Pedal power could take on a whole new perspective, if the Australian Government lifts restrictions on the importation of battery powered bicycles says Sanyo, who today showed off a new bike that makes peddling up a difficult hill easy.The “eneloop Hybrid Bicycle” which has a battery that rider’s can actively charge while pedalling would be launched in Australia if the Federal Government changes the legislation to let 250 watt bicycles into Australia. Currently they are banned to a legal limit of 200 watts
According to motor vehicle ADR’s (National Standards), a bicycle with an auxiliary engine (petrol or electric), with less than 200 Watts (0.27h.p) OUTPUT* is classified as an AB Category Vehicle, a ‘Power Assisted’ or ‘Motor Assisted’ Pedal Cycle.
Anyone caught riding a bicycle similar to the new Sanyo model would be prosecuted under current legislation. Action will also be taken against a vendor or distributor importing the bicycles.
According to current legislation consumers can only buy a bicycle with an attached device deemed an auxiliary engine that maintains low speed on level ground, no greater than an ‘average’ person pedalling.
At an event in Singapore today, Sanyo rolled out their new bicycle and SmartHouse was able to get a hands road test. We were impressed by the ease of use and the enhanced performance when in third gear on a slope. At no stage did we feel in danger due to the 250 watts of power.
The new Sanyo eneloop bicycle has a unique regenerative charging system that stores energy created while pedalling. The new model will be ready by April 2010.
According to Bill Crichton Vice President of Sanyo Australia the new bikes are at this stage “illegal” in Australia.
“We are confident that the legislation will be changed to allow a 250 wattt bicycle to be sold. We believe these will prove extremely popular. We are already seeing with Sydney and Brisbane Council’s significant investment being made into bicycle paths and we believe that a lot of people who live in areas where there may be a hill or slope will go out and buy an assisted bicycle. This can only be good for the environment”.
“It is designed for people who want to commute to work and not be sweaty or who want to get back on the bike for the first time and may be out of shape, or even a mom who needs a little help pedaling to keep up with the kids.”
A “dynamotor” built into the hub of the front wheel charges a bicycle’s battery when it is cruising downhill or a rider is braking.
The motor kicks in when a rider pedals, providing a virtual wind at one’s back and making inclines feel more like flat terrain. Each bicycle has three gears changed with twists of a handlebar grip.
There is also power boost mode for daunting uphill climbs.
If launched in Australia the new Sanyo bicycle would sell for around $1,900.
The new model has a large eneloop battery located just below the seat that instead of charging through an electrical outlet can be charged while the user is riding the bike. The battery saves energy when the rider is going downhill or braking, and stores this for future use.
In such a scenario, the rider could ride down a hill and use the energy created by the bike to then ride up the hill. Sanyo claim that the Eco Charge Mode increases the assisted travel distance by about 53%.