Experimental Electric Vehicles

February 21, 2010

Because Were Not Accustomed to Silent Vehicles

Filed under: 1 — tonyhelms @ 8:58 pm

One thing that everyone notices about our electric vehicles is that they are especially quiet, when driving down the road all you may hear is some tire and chain noise. And when parked they are DEAD silent, this is a good thing because it means that they are using almost no energy! On the other hand it is also very dangerous.

-Zero electric motorcycle in a busy city

Last summer My black “Zion” race motorcycle was crashed once in my garage, and was very close to crashing again. The first time the Motorcycle was crashed was when my local news reporter was sitting on the bike shooting a few scenes. He asked me how the bike turns on, so I stepped forward and showed him the switches to turn the bike on, with the lack of a gas engine idle he soon forgot that the bike was still on and preceded to turn the throttle to 100% in a joking manner. He soon found the motorcycle burning rubber, lifting the front wheel up and then tipping over on top of him.
Luckily he walked away with only a few bruises, He exclaimed “I totally forgot it was on, its so quiet!”. This being the first time it happened I thought perhaps it was just him.
A few days later at the Mid-Ohio sports car course for the TTXGP race I was in front of the crowd of people walking around the event, most people gazing at the new futuristic electric motorcycles. I had just come back from a short test ride and was sitting on the bike with my feet on the ground and the bike still completely on. A small gathering of people came around the bike, as I was answering questions another person didn’t realize the motorcycle was on and decided to twist the throttle to 100%, with my feet on the ground and my arms crossed in front of me, the motorcycle proceeded to drive clear under my legs! I luckily caught the very tail of the bike and someone else caught the side. I then knew this was going to become a serious issue.

The general public right now is trained to the sound and feel of an idling gas engine, this input to your brain is interpreted as “the vehicle is on, be careful”. Unfortunately electric vehicles are not what we are accustomed to. After having two incidents with accidental throttle activation I have installed several safe guards on the new E*speed to help prevent this from occurring.

Safety feature #1
-Kick stand switch

This is a simple to install item that will interrupt the “key on” wire to the speed controller. When the kickstand is down the switch is open and the speed controller is then disabled. When the kickstand is up the switch is closed and the speed controller is activated.
This method is one of the best, whenever you are off the bike the throttle is disabled.

Safety feature #2
Throttle active LED

Another simple way to alert the rider that the electric vehicle is active, simply install a small bright LED and be sure it is pointed right at the rider.

Safety feature #3
Use a key to activate the vehicle

This will prevent curious people from turning the bike on, and accidentally twisting the throttle. A good method to make sure YOU are the only person that can activate the EV.

Safety feature #4
Vibrating handlebar and seat

This is a new method I am trying to implement on the E*Speed, I am using very small 3 volt cellphone vibrating motors and attaching then to the handle bar near the throttle and possibly inside the foam of the seat. When sitting on a gas motorcycle that is idling you can feel it vibrate. Installing these will create this sensation on an electric motorcycle. I may program these to only be on when the throttle is off or at zero to keep them from annoying you while riding. I quick tested this theory and you can feel a nice vibration in the handlebar even through your leather riding gloves.

-The red and black twisted wires are coming from the vibrating motor

You may notice I have not done anything that will give an audio or sound output. I did this on purpose because I enjoy the silent ride of EV’s too much. When riding silent on the track you can listen to your tire squeal noise and actually push the bike harder through turns then noisy gas bikes. You can hear when you hit gravel, loose pavement. You can hear cars or trucks near by, other car or bike squealing tires to avoid an accident, the advantages to being silent in my opinion out weigh the need of having to make noise, the saying “loud pipes save lives” is only marginally true, defensive driving saves lives, and being silent gives you an advantage.

Some may not take these safety features seriously, but please learn from my mistakes and dont end up like this guy.

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