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Old 07-17-2010, 09:34 PM   #31
Jeff Cobb
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Originally Posted by schizuki View Post
So how much does it cost per mile to run? My Bandit cost five cents per mile.

How long do the batteries last? How much to replace?

Looks like a nice toy for an enthusiast with excess disposable income, or a practical alternative for someone who's not that serious a motorcyclist.

Good questions all. I'll answer you with some of the pros and cons I can think of --

As for costs to run, I could quote the optimistic extremes that get thrown around - they claim the less-energy-consuming Enertia can go coast-to-coast for maybe $30 in electricity costs, or a penny a mile or less (and this is only theoretical, since it would run out of juice in a prohibitively short time necessitating a hundred-plus nonexistent charging stations) -- but even conservatively, the larger-battery-using Empulse ought to cost less to run per mile than even a fuel sipping gas bike by a large margin. A buyer would have to accept it's still a short(er) range runner, and that recharging takes 1 hr per kWh using normal house current (much faster w/ 220 or 440v if you can get it).

Replacement batteries at this point probably do not have a part number to even tell you. They'd be warranted for some time, I think it's 2 years. I'd guess they'd cost a good $3-5k at today's prices, but I could be off, that's only a guess -- and I know that's a large chunk of money. If it's that much, that's what a blown engine would cost to have fixed. I understand that.

The question also is will li-ion tech come down in price, and go up in energy density in, say, 4 years which may be how long a battery lasts, if not 5-6 years or longer. The protagonists are betting battery tech will get better and cheaper.

Question is, in 5 years will so-much-cooler machines exist that retrofitting a new battery still won't be worth it? No one knows this answer.

Another up side to e-bikes is no oil changes, tune-ups, and the like. Only wear items like brakes, chains, sprockets, tires would need replacing at usual intervals.

Another question I have is how the long term track record will be with complex electronics with lots of electrical connectors that can corrode.

The Li-ion batteries on the other hand ought to be durable. They are known to not develop near the memory of NiMh or ni-cad, and give most of their energy capacity for a long time before tapering off in charge holding capacity -- but then again, if I were a buyer, I'd investigate this too. It would be disappointing to say the least if in two or three years, the range diminishes by 25% or more.

I do not have the answer to this question, but will be looking into it.

As for who'd buy it, different riders have different needs. If it's just a toy for the well-heeled casual rider, I'm not so sure that's the only kind of rider who'd want one. They ought to be pretty entertaining for 50-100-mile rides (depending on battery spec).

And don't forget your friendly government subsidies. Everyone gets a 10% federal tax credit, and some states can whittle into the cost of these e-bikes a good bit. I believe Colorado leads the way, last time I checked.

Where the Empulse would also make a lot of sense is using it like the Enertia is supposed to be used -- as a commuter. If the batteries can last, it could wind up being cost effective after a few years.

The positive variables, plus the green factor and the political/social trends today in favor of clean alternatives are giving these bikes a lot of enthusiasts – these issues transcend liberal/conservative party lines.

Most people are still on the sidelines, but this bike ought to pull at least a few more into the buyer category, I'd wager.

Next week we all get to see how the bike runs at Laguna.

Hope that helps ...

Last edited by Jeff Cobb : 07-17-2010 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 07-17-2010, 10:45 PM   #32
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Replacement batteries at this point... I'd guess they'd cost a good $3-5k at today's prices, but I could be off, that's only a guess...Another up side to e-bikes is no oil changes, tune-ups, and the like.
$3K buys a lot of oil changes and "tune-ups".

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The question also is will li-ion tech come down in price, and go up in energy density in, say, 4 years which may be how long a battery lasts, if not 5-6 years or longer. The protagonists are betting battery tech will get better and cheaper.
Well, we can probably assume that the lithium itself will only get more expensive as demand continues to rise.

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As for who'd buy it, different riders have different needs. If it's just a toy for the well-heeled casual rider, I'm not so sure that's the only kind of rider who'd want one.
Like I said, it would be good for either a fairly well-heeled rider (or single guy with few responsibilities) who can afford two bikes, or a casual commuter who never rides more than 100 miles at a clip. For the rest of us, it could never be an only bike. If the range gets up to 300 miles or so, then I'll be interested.

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They ought to be pretty entertaining for 50-100-mile rides (depending on battery spec).
Agreed.

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And don't forget your friendly government subsidies.
Ah. So somebody else picks up part of the cost. Great.

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Everyone gets a 10% federal tax credit
How is that applied? Is it subtracted from the final tax total, or is it subtracted from your income before calculating tax? Because the excise tax credit for new vehicles in 2009/2010 was treated as a deduction. I've seen people claim the actual bike price is 10% less as a result of the credit, which is untrue unless it is deducted from your final tax total. And offhand, I don't know of any credit or deduction that is handled that way.

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The positive variables, plus the green factor and the political/social trends today in favor of clean alternatives
I'm sorry, but the "green" argument is problematic at best. Electricity doesn't come from the plug in the wall, and lithium isn't harvested from the air and transported by the breeze. And please don't talk about solar and wind. I just got done reading an infuriating article about the enormous windmill in the center of my town that is producing about 10% of the power they'd promised, which is barely enough to run the small train station it's hooked to. The installer has offered to buy it back, but we're keeping it as a "symbol" of the "green-ness" of our town. I suppose an ineffective windmill can be considered "green" insofar it's doing nothing that pollutes.

Now, if we go nuclear on a large scale, that's a different story. But we're already thirty years behind on that because of "green political/social trends", so if the Greens will finally back off and allow us to have a 20th century power source, then great.

TANSTAAFL. Until people accept that, we can't make rational policy.

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these issues transcend liberal/conservative party lines.
The essence of "conservative" is to be skeptical of the novel until it proves itself effective. It cares about good results, not good intentions.

Electric vehicles are the wave of the future. And they have been for at least half a century now. I'd like to see it (provided we go nuclear), and it certainly does look better now than before. Heck, the current Brammo Enertia would [just barely] be a practical commuter for me. And this new one looks very cool. But progress in any tech field is not inevitable if it runs smack against physics. So I'll offer best wishes for the future and congratulations for the present, but I won't buy into any irrational enthusiasm and overblown hype. Remember how the Segway would "transform our cities"?

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Hope that helps ...
It does. Thanks for the thoughtful and honest reply.
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Old 07-18-2010, 08:41 AM   #33
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If you've not already read the big picture piece I did on the state of things, here it is - http://www.motorcycle.com/how-to/ele...mer-89474.html
I'd not seen that, thanks it is an interesting take on things.

In it you say about dogmatic advocates looking forward to
Quote:
....a day when most people will no longer need or want gasoline-powered transportation.
I don't think it's really going to be anything to do with any sort of 'desire'.

At some point we will find that burning oil for personal transportation is too expensive and sometime after that we'll not be able to. It will be reserved for more important uses.

Yes, we'll probably have to make some significant social changes to the way we live our lives. We have a particularly good life because of cheap fuel - and this will come to an end. I suspect major changes in what remains of my lifetime (the next 30 or 40 years).

Quite what will happen, I don't know. But when the fuel starts to stop coming out of the pumps we better have an alternative in place or the distance we can walk and cycle will be the limit of our daily journeys.

What's that? 6 - 10 miles on foot, 30 - 50 on a bicycle? How far away from where you work can you afford to be? How far from food production are you? Because that ain't getting to trucked in from the other side of the country just for you to eat at a price you can afford because the cost of fuel will makes it uneconomic.
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If Brammo indeed can even deliver a $14k bike that, say hypothetically, could go 100-110 mph for bursts, plus deliver over 50-60 miles range on a single charge, with a lot of full throttle usage and speeds such as would be meted by a typical aggressive gas-rider's usage habits, then present exaggeration or not, it will still be a new milestone.

Now that they've hinted as much, this is what everyone who's interested is now waiting to see, though, isn't it?
If it can do 60/50 I'd be more than happy - really someone needs to do some data recording of daily 'average' mileage/speed of motor vehicles to see what is needed (as opposed to wanted!).

Also in Europe we have a standard test (for cars) which is a run on a rolling road that simulates several conditions - none which can necessarily be matched in use by individuals - but gives an accurate comparison when comparing different vehicles. I think something like that needs to be created to 'test' electric bikes accurately - a system that will put the bike through a cycle of tests and measure how it performs as well as for how long and can be repeated when different models come along.

This would give potential buyers would have some method of seeing what they are being offered - and it would avoid falling for the worst of the advertisers excesses.
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Old 07-18-2010, 01:29 PM   #34
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Default Peak Oil? Future scenarios? Needs vs. wants?

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I don't think it's really going to be anything to do with any sort of 'desire'.

At some point we will find that burning oil for personal transportation is too expensive and sometime after that we'll not be able to. It will be reserved for more important uses.
"It will" is an unequivocal statement. You predict 30-40 years?

I welcome your views Voyager. It's all part of the shake-out, and my job is to know it, and report it. Like everyone else, I do not have all the answers, or know everything on this topic.

However, I do stand by my statement that many alternative energy advocates talk about future wants more than mere needs, which is a meaningful consideration here.

This is an online motorcycle enthusiast magazine. We include all sorts of motorcycle tastes, and cover them all as well as we can. This said, one of our top hits this year has been the Literbike Shootout, and this week the 2011 ZX-10 Preview is topping the charts among currently posted articles.

Is that avatar by your screen name the type of vehicle you currently use? Do you have other bikes? Do you see motorcycles as fun toys, or favor their efficient transportation aspects more?

Personally, I like many aspects that PTWs offer, but sure would not want to give up my fun, which is why I got into riding 30 years ago in the first place!

What you describe sounds tantamount to what others would call a doomsday scenario resulting from Peak Oil.

You speak of a time coming when the world will "probably have to make some significant social changes to the way we live our lives." You speak of food becoming potentially scarce?

You talk of a day when all will be forced to mercilessly put down wants in favor of strictly pragmatic needs. Am I misreading you?

I've heard these things before. They're a common possible future predicted, and for all anyone knows, you may be correct.

You say, "Quite what will happen, I don't know. But when the fuel starts to stop coming out of the pumps we better have an alternative in place or the distance we can walk and cycle will be the limit of our daily journeys."

If what you speculate is true, I would add it would likely be a violent time, because this world would not willingly give up lifestyles afforded by fossil fuels.

What you talk about in benign terms, with some qualification, would be a nightmare to a lot of people.

This notwithstanding, not all "greenies" or alt energy advocates are mere point A-B types who view transportation as nothing more.

Said "advocates" I alluded to include Zero's people (and Brammo's for that matter). Gene Banman, CEO, says one day in his lifetime he'll see a bike that could be equal to an electric R1. He spoke to me of a day of "parity," and then "superiority" when sporting e-bikes would leave gas bikes in the dust when measured by all meaningful parameters that ICE bike enthusiasts now demand -- speed, range, weight, handling, braking, cornering ...

That's what this TTXGP and e-FIM series is trying to get to one day. That's what the Empulse is a first step on the road toward.

If it can come true, I am not predicting here. I will say that it could though.

You go on to say, "If it [the Empulse] can do 60/50 I'd be more than happy - really someone needs to do some data recording of daily 'average' mileage/speed of motor vehicles to see what is needed (as opposed to wanted!)."

Your statement sounds like you are fully reconciled to living within confines of mere needs, and will willingly sacrifice wants and desires that many others prize.

All I'll say is that whatever happens, you are at least correct that practical answers are the only ones that will make it. This is true regardless of future scenarios which I for one, won't predict with much certainty.

And as Shizuki pointed out, what ever happens, we need to stay mindful of what works, and what is mere hype or wishful thinking on both sides of the speculation table.

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Old 07-18-2010, 02:04 PM   #35
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$3K buys a lot of oil changes and "tune-ups".



Well, we can probably assume that the lithium itself will only get more expensive as demand continues to rise.



Like I said, it would be good for either a fairly well-heeled rider (or single guy with few responsibilities) who can afford two bikes, or a casual commuter who never rides more than 100 miles at a clip. For the rest of us, it could never be an only bike. If the range gets up to 300 miles or so, then I'll be interested.



Agreed.



Ah. So somebody else picks up part of the cost. Great.



How is that applied? Is it subtracted from the final tax total, or is it subtracted from your income before calculating tax? Because the excise tax credit for new vehicles in 2009/2010 was treated as a deduction. I've seen people claim the actual bike price is 10% less as a result of the credit, which is untrue unless it is deducted from your final tax total. And offhand, I don't know of any credit or deduction that is handled that way.



I'm sorry, but the "green" argument is problematic at best. Electricity doesn't come from the plug in the wall, and lithium isn't harvested from the air and transported by the breeze. And please don't talk about solar and wind. I just got done reading an infuriating article about the enormous windmill in the center of my town that is producing about 10% of the power they'd promised, which is barely enough to run the small train station it's hooked to. The installer has offered to buy it back, but we're keeping it as a "symbol" of the "green-ness" of our town. I suppose an ineffective windmill can be considered "green" insofar it's doing nothing that pollutes.

Now, if we go nuclear on a large scale, that's a different story. But we're already thirty years behind on that because of "green political/social trends", so if the Greens will finally back off and allow us to have a 20th century power source, then great.

TANSTAAFL. Until people accept that, we can't make rational policy.



The essence of "conservative" is to be skeptical of the novel until it proves itself effective. It cares about good results, not good intentions.

Electric vehicles are the wave of the future. And they have been for at least half a century now. I'd like to see it (provided we go nuclear), and it certainly does look better now than before. Heck, the current Brammo Enertia would [just barely] be a practical commuter for me. And this new one looks very cool. But progress in any tech field is not inevitable if it runs smack against physics. So I'll offer best wishes for the future and congratulations for the present, but I won't buy into any irrational enthusiasm and overblown hype. Remember how the Segway would "transform our cities"?



It does. Thanks for the thoughtful and honest reply.


I'm glad if I can give answers with any merit, thanks.

I think what you say about who this bike would suit is true for you, from where you sit. It's valid, and you're not the only one who feels this way.

Three thousand does buy a lot. And it's a given you can buy a gas-powered bike that can do a lot for less. Other factors as we're discussing must come into play for the people who do buy. Some may be fanciful wishful thinking, but I believe many advocates are not mere pollyanish ideologues. Many at the forefront do acknowledge there' no free lunch, and are still pushing to make a pragmatic new paradigm work.

Lithium should be cheaper. It's not rare, but I'm unsure what is driving the market price other than demand, and that it's comparatively under-utilized, compared to lead acid.

Keep in mind also, there's a major Asian market for smaller, lighter weight electric scooters/mopeds that's driving the development, and the Euros seem enthralled by them too – plus electric cars, fleet buses, power generating station backups, electrical devices all demand new battery tech that will be financially workable.

RE: fed credit - This is from Brammo, and Zero has one similar -

First: is a tax credit in Section 1142 (H.R.1, pp. 214-217) which changes IRS Code Section 30 to allow for 2 wheeled electric vehicles to be included as a “qualified plug-in electric vehicle” in the overall plug-in vehicle tax credit. These vehicles which need to be able to drive on public roads, streets, and highways, are eligible for a 10% Federal Tax Credit up to a maximum of $2,500. This is a Federal tax credit, which reduces your tax liability by the amount of the credit; eg: if you owe $5,000 to the IRS and purchase an $8,000 electric motorcycle package, you would receive an $800 credit and now owe $4,200. If you are owed a refund by the IRS, your refund is increased by the amount of the tax credit


Both Zero and Brammo have pages on their sites that also list state-by state-incentives – though this may be changing ongoing, and last I checked with Zero's contact, he knew of more states than were listed at that point. Not sure if it's been updated. Brammo page also links to Plug-in America which is another resource.

BRAMMO Enertia powercycle : 100% Electric Motorcycle : Government Incentives
Electric Motorcycle Locator Incentives || ZERO MOTORCYCLES

Plug in America is obviously a green advocate. I'm still looking for a green antagonist to offer counterpoint.

Another advocacy resource is EPRI - Electric Power Research Institute

These people are used to answering tough questions from critics, and have lots of free info available, if you're interested.

I'll keep digging into the arguments for/against "green" tech. The hidden and ancillary costs do have to be weighed in the equation, but will they matter in the long run?

In the long term, replacements will have to pay for themselves and if they can, and demand is there, they may.

The Wall Street Journal once wrote a piece about the hidden costs of recycling – new trucks, employees, new pollution created just to recycle, and so on – but here we are, and just about every municipality in the country now has a program.

At this point, I have no idea how this world we've built could survive without fossil fuels. But they are researching a lot of stuff.

The electric bike is beyond the research stage, and is an experiment playing out before our eyes.
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Old 07-18-2010, 04:01 PM   #36
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So, he could have jumpd to 100mph and then throttled back(or is it rheostated back?) to 15mph to get the 100 mile range?
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Old 07-18-2010, 04:17 PM   #37
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"It will" is an unequivocal statement. You predict 30-40 years?
It is 'will' as oil is a finite resource. I have no expectation that it will become cheaper as it does, I expect it to become much more expensive as it becomes scarcer.

Don't you?
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I do stand by my statement that many alternative energy advocates talk about future wants more than mere needs, which is a meaningful consideration here.
They may well.

But the audience is hardly receptive to hearing anything else.

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Is that avatar by your screen name the type of vehicle you currently use? Do you have other bikes?
Yes it is and not currently. Had loads in the past though, including a GL1000, lots of R series BMW's, a Jota, T160, VFR's 750 and 800 to an MZ250.
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Do you see motorcycles as fun toys, or favor their efficient transportation aspects more?
I prefer them to be both. Although I realise that most people have no idea what a really efficient and practical PTW is and cannot begin to imagine it - as they think Givi panniers bolted onto a motorised bicycle is a good way to carry luggage.
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What you describe sounds tantamount to what others would call a doomsday scenario resulting from Peak Oil.

You speak of a time coming when the world will "probably have to make some significant social changes to the way we live our lives." You speak of food becoming potentially scarce?
Food will only be scarce if we have not developed a way of running agricultural equipment without losing valuable crop producing land to creating bio-diesel.
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You talk of a day when all will be forced to mercilessly put down wants in favor of strictly pragmatic needs. Am I misreading you?
No, I think that is highly likely - IF we continue to waste time, effort and money on creating transient, facile toys for adult children rather than a viable, non-oil based, transportation system.
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If what you speculate is true, I would add it would likely be a violent time, because this world would not willingly give up lifestyles afforded by fossil fuels.

What you talk about in benign terms, with some qualification, would be a nightmare to a lot of people.
I don't think it needs to be - but we need to start getting a grip on alternatives NOW and not when it has already become overly expensive to ship materials about the place because we have forgotten how we rely on oil to do things.

I'd start be electrifying the motorway network (interstates) - for trucks could designed that run on electricity from overhead lines for distances with batteries for when they come off the major routes. That would use the infrastructure we have and allow movement of material and goods cross-country.
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Said "advocates" I alluded to include Zero's people (and Brammo's for that matter). Gene Banman, CEO, says one day in his lifetime he'll see a bike that could be equal to an electric R1. He spoke to me of a day of "parity," and then "superiority" when sporting e-bikes would leave gas bikes in the dust when measured by all meaningful parameters that ICE bike enthusiasts now demand -- speed, range, weight, handling, braking, cornering ...
I'm really not that bothered about what toys adult children think they need and Brammo et al will be winning every meaningful parameter once the oil has become too expensive to waste on trivial playthings.

Seriously, what use is an 'R1' once fuel is $15 or $20 a gallon? You still can't carry much stuff on it, you get wet in rain, hurt when you fall off. It consumes parts at a prodigious rate. What will tyres cost when the oil they make them with half way across the word gets expensive? Do you still want to replace them every 2,000 miles?
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You go on to say, "If it [the Empulse] can do 60/50 I'd be more than happy - really someone needs to do some data recording of daily 'average' mileage/speed of motor vehicles to see what is needed (as opposed to wanted!)."

Your statement sounds like you are fully reconciled to living within confines of mere needs, and will willingly sacrifice wants and desires that many others prize.
I'd be happy if that is what they can do now, for a reasonable price. I do believe that these things will get more range as battery technology improves.
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Old 07-18-2010, 05:51 PM   #38
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Current internal combustion tech still has room for considerable improvement too. I am fascinated by direct injection and the power/efficiency gains it brings to cars. Seems to be we will see this tech on motorcycles at some point.

Brammo strives for greater power and range. The auto industry is too. Motorcycle engines used to make cars look primitive. Now it is the other way around. Seems to me we can have 150 hp and 50 mpg in a motorcycle. Rules limit how much fuel GP bikes can carry. Instead of reducing power or turning off traction control late in the race, it would be better if the engine had better efficiency so it could go the distance at full performance on the fuel allotted. Smart and well funded people are working on improving engine efficiency. Given enough resources and brainpower to bear, it will happen.

As for $20 a gallon gas, that would really suck. My investments in oil companies and oil itself would prosper mightily though. I do think commodities in general are going to be very expensive down the road due to population growth, emerging markets competing for resources and devalued currencies due to money printing stimulus, but that is a whole different discussion.

We are in the sunset of the salad days for relatively affordable high performance sporting motorcycles as we know them. The mid term (20 years from now) future could and most likely will suck. Brammo to the rescue!

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Old 07-18-2010, 06:53 PM   #39
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Good stuff. Thanks again.

Had to laugh at this, though:

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The Wall Street Journal once wrote a piece about the hidden costs of recycling – new trucks, employees, new pollution created just to recycle, and so on – but here we are, and just about every municipality in the country now has a program.
Too true. Like my town and its expensive, useless windmill, much of environmentalism is religious rather than logical. Recycling is matter of faith, not financial sense or positive environmental impact. Good intentions count, not good results.
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:57 PM   #40
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Let's say someone uses one of the e-bikes to commute. You are talking about 300 charge/recharge cycles per year. How many batteries can handle that? Phone batteries and other lithium batteries only provide 300-500 cycles. Seems like a battery will have to be replace each year. Full discharges shorten life. The lithium ions deteriorate and you only have about a two year life anyhow.
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