Breakdown sparks electric bike build
A desire to demonstrate his hands-on design skills and a bit of ‘‘number 10 wire’’ ingenuity has seen Henry Harvey realise his high voltage motorcycle ambitions.
Raised in rural Marlborough and a former boarder at Nelson College, the 28-year-old started building his yellow R142 road bike, under the Reesimo Motors banner, as a personal project to learn about electronics and electric vehicles in general.
‘‘I’ve always liked riding motorbikes and more and more I’ve become aware of challenges facing us such as oil dependence and pollution,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a bonus to end up with a useful commuter bike in the process.’’
While studying industrial design at Wellington’s Victoria University, Harvey rode a 1987 Honda VFR400 to lectures.
However, when the bike started having engine problems, he made the decision to pull out all combustion-related components and start again.
By the time he moved to Christchurch to study computer aided design, he was well on his way to creating his own electric prototype.
Given that the bike is converted from an existing motorcycle body, Harvey conceded it was never going to be something that could be put into production.
‘‘I think I have been more successful in promoting electric vehicles in general by showing what can be done.
‘‘I like talking to people about the bike and they are generally impressed to hear that it does 140km/h with one gear and costs less than $2 to charge.’’
The R142 bike’s motor is the 72V AC15 version of the popular HPEV range and is 27 HP AC induction. It runs on 28 Winston 60 Ah bottom-balanced batteries creating a 90V pack.
The bike is direct drive and therefore has no clutch or gears. With its current gearing it reaches 142km/h, with an expected range of 70km.
Harvey is also in the process of designing a farm bike and is currently building a 3D model on his computer.
Harvey’s Kiwi ingenuity has been utilised in quick fix situations, such as a test ride before a race.
‘‘Ten kilometres from home my sprocket key fell out. Faced with no cellphone reception and a long walk home I walked to a fence and bent some thick wire backwards and forwards until it broke. I pushed the wire into the keyway and bent either end with some bale twine to stop it falling out. Although it was No. 10 wire, not the mythical No. 8, I got home fine.’’
Harvey is quick to acknowledge some external assistance in getting his two-wheeled ambitions to its present state.
His younger brother Ed is an electronics engineer who finished converting an electric car before Harvey had started on his bike.
‘‘A lot of what I have learnt about electronics I read on the internet, but Ed gave me some very helpful advice when I was designing my bike,’’ he said.
‘‘I did want to have a drag race with him at Evolocity in Ruapuna last year, but we weren’t allowed to have a motorbike racing a car for safety reasons.’’
Also fielding many questions from Harvey was Iain Jerrett of Astara Technologies, who had built several bikes with AC motors and subsequently provided some helpful expertise. More information on Harvey’s projects can be found on his website www.reesimo.com or on his Reesimo Motors facebook page.
Electric motorcycle designer Henry Harvey with his R142 road bike,