Electric cycle could revolutionize your commute

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Electric cycle could revolutionize your commute


Meet the G2

In an effort to ween myself away from big oil dependence, I have been looking for an supplemental vehicle to my 1990 Blazer with its 350-V8 and 14 mpg. I want something that runs on batteries, is stable and affordable that I can use for in-town trips. I think I've found it!

There was an article in the Bellingham Herald last August 24th about a local man, Ken Trough, that is working on just such a vehicle. Here they are:

Starts at ~$1500

Watch Ken's website for more information on the G2. zortch.visforvoltage.com/

Meanwhile, here is a reprint of the Herald article:

Electric cycle could revolutionize your commute

The future is just around the corner, and it's driving an orange bike.

That's Bellingham resident Ken Trough on the bike - silent, packed with batteries and smoothly zipping down the sidewalk.

Is it a bike? Is it a man riding a battery? Is it a motorcycle?

It's the G2 - an innovative all electrically powered cycle being developed here. And it has the power to change the way we get around.

Trough and his associates - a group of designers, engineers and "visionaries" - are The Dragonfly Project. Though scattered throughout Washington and California, they meet online to develop a technology Trough says could change the way we move about.

"The electric recumbent design is really unusual," says Trough, a 38-year-old who has lived in Bellingham for 20 years.

It's an electric bike that runs on six lead-acid 12-volt batteries, which Trough compares to a high-powered version of a car battery. The batteries are cradled in the frame underneath the bike. Another innovative element of the design is the two tricycle-like back wheels that torque as you turn a corner - an increase in stability so far not found in many high-speed electric bikes. And you can sit back and rest on the recumbent bike, and thus, Trough says, have a more comfortable ride.

Part of the beauty of the electric cycle project is the ease with which people can buy in: They meet federal electric bicycle standards, so riders don't have to have a license or insurance to hop on.

Back in the 1980s, a fleet of fanciful electric motorcycles in the Japanese animated film "Akira" inspired Trough. He started hooking up with electric vehicle visionaries via the Internet, and found a mentor. "I see it as a workable solution to social problems," he says.

Trough says his bike, which is called the G2 for "second-generation" prototype, has a top speed of more than 40 mph. On one battery charge, it can go about 25 miles.

They plan to price the bikes at around $1,500 for entry level - similar to the price of a scooter.

"Filling up" requires 25 cents of electricity. That means it costs about a penny per mile to operate. To charge the bike, Trough plugs a "mini-briefcase" of chargers into an electrical outlet, and hooks up his bike. It charges in about 20 minutes. But the cycles aren't for a long haul down I-5 to visit your friends in Centralia. Yet.

The group plans to develop several models, including a higher-end two-seater bike that will reach 80 mph and can be driven on the freeway.

The applications, especially in Third World countries where many people ride polluting but cheap two-stroke engine scooters, could be staggering. "Certain cities in China have banned the two-stroke engine," says Michael Seal, who headed Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute. "Electric scooters have caught on in a big way." As political crises and unstable gas supplies merge to drive up prices, getting around on an electric or hybrid will become common, Trough believes. Seal agrees.

"I'm sure they'll become more popular by quite a bit." The Vehicle Research Institute, which Trough and The Dragonfly Project are not affiliated with, makes Bellingham a natural locus for electric and hybrid vehicle research.People here are excited about the technology, Trough says. The Dragonfly Project is based in Bellingham because of the "favorable public atmosphere," Trough says.

"The reception here has been stronger than anywhere else we've shown it." A long-term goal is to create a major alternative energy festival in Bellingham.

Trough cruises around Bellingham on his G2 bike, often attracting a crowd when he parks it on the sidewalk. He once jump-started a stranded motorist's car with the battery from his bike. "She said I was her new best friend," he says. For now, The Dragonfly Project members are financing the development themselves but they're looking for sponsors, or "angel investors," to continue the work. The technology has been around for ages, Trough says. But as everything from battery strength to public opinion becomes favorable, the time is right.

"The future is finally getting here."

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