University academics halve the weight, improve range and put and end to lecturer's troubles with the police...

Portsmouth students redesign e-bike for lecturer

A lecturer at the University of Portsmouth has been handed a revamped electric bike, designed by his students, following five separate incidents in which police confused his mode of transport with a moped.

Dr Ivan Popov, a mechanical engineering lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, bought an electric bicycle to ride to work from his Southsea home two and a half miles away. However, having been pulled to one side by the authorities for riding without a helmet or insurance several times, the lecturer tasked his students to re-jig the clunky e-bike.

Dr Popov said: “I bought the bike a year ago, but I have experienced many problems. It has limited range, battery life and acceleration and the police kept stopping me when I rode it to work even though electric bicycles do not require you to comply with the same rules as a motorcyclist.

“Twice I ran out of power and ended up pushing the bike home – and pushing 40 kilos is not quite like pushing a bicycle. I decided to give the bike to my MEng students to see if they could overcome some of the problems while ensuring the bike was fully road legal and didn’t require helmets or insurance. What they have come up with is really fantastic."

The students have achieved a three fold increase in the bike’s range, improved the braking and most importantly, the build now looks like a bicycle as opposed to a moped lacking a number plate. USB programming also means the bike’s assistance levels can be set according to the rider’s preference.

Electronic and computer engineering students added the finishing touches, which included indicators, automatic lights and a dashboard displaying speed and battery life.

Doctor Popov will keep the original build in the university’s labs with a view to having next year’s students undertake the same task. In the meantime, he will ride the Lithium Ion converted electric bike prototype to and from work.

Chris Kirby, head of education at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “This just shows that great British ingenuity is still alive and well in our universities. Over the next few decades we will be relying on engineers to solve global problems from climate change to overpopulation and, for these promising students, the problem of Dr Popov’s bicycle is an excellent start.”

Three of the students who came up with the prototype are flatmates and final-year MEng students Justin Nicholls, Kevin Eades and Chris Sargent.

Saregnt said: “We did a lot of research on electric bikes first and couldn’t find one anywhere that has everything this one has and definitely not at about £800-£900, which is what it could be manufactured for. It is a much better product than the original and we were inspired by the idea of making a prototype that could be affordable and have a real impact on the environment."

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