Mighty Powerful Pedaling – TWIKE

February 24, 2012
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February, 2012

A Valparaiso man drives to work every day without using a drop of gasoline.

Walt Breitinger, who works as a commodities broker in Merrillville, makes his commute in about 35 minutes using a rare, Swiss-made vehicle called a TWIKE. Much of the energy used to power the three-wheeled car comes from Breitinger himself.  It’s pedal-powered. About 25 percent of the vehicle’s energy comes from the human operator.  Without pedaling, the TWIKE runs out of “gas” quickly. “A bowl of cereal gets me there (to his Merrillville office) and an piece of pizza gets me home,” he said. Breitinger said people stare, shout encouragement, and honk at his sleek, white vehicle.  “I get it all the time,” he said.  “Usually it’s (a) thumbs-up (gesture). Its top speed is about 50 mph, but Breitinger likes to keep his at about 25 mph to improve efficiency.  Breitinger takes U.S. 30, but he usually leaves early in the morning before traffic is heavy.

Its electric motor is smaller than a washing machine’s and power the vehicle about 45 miles on a six-hour charge.  It has most of the equipment of a gas-powered vehicle, including high and low beams, window defoggers, interior lights and even cruise control.  A computer tells the driver how much farther the vehicle can go without a charge.  The whole thing weighs around 500 pounds (sans driver).One of the more futuristic features is a regenerative braking system that puts energy back into the into the batteries while the vehicle slows.  “It has this extreme energy efficiency,” Breitinger said.  “This efficiency may eventually create a demand for vehicles of its type, but not right now.”Olof Sundin, the president of Electric Vehicles Northwest Inc. in Seattle, has the only U.S. TWIKE dealership, but he has yet to sell one.  His business mainly deals in ordinary vehicles converted to electric power and electric-assisted bicycles.  Sundin promotes the TWIKE at car shows and other events.  He recently took it to the Seattle Auto Show.  Some people liked it; others said, “This is ludicrous.”“If you call back in 10 years, we have no illusions about having thousands on the street,” he said.Breitinger hopes the TWIKE will draw attention to energy conservation in the area.  “Although I have fun riding it, I’m mainly doing it….to prove that people don’t need to burn fossil fuels,” he said.Breitinger experiments with various energy-saving devices and drove to work for years on a recumbent bicycle.  His garage is littered with human-powered devices such as bicycles and push lawn mowers.He is looking for financial or technical support for the project – approaching utility companies and business about sponsorship and even considered selling advertising space on the vehicle.Breitinger has an incentive to keep the electric vehicle going as long as he can. He sold his 1982 car to help pay for it. My goal is to be without any automobile,” he said.

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


12 Comments

  1. I’ve been all over this website and thoroughly enjoyed every article, but specifically this one in particular because I am interested in doing a serious build similar to the TWIKE. My question to the editor is, what is your particular outlook on batteries for the near future, say within 5 years?

    • The future of affordable ebike batteries is in lipo (soft pouch large cell). Look at what zero motorcycle developed this year for there 2012 models, a pack that is fire safe, can last the lifetime of the motorcycle (several thousand charges), is lightweight, and gives the motorycle a 100 mile range. That is pretty much what the future holds for all of us. The future chemistry looks to be lithium magnanese cobalt, but as of now there is no pack manufacture making packs with bms easily available to the consumer. The big clue is try to get your hands on lithium magnanese cobalt cells and a good bms and you are on your way to having a safe, reliable, lightweight, long lasting pack. IMO those technologies are about to come more and more available. To do it now you have to do the legwork yourself.

  2. I am interested in having a Twike for a work vehicle. I have a coffee
    shop with my partner here in Seattle, WA. and want a Twike to pick up my
    supplies, since that is the majority of my traveling. Lately i have
    seen lots of electric vehicles on the road and got to thinking that i
    wanted to see some HPV type of vehicles. Any information you could shoot
    my way would be great on optaining a Twike, or any US companies that
    are doing a similar vehicle. One other question, does the Twike’s
    electrical power also derive from the muscle power, or must it be
    charged every 90 miles or so. What i mean is, as long as you pedal, are
    you able to keep the wheels turning. It isn’t very clear to me how
    direct the relationship is between pedaling and motion. I hope my
    question was not too inept. Thank you for any information you can help
    with.

    • Mathew, although the twike has pedals they provide very little input compared to the electric motor. Forget putting more juice into the battery with your feet. 🙂 You might get slightly more range by peddling especially if you ride slow. I doubt you will get 90 miles realistically. Hope for 40 miles if you are lucky. Just keep researching and it is important to have realistic expectations. There is plenty information on this site about the twike. To get one here in the US will cost you over 25 thousand dollars.

      • I’ve found different articles saying different things about the Twike’s range. Here you wrote that you doubt that the Twike’s range will be 90 miles (145 kilometres) and to hope for 40 miles (64 kilometres) to be realistical, in the article here: https://www.electricbike.com/twike/ you wrote the range is 55-90 miles (88-145 kilometres) and in the other article here: https://www.electricbike.com/the-twike-challenge/ you wrote the range is 40-80 kilometres depending upon driving style and battery. I found informations that the Twike should already have got at least 200 kilometres range here: http://www.twike.com/ Here it wasn’t you who wrote the range is 200 km but in the first two links you wrote two other things, and here you wrote another one about the range. So what is the real range?

        • Hi Sporter,

          Honestly i was not the one who wrote the articles but the old webmaster of electricbike.com Walt Breitling who is one of the biggest advocates of the Twike in the United States and rides one daily. I think the discrepancy is the fact that the Twike is available in several different configurations of battery pack, and the battery packs have changed through out the years. Also the range is going to vary widely based on the terrain, how fast you ride etc, like any electric vehicle.

          With a regular electric bike I can easily calculate what the range should be based on the watt hours of the battery pack. The twike is an entirely different beast…very heavy, fast, and barely pedalable.

          • Hi!
            I’ve found new informations at twike.com. If you look at the main page of the site you’ll find informations saying the Twike has got a range of 500 kilometres. I was reading about the eRUDA, a rally where the drivers compete about whose car uses up least of the energy and the Twike drivers were the winners having a range of 510 kilometres on a single charge without any pedaling. In the article that you’ll find clicking at the news about the eRUDA they wrote about that since april 2013 there are Twikes having a range of 300 kilometres available.

          • Hi!
            The range of the Twike is now 500 kilometres, isn’t it? I’ve found this information at Twike Velomobiles. I also found informations that there are more batteries inside the car than it was before, now they use seven batteries giving a range of 500 kilometres instead of two batteries giving a range of 200 kilometres.

          • There are 6 different capacity battery packs available, from 3.75kWh up to 26.25kWh, according to the spec PDF on their web site.

    • My dad has also been interested of the TWIKE. But he still tells me it’s an expensive car. My dad and I have got different opinions about the TWIKE. Dad tells me it’s expensive to buy and that low effective cars that I prefer isn’t what I’ll be happy of for a long time. But I tell him how expensive the car actually is and if thinking of a low effective car is an exaggeration; you can get a high power motor and use up less energy than the maximal effect. $25000 for a TWIKE is 150000-170000 Swedish crowns and the cheapest normal electric car costs at least 350000 crowns. If the car is longing for a long time I think it’s not that expensive compared to 350000 or more crowns. I also told him that low effective motors have got their advantages, they use up less energy.

      The TWIKE is a sportive car, it has got pedals that are used in bicycles. This is the only car in the world that is sportive. People call other extra fast cars “sportive cars”. I would just give a question like “How sportive are the extra fast cars?”, they’re not sportive at all. It’s not sportive to drive a car in speeds like 200-350 kilometres per hour. The motorists are not training their muscles while driving cars and motorbikes at all. Driving a TWIKE or a Hanebrink Hustler in the future will be sportive. I became interested of the sportive motorbike and even my dad became interested. Dad still tells me that I should neither buy the Hanebrink Hustler.

      The TWIKE drivers often call themselves “pilots” because they feel like if they were flying an aeroplane, the TWIKE looks like a front path of an aeroplane. In Finland people sometimes look at the car but they haven’t been interested of it like Swedes. The Swedes became very interested of the TWIKE. I was reading a Swedish article on the Internet that a man from the Netherlands has been riding his TWIKE on motorway E4 in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden. In Finland the polices didn’t stop him at all but in Sweden they were interested so they stopped him many times. One policeman told him “You cycle on a motorway, it’s impossible!” and the man just said to the magazine “There you see, it is possible.”

  3. I am looking for a Twike for daily commutes. Where in the USA can I purchase one used or new? I live in Enid Oklahoma.

    • The report states that the only Twike dealership in the USA is in Seattle, WA.

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