Another man named William Morrison built his first electric cargo bike over a decade ago to use as a clean running camera platform for a marathon in France.
In the years that followed a few little ones came along and I adapted the bike to follow suit. It all worked so well I started to imagine what it would be like to get rid of my car all together.
I crafted my bike to be powerful, quick, and able to go long distances as well as haul a lot of weight. The result has been so successful that I want to share it with the rest of the world. This is my creation – the Morrison Electric.
This bike has been my sole means of transport in Los Angeles for two years and I live in a very hilly part of the city. The bike has a 50+ mile range with light pedaling (based on real life experience, not statistics), can easily reach the maximum legal speed of 28mph (California's legal speed for pedal assisted electric bikes), and has no problem climbing big hills under heavy load. I have been riding this prototype for over two years in LA and have put 30,000+ hard miles on it with heavy cargo and lots of passengers.
The Morrison Electric uses a stock Dutch steel frame, lowered with custom-built 12g spoked 26-inch wheels for stability, with an upgraded drivetrain, forks, and brakes. The Dutch bike is the most popular design in places like Europe and China where bikes are a central form of transportation. It's an extremely comfortable riding experience and stylish to boot. My current prototype uses the legendary Xtracycle Free Radical cargo extension, with a fabricated sub-frame for extra load bearing, support, and rigidity. The new line of Morrison Electric bikes will use next-generation Xtracycle Leap cargo extensions and will retain our sub-frame addition. Our bikes have Shimano 8-speed internal geared hubs that can be shifted while sitting at a standstill. For the motor, we used the road-proven and powerful Crystalyte front mounted hub, which is a 48-volt system powered by two 20 amp hour lithium ion batteries. Range on one battery with light pedaling is approximately 25 miles, based on personal testing and experience (see below regarding Batteries, The Real Story). With two batteries, cyclists have an effective range of 50+ miles. The bike has a top speed of approximately 35 mph but is governed with three power settings to operate within the legal speed limit. The result? In traffic, I will beat a motor vehicle anywhere in Los Angeles within a 25 mile range and make it all the way home without recharging.
The Cost Benefit
I don’t expect people to dump their cars overnight. It took me a long time to make that decision. Let’s start with this idea – think of a Morrison Electric as replacement for a second car or as an extremely affordable and functional first vehicle. Here’s the math on that:
A new economy car prices between $12,000-$20,000. The price for either model of the Morrison Electric is $3,500, saving you $8,500 right off the bat. Choosing this electric cargo bike as a second vehicle will PAY FOR ITSELF over and over again. Plus there’s no license, no insurance, no registration, and no parking tickets. Your yearly maintenance costs for tires, brake pads, and the odd cable for your bike will run between $100-200. Eventually you’ll have to replace a few sprockets and the batteries but between maintenance on a small car and the Morrison Electric, there's simply no comparison.
This electric cargo bike is about $2,000 less than comparable bikes on the market. No other cargo bikes have the power, range, or stock accessories that the Morrison Electric offers for $3,500.
I’ve put 30,000+ miles on this bike and it’s running just as well as the day I built it. This mode of transportation has transformed my life in a very positive way. It’s what transportation should be – fun, stress-free, and beneficial. I’m not re-inventing the wheel, just taking existing technology and re-configuring it in a way that is effective and affordable.The Bikes
Our next generation bikes will come in two models.
The Model M features a Bafang BBSHD mid-drive motor, which is ideal for all conditions and very steep terrain. The mid-drive version of the bike also features an increased range because the motor drives the gears and is more efficient than a hub motor.
The Model F is powered by a strong front hub motor. This model is good for people in dry climates with moderate hilly terrain. It's not ideal for rainy climates like the Pacific Northwest. The benefit of the hub drive is that it puts no stress on the drivetrain.
- Schwalbe Punctureless high pressure tires.
- Rear disc break and optional front disc or v-brake.
- 2 x 20 Amp hour Lithium Ion Batteries (With charger)
- Shimano 8 speed internal hub
- Xtracycle Leap cargo attachment (With Hooptie LT2 Bars)
- Custom waterproof saddle bags and front controller bag
- Split saddle with sprung seat post
- Center kick stand for stable loading
Upgrades from the prototype featured in the video
- The existing semi-soft battery enclosure will be upgraded to a hard case with a simple plug in charging port.
- The bikes will ship with our own hand-made waterproof saddle bags and front rack controller/storage bag.
- Custom wood footboards will be added for passengers.
- Add 25+ miles to the range. Add $800 to the base price. The two batteries will be upgraded to 30 Amp Hours each.
- Add the Night Light kit featured in the video (Daylight front and back strobes and wheel rope lights). Add $180 to the base price.
- On board high speed weather proof charger add $350 to the base price.
Some electric bike manufacturers quote a distance range based on the battery company's test results, but it usually has not been put to the test in reality. Claiming a 60+ mile range on a single frame mounted lithium battery does not mean the bike will propel you that far in the real world. My current prototype has a tested range of 50+ miles based on actual day-to-day use and the battery technology is several years old. The next generation batteries will almost certainly increase the range of our bikes to 60+ miles and the mid-drive motor even more so. While I am confident that our bikes will have an extended range, I will not promise that until I've personally road tested our new bikes.
The Morrison Electric is more than twice as powerful as the average market contender. We are building our bikes as powerful as the law allows, making them serious commuting vehicles that can easily handle big loads and multiple passengers.Safety
I often get asked about the safety of operating a bike in Los Angeles, especially with my kids on board. In 15 years of riding in the city I've never had a serious problem with cycling. The first advantage of a long tail cargo bike is stability. The longer the wheelbase, the more inherently stable the bike. Right away you'll notice that our bikes are rock solid on the road, even under load. The other huge advantage of a powerful electric is speed, so you are never a slow moving target for automobiles even when you are going up steep hills. When I use a "bike optional" lane no one honks at me because I am traveling near traffic speed. After clocking thousands of miles with my two kids on the back, it's just a wall of thumbs up and smiles from the car crowd.Why Kickstarter?
By funding Morrison Electric you are...
- Allowing us to purchase the equipment we need to start an effective pipeline for assembling our own batteries. This will keep the cost of the bikes down and push the range even higher.
- The funding from this campaign will allow us to further improve the prototype bike which has proven itself over years of day to day use.
- Electric Cargo bikes are catching on. We are utilizing Kickstarter to gauge interest in the marketplace and take orders for the bikes.
- You are helping to grow a community of people who are looking for an affordable, effective form of urban transport, realize that dream.
- You are adding zero emissions to the environment. The carbon footprint of manufacturing our bikes is exponentially less than an electric or gasoline powered car.
All of the bikes will be individually numbered based upon the order of pledges submitted to the campaign. We will feature a live webcam in our shop which you'll be able to access when your bike is being assembled. We'll have an active listing of the orders on-line so you can track where your bike is in the queue for assembly.