Even the traffic capital of the world, Los Angeles, hasn't been able to resist the fun of electric bicycles — and maybe you won't, either. At the forefront are pedalec bikes that allow mixing and matching of input as needed. Cyclists simply pedal like on a normal bike, while getting a proportional boost from an electric motor when desired. More motor assist can be supplied when tackling longer distances or particularly nasty hills, for example.
Marketed by Currie Technologies, an Accell Group company, Chatsworth, Calif., one bike called the IZIP Express integrates what's billed as the Evo-Drive. As Larry Pizzi, president of Currie Technologies explains, “Through various phases of development, this hybrid drive has been referred to by many names — Dolphin, Syntelli — but ultimately, we settled on Evo-Drive.”
This integrated drive is a dual planetary system housed inside the bike's rear-wheel hub. It combines human power input on the right side of the wheel (through a conventional 27-speed bicycle drivetrain) with the power from a 750-W dc electric motor (on the opposite side of the hub) through a fiber-reinforced pulley — driven by a notched belt from Gates Corp., Denver.
The human-powered drivetrain consists of a classy SRAM Rear Derailleur, PowerGlide 950 11-32T 9-speed Rear Cassette, Shimano Front Derailleur M580-E, and a Shimano triple chain-ring crankset. The electric motor is a brushless (permanent-magnet) four-inch frame motor, proportionally regulated by motor controls. As is common in pedalecs, electric power is only actuated when one pedals. Additional sensors cut motor power completely when the rider stops pedaling or hits the brakes.
Where does the motor get its power? A high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack powers the motor, and sits inside the bike's main triangle-shaped frame.
As Pizzi points out, 40% of all urban trips in the U.S. are less than two miles in distance, but 90% of them are made by car — a trend he hopes to change.
To find a local dealer, visit currietech.com, or drop by the official IZIP Store in Venice, Calif.