Building Competence + Safe-Fail options
With a varied riding background, we know what it takes to build two wheeled riding competence, as well as some of the downfalls that can arise with increased risk. There are plenty of patches of Australia where I've left some skin as I pushed to tackle a new challenge. There are some things that are fundamental in designing a safe, yet challenging riding experience. Here's our must-haves, with some examples of patterns and anti-patterns that we've seen in different riding facilities.
Competence builds in a progression
As toddlers, we learn to crawl before we walk, walk before we learn to run. Riding skill development is no different. Learning to balance, learning to pedal, learning how to turn without a front wheel washout, or wheelie, or jump. All of these are skills learnt in a competency progression, but all need foundation skills to work from. Having riding facilities that support riders at each stage in their skills progression sequence means attracting a much wider cohort of potential riding families. It's one of the reasons Stromlo Forest Park absolutely nails it in terms of attractiveness as a riding destination, supporting riders of all skill levels with challenges suitable for skill level across a broad range over 50km of designed trails.
Locally, on Central Coast NSW, we've seen two great examples, but at each end of the challenge spectrum:
Pattern: Saltwater BMX Park, for beginner riders, adjacent to a well designed and popular cycleway, picnic facility and playground, with free WiFi, where families are going to naturally congregate and create memories;
Anti Pattern: San Remo Xtreme Sports Park, where 66% of the available lines are Black runs, viable for maybe 5% of overall riders skills levels to tackle safely. The one Green line for beginner riders is on a downslope, with double jumps and bitumenised jump faces/landing zones, guaranteed to shred exposed skin, faces and risk fractures for new riders.
Design for Failure and Safe-Fail vs Fail-Safe
Riders of any skill level and any age are going to make mistakes as they challenge themselves to take on a new skill, whether it be riding a berm, looping out on a wheelie, or jumping high/longer, or more extreme challenges like backflips. Inevitably, that's going to involve some injury risk, so we need to consider how to let kids fail safely, using techniques like: motile track surfaces (gravel vs hard/immobile bitumen); differential heights (set landing zones higher than take off in jump-ups), gap-handling (using a table-top style double jump to handle landing short, instead of a jump face that will cause a trip over the bars when landing short); realistic and achievable gradings (make sure Green is beginner friendly).
Patterns and Anti-Patterns
Here's a simple Compare+Contrast experience. Imagine you're a junior rider, off training wheels, with established balance and pedalling strength, looking to tackle new obstacles.
Would you rather:
a) Learn on a gravel track, with manageable slopes and perhaps a bit of gravel rash (Exhibit A) or;
b) Learn on a downhill slope track, with bitumenised jump faces and landing ramps where you're going to lose a lot more skin when you make a mistake (Exhibit B)?
Design for Delight
Designing a Bike Park is the sort of thing that's best tackled by using a Service Design driven approach to create experiences that evoke joy, rather than drive people away with a bad experience.
Design for Delight.
We are all too aware of the population health challenges of the Hunter region, with spiralling obesity rates and transport modes that do little to encourage human movement and active transport. The need to rethink how we move has never been more urgent, in the face of spiralling rates of chronic disease, mortality and morbidity rates associated with lifestyle risk factors. In the face of this, cycling is well proven as a form of lifestyle medicine that can positively impact health at a whole of population scale when it's convenient, affordable and safe. A large scale epidemiology research case (http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/04april/pages/hard-times-in-cuba-linked-to-better-national-health.aspx) confirmed the impact cycling had in needy times on the Cuban population, with obesity, heart disease and diabetes rates plummeting as the country took up cycling in the 90's economic crisis.
The recognition of our innovation themed offering comes on the back of our Land Forces 2014 (APAC Region Defence Industry Conference) Agile Logistics entry, recognised as an SME Innovation Finalist, where we combine a high capability, Australian designed off-road electric bike with smart portable solar generators from our alliance with Laughing Mind as a Goal Zero dealer.
We've built on that work, with recent partnering alliances with other local innovators like New York TropFest Winner Jason Van Genderen's Pocket Film Academy, using a CargoCycles trike as a "Pocket Film Academy on Wheels", which we plan to have roaming through the upcoming Vivid4shore festival in Tuggerah Lake and Newcastle.
To find out more about the detail of what we're looking to bring to the Hunter, you'll need to come along to their Smart Ideas breakfast briefing on 14July 2015 to hear our 90second pitch ;-)
The following content is posted on behalf of the upcoming Smart Future Cities conference, which Quiet Rush is participating in behind the scenes effort to bring to Newcastle.
"The University of Newcastle’s Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and The City of Newcastle have joined forces to deliver the Hunter region's first Smart Future Cities conference and exhibition, which is to be held from 1 - 3 October 2015 at Newcastle City Hall.
Smart Future Cities 2015 is the first of its kind to be held in Australia and will bring together international and national experts, researchers and businesses to present their latest findings on how to grow a Smart City. The conference is being held on 1 and 2 October 2015 and will address the importance of renewable energy technologies with a focus on future transport, innovation and emerging technologies in the built environment, electric vehicles and driverless cars. It will culminate in a free public event at Newcastle City Hall showcasing Newcastle's Smart City Initiative.
On day three (3 October 2015), an Electric Vehicle (EV) and Clean Energy Expo will be held in Wheeler Place and on the ground floor of City Hall. The EV and Clean Energy Expo will showcase electric vehicles and associated technologies as well as clean energy technologies. Now in its fifth year, the EV Expo was recognised in 2014 as the largest electric vehicle show in Australia attracting attendees from manufacturers such as Renault, Tesla and Nissan. The expo will be open and free to the public.
Professor Tim Roberts, Director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, says that: "The Institute is extremely excited at the opportunities Smart Future Cities 2015 will generate. We will have some of the brightest minds from across Australia and the world here in Newcastle for three days, helping to promote Newcastle and the Hunter region as at the forefront of planning for a renewable energy future, and indeed a Smart City future."
"Research will be showcased at this event from locally and internationally recognised experts in the coming era of electric vehicles, renewable energy, autonomous electric vehicles, and the Internet of Things. The presentations will impart valuable skills and knowledge to our local researchers and businesses and industry, which are on the ground solving the problems of the future."
Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes says: "Councils across Australia must take a leadership role by embracing smart city technology and the opportunities it provides for our communities and businesses. Council acknowledges the role we must play in making our city a smart city and we are extremely proud to have launched our Newcastle Smart City Initiative, in partnership with Newcastle NOW and Cisco. This conference provides a unique opportunity for us to talk as a community about what it means to be a smart city and to embrace the opportunities it will provide."
The conference is an initiative of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment at the University of Newcastle in partnership with the Regional Clean Energy Program of NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and The City of Newcastle. An estimated 50+ speakers will bring the latest information in their fields to delegates through presentations and networking sessions and this will aid in business development and growth within Newcastle and the Hunter Region.
Details of the Conference and Expo can be found at www.smartfuturecities.com.au
For interviews or further information please contact the UON Media Team on 02 4921 5577 or email email@example.com"
We're delighted to see this important evolution of the Industry aspect of the HunterEVFestival, which is still happening for 2015, see www.hunterevfetival.net for details.
Stealth Electric Bikes work hard to keep their rugged offroad electric bikes at the leading edge of performance, reliability and light weight. Recent work at the factory and rider feedback have resulted in 2 product updates to the Battery (for the Stealth Fighter) and Forks (for all models).
Recent R&D work at the factory has led to a change in approach for their Stealth Fighter battery, resulting in a new battery that's now boosted with an extra 40% capacity - providing an indicative range of 100km when ridden in economy mode. Riders inquiring about the Stealth bike range have traditionally looked more to the heavier Stealth Bomber when range is an issue - this latest update now puts both bikes onto a more even footing for expected range.
Stealth Battery - The Details
Chemistry: Lithium Ion
Battery Management System is integrated within the battery enclosure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I retrofit the Stealth Battery to my existing Stealth Fighter?
Will the new battery work with my existing charger?
Is there an impact on price?
Slightly - the 1.5kWh battery for a Stealth Fighter is now $2475.
What sort of range can I expect in offroad mode?
There are so many variables involved in offroad riding (rider weight, trail gradient, surface, acceleration intensity, amount of rider effort used, rider experience) that we don't offer indicative range guidance for off-road purposes. There are some useful articles being written by owners that will give you an indication of how they best balance the performance+range aspects in their riding. With an extra 40% capacity though, we know you're going to be out for longer.
Why have Stealth changed their forks from the RST R1 model?
The RST R1 forks have been a standard issue fork for Stealth for a long time - balancing price+performance+reliability means Stealth are always watching the supplier market to offer their owners the best suspension experience possible, whilst also keeping the option to upgrade to a higher performance fork in the MRP Groove 200 USD. The DNM forks have emerged as a compelling alternative, with investigations confirming improved performance and adjustability at an economical price. Riders who have moved to the DNM forks have been able to take advantage of greater levels of adjustability to suit their riding styles, with an excellent writeup at http://www.stealthelectricbikes.com/forums/topic/dnm-usd-8-fork-review-and-mods/
The MTB years
With a move to Sydney at around the same time the first MTBs were hitting Australia, it was a natural choice of transport in the late 80's for dodging cars, guttering, kerbs and obstacles. Morning commutes from Glebe to Parramatta and Canterbury turned into fantastic interval training sessions in an effort to not get mown down - there was no such thing as a cycle lane then.
MTBs were evolving fast at that time, and became my ride of choice over the next two decades, taking me onto national level off-road racing circuits like the Yurtfarm in Goulburn, Majura Pines, Thredbo, Cairns, Killingworth. I used that time in racing to also undertake the first Level 1 MTB Coaching course that ran in Australia, with Damian Grundy and a handful of others. I still have my old school race bikes which get a good dusting off in a 24hr race or club race or two :-)
When not training or racing, I'd be doing long cross country cycling treks, from Wollongong to Albury via the Alps, Sydney to Melbourne, mixing country roads with little used National Park trails. I still reckon there are few better ways of seeing our beautiful country than by bicycle.
Sum total bicycle injuries: Plenty of gravel rash+ bruises, splinters, lacerations, occasional stitches. But no breaks. I've been lucky. Others haven't.
There were quite a few, sprinkled in amongst the years of BMX, MTB and general pedalling.
XR75. PW80. DS80. TC125. TY100. TS185. GT250. KDX175. KDX200. XR500.TT600. TT350. RM370. DR650. XR600. NX650. F650GSPD. KTM300. TriZ250 (deadly). GasGas200. TE250. TE610. Zero FX. Not to mention the too-fast mates bikes ridden, such as WR360, KTM380, TE510, GPZ750, CBR900RR. The Trikes and Quads I've tended to avoid, for good reasons.
Sum total moto injuries: 1 broken rib. Plenty of gravel rash+ bruises. I've been lucky. Others haven't.
Then I went electric. It wasn't an uninformed choice. I still also ride my MTBs every opportunity I get.
You might like to see what other riders say as well.
We caught up recently with the popular leisure show Sydney Weekender to help demonstrate the potential of electric bike riding as an eco-friendly transport option for smaller scale facilities where noise + trail impacts need to be minimised, as part of a broader palette of activities in a peaceful local setting. Friends at the Forest of Tranquility were featured as part of the film shoot, with the episode airing 4th October 2014.
Over the coming months we'll be offering dedicated rider coaching sessions as part of a range of family friendly activities available for visitors to the Forest of Tranquility. Their schedule is busy for Q414 with Firefly Magic season camping and people keen to experience an overnight stay in a tipi, but keep an eye on their eBike program, where you can have the chance to come and try, or experience what its like to run with off grid power options.
In case you missed the episode, the link is http://www.sydneyweekender.com.au/stories-2014/hostings-central-coast-tipis
New possibilities for Electric Action riding
With the 2014 Hunter Electric Vehicle Festival now done and dusted, capped off with a 1500 Class win and Energy innovation award, Quiet Rush have started to reach out to new regional destinations to see if we can bring a taste of electric riding action a little further south. The proposed new facility at CASAR Park represents a great option for motor sports enthusiasts of the Central Coast, with the potential to become something more than just a motor-sports venue and broader appeal for boosting already healthy regional tourism numbers.
What we've seen and proven in the Hunter EV Festival is that motor-sports are evolving and innovating in new directions, with exhibitors showcasing cutting edge vehicles in Electric Superbikes, Electric Motorcycles, Solar Racers, Electric Bikes (for On and Offroad action) and Electric Cars. The great example being set by Newcastle based ELMOFO as they redefine racing with their own vehicle, drivetrain and power source systems is a shining example of what's possible, leading to results that see them thumping its petrol powered competitors. Within our own modest racing class, we've experienced the thrill of seeing what its like to ride a bike that blends the best of human and electric performance to create a unique racing format, done at human-scale speed where you can still chat away with competitors whilst racing elbow to elbow in a clean, emissions free racing format.
Within adventure seeking always comes a compromise between adrenaline (proportional to perceived and actual risk) and survivability in the event of adverse outcomes - it's why GP riders often start out racing 125's, before progressing through 250s to higher power machines, honing their race craft, riding and racing skills. With a rehabilitation and human factors background highlighting for us the downside risk potential when things go wrong, we think there's ample space in the adventure sports space to innovate and create a new racing class for introducing new riders, using new zero-emissions machines such as our Stealth Fighter, racing at what we call human-scale speed. We use this to describe a speed that is fast enough to create the perception of risk, induces adrenaline and requires focus, but still occurs within an acceptable risk envelope where the risk to the rider is mitigated by modest power, with lower top speeds, lighter machines and nimble handling. You can read about what it's like to race a Stealth Fighter on a GoKart track to get a bit more background on why it's such enjoyable format, or take a look at others impressions.
With an initial orientation ride offered to Brad Wilson from CASAR Park to get a feel of what its like to ride one of our Australian made Electric Off-Road bikes from Stealth Electric Bikes, we're entering into more detailed discussions to see how we might be able to jointly create an entirely new riding experience, where novice riders can take part in a socially inclusive venue, getting a chance to try powered riding in a low risk riding and racing format. With plenty of sunshine, the CASAR facility is ideal for running an electric race format, powered by solar options, with people able to get a taste of how energised riding can boost their own riding skills and confidence. It can also be a place to participate in non-racing formats, where people of all ages might wish to experience an electric bike, ranging from mild to wild, build their skills and confidence with graded challenge areas (see this example of the The Playground Bike Park at Mt Stromlo to get an idea of what's possible). By combining the option of motorsports and family based activities achievable for all ages, with a road safety and competence building focus, places like CASAR park can help ensure cyclists and motorists leave after days fun at the facility with mutual respect and enhanced road safety behaviours.
In one word? AWESOME!
One of the great aspects of the 2014 Hunter Electric Vehicle Festival is the commitment to parameters for different racing classes so there are common benchmarks for power output to retain a level of competitiveness, an important aspect in Electric Bike racing. In the 1500 class, bikes are limited by battery capacity to 1500Watt Hours (1.5kWh) as the main constraint, with some other racing class regulations. The race takes a similar approach for defining power capacity limits for the High School classes, which keeps the racing competitive and focussed on efficient performance to squeeze the most out of a 384Wh battery.
The Stealth Fighter, with a 3500W motor and weighing in at 34kg, fitted with a set of street tyres like Schwalbe Crazy Bobs is an easy choice for this racing class. Whilst working below class capacity for the battery, Stealth have made sure the power is delivered efficiently for effective range as an off-road electric bike and ready-to ride product. With plenty of suspension travel, there's little risk involved if you find yourself drifting off-track. In fact, it almost eggs you on to give it a go, since this is what it's built for.
1. Human-scale speed: With a top speed of around 60-65km/h, we find that this is an effective human-scale speed for this racing class, which allows for lower risk in the event of a slide, reduced impact and damage to the rider and bike. With a long history in dirt bike riding and mountain bike racing, we know full well the downside risks when things go wrong. Having a set of compliance rules that encourage solid protection for the riders head plus all major joints+points (hands, elbows, knees, feet) helps add to the safety of the rider. The level of adrenaline and attention required still ensures a high level of cardiac output, which can be seen in the race plot below, so there is some interesting stuff happening physiologically as the riders concentrate on the race;
2. Silence: Aside from the Solar Challenge, we can't think of another powered racing class that is so quiet. As you move at top speed around the track, its possible to engage with other competitors in friendly banter, egging each other on, or passing on observations about smelling overheating motors being pushed to their limits, or simply calling a warning during overtaking. It makes for a very social, yet friendly competitive event. Engine sound effects are optional, left to the inspiration of the rider and their engine style preferences (2stroke or 4? Inline or V?) - other riders just hoot and laugh at the fun they've having;
3. Safety: As a business owner and father of 3 young kids, I can't afford to take the same risks I once did - the consequences are far more dire in terms of life impact than if I were young and single. As a Health Professional working in injury rehabilitation I've seen my fair share of people who think they can take the same risks they used to when younger. The body doesn't bounce back as fast as we might like to think it will, and injures more easily than we might expect (go look up Optimism Bias), which is a consequence worth thinking through before committing to a corner overcooked. With plenty of run-off spaces, a GoKart track makes a great medium for racing, with tight turns preventing high speed and rewarding a skilled rider who picks their lines as a counterpoint to a rider on a faster bike, using the full 1.5kWh capacity.
1500 class electric bike racing reminds us of the now defunct 50cc GrandPrix racing class, with teams extracting maximum power from little engines within a lightweight chassis. Its a similar racing format, but made safer and more acceptable with lower speeds and no noise. When combined with solar charging, it makes for great EcoFriendly racing. Loads of fun, easy on the ear and planet, yet exhilarating, adrenaline inducing and within an acceptable risk margin for human limits of the average rider. For anyone using a Stealth in the class, they can rest easy knowing they can then still turn it to off road action that is every bit as much fun when the racing is done. Now I wonder how it might look if we were allowed to actually pedal?
QuietRush wins 2014 HunterEVPrize 1500 eBike class and energy-autonomy award in National Science Week
Quiet Rush are delighted to have won the 2014 Hunter EV Prize 1500 eBike class amongst a diverse team of entries, including converted motorcycles and high powered eBike kit bikes, racing a standard Stealth Fighter as part of our range of Australian designed and made Offroad Electric Bike range from Stealth Electric Bikes. Whilst not designed specifically for tarmac racing, their versatility and leading-edge performance and reliability made the race thoroughly enjoyable, backed up by the knowledge that they can be ridden just as hard in off road settings. The bikes truly are a unique vehicle, developed from Australian ingenuity into an internationally recognised export, regarded by many as the worlds best electric bikes. We relied on quality products from Kali Protectives and Troy-Lee Designs to keep us safe whilst racing.
Quiet Rush was also recognised as an innovator for energy-autonomy, taking 3rd place in the National Science Week Cup-Sparking Innovation in EVolution Prize. Our in-vehicle solar charging system, built with Goal Zero products from Laughing Mind (http://www.laughingmind.com/energy-autonomy.html) attracted a lot of interest over the 2 days, showcasing the possibility of running grid-independent, portable eBike charging systems using solar power as our primary energy source. This makes powered adventure possible wherever you are, providing clean, renewably sourced power for charging a wide range of digital devices and recreational products. Whilst not at the grade of 1st place winner Elmofo with their world-leading electric race-car charging system, we are delighted to be recognised for effort in this category, using consumer products available from Laughing Mind as a Goal Zero dealer committed to innovating in new markets.
QuietRush wishes to acknowledge our sincere thanks to the Hunter EV Festival sponsors for making the event possible, with particular mention of the hard work of the event organising team at the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment at the University of Newcastle.
Quiet Rush particularly want to thank the following parties: