Break­down sparks elec­tric bike build

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - TIM O’CON­NELL

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,

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