TodayApril 17, 2022

Battery assist bicycles at the 2006 Challenge Bibendum

2006 Challenge Bibendum June 10, 2006, Mortefontaine, France

reporter: Mark Stretch Batchelor

Edouard Michelin’s tragic passing by an odd fishing accident couldn’t dampen his legacy at the 2006 Challenge Bibendum in and around Paris, France.

Hybrid, hydrogen, electric-powered prototypes, production, and just-for-fun four-wheel research vehicles were lined up in the car park outside of the convention hall at the CERAM site in Mortefontaine, North of Paris.

But for me, the real-recyclable transport for the majority of humans was tucked away from the main event, accessible only by shuttle bus; they were the battery-assisted push-bikes (bicycles.)

Just a little help from your NiMH battery and sometimes L-Ion battery friends

The majority of the electric-assisted battery bicycles at the 2006 Challenge Bibendum were powered by rechargeable NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride.) L-ion (Lithium Ion) batteries are coming as price becomes practical.

Sachs Bikes, ALU Touring

The Sachs ALU Touring model was the first battery-assisted bicycle I rode. The Sanyo 24 V DC engine in the front wheel was powered by a 15Ah NiMH battery that easily helped me over the simulated hill on the course.

An empty battery will charge in 6 to 5 hours. Rider selectable ECO, AUTO, and STANDARD assist settings will determine how long the battery will last between recharging. Sachs claims an 80 km (~50 miles) range dependent on how much assistance the battery discharges.

The BionX system

Canadian manufacturer BionX system consists of replacing the rear wheel with a motor-wheel, installing either a Nickel-Metal Hydride or Lithium Ion battery where a water bottle or lock would be located. The BionX system can be added to most bicycle styles, i.e., road, mountain, tandem up to 24 speeds.

There are four selections on the handlebar of the BionX. A rider can select 25, 50, 100, or 200 percent assistance or (“A” modes). While in the four “G” modes, the rider can select how much battery regeneration recharges either NiMH or Li-Ion battery. 

The higher the resistance, the more energy is generated to recharge the battery. Essentially the BionX system can be a bicycle-assisted or exercising system. 

I rode the moped-like, or “Low-Performance Moped” as defined in the EU (European Union) throttle version that has a fun acceleration, unlike the pedal-assisted boast feeling.

The optional throttle power on the right-hand grip wanna-be-moped with standard battery power-assist is available in the P250, P350 and comes standard on the North American only models PL250, PL-350.

Sunstar Engineering Inc

Like BionX, Sunstar Engineering Inc. offers a 15km/h add-on the assist turbo mode unit that can be attached to most existing bicycles. No specs were available for the battery type, range, and charging times.

Estelle, Elegance 

The Elegance 26″ frame “E-bike” and “Pedelec” model offers both pedal-assisted and twist grip (throttle), which function independently. Speeds are 22 kph/13.7 mph for pedal assist and 25 kph/15.5 mph for moped-like twist-grip throttle assist. 

Like the Sachs-bike, a seven-speed Shimano gearshift with a front hub engine and either a Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) 36 V / 5 Ah or a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) 36 V / 8 Ah battery. They are charging time 2 hours for the NiCd or 4 hours for the NiMH.

Edouard will always be missed, but what he did for the future of sustainable mobility will never be forgotten.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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