One of my goals for 2011 is to decrease my fossil fuel use from driving by 50%. Since a portion of electric power generation on the grid is from fossil fuels, the only way I can really track my usage is by switching to some kind of Peddle Power for short trips and errands around town.
My criteria for practical Peddle Power is a vehicle that is fast enough to ride/drive in town, easy to use, easy to maintain and repair, can carry a rider/driver and at least one passenger along with a dozen bags of groceries or similar load, a vehicle that can be ridden/driven day or night, and safely in mildly inclement weather. What I want to build is a test-bed platform that is usable and easily modifiable, something I can tweak and tune into a functional long-term alternate transportation solution for my family. Enter The BikeTruck!
The biketruck is nothing new by any means. On this page about Chinese Three Wheelers, you can see several examples of motorized and non-motorized versions of the biketruck.
What I am planing to do is start with a base platform like the biketruck in the picture over on the right, and expand from there. A significant part of the project is to change the direct chain drive into a Peddle Powered alternator that charges a battery which in turn powers a high torque electric motor; essentially proving a consistent level of resistance for the peddler while making variable power available for the vehicles speed control and assisted breaking, including a reserve for up hill or rugged terrain that would require more power than the alternator may be able to put out. This could also include a power return to leach some power back into the system when going down hill. Ideally the system will be a simple one, using off the shelf parts or re-purposed parts whenever possible. It needs to be user-serviceable by the average person with minimal hand tools and skills.
Building the biketruck’s frame should be fairly straight forward, though I would expect it to be a bit more than the average person will want to do themselves. I think the most difficult part will be tuning the electronics and increasing efficiency. In truth I am not so concerned with making this a hyper efficient vehicle as I am with making it a functional and versatile one. That is the root of it all, functional and versatile, simple and user maintainable, in short sustainable and self sufficient.
I am in the early phase of another project right now, a big project at that, but I think I can slide some time in on this project here and there. First thing is to find parts, bicycle parts, tube steel, sheet metal, what ever. That means as far as this project is concerned, it’s time to scrounge. I am going to try and do the entire project with donated and re-purposed materials. That means this is a $0 project, there will be some money spent in consumables during the build, but that’s it. One of my tasks for getting parts is to start a wishlist page here on the site and a project page. Both will be up before next weeks post. I am also going to start posting in the wanted section of Craig’s List for parts donations once the aforementioned pages are up.
Until next time,