I had the Lead Comet out the other night for another little break-in ride. When I got back I reminded myself to take a picture of the darn thing — and finally did it a couple of days ago. So, in all its glory, here it is. Notice the batteries on the Xtracycle. Those are 38 Ah Optima YTs. They weigh about 25 pounds each. The rear axle is about centred under the rear battery. This is a more crucial point than I assumed at first.
Four batteries. About 100 pounds. Motor about 20 pounds. All of it on the Xtracycle. I knew it was going to be close to the edge for handling, but I didn’t think it would be as close as it is. Riding in perfect conditions has me right on the verge of what motorcycle riders call a “tankslapper” — where the front end starts to oscillate and the bike spirals out of control before the rider can react.
Pedal input, particlularly hard pedaling uphill, flexes the frame from side to side and really makes things sway. It’s a smallish frame, and I hear that the Xtracycle is prone to making a really whippy machine if you load it wrong. Still, I was going uphill with moderate pedaling around 20 km/hr, pulling around 1000 watts.
After about 8 km, I was starting to analyze the machine a little. “Shoulda got a front motor and put some weight in the front.” While I can’t do that — money IS an object and all my objects have small numbers on them — I decided to look into putting a front rack on, then moving two batteries to the front. I have some fabrication work to do making battery shelves for the rack, but that’s basically on the go now.
Which is why I wanted to get the picture up: because it doesn’t look like that now. At any rate, you see my problem — putting 1400 Wh of lead on a bicycle to go 50 km each way home to work. Other stuff: on the top of the Xtracycle is the 35A controller and four Soneil 3A constant current chargers. They get very hot in operation, so I fabricated a heat sink as part of the hold-down that keeps them in place. Up front I have the Cycle Analyst mounted on a small aluminum frame attached to two cut-down bar ends that are now in the centre of the bars. I wanted a small dashboard, so I could fit a light switch and a “Jesus Switch” or emergency power cutoff. (It’s called a “Jesus Switch” because if you ever need it, if you don’t pull it the next thing you’re going to see is Jesus.)