine, tyres bigger than biceps… Bikes are supposed to be ooze sexuality… they are supposed to attract the opposite sex. People own it to portray sexiness. Heck even girls ride power bikes for that macho feel…. kind of to do the forbidden.
But the present trend of e-bikes in India is anything but that. The present situation of Electric Bikes in India is not very electrifying. They are caught between the Devil and the Deep Sea. Presently most of the “Electric Bikes” in the market are low speed 25Kms “mobility bikes” and 45 Kmph bikes that will get you from place to place. 25 Kmph is almost the speed of a Cycle when you are cycling fast. The Range of these bikes are pretty limited too…just 60kms while the Electric Car E2O has a better range with 120kms.
Presently the e-bikes in the market is more feminine than masculine. There is nothing more feminine a machine sold in any market. I feel that is one of the major reasons of the setback.
Most of the E-Bikes available today in India have feminine specifications, small tires and small load carrying features etc giving you a feel that they are brought in from China as Knocked Down Assemblies and reassembled in some factory in India. Such e-bikes are very popular in China due to widely available public charging networks ban on petrol vehicles and good dedicated cycle paths unlike the situation in India. In fact it is very easy for the government can put Solar Panels on all Bus Stops and put plugs where people can charge their mobiles, laptops, bikes or cars… but seems like the Government is not much interested in public interest.
Only Country to withdraw concession for Electric Vehicles:
Can you believe it?… the Indian Government in fact withdrew the concessions given to the EV industry?!!!? Mahindra waited for the Budget announcement to release the E2O and ended up wasting precious 3 months. So you know what they mean when they say “Who killed the Electric Car?”
Lets take a lesson from the Bajaj company which was in the business of selling scooter, scooty and economical Bikes… one day they took a ground breaking decision to attempt something never attempted in the Indian market, till then… to create a Power Bike or a performance bike. They decided to call that bike PULSAR.
Today every kid in India knows the bike. Pulsar is the largest selling Petrol bike in the Indian market EVER.
Although its mileage is quite poor… around 45kmpl (and though its competition has economy bikes that give better average… around 75 to 80kmpl) Pulsar’s sales has crossed 5 Million mark.
Pulsar looks…. as good… as it rides. Today half of the bikes sold in India are Pulsars. The project required approximately 36 months for completion and cost Bajaj Rs 1 billion.
A lot of people inside the company were opposed to the idea and even considered the plans suicidal.
So that’s the conclusion… Formula for a successful Bike = Looks + Power + Good shock absorbers (for good ride quality and handling). Nobody cares about the rest. NOBODY!!!Pulsars would sell even if they had a mileage of 25 Kms per liter.
So let me comeback to the E-Bike scenario of the Indian Market.
E-bikes of 25Km speed are actual Cycle replacement. But then why would you want to replace a Cycle which is good free but also a GYM that keeps you fit. The fact is with a Cycle you can travel max 2 to 3 kms at a time and you will end up sweaty… meaning you can’t take a cycle to office or college.
1. Electrified Bicycle
This is a good thing for cycle fans. This thing can be “rigged” for far higher speeds and it can have 2xwheel drive. Meaning you can put the motors on the front and rear wheel to give good pulling power to ride over steep hills etc. You could even put 8000watts power… like the stealth bomber cycle (search youtube videos)… and get away with it… 😉 Somebody should design telescopic shock absorbers for the front wheel and the rear wheel like in the motorbikes then these could be a very good option due to bigger wheel and no license ;-). This one Has limited luggage space.
2. Electrified Scooter
This one has good ride quality due to the shock absorbers and has luggage space which also protects the small luggage from rain. Has smaller wheel size. There is no reason AT ALL for servicing this bike unless the battery or motors have been wet. Technically the batteries of both e-cycles & e-bikes have to be replaced after one year. But not necessarily so, if your charging habits are good then the batteries can be used for longer maybe 2 yrs also. Even after this period you can use these batteries together with the new ones to increase the range so don’t throw away the used battery. You are also helping in recycling and extending the old batteries’ life.
Just imagine… Dadar to VT is 8 Kms… in 23 minutes… you can even go to different places on the way and do the multiple things in a single day, like go for a movie at Metro Cinema, later have a bite at Café Leopold or Café Mondegar then from there ride out to Masjid Bunder to buy spices from wholesalers, then go buy some clothing material from Parel, buy flowers or fruits/vegetable at Dadar. And to do this you don’t have to get squeezed into the public transport… or have to wait for the Ladies special train or miss your daily train/bus which would be less crowded..etc. It opens up the whole Town for you… its quite liberating for a guy as well as for a girl.
And the fact remains that with this E-Bike you can travel quite far. These e-bikes travel to about 50kms which means you can travel at least 20kms one way and 20kms the way back leaving 10km juice on the bike for “just in case” scenarios. VT/CCG to Andheri/Vashi is 20 kms and you can do this in 30 minutes almost as fast as the Suburban Train (if you don’t get stuck in traffic). The Auto rickshaw fare would have been Rs 261 and night fare Rs 327 for “one-way” and same amount to travel back. Your petrol car would cost you half that with the AC on. So this e-bike is a very handy tool!!! Just make sure you ride it in the slow side of the traffic and plan your route early enough so that you move into the u-turn lane and right-turn lane in a timely manner
The best thing about these 25km bikes is that you don’t need a license, helmet or any such thing. This vehicle falls outside the Motor Vehicle Law. So buy it… charge it… and ride it and charge it again. These bikes have 250W motor and it takes an unit of electricity in 8 hours to charge it which is approximately equal to Rs5.
The worst thing about this bike is climbing steep places like hills, flyovers, carrying more than one rider. It can carry more that the stated capacity but the speed will reduce. Especially if the battery is low.
Slower bikes or faster bikes?:
If you would be charging for 8 hours then wouldn’t it be better to buy a faster bike? Faster meaning the 45kmph e-bikes… This is only an option for those have a Bike riding license. Again you will not get the thrill of riding a bike but just a very fast Cycle…lol. You can consider this as the Racing Cycle lol. And reach places a little faster than the other. Climb inclines and pull load (2 passengers) more comfortable. This 45kmph ebikes are good for city and driving in traffic. They are faster off the blocks in comparison to the petrol bikes at every signal as they get higher torque even at zero kms.
Another good idea for the Engineering student is to weld 2 of these e-cycles (250w) together, put 4 springs as suspension… and since there is enough space… create the Seat of the vehicle by combining a lot of Lead batters together and put some insulation and padding and fire proof Plywood and voila you have a 4×4 vehicle… called a QuadBike or Buggy or whatever. If they can source four 1,000w Hub Motor that it would be an awesome kickass Quad but will run out of juice in an hour or so. But still it would be a Kick ass project to do.
I believe Engineering people must incorporate some kind of new or novel engineering methods into their own lives or into the lives of people around them… which other non-engineering people are normally unable to do. Like using Solar panels for home or biogas for cooking or electricity. Or Rain water harvesting system. How would you like to be a Doctor who has never treated a patient? Or a Teacher who never had a single student? Or an Actor who has never acted in a play? Just working for a company is not engineering… engineering is much more… the guy who created the wheel was an engineer… but he never had degree… You guys can change our tomorrow to make it better.
Some Gyaan on the Battery tech
There are e-bikes with speeds of upto 55kmph and provide a range of 75 kms or more.
These are powerful variants with batteries having more energy density. You will need a licence to ride these. Take a look at our vehicles section to find out more.The key word here is energy density in these batteries. The more energy in (kWh) that can packed into a battery pack, the more range can be got out of the pack.Currently all e-bikes in India use the Sealed or Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries. These are better than the old plain lead acid, as they don’t need to be topped with distilled water in regular intervals and are maintenance free. They are cheap but the biggest problem is that these battery packs cant store as much energy as the Lithium Ion packs. Most E-Bike manufactures store 1kWh worth of energy. Just to get a perspective, the Mahindra e2o stores 10kWh worth of energy.
Also these Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries take longer to recharge. No wonder u see E-Bike models in India which can go upto 50kms but need 7-8 hours to charge.The future will automatically lead the E-Bike manufacturers to Lithium Ion packs which are used in electric cars nowdays. These battery packs can store more energy in smaller space and can re-charge faster.
As of today (mid 2013), 1kWh of Lithium Ion battery pack costs 550$ (almost 35,000 Rs). And thus the high cost ensures that using Lithium-Ion battery packs in an E-bike is not feasible for the manufacturers.
Last but not the least scientists have found a cheaper way to make batteries that can hold 4 times as much charge as Lithium-Ion Batteries. Meaning it will cost same as the SLAB (Sealed Lead Acid Battery) but travel 4 times the distance. Now that is something. That might take another 3 to 5 years. So your second Battery replacement could be Lithium–Sulfur Batteries
The below video will give an idea about motorbikes and their passion… nobody ever had no passion for scootys or mopeds…
I have made a small table comparing e-bikes and also included details of the Bajaj Pulsar petrol bike!
This is just for information purpose.
I have had discussions with more than one local electric scooty manufacturer and its shocking and to an extent sad that they believe e-scootys are the only way ahead and “India is still not ready for Electric Motorbikes”. It is shocking because they say this with out even introducing a single electric motorcycle in the market. This proves that they are just making statements without any sort of evidence. It is also easier for these new companies to assemble parts that are easily available and can show as manufactured in their own backyards.
The best Electric Bike in India:
The above “Miracle” bike is till now the best Indian Electric Bike and it has a range of 120 Kilometer, and a speed of 70 kilometers per hour which is completely ok. One charge cost about Rs 5, meaning it is the most economic Bike EVER! One kilometer will cost Rs 5/120km= 0.04 Paise. For 1 Rs it can travel 24 km. Has front and rear disc breaks. This bike is developed by Mr Bushan Shah from Pune, Mahashrashtra, India.I highly recommend this bike over all other bikes for all those who are planning to buy economical bikes.
This 3 wheel bike would make great model for Electric Bikes as it will have more space and stability for the heavy & bulky batteries. Add a roof of solar panels and it would be a continuously replenishing bike. Oh! Yeah the windshield makes riding more comfortable at higher speed… have to admit the aerodynamic headlights look awesome!
E-bikes with top speed of 45kmph and a range of 75km are good replacement for petrol bikes. Since now the cost of Petrol is Rs 82 per liter, the cost of travelling 1 km on a petrol bike will cost more than 1 Rs (not including maintenance cost), Rs 1.25 including maintenance cost. While for an EV bike its just Rs 0.75 (including battery) and do note that there is no maintenance cost at all.
As India is the leading Bike manufacturer of the World, the future is even more promising for e-Bikes in India especially, when the cost of the L-Ion pack comes down to say 100$ per kWh. Once the cost of Lithium Ion battery packs go down, or better battery technology comes in (Lithium–sulfur batteries) they can be used in e-bikes and then we can see good power, range, faster charging times etc. Its just a matter of time.
About Lithium–sulfur_battery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium–sulfur_battery
The government must encourage e-bike usage in India. The development of E-Bikes can significantly reduce our OIL import bill and also clean up the air in our cities.