It’s not often that we’ll get a rider like Western student Sean Dever who is equally as passionate about biking as he is about understanding the electrical mechanics that go into electric bikes. We appreciate the enthusiasm, advice, and reality checks Sean offers in his assessment of the Viking eBike and its incorporation into his life this Spring quarter.
Here’s what he has to say:
“First of all, thanks so much to everyone involved in this project, it has been a really awesome experience and a great opportunity to learn about eBikes firsthand. I’m a Western student studying electrical engineering and a bit of a nerd-type so I was super excited about being able to ride around on something that I could also study the mechanics of. I’m even designing an electric bike for my senior project!
Here’s a few things I’ve learned since I’ve had the bike:
- The “speed limit” (so to speak) for electric bikes in Washington is 20mph. After a rider reaches this speed, the motor must no longer assist the rider. Therefore, a legal electric bicycle must include speedometer which continuously interacts with the motor via an on-board microcontroller. The microcontroller also continuously updates the LCD display and controls the amount of power the batteries deliver to the motor. On June 7th, a new law will pass which will increase the speed limit to 28mph. The law also decreases the maximum allowed motor power from 1kW to 750W, so getting the bike up to 28mph on an uphill slope should be quite the challenge for engineers with the decreased power.
- Some intersections have bike detectors in the pavement, and some don’t. I’ve been in a few situations when I’ve been studying on campus late at night and subsequently rode home (I live across the freeway) and been stuck trying to cross the Samish bridge until a car comes (if you find yourself in this situation, hit the “push-to-walk” button at the crosswalk and the light will change!).
- Ebikes majorly spoil you. I rode my old street bike to campus the other day just to feel the difference and I stopped after a few blocks to check if something was wrong because it felt so sluggish!
- The biggest benefit eBikes have over normal bikes is their ability to accelerate quickly, especially when you’re in a traffic lane and there are cars behind you. I’ve become much more confident riding in traffic on the eBike, not to mention I feel much more polite to the cars around me since I rarely hold anyone up.
My favorite part about riding the bike to campus is that I regularly will start my commute behind a WTA bus and invariably beat it going UP Bill McDonald pkwy. I could keep going but I think I’ll leave it at that for now. Thanks again to the office of sustainability and all the people involved in the project for the awesome opportunity!”
Thank you, Sean!