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cogs

Pedelecer
Sep 3, 2008
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It was I who diverted the thread somewhat..

Despite the objections raised, i'm not convinced that the ebike industry is a paragon of virtuosity that is operating completely in the interests of the enthusiast ebiker.

The point advanced by flecc regarding battery technological development currently being at a stage of incompleteness, with further changes being inevitable in the medium term, is a good one. But the same argument can be seen to apply to all new technologies can't it? And it certainly shouldn't be regarded as an excuse for any industry to continue with an irrational laizer faire approach which places the interests of ordinary battery cyclists behind those of the big corporations.

Although I'm only a recent participant in the ebike field, it seems quite obvious that some sort of regulatory standardisation could be applied which could benefit all of us. The current circumstance of a myriad competing manufacturers, each jealously guarding their own particular approach towards research and development is fantastically wasteful in so many ways, and cant really be seen to be in the best interests of consumers can it?
 

Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
Not at all in the long term. Setting common standards for the basics would allow the mostly Chinese component manufacturers the chance to refine their products for a wider market, rather than creating bespoke units for individual brands, and also allow individual owners to tailor their machines to suit their individual needs and preferences with a range of compatible products.

An example from the 'normal' bike industry was when I bought my Velotechnik Speedmachine, there were a host of bespoke options to choose from to adapt the basic frame. So it can be done. Considering the cost of a premium brand ebike, I think the "off the shelf" approach simply won't cut it for long.
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
The current circumstance of a myriad competing manufacturers, each jealously guarding their own particular approach towards research and development is fantastically wasteful in so many ways, and cant really be seen to be in the best interests of consumers can it?
I don't think this is any different in other industries though, companies compete and in technology areas from medical drugs to batteries, it's the research area where they compete for a marketing advantage. This could only change in a communist style totalitarian system, which from past experience stifles innovation and acts against the consumer. Lada cars? :D
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
An example from the 'normal' bike industry was when I bought my Velotechnik Speedmachine, there were a host of bespoke options to choose from to adapt the basic frame. So it can be done. Considering the cost of a premium brand ebike, I think the "off the shelf" approach simply won't cut it for long.
Our industry is still small though, and I think we should give credit to those companies who are endeavouring to widen choice.

Derby Cycles with the Kalkhoff range for example, several different frame styles, a choice of ancillary component quality levels, three different motor power options, two e-bike assist-speed limit options, throttle option, and all in a wide range of frame sizes from extra small to extremely large.

BikeTec add to that by going a bit further, adding a 50% larger battery option and an extra high power option.

Wisper have grown their range impressively and have now added the Alpinos for the larger riders, choices of rear or front motor bikes, and choice of battery types and capacities.

eZee have a choice of battery sizes and types now, also having an add-on kit for dual battery use.

These are all steps in the right direction, but only so much is possible in such a small industry.
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cogs

Pedelecer
Sep 3, 2008
90
0
I don't think this is any different in other industries though, companies compete and in technology areas from medical drugs to batteries, it's the research area where they compete for a marketing advantage. This could only change in a communist style totalitarian system, which from past experience stifles innovation and acts against the consumer. Lada cars? :D
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Ha :D You pose some interesting issues flecc. I had a Lada for years. It did the job, at least as reliably as any other vehicle I have owned. OK, it wasn't exciting, it didn't exactly exhibit the 'pulling power' of your average Lotus, (a bit more space on the back seat though!), but as a 'people's' car it got my somewhat sedate vote. When the front wings finally corroded it was recycled to somewhere in deepest Soviet dominated eastern Europe. Its also worth remembering that its origins were in the capitalist Fiat 124 IIRC? ;)

On your broader political point I don't really agree. Our recent experience of the free for all 'leave it to market solutions' in the form of the banking industry suggests that leaving business to its own unregulated whims delivers much for those who dominate and little (or worse) for those at the bottom of the heap.

It is surely reasonable for ordinary ebikers to expect that our interests shouldn't be submerged beneath the vested financial considerations of the market?

In my view, battery development needs a standardised and regulated approach - perhaps some planning and democratic involvement of those who actually use the bikes might help towards achieving a more rational industry.
 

Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
Our industry is still small though, and I think we should give credit to those companies who are endeavouring to widen choice.

Derby Cycles with the Kalkhoff range for example, several different frame styles, a choice of ancillary component quality levels, three different motor power options, two e-bike assist-speed limit options, throttle option, and all in a wide range of frame sizes from extra small to extremely large.

BikeTec add to that by going a bit further, adding a 50% larger battery option and an extra high power option.

Wisper have grown their range impressively and have now added the Alpinos for the larger riders, choices of rear or front motor bikes, and choice of battery types and capacities.

eZee have a choice of battery sizes and types now, also having an add-on kit for dual battery use.

These are all steps in the right direction, but only so much is possible in such a small industry.
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All laudable efforts to be sure, but I'd still like to see the concept taken much further, so you could order Frame A, with Motor C, optional regen/lighting systems/braking/gearing/colour etc.

A good example of this type of menu customisation is by Alienware computers(and they were doing it long before being bought by Dell), where from a base spec you can build in the features you want, and discard those you don't.

Notably you can see the price impact of your decisions, and so create a balance of cost vs performance to suit you individually.

Of course this would incur a cost/lead-time, but I think that if you were buying a machine tailored in this way, then you'd be prepared to wait for it, safe in the knowledge that all the work was covered by warranty.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
Its also worth remembering that its origins were in the capitalist Fiat 124 IIRC?
It was indeed, and that was the point I was making, not about it doing the job, which as you say, it certainly did. The point was that a 1960 design wasn't updated at all under that centralised political system, so no progress.

In my view, battery development needs a standardised and regulated approach - perhaps some planning and democratic involvement of those who actually use the bikes might help towards achieving a more rational industry.
See above, it simply wouldn't work for there is no driving motivation. A centralised group of jobsworths would just ensure a peaceful and comfortable life for themselves and progress would stagnate. Development needs to be driven, and there has never been a better tool for that than competition. The most extreme example of proof is the effect of ultimate competition as in WW2. We went from biplanes to jet fighters, line-of-sight to radar, and fairly ineffective bombs to nuclear weapons, all in six years.

Maybe we need a war where the troops ride into battle on e-bikes! Then we'd see some battery development. :D
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
I'd still like to see the concept taken much further, so you could order Frame A, with Motor C, optional regen/lighting systems/braking/gearing/colour etc.
No argument there since Utopia is what we all want.

A good example of this type of menu customisation is by Alienware computers(and they were doing it long before being bought by Dell), where from a base spec you can build in the features you want, and discard those you don't.
These days the PCspecialist company do the same but with an even wider choice of components via an excellent website system.

Of course this would incur a cost/lead-time, but I think that if you were buying a machine tailored in this way, then you'd be prepared to wait for it, safe in the knowledge that all the work was covered by warranty.
Just some of the reasons it can't happen:

1) The dominant suppliers in the bicycle field like Shimano require manufacturers to specify their needs a year in advance, so components are frequently not randomly available. It's not unusual for production of models to stop completely for this reason, and this is why manufacturers sometimes substitute parts without warning, much to buyers annoyance. I remember a major e-bike maker searching the world for derailleur parts, finding an unused batch in Spain and shipping them back to China to keep production of their e-bikes going there.

2) Big variations in demand produce very long lead times occasionally, alloy frames in China running at 26 weeks currently. Would a customer wait six months, plus assemby time and carriage from China time, remembering that the latter has to be by container loads to be economic? The cost of sending an individual bike would be huge.

In conclusion, e-bike sales are far too small yet to achieve what you want. It's easy for the computer industry to do this since assembly is often fairly local, parts stocks are cheap, and the flow of orders helps. Carriage of an individual computer to the customer is also much easier.

E-bike sales in the UK are 1% of bike sales. When that changes dramatically you are very likely to get what you wish, but I don't think it possible at present.
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Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
1) A continually updated website can adapt to reflect stock availability, so the choices are still there, but the individual options can change.

2) This is not what I was suggesting, I meant a range of standard frames onto which the options may be applied. There is no reason why the final assembly could not be done locally, either at a central location or an approved dealer(as it was with my Speedmachine BTW). Bikes as yet aren't built by robots, so the time each individual bike takes to build up from its components should not significantly suffer.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
1) A continually updated website can adapt to reflect stock availability, so the choices are still there, but the individual options can change.
This can work, rather like the PC model, but would a firm get enough business to survive? They wouldn't be advertising specific e-bike models, just the option to specify one, so given the tiny overall market it's difficult to see enough business for such a firm. Even in the very big UK computer market there's only the odd firm or two able to survive with this sort of trading and a long history of many bankruptcies.

2) Bikes as yet aren't built by robots
Wheels are. :D

Actually BikeTec can build their Flyers to order, but the choices are a bit limited and they are only based around the Panasonic crank drive systems in three versions, standard, high speed and high power.
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Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
This can work, rather like the PC model, but would a firm get enough business to survive? They wouldn't be advertising specific e-bike models, just the option to specify one, so given the tiny overall market it's difficult to see enough business for such a firm. Even in the very big UK computer market there's only the odd firm or two able to survive with this sort of trading and a long history of many bankruptcies.
To follow the PC builders though, each frame type could start with a recommended spec which could then be altered by the individual customer. The company would then be able to advertise different models along with their scope for customisation. I think this would allow the bike to be better suited to the terrain it's destined for as well as its rider. A repetitive theme here is one of people changing their gear ratios, in fact Mussels and I went in different directions when replacing our chain-rings on the same model of bike.
 

rog_london

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 3, 2009
764
2
Harrow, Middlesex
This can work, rather like the PC model, but would a firm get enough business to survive? They wouldn't be advertising specific e-bike models, just the option to specify one, so given the tiny overall market it's difficult to see enough business for such a firm. Even in the very big UK computer market there's only the odd firm or two able to survive with this sort of trading and a long history of many bankruptcies.
The PC business has one difficulty which AFAIK is unique to them - they absolutely dare not hold any stock. The reason for this is the almost hysterical rate of depreciation in the value - retail or otherwise - of anything so held. PC manufacturers try to operate on no stock margins at all, assembling kit and getting it out of the door as fast as possible. Being able to respond to a significant 'bespoke' market would be a big problem to them - having to stock a selection of PSUs, mother boards and graphics cards being the main items. Retailers like PC World get by by not cutting their prices to the bone - there will always be a section of the buying public - usually not so well informed it must be said - which is frightened to buy off the page.

Generally a little variation on what is advertised on-line is possible - more memory, a choice of monitors, etc., but these items are usually already being bought in as standard parts for a manufacturer's 'off the peg' range. I mentioned elsewhere that it's such a cutthroat business that you can't build your own PC as cheaply as you can buy off the peg. Even the well-known makes only have a few of the most popular models they advertise available genuinely off the shelf - they build most machines to order, but quickly, so you get your kit within a few days to a week.

Laptops are quite a bit more expensive in terms of what you get for your money as generic parts tend not to be so easy to come by, so some stock has to be held. You don't in real terms get such good value when you buy a laptop for that reason. I suspect also that profit margins on laptops are higher than on desktop machines, judging by the way laptops are advertised much more than desktop machines are. Possibly that's a case of the marketing people pushing things in their preferred direction.

E-bikes can hold their value wonderfully - apart from the thorny problem of battery life, an e-bike from a well respected supplier can actually work out much more economical than a generic cheapie. Look at the sort of price a year-old Wisper can command, not to mention the speed with which it will sell.

Rog.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
To follow the PC builders though, each frame type could start with a recommended spec which could then be altered by the individual customer. The company would then be able to advertise different models along with their scope for customisation.
Yes, I agree this business model could work well, only I doubt the market is anything like big enough for a company to survive on that alone.

Probably the best way to realise it at low risk to see if it worked would be for an existing successful e-bike to try it, operating as a separate entity.

Someone like Wisper could set up a small assembly facility at their works, just ordering in parts as needed initially to see if the trading level was viable. However, I know that component choice availability could still be a major problem for such a small and variable demand. Even the big boys find that a problem.
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cogs

Pedelecer
Sep 3, 2008
90
0
It was indeed, and that was the point I was making, not about it doing the job, which as you say, it certainly did. The point was that a 1960 design wasn't updated at all under that centralised political system, so no progress.



See above, it simply wouldn't work for there is no driving motivation. A centralised group of jobsworths would just ensure a peaceful and comfortable life for themselves and progress would stagnate. Development needs to be driven, and there has never been a better tool for that than competition. The most extreme example of proof is the effect of ultimate competition as in WW2. We went from biplanes to jet fighters, line-of-sight to radar, and fairly ineffective bombs to nuclear weapons, all in six years.

Maybe we need a war where the troops ride into battle on e-bikes! Then we'd see some battery development. :D
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Another interesting remark flecc - but wasn't it the ultra competetive and tightly centralised banking 'industry' who have just plunged society into its deepest recession ("stagnation") since the 1930s? This event alone suggests that reliance upon 'free market competitiveness' can have very poor outcomes indeed..

I'm afraid I don't buy into this idea that enterprises can only succeed and prosper and innovate providing they remain unregulated and only respond to the whims of the accountants/shareholding fraternity - and hang any requirements that consumers/enthusiasts might want to see (such as, for the purposes of this discussion) a degree of standardisation in battery production.

On your broader political point, Its perfectly possible for innovative development to occur as a consequence of collective co-operation. In fact, its reasonable, using your example of WW2, to argue that it was precisely such factors (ie, a collective and co-operative will to defeat nazism) that drove military innovation forward far more powerfully than mere free market economics - which were extraordinarilly undeveloped at the time (compared to the 21st century).
 

NRG

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 6, 2009
2,593
10
....... - but wasn't it the ultra competetive and tightly centralised banking 'industry' who have just plunged society into its deepest recession ("stagnation") since the 1930s? This event alone suggests that reliance upon 'free market competitiveness' can have very poor outcomes indeed....
....but the banks are regulated, its just that it totally failed to stop the bad practices that got us into the financial crisis we are all in today...
 

Straylight

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 31, 2009
650
2
Hi Straylight

If you could choose the specs from our Kalkhoff bikes which ones would you choose if we had that option available on our website to make the perfect bike for you?

What kind of specs would you like to see be interchangeable?

How would you mix and match the options of gears, brakes, frames etc?

Best regards

Scott

50cycles Electric Bikes - Home of the UK's Best Electric Bicycles
Hi Scott,

Having never ridden a panasonic driven bike, I can only give a general view, so I looked at your site as if I were a prospective buyer. Perhaps you could get in touch with existing users to find out what (if any) specific niggles they've had, and what they would have changed, given the option.

Anyway :) here are my observations for what they're worth..

Hydraulic brakes should be available across the range, similarly a downgrade to cable brakes for those who may see them as unnecessary.

Choice of Dynamo/Battery lighting, my personal preference is for Dynamo as it has the assurance of still working in the unlikely event of running out of juice. I also would like to be able to up/downgrade the lighting system as whole, as to some who intend on only using their bike for daytime pleasure riding it may seem ott, where as others, say regular country commuters, might want something with more punch.

Choice of hub/dérailleur gears where possible, and maybe a range of sprockets to suit differing terrains in the country. Eg. on my Wisper I swapped the chain-ring to up-rate the gearing to suit East Anglia, whereas this would have been inappropriate for the Yorkshire Dales (apart from the downhill sections ;) ).

Suspension forks available to all bikes, again this is impossible to predict what suits the individual use for each bike. It seems to me that you've got it right in general terms of what suits each model, but if say someone's commute was mainly on tarmac apart from the last mile down farm tracks, then they may think this option worth considering.

Chain-guard and battery, now being somewhat vain and image conscious(though this is being slowly stripped away as I get older - now 37 btw), one of the things that pushed me away from the panasonic system was the two tone chain-guard/silver battery. Since then it seems you guys have become aware of this, and have introduced a variety of styles. I think maybe you should think about extending this concept, as where the silver suits some of your bikes, to me it jars on others, notably the Sahel Pro Disc, where the power unit is in such contrast to an otherwise attractive machine. Perhaps a dark grey or black option? This is of course a matter of personal taste, and so maybe ought to be a customer choice.

Custom colours in general? This is harder and more expensive to achieve, I realise, but if you were upfront with the customer regarding the cost implication and lead time, then I think it fair to include this as an option. It also has the advantage to you of seeing what's likely to be popular when planning future models.

You may well currently offer some of the above on an individual, on request basis, but maybe if they were publicised on the site to the casual browser, you might hook more trade. As a pretty average consumer myself, I value easy and obvious options relating to what's available.

In answer to which bike I'd consider, then my personal favourite is the Sahel pro Disc, ideally I'd have it with a matching or in tone chainguard & battery, 'S' type power system, front suspension, & Schmidt Edelux headlight (if money were no object), and a gearing setup to allow an eqivalent top gear to my current 53t front/14t rear set.

I hope this is the kind of thing you wanted, and don't think me overly critical. Many thanks for the opportunity to comment :) ,

Stray.
 
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Wisper Bikes

Trade Member
Apr 11, 2007
5,934
1,903
66
Sevenoaks Kent
BEBA response

To avoid any confusion, here is BEBA's response regarding the use of throttles;

Q11. Do you see these proposals creating new opportunities for the use of EAPCs? If so what would they be?

Yes
No x


Please explain your reasons and add any additional comments you wish to make:

Harmonised European legislation will remove barriers and with that support market development.

BEBA believe electric bicycles have a significant role to play towards a greater modal shift, getting people to replace regular car trips through the use of electric bicycles. To this end, it is essential for legislation to enable market development, rather than to create barriers.

The proposal to abolish throttles could add restrictions and as such reduce the ‘twist & go’ electric bicycle market. A throttle further broadens the appeal of EABs (Electric Assisted Bicycles) and keeps those who should cycle (eg to lose weight, physical rehabilitation), the less able bodied and older people more mobile. However, BEBA with consideration to quickly expediting the harmonisation of European legislation propose that any such vehicles should be accommodated via separate vehicle type approval.

EN 15194 does make provision for ‘launch assist’ up to 6km/h, this brings significant road safety advantages, enabling the cyclist to pull away with the necessary power and speed at road junctions; this is particularly relevant in urban traffic.

Q12. Do you think these proposals will offer consumers a greater choice of product?

Yes
No x

Please explain your reasons and add any additional comments you wish to make:


See Q11. BEBA have much evidence that consumers want ‘on-demand’ throttles and can submit this to the DfT for their consideration.

Best regards

David
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
49,645
27,406
Another interesting remark flecc - but wasn't it the ultra competetive and tightly centralised banking 'industry' who have just plunged society into its deepest recession ("stagnation") since the 1930s? This event alone suggests that reliance upon 'free market competitiveness' can have very poor outcomes indeed..
Not the same thing at all though. We were speaking of technical innovation through scientific and engineering development of physical items, not financial manouvres to enhance values or disguise lack of value.

On your broader political point, Its perfectly possible for innovative development to occur as a consequence of collective co-operation. In fact, its reasonable, using your example of WW2, to argue that it was precisely such factors (ie, a collective and co-operative will to defeat nazism) that drove military innovation forward far more powerfully than mere free market economics - which were extraordinarilly undeveloped at the time (compared to the 21st century).
Again an anti-financial market argument rather than the very different technical one, the motivations are different. One is for pure financial gain regardless of any intrinsic progress, the other is for gain via progress that of itself has lasting value. We don't give Nobel prizes to speculators, we do to the technical innovators who are the source of lasting progress and the pride of achievement.

History shows that collectivisation doesn't work or last. I wish that were not so, it would be infinitely better than what we have now if only it worked, and on that theoretical point I agree with you.
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cogs

Pedelecer
Sep 3, 2008
90
0
Not the same thing at all though. We were speaking of technical innovation through scientific and engineering development of physical items, not financial manouvres to enhance values or disguise lack of value.



Again an anti-financial market argument rather than the very different technical one, the motivations are different. One is for pure financial gain regardless of any intrinsic progress, the other is for gain via progress that of itself has lasting value. We don't give Nobel prizes to speculators, we do to the technical innovators who are the source of lasting progress and the pride of achievement.

History shows that collectivisation doesn't work or last. I wish that were not so, it would be infinitely better than what we have now if only it worked, and on that theoretical point I agree with you.
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Hmm. I suppose it might depend upon what we should properly regard as history? Social anthropologists suggest that humans lived and thrived collectively for millennia (perhaps for 100,000 years) with egalitarian co-operation being central to our existence for virtually all that period. Not a bad innings for a mode of life that today is widely regarded as an impossible dream ;)

I don't imagine that is what you are driving at though flecc. More probably you refer to the Stalinised Communist tyrannies that mostly collapsed in the 20th C?

Whatever the case I do agree with the distinction you make between the grubby activities of the 'city' and the more noble "technical" activities of those who create value and worth by hand or brain.

How sad that society elevates one, and too often ignores the other.
 

Wisper Bikes

Trade Member
Apr 11, 2007
5,934
1,903
66
Sevenoaks Kent
Mind?

Not at all Scott,

I too welcome any considered input.

Maybe this is a little off topic here though?

All the best

David
 
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