Recharge Mother Earth

Save our world by using electric vehicles

Ebikes are economical to use, easy to ride and low on maintenance.

Economics Ebikes are quite cheap in India and China as compared to the West. I bought mine for Rs 37,500 (US $700) in May 2012, and have since clocked up over 7000 km on it. Running cost (fuel) for an ordinary bike is between Rs 3-4/km. The ebike is like Rs.0.50/km. That is you save about Rs 3/km. At that rate, I have already saved Rs 21,000 so far.

Battery The main expense on an ebike is the battery which has to be replaced every 10,000 km. This costs around Rs 10,000 if you return your old battery. By the time, I run 10,000km, I would have saved Rs 30,000 in fuel. So net savings after replacing the battery is Rs 20,000. By around two years, I will recover the cost of buying the vehicle.

Performance The low price of Indian ebikes come at the cost of performance and low quality accessories.

Speed The bike takes its time to get up to speed from a stationary position. This can be unnerving at traffic signals and roundabouts. But once it gets going, it has decent acceleration and a top speed of 45 km/hr, which is good enough for urban travel.

Brakes Bicycle brake technology is used and hence braking is quite poor. But as the bike is light and limited in speed, you can control it as long as you make allowances for a stopping time that is a second or two more than ordinary bikes.

Range This is the biggest drawback of existing ebikes. On a full charge, it is can travel around 40km if you travel at its top speed of 40km/hr. This means you can only travel a max of 20 km from your base. In fact, speed drops to 30km/hr after it covers 30km. You can extend range by 5 km or so by traveling at 30km/hr. But fully draining the battery like this is not recommended. In fact, BSA suggests you charge it everyday even if you drive only 10km.

Charging Overcharging causes the battery to overheat. If this happens, the battery bulges and has to be replaced.  The supplied charger does have a defect in that it does not 'cut out' once the battery is fully charged (though it is supposed to). So leaving it on to charge overnight may not be a good idea. This means you have to keep your eye on the clock which is quite inconvenient. 4-5 hours charge is required to charge from empty. A meter on the scooter dashboard shows charge status when it is in use. Once the needle touches red, you can run a bit more as explained in previous point.

Maintenance Very little as there are few moving parts unlike fuel combustion engines. Battery requires servicing once in two months. Service charge is Rs 200. The motor in the rear wheel makes replacing a punctured rear tyre a complicated exercise.

Weather Avoid travelling on flooded streets as the battery and motor can be short circuited. Do not park it in the sun as the battery can heat up and get drained.

Tips Planning your journey is essential as the range is limited to 40 km but make sure that the battery has a full charge. However you can't tell for sure if the battery is fully charged. So it is better to restrict a round trip to 30km. One can extend this range by judiciously charging the battery in between trips during the day. Power cuts in India can be an issue but the battery can even recharge from a home UPS.

Conclusion: The 40 km range on full charge is a deal breaker for many customers. But if that is not an issue, this is a very practical and maintenance free vehicle. You can zip around town, do not ever need to stop at the petrol bunk, can charge with a normal plug point while you are at home, and can even carry a passenger without slowing down much. If you consider the cost savings and eco friendliness, the performance sacrifice and charging hassles are an acceptable trade-off.

Update BSA shut down production as the government stopped giving subsidies for electric bike manufacturers. (Seems it was only 1% of their business). Finding body parts is going to be impossible so avoid this brand at all costs.

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