The Inaugural Electric Bicycle Race

Discussion in 'Electric Bicycles' started by woody, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. woody

    woody New Member

    Gidday fellas,

    I have been reading this site for a while.

    And I looooooove it with a capital O.

    I am getting together a wee race in NZ. In Christchurch to be precise.

    I had been stupidly chatting in another subject. I truly apologise. That's over.

    I will hold it here in Chch, however, it can be global. All honest operator's, with sensible invigilation will be accepted.

    We hold the race on the same weekend, and we be honest, and we set the same standards, and we find out what, and why. Cool.

    Or maybe I am dreaming. Maybe I should trust no-one. Maybe I should just keep my data secret.

    No way. Let's race. Globally without travel.

    Any takers?

    Some of the categories I am thinking of are,

    1. Quarter Mile . Unlimited Category except you must be able to pedal one km on the flat non-stop to prove it is a cycle within a time as yet undecided.

    2. 20k under 20k. The first to reach 20km where the total cycle weight = less than 20kg. This leads to different cats, see 3.

    3. as 2 but with no pedals and rider weight calc and rebalance.

    4. as 2 but costs less than $1K NZD.

    5. First to 100km with less than 25kg cycle.

    6. First to 500km with less than 30kg cycle.

    Lets do it......


  2. safe

    safe Active Member

    Moved From Rewinding thread...

    What is racing supposed to mean?

    Obviously something like a marathon is not about excitement and speed, but endurance and strategy. Races like the Tour De France do have high speed sections (the downhills) but very little time is gained there. In typical bicycle racing the flats and the downhills do not allow much time difference to take place and it's only the uphills where an advantage can be made.

    Most of this is all because of aerodynamics, on the flat you can sit in the middle of the pack of riders and just be pulled along. Now in electric bike racing you have at your disposal as much as 750 watts of power and the ability to not pedal and be in a tight tuck if you so choose. This means that more speed can be had on the straight aways and the downhills get really really fast. There becomes a point where someone who has better bike handling skills can all of a sudden gain a lead and hold it because top speed is not limited by human exhaustion to the same degree. Since we are not bound by classic bike rules there's no reason not to add fairings to the bike since they improve the performance exponentially.

    So I think we all need to rethink what an electric bicycle race could mean. All the old logic that went with pedal only bicycles gets thrown out the window as new strategies are going to emerge. The value of maintaining a constant high speed takes on a new importance and the pack bunching tendency is going to get broken up a little more.

    Electric bicycle racing has the potential to be more like a true "road racing" event rather than a bicycle marathon. In a sense all the bicycle races (except BMX or Downhill Mountain Biking) are marathon races.

    Will Electric Bicycle Road Racing start to resemble BMX and Downhill Mountain Biking or will it resemble classic street racing?

    That is the question...


    If you set the limit of power on the motor then things will natually go towards a more BMX and Downhill Mountain Biking direction because once you use the energy in producing forward motion you are going to want to hang onto that momentum through the turns. That means knee dragging excitement. If you place the limit on the battery capacity then it will go more towards the marathon mindset and the skill will be about conserving energy and that (to many) means some pretty slow racing without much passion.

    Obviously I am biased in favor of passionate and exciting racing. :cool:
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
    MotorBicycleRacing likes this.
  3. safe

    safe Active Member


    I think 20K sounds like a good distance. Most ebikes can go about that far at full power before the battery starts to run low.

    You should go with your New Zealand ebike laws:

    "Vehicles with motor output power of less than 300W are classified as "not a motor vehicle". Such electric bicycles must comply with the same rules as bicycles."

    ...and just race based on that.


    As a practical matter you are going to get two groups of people that show up. There are going to be the people with fairly stock street legal ebikes, then you are going to get those that have tricked their bikes out to be essentially electric motorcycles. I'd suggest two classes:

    Stock Unmodified (New Zealand Legal) - Pretty much a legal ebike for your country.

    Open Modified - All the crazy contraptions that people have modified so that they no longer resemble the bikes they started as. The only rule should be that the bike had to have started as an ebike somehow. (no Etek motors or PMG132's) the saying goes "Keep It Simple Stupid" (KISS). In general for a first racing experience you need to keep the rules simple. I'd drop all the weight rules, that's just getting too complicated.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  4. woody

    woody New Member


    If you limit weight then me thinks you limit nothing but technology advancement.

    Limit cost and weight then you make it available.

    Just a thought............
  5. woody

    woody New Member

    Oh and by the way, I reckon I can win all cats except number 4 with the same cycle..........

    Number 4 is the one I want to win though........

    I guess life is like that.....
  6. safe

    safe Active Member

    The highest availability is going to be with bikes that are stock.

    By having a purely stock class (no modifications allowed) then that takes care of a big chunk of the riders.

    In the modified classes the field is too wide open for setting all sorts of crazy rules. Just let the bikes show up and see what happens. The first races are like testing beds for new ideas, this is how ideas form and evolve.

    Eventually there will either be power side limits (circuits) or battery side limits (circuits). With electronics very high precision is possible with custom designed circuits for this sort of thing, so down the road when the race sponsors can afford to make and provide them it will make things more official.

    But now is not the time to be laying too many laws on the scant number of ebikers in existance. When you start to get 200 racers at an event then you can start to filter them out by setting rules. Set the rules too strict now and people will give up and not race.
  7. woody

    woody New Member

    I guess you won't be racing then?
  8. safe

    safe Active Member

    I live in the US... New Zealand is on the other side of the world for me. (too expensive to get there)

    My bike is designed for the US 750 watt limit.
  9. woody

    woody New Member

    The rules are that we hold the race world-wide. Wattage is no issue for me. We can have higher weight if it suits you.

    I hold one race here. You hold one there. Someone holds one in Blackpool? etc etc.

    We all have fun, don't lie and learn summink?

    It will be tough but fun.

    If you don't want to, fair enough. But I sure as **** do want to.

    Let's get better. Let's share. Let's learn. Let's have fun and kick ***.

    Licensed invigilators will ensure fairness. You could be one.

    Just a thought.......
  10. safe

    safe Active Member

    Using The KISS Principle

    Well, international racing rules are going to be a little tricky when America has a 750 watt power limit, Canada 500 watts, New Zealand 300 watts, Europe and Australia 250 watts.

    The easiest way is with a universal power limitation circuit that the sponsors of the event provide and that connects to your throttle and attaches a sensor to the battery wires. Whenever the circuit reads a total combined power level (volts * amps) above the limit allowed then it pulls the throttle down. I've built circuits that do similiar things like this, but it's a little harder to do the multiplication of volts and amps without needing a microchip.

    So the "easy" KISS way to solve the problem is with a circuit.

    But that involves some minor investment of money at a time when money is not exactly flowing that well. It makes more sense to set these ideas in motion now and then some years down the road get them implemented.

    Motor Limited or Battery Limited?

    Eventually one might think a decision needs to be made that divides the motor power limited (fast, exciting) racing with the battery side limiting (strategic, philosophical, marathon mindset) racing.

    But maybe not...

    In a perfect world you could have BOTH styles of racing at the same event. The speed demons use the power limitation and the endurance people use the battery limitation. That way you could get both styles satisfied. Maybe the speed demons race for 20K and the endurance folks race for 100K, that way the two styles are allowed to demonstrate themselves in their best display venue.

    Anyway... I think for the here and now it's just going to be a sloppy collection of ebikers showing up with whatever they have and seeing what happens. You need to build these racing organizations up over many years. Things tend to not happen overnight.
  11. safe

    safe Active Member

    Chicken or the Egg?

    It's hard to bootstrap ebike racing when there are no true road racer bikes for sale. My goal is to develop the base racer and then build a business about selling them. That way (some years from now) most people will start with my product (which I'm sure will encourage competitors seeking to drive me out of business) and then take that bike to the track to race.

    So one day people will have some "base" to form a road racing class around.

    As it is today there are no real race bikes yet... so everything out there is just a bicycle with something electric attached to it.

    So there is a "Chicken or the Egg" problem right now, there are no good road racing bikes yet, so no way to get the racing started. Hopefully I can break that logjam.

    You ought to check out my video on YouTube: (my first generation road racer)

    (that's 57 mph by the way)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  12. Fuzzo

    Fuzzo Member

    500km? Are there any electric bikes that can go that far? I guess if pit stops are allowed.
  13. safe

    safe Active Member

    500 km would be too far for existing batteries by a large margin.

    100 km would be possible if you used the battery sparingly and pedaled the whole way providing most of the power.

    20 km is just right for flat out racing with the throttle being wide open all the time. I do 20 km (10 miles) on my existing ebike and average about 30 mph on motor power alone. Top speed for 750 watts with decent aerodynamics is about 40 - 45 mph on flat land. (more with better aerodynamics)


    So there could be a "sprint" race and a "marathon" race. The "sprint" could be based on power limits and the "marathon" could be based on battery limits. All this is off into the future though because things are very primitive at the moment with no circuits to limit the bikes.

    For now it's going to be ad hoc rules that are probably going to be frustrating to most people. For this reason what rules are used should be as minimal as possible.


    There was an ebike race in Australia a while ago that had so many battery rules that it was just silly. They had weight limits for each battery type. The whole thing was a mess.

    (so really messy rules have already been done before)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  14. Fuzzo

    Fuzzo Member

    10 miles is more like 15 km, btw. So you're not going to make it to the end, unless you sort out your economy mode.

    Lots of rules is in the very nature of motor racing. Unsurprisingly, because otherwise one vehicle just kills everything else, by virtue of some exploitation. Which is not particularly entertaining either, as exemplified by the Godzilla debacle at Bathurst.

    That goes for fast races and slow ones. Also, apart from drag racing, economy is always a concern. If you burn too much gas, you have to do more pit stops, or carry more gas, which means more weight. F1 is still a highly strategic fuel-economy vs power balancing act. And that's all part of the entertainment. There's always going to be a point where adding more power just isn't worth the energy consumption, because you get diminishing returns in speed.

    With electric it could be even more interesting, because the Wh remaining in the batteries is nowhere near as easily measured as the volume of petrol in a tank. It totally depends on the usage pattern.

    It's hard to see how skillful a race can be if the driver runs on full throttle the entire way. That race will simply come down to who has the strongest lightest bike/rider combo, no real skill involved. The skill will be mostly at the constructor level.
  15. Fuzzo

    Fuzzo Member

    Hey Woody, are you the "The Electric Bicycle Company" guy? I saw your epigram "All I want is a warm bed, etc" for sale on some T-Shirts on TradeMe. Does Ashleigh Brilliant know you're using his epigram?
  16. mabman

    mabman Member

  17. safe

    safe Active Member

    Well not full throttle all the time, but full throttle "when you can".

    Racing is ultimately about the turns... the faster rider just has the better rider skill and that translates into faster lap times. The best riders can carry a smooth drift of the tires through the turns being on the edge of traction.

    The more exciting road racing involves TRACTION as the limiting factor.

    When the race revolves around conservation of energy that's more of the marathon style and tends to proceed with less excitement. Marathon style racing tends to be strategic and cerebral, but lacking in any thrills except when through exhaustion someone does something dumb.

    Crashing happens when people get in "over their head" in a turn and lose it... we want that to be the fate of those that get too greedy, but at the same time we want to tempt people with the chance of victory to take that risk.

    No risk, no reward, no trophy.


    All I know is that I'm personally committed to the "passionate" style of "sport riding" and if others want the more cerebral economy focused racing that's up to them. I'm just pursuing what is of value to me.

    In bicycle racing their are "sprint" races and "tours". There's nothing wrong with "tours" in my opinion, but you can't force everyone into the same mold. Some people are naturally going to prefer short and fast racing while others will like the longer ones.


    20 km and 200 km

    Maybe the two races should be 20 km for the "sprint" and 200 km for the "marathon". That way you can use battery limiting for the marathon and it makes good sense. With a length of 200 km it would make no sense to be using full throttle because you would run out of battery after the first 20 km anyway.

    Long Races - Battery Wh Limited

    Short Races - Motor Power Limited

    ...200 km really pushes the limits and competes with the lengths that are used in the "tours". If you really want to prove that ebikes can compete in the "tours" you should make the marathon a real marathon of a race. However, 100 km is probably a more conservative length, you might not get ANYONE to finish a 200 km race. (it would not be a race, but a question of survival)


    Also, in motorcycle road racing there are no pit stops, so the racers carry a little extra gas along just in case. (they usually aren't trying to conserve fuel) The bikes are designed to run flat out for about half an hour on a tank of gas. Our electric bicycle road racing should also allow a race to be run flat out for about half an hour and that's what a 20 km length would deliver. Everything is just about right as a side by side comparison if the length is around 20 km.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
  18. safe

    safe Active Member

    1000 Watt Power Limited Racing

    Just so it's perfectly clear what I'm talking about when I'm saying:

    "1000 Watt Power Limited Racing"

    ...this chart (attached) shows what the power input verses power output of a typical motor would look like if it was given a 1000 watt power limitation circuit.

    The main point is that there is room for improvement in the motor design so as to make more power if the builder can find ways to increase the efficiency. (light blue area)

    This might cause motors to be built that use a wider powerband (down low) and might mean that people eventually switch to something brushless and something that was inductance based since that makes a wider powerband. The switched reluctance motor is the LEAST expensive to build, but needs a sophisticated control device to make work.

    The 1000 Watt Limitation would launch a new quest to create the most efficient small motor. (and that makes the bike more efficient) Eventually the "efficiency quest" will produce a motor that is so close to the ideal that all the racers would share close to the same power ouput.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
  19. Fuzzo

    Fuzzo Member

    I guess I'm yet to see electric bikes going the kind of speeds where cornering is exciting. If you're designing a course where falling off is encouraged then riders are going to have to wear really good safety gear, in which case the pedaling becomes less of a factor.
  20. safe

    safe Active Member

    Long Distance Cycling

    Bicycle Motocross (BMX)

    Downhill Mountain Biking

    ...two out of those three use significant protective gear and involve the very high potential of crashing.



    I think there will be a natural evolution of protective gear where leathers will be designed so that pedaling is easier. Don't forget that for "sprint" type racing you aren't doing it for very long and I know that in the case of BMX and Downhill Mountain Biking that wearing leathers on the legs is pretty normal.

    There is a place for the "marathon" in ebike racing, but I think the main reason for ebikes is that you can get the enormous bursts of extra power from the motor over short distances. Anything over 20 km and you start to get into the "marathon" mindset.

    We all don't want the same type of riding.


    When I was young I raced BMX and got a few trophies from it. Even back then the "bicycle snobs" didn't like the BMX sport because they preferred their long rides. But the potential for mass interest is HIGHER with things like BMX or a street "Sport" road racer bike than with the long distance endurance stuff.

    Regular people don't like long rides.

    However, what makes electric bikes so great is that weak cyclists can get a really fast and exciting ride because the motor provides so much power. 750 watts is enough that no normal human (even highly trained atheletes) can compete with that for more than about 2-3 minutes. After 5 minutes event the pro's drop down to about 400 watts.

    I'm targeting the "Electric Bicycle Road Racer" (EBRR) to the slightly out of shape suburban person that just likes to ride around his suburban streets for fun and then maybe race now and then. Someone who has excellent riding skills but is slightly out of shape could win in a short road race.

    Endurance racers are "fitness freaks"... and those are not the same as "speed freaks".
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009