A lot of buzz over this electric bike

THERE was a flurry of reader questions on last week's review of the Electrobike Pi, a stylish $7,500 bicycle that runs on pedal power, electric motor or a combo of both.

Published October 3, 2007 by LA Times
By Susan Carpenter 

THERE was a flurry of reader questions on last week's review of the Electrobike Pi, a stylish $7,500 bicycle that runs on pedal power, electric motor or a combo of both. For the original review, a video and additional reader feedback, see latimes.com/lawheels.

What other e-bikes are out there?I am completely appalled by the e-bike you chose to cover. The purpose of electric bicycles is to reduce our carbon footprint and make a personal step toward reducing emissions. Featuring a bike that costs $7,500 makes the goal something only the elite can afford to do.

There's a program in Pasadena called MyGo-Pasadena, which offers a $500 rebate for purchasing an e-bike and pledging to ride it to the train instead of using a car to get to work. This program features several great e-bikes that cost a lot less and are just as cool as the Pi.

Jordan JackLegg

Alhambra

I chose to cover Pi because it intrigued me. I liked its high design, California origins, green manufacturing and sales strategy, but you're right: There are other electric bikes out there, some of which are endorsed by the MyGo program you referenced. MyGo is available to Metro Gold Line passengers who commute at least twice a week by train and board at the Sierra Madre Villa, Memorial Park or Del Mar stations. Interested parties can find out more at www.mygo-pasadena.com but need to act fast. The program ends Dec. 31.

Following are the four e-bikes available for rebates through the MyGo pilot program:

1) Giant Suede-E. Range: 20 miles per charge; time to recharge: four to five hours; top speed without pedaling: 11.5 mph; weight: 56 pounds; cost: $1,000.

2) Tres Terra Europa. Range: 18 miles per charge; time to recharge: six hours; top speed without pedaling: 19.5 mph; weight: 75 pounds; cost $1,599.

3) Currie IZIP Trailz Enlightened. Range: 23 to 30 miles per charge; time to recharge: four to six hours; top speed without pedaling: 18 to 20 mph; weight: 48 pounds; cost: $1,499.

4) Currie IZIP EZGO folding e-bike. Range: 18 to 25 miles per charge; time to recharge: six to eight hours; top speed without pedaling: 18 mph; weight: 53 pounds; cost: $599.

Can't Pi go farther on a charge?Why be limited to 25 miles on one battery charge? Why didn't the manufacturer have a mode where, when coasting downhill, a small generator recharges the battery so that you can travel even farther on the battery?

Mark Hopkins

Costa Mesa

Pi's motor actually does have a generator that creates electricity when the bike is coasting in pedal-only mode. The generator is built into the flywheel so that the motor doubles as a generator when decelerating with the motor off. In a hilly environment like San Francisco, Electrobike says about 15% of the total value of the charge could be recouped from deceleration, while in flat areas, pedaling to assist the motor does a better job of contributing to the bike's range.

Electric bikes in the bike lane?A problem getting worse up here in Santa Barbara, and I expect elsewhere, involves an increase in motorized vehicles in the bike lanes and paths. All motorized vehicles are prohibited, whether electric or gas. Perhaps you might consider this issue the next time you feature a vehicle likely to be used in breaking the above-referenced laws.

Mic DeNiro

Santa Barbara

I stand corrected. Although electric bicycles are allowed in bike lanes attached to roadways, they are not allowed on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, equestrian or hiking trail unless the governing body having jurisdiction over such path or trail permits it, according to the vehicle code.

Emissions don't seem to add upI was stunned to see that the EPA has determined that "an additional 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions are burned per gallon of gas" while driving an automobile. I didn't do that well in physics, but tell me: How do you get 20 pounds of anything from approximately 7 pounds? If it's a typo, OK. If it's my math, help me.

Denis Labonge

Newport Coast

Get ready for some hard-core math. I called up my contact at the EPA to explain, and here's what he had to say:

"It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the CO2 doesn't come from the gasoline itself but the oxygen in the air," said EPA press officer Dale Kemery. "When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2).

"A carbon atom has an atomic weight of 12, and [each of the two] oxygen atom[s] has an atomic weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44. To calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a gallon of gasoline, the weight of the carbon in the gasoline is multiplied by 44/12 or 3.7.

"Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 pounds x .87). We can then multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, which equals 20 pounds of CO2."

susan.carpenter@latimes.com