Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes the Electrom better than a conventional e-bike?
e-bikes are great, and for many people, they are all that is needed, however, for those who want to take their zero-emissions lifestyle to the next level, there is the Electrom. It will fill the gap between bicycles and car, while still offering the exercise, environmental, and traffic-busting benefits of a bicycle.

The Electrom is designed for riding in wet weather; the fairing keeps the rider’s legs and feet dry so they don’t need to struggle into waterproof pants and footwear and the 120 liters of securable cargo space keeps your stuff dry as well.

Unlike a conventional e-bike, the Electrom has all of the communication signals needed to integrate more safely with car traffic. The Electrom comes standard with headlights, running lights, turn signals, brake lights, and a horn.

The Electrom has a 200 km range and is designed for comfort. The recumbent seating position guarantees that you will be happy after spending hours in the saddle. Most people would be very uncomfortable after riding a conventional e-bike 200km

Many e-bikes on the market today use proprietary motors and batteries that may not be supported by the manufacturer in the future. In planning the Electrom we set out to use as many off-the-shelf parts as possible to aid in reliability and replacement part sourcing. Rational design and readily available components will allow Electrom owners to keep their investment on the road and out of the landfill for years to come.

The Electrom presents a much bigger visual impression than a regular bike which makes it far safer in traffic because the cars give you more space.


What advantages does the Electrom have over a velomobile?
Velomobiles have been optimized for aerodynamics and lightweight, as a result, they aren’t great when sharing the road. They are too low to be seen by many cars, are too wide to fit properly into most bike infrastructure, and velomobile tires are so skinny that they are very prone to flats. The Electrom has been optimized for roadworthiness from the beginning. The rider is higher up and able to make eye contact with drivers. The two-wheel format fits all bicycle infrastructure, and the 20 X 2.75-inch moped tires can handle the worst road conditions.

Getting into and out of a velomobile often requires a significant degree of flexibility as they must be climbed down into, usually through a relatively small opening. The Electrom has a tilt-away front fairing and an 18-inch seat height so the rider needs only lift the fairing and step onto or off of the vehicle.


Where is the Electrom manufactured/assembled?
The Electrom is designed, manufactured, and assembled in Vancouver BC using a combination of domestic and imported components. The frame, bodywork, and steering system are designed and made in Vancouver. The majority of the electrical and bicycle components are readily available off-the-shelf items. This is a deliberate strategy in order to provide a secure source of spare parts to future owners and to control manufacturing costs.


Does the Electrom come with a battery charger?
The Electrom ships with the Grin Technologies high-voltage Satiator battery charger.


If the battery is fully discharged can you still try to pedal to find somewhere to plug in?
One can move the bike on human power alone, but due to the weight, it is not ideal. The rear electric hub motor is direct-drive which means that if there is no power, one is working against the magnets to spin the wheel. This is a worthwhile trade-off in order to have regenerative braking.

The upside is that the battery system is so small compared to an electric car that it can be charged with a standard power plug so one can “opportunity charge” almost anywhere.


How much does the pedaling contribute to battery charge?
This depends on how fast one is going, and therefore how quickly one is using power. On the slowest and most conservative setting, the bike consumes about 500 watts while traveling at 32 KM/H. We have found that an average rider can generate 150 watts continuously to provide about 1/4 of the power used. On this setting and on relatively flat ground one could achieve 220 kilometers of range on the two built-in batteries. The rider can decide how much work they want to do; at a gentle pace of 75 RPM at the pedals, they generate 80-150 watts, however, the resistance/generation curve goes up quite quickly. At 80 pedal rpm, the rider will generate 175 watts, and at 85 pedal rpm the resistance is quite significant and the rider is generating 250 watts. The average fit rider can generate a maximum of about 600 watts for a minute or so.


how much of the rider’s pedaling effort is lost from the pedal-generator-to-motor transmission?
We have calculated the net peddling efficiency, but to be honest, we always knew that a pedal generator is nowhere near as efficient as a bicycle direct chain drive (which is the most efficient conversion of of energy to transport known to humankind). Our philosophy is that the Electrom is a convenient electric vehicle that the rider can use for meaningful exercise. Think of it like a recumbent exercise bike that actually moves. 
Just the simple fact that the best efficiency that most electric motors and generators can achieve is 85%, and any pedal-by-wire system will need both a generator and a motor, one will lose a minimum of 30% right away before one even starts to consider friction losses. But that’s not what the Electrom is about. 
Consider that even the highly restricted pedal-first e-bikes can draw as much as 1200W, and a fit human can produce about 150W continuously. This means that the human is contributing an average of 25% of the energy (because you are not always going uphill and drawing 1200W).  Does it make sense to obsess about using that energy as efficiently as possible? Or would it be better to use a pedaling system that allows the human to get the best quality exercise? We opted for the best exercise. 


Can you pedal to charge the batteries while parked?
Unfortunately, you cannot pedal while stopped. The cranks are connected to both the generator and the back wheel via chains. This is for two reasons:

  • Reason number one, as an e-bike “working pedals” are a requirement for most e-bikes in most areas and we did not want there to be any ambiguity about whether the pedals on the Electrom qualified it as an e-bike if they were not connected to a wheel. 
  • Reason number two is that when a rider encounters a hill that is too steep for the motor alone, the bike slows down to the point where the rear freewheel engages and the rider’s energy goes into helping the motor up the hill. This happens at speeds below 15 km/h. As soon as the bike speeds up again the rear drive begins to freewheel again and the rider’s energy is only going into the generator. In this situation, the rider is not working against the generator as the peddling rate is usually below 70 rpm so the generator is not producing power or resistance.

It is possible to put the bike up on a stand to lift the rear wheel and use it as an exercise bike. We also do this to allow people to test out the GCD without actually taking it for a ride (riding a two-wheel recumbent position takes some practice).


Why not a trike?
There are already plenty of three-wheel electric vehicles out there. We wanted to explore the advantages that two wheels offer:

  • Narrow Profile. The Electrom is just 26 inches at its widest point, this offers superior aerodynamics and the ability to take advantage of a bicycle’s legal privilege of lane splitting to get through congested traffic.
  • Some in the Motorcycle Community call trikes “pothole seekers” because they are so difficult to steer around rough spots on the road. A two-wheel cycle usually has the front wheel followed by the rear wheel on the same line, so one only needs to steer the front wheel around the obstacle. Whereas a trike has three wheels, each on a different course, so it is very difficult to get them all around an obstacle.
  • There is nothing like a two-wheel vehicle when it comes to handling. The Electrom carves through corners like a motorbike. A three-wheeler would tip at even half of the speed that the Electrom can negotiate a tight corner. There are some tilting trikes that help with this issue, but they are significantly more complex. Increased complexity often increases maintenance and breakage.


Where is the Electrom available?
We are focusing on Canada and the West Coast of the USA for now.

While the Eletrom would be very suitable for EU countries, we have found that the cost of shipping to the EU and the confusing mix of regulations make it impossible at this time.

We do have an Electrom prototype in Germany, and the owner is considering the possibility of setting up a manufacturing facility there.


What is the lowest temperature at which the Electrom can operate?
All Lithium batteries are affected by low temperatures. One starts to notice a decrease in battery power at temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. Using a small amount of power to provide battery warming is possible.
Because the Electrom batteries are located within the fuselage, they can be insulated for low temperatures. Batteries produce heat while in use,  and once they warm up they start to perform better. However, with two batteries the system is easily able to supply the needed power even when cold.


Do I need a driver’s license to operate the Electrom? Is it classified as a light motorcycle, moped, or e-bike?
The Electrom meets the legal description for a motor-assisted bicycle (e-bike) in most jurisdictions and does not require a license. The Electrom does have all of the lights, signals, and horn required on a scooter or motorbike for safe operating practices and an interested user could likely register their Electrom as a Moped or Motorcycle in some jurisdictions.


What is the expected life of the motors?
The rear motor on the Electrom is a direct drive hub motor which is a wonderfully simple thing. With no moving parts, other than the rotation of the wheel on wheel bearings, there is very little to fail. The rear motor currently used on the Electrom is expected to last for tens of thousands of kilometers. We have logged over 10,000 kilometers on one of the test Electrom and the motor has required no maintenance.
The front hub motor is a geared hub motor so it does have some moving gears that will wear over time. However, because the front motor is only active about 10% of the time, we expect tens of thousands of kilometers of use before a replacement set of gears is required.


What are the estimated operating costs for the Electrom?
The Electrom is thoughtfully designed for longevity and is simple to maintain. Based on the power costs in British Columbia (hydroelectric) and by employing good maintenance practices it is estimated that the operating costs of the Electrom (using an assumed component life of 10,000/15,000 hours for the major items) are around C$0.07/km.


How long (KM driven/years) do the brake pads last before they need to be replaced?
The Electrom has regenerative braking. Once the rider has become habituated to taking advantage of this feature by anticipating the need to stop and using the regenerative brakes in time for them to absorb the majority of the kinetic energy carried by the vehicle, the use of the hydraulic disk brakes is greatly reduced and this saves a lot of wear on brake pads. Of course, the nature of the riding has an effect as well: stop-and-go city riding will consume brake pads faster than long rides on open roads. Testing has shown that with the use of high-quality brake pads, the Electrom will require a brake pad change every 1500 kilometers or so. Changing the pads is a simple procedure that takes about 10 minutes per wheel


How will you resolve warranty repairs?
Electrom is a startup company, and to be able to sell vehicles for a reasonable price the Electrom will be sold directly to customers. It will be sold online as a self-assembled kit. This means that the end user will assemble their own Electrom. The mechanical and electrical components are all standard ‘off-the-shelf items’ The Electrom will come out of the box with much of the detailed assembly already done, so the final build should not be difficult or very time-consuming. We estimate between ten to fifteen hours, depending on mechanical aptitude. Early Electrom buyers will have to replace parts themselves, both parts under guarantee and regular wear items like brake pads and tires. However, we will provide excellent service documentation and fast delivery of spares. If you are unable to do simple repairs yourselves then you should probably wait to buy an Electrom until there is an established support network.


How safe is the Electrom for use on main roads, secondary roads, and highways?
The Electrom has proven to be very safe. Because the Electrom is equipped with lights, signals, and mirrors one can effectively communicate with drivers. The mirrors are especially helpful on highway trips, as one can see large trucks approaching from behind and anticipate their passing. Also, because the Electrom rider is situated at the same height as the driver in a standard passenger vehicle, eye contact with drivers is easy to achieve. This makes city driving much safer than on many lower-slung recumbent bicycle designs. While the Electrom is very narrow, it presents a big visual image. As a result, we have found that car drivers leave lots of room when passing.


Why isn’t the Electrom Fully Enclosed for weather protection?
The Electrom front fairing does aid significantly in the aerodynamic department and protects the rider’s lower body from the rain so they need only wear a jacket and can skip the rain pants and rubber booties. In some ways, it would have been aesthetically and functionally nicer to have a higher windscreen or perhaps a full enclosure but we didn’t do so for a couple of reasons:

1. The higher the windscreen, the more surface area that is presented to crosswinds. As the Electrom is a two-wheel vehicle we needed to keep that surface area as small as possible to minimize the chances of being blown around by gusts of wind.

2. One of the main design goals was to keep the Electrom as simple as possible. A windscreen that covered the rider’s face would have required a windshield wiper system that would have added a lot of complexity, weight, and cost. Windshield wipers would have also added to the above-center weight and in the various iterations of the Electrom, we’ve discovered that any unnecessary weight above the center line should be avoided as it drastically affects how the vehicle handles. The recumbent position of the Electrom allows for all of the heavy components such as batteries, controllers, and motors to be kept nice and low on the vehicle. Most riders use a helmet with a face shield that they can easily wipe with the back of their glove when it is raining.


Do you have a question not answered here? please email us.


Learning to Ride the Electrom


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