Back from China Cycle 2012 “The Highlights”

Back from a month long Asia trip; from entertaining the idea of an e-bike call center in the Philippines, to China Cycle and beyond. It feels great to breath cleaner Californian air again.

Shanghai air quality “moderate”

China Cycle was a mixed bag this year with the decline of the European e-bike market the focus is on smaller more flexible USA orders. The rumor mill is buzzing that the EU regulation for e-bikes may not raise the speed past 25 kph (16mph,) but allow for large torque/ wattage allowances. For instance a 500~1000 watt motors, throttled down to just 25 kph. Mainly to cope with hill climbs.

This new regulation adjustment would be a good thing for the US e-bike market as it would open up more battery box molds. Currently most e-bikes in Europe are 36v x 9 Ah x 1C rack battery packs. However, most USA e-bikes 350 watts and over require a larger battery case to house a minimum of 36v x 10.5~13 Ah x 3~5C cells. These larger packs can make a rear rack mounted battery pack feel very heavy and affect the handling of the bike steering. This requires a very boring, generic battery case, or a custom tooled battery case. Custom battery case tooling start at about $5000 and can go up to $10,000+ just for the battery case alone, not including the contact connector, switch, or BMS etc…..

Most battery packing companies buy from just two battery case vendors in Kunshan, Jiangsu. So let’s all keep our fingers crossed this new EU regulation for high torque motors goes through….

*Update 12/07/16: The new 3.4Ah & 3.5 Ah cells negate this problem for smaller 40 cell/ 36v (10S4P) battery cases. There are even some new larger 50 and 60 cell cases. The latest challenge is finding a way to make 48v packs that run in 13 series to fit into existing 36v tooled battery cases (especially for downtube internal packs.)

Generic Dolphin battery case capped at just 36V 9Ah

On the topic of battery cases it appears the big push is moving toward “in-tube” battery design frames. These bikes do have a draw back! For instance most were not too well thought out that we saw and water leakage seems it might be an issue over time. Also, some of the batteries can not be removed so if you live in an urban area on a 3rd floor walk-up, how are you going to charge your battery? Moreover, these in-tube designs are limited to 36v x 8 Ah or less. Not a long distance hauler.

 Americana style e-bike with battery in top tube

Very cool clean, urban design in tube battery design from ZoomPony for those that just want a little incognito extra boost.

Very clean battery in tube design by ZoomPony
Very clean look, just limited to 36v x 8Ah
New style folding latch battery contact pins

Some very cool new full handle throttles with CNC end caps and accents. We plan to try some of these out soon and the company is open to custom molded options. The spring tension was much better than the competition and currently everyone generally buys their throttles from one major company. So it would be nice if this relationship could be developed to come up with a nice half throttle or thumb throttle alternative. For instance some USA e-bike’s with a $2750 retail use a $2.50 throttle option (not very classy for the price.)

Custom throttle options w/ CNC end caps and accents

Now onto the good the, the bad, and the ugly…. You can always count on China Cycle for a bastard of a bike spec.

Bizarre dual battery e-bike found at China Cycle “don’t ask?”

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