E-Choppers For Mobility

After a skiing accident left his knees badly injured, Bruce Dean created a custom e-chopper bicycle to help him get around.

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Bruce Dean’s story is one of inspiration and creativity.

After a skiing accident left his knees badly injured he was prescribed a mobility scooter to help him get around, something he personally viewed as “a death sentence.” He didn’t want to be confined to a motorized chair to get around. Even though it might save his knees, he feared it would lead to inactivity, obesity and further health issues. Instead, he came up with an innovative solution – he created a custom e-chopper bicycle to help him get around.

For Dean’s condition this chopper is perfect; he’s now highly mobile and getting plenty of exercise in a knee-friendly fashion, and he can use the electric motor to assist him whenever he needs it. He’s even able to pull a trailer behind him and take his daughter to school on his awesome-looking custom ride, making it a truly versatile mobility aid. “The only slow thing about [this bike] is people trying to stop me to talk about it,” he commented.

While the vast majority of attention that Dean receives is positive, using this bike is not all high times and easy riding. The laws regarding e-bikes, especially in his native British Columbia, can be quite restrictive and not easily navigable. This has even lead to confrontations with authorities who believe that his bike might violate street laws, even though it is far less powerful than a traditional scooter. He’s hoping to demonstrate the enabling power a bike like this can have and call for a reevaluation of local legislation to make e-bikes more accessible.

2 Comments

  • Bruce Dean

    I believe my bike complies with all laws, it’s just that the police question it.

    It looks a little too cool for school, so they think something must be wrong.

    I also brought charges against our Chief of Police, Jamie Graham. He was found guilty of discreditable conduct. I can’t say the frequent stops I get from the police are a form of harassment or retaliation, but I can’t say they’re not.

    I’ve been stopped a ridiculous amount for a law abiding citizen.

    I get stopped for my bicycle, but I’ve also been stopped many times for photography, for throwing a tennis ball, for throwing a Frisbee (x2), for my federally licensed medication…

  • Richard Johns

    I connect with this story, as I also use an ebike, largely due to bad knees!

    I’m also curious why Dean’s bike possibly doesn’t comply with the BC regs. The regs in Canada are poorly constructed, apparently just adapted from moped regs by people with very little engineering knowledge. Consequently, it’s hard to know whether a given bike complies or not.

    The rule specifies a motor with a maximum rated power output of 500 Watts. Unfortunately the rated power of a motor isn’t a very firm number, as the actual output depends on many factors, such as the voltage used and the current limit of the controller. You can get at least 1000 Watts from a 500 W rated motor, without modifying the motor itself. Is that legal?

    There’s also the 32 km/h rule. The motor doesn’t have to shut off at this speed (as in Europe, at a measly 25 km/h). 32 km/h is the maximum speed *without pedalling*, on level ground. I think this is a decent idea in principle, but the speed of a bike depends on so many factors (in addition to the gradient) that again it’s hard to know whether a bike complies. The maximum speed on level ground will vary enormously depending on the size and weight of the rider, the riding position, the type of clothing, the wind speed and direction, whether a trailer is used, the type of tires and degree of inflation, and so on.

    For what it’s worth, my recommendation would be to impose a simple power *input* of perhaps 750 watts. This is firm and objective, and easily measured. Given the efficiency of motors, it corresponds to a power output of about 500 watts, and a maximum speed of about 40 km/h on level ground, with no wind. At this speed you’ll still be overtaken by roadies on their skinny tires, but it’s fast enough to be a viable way to get around the city.

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