David Elderton is a creative experimenter and builder. He lives on an island near Vancouver in Canada working in the e-bike business delivering high quality custom e-bikes all across Canada. He is also in the progress of building his second electric boat. As he is experimenting and playing with ideas a lot, there is also many results. He shares them on open platforms and thus also helps others to get ahead with their projects.
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The episode was recorded on August 2nd, 2020
This episode is a long one. David and I talk about how he started his e-bike business, based on his enthusiasm for experimenting, building and for the swift way of e-bikes. We then cover the (nearly) all-solar powered household and get to talk about electric boats as well as his next projects. In the end we talk about sharing ideas, experiments, results and failures.
Connect with David Elderton & find out more
- David’s e-bike shop hilleater.ca
- Connect with David on Facebook
Mentioned in the episode
- The electric trailer
- Saltspring Island
- The Endless Sphere platform
- Grin Technologies Vancouver BC
- David’s dual motor Catrike recumbent (“one of the first such builds in the world”)
- Electric Boats group on Facebook
- How I Built This (HIBT) episode with James Dyson
- Dyson Ballbarrow wheelbarrow
- The 2pt5 episode with Michael Goddaert from Domani Yacht
- Bosch e-Bikes
- Boot Düsseldorf boat fair
- Freiherr von Drais, push bike inventor
- David’s electric catamaran build
Klaus Reichert: This is The 2pt5, a podcast that connects innovators and helps them grow through meaningful conversations. My name is Klaus. I’m an innovation coach in Baden-Württemberg, in the Southwest of Germany. Today’s conversation is with David Elderton, an experimenter and builder. He lives on an island near Vancouver in Canada, working in the e-bike business, delivering high quality, custom-made e-bikes all across Canada. He’s also in the progress of building his second electric boat. As he is experimenting and playing with ideas a lot, there’s also many results. He shares them on open platforms and thus helps others to get ahead with their projects. This episode is a long one. David and I talk about how he started his e-bike business based on his enthusiasm for experimenting, building and for the swift way of e-bikes. We then cover the nearly all solar powered household he lives in and get to talk about electric boats, as well as his next project. In the end, we talk about sharing ideas, experiments, results and failures. Check out The 2pt5 website for all the links and extras mentioned in the episode on the2pt5.net.
Klaus: David Elderton, welcome to The 2pt5.
David: Oh, thank you. Glad to be here.
Klaus: David. It is a Sunday morning for you, it is a Sunday evening for me, so we are some time apart. Where are you located right now? Where are you staying at this moment?
David: I’m at my house, which is on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada.
Klaus: Okay, I have opened the browser. I see pictures of the place you’re staying or of the island. I have never heard of that island before. I have been to Vancouver before. So it’s an island between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and it is part of Canada, although it is sort of part… geographically very close to the U.S.
David: That’s right. Yeah, the border’s on the 49th parallel, but it takes a jog down so that it includes the southern tip of Vancouver Island and we are just tucked in between Vancouver Island and Vancouver. So, yes, we’re… this island chain is actually… carries on and becomes part of the United States in the Puget Sound.
Klaus: Okay. So in a way, that sounds like you are very remote. But actually, you are not, since you are… there is ferry connections to the Canada mainland, to Vancouver itself. So do you think you are on a remote place or is that something that you just don’t feel and it feels kind of like a suburb of Vancouver?
David: There is certainly not… doesn’t feel like a suburb of Vancouver. We can be in Vancouver in a couple of hours, on the ferry, but the ferry separates us, and so we don’t have the kind of traffic that even, you know, even Vancouver Island has. So it feels disconnected, but we’re certainly not remote. We like the fact that we have the ferry that limits the amount of traffic that comes and goes. You know, if there’s five cars in front of us at the four way stop, then that’s traffic here. So that’s part of the reason we’re here. And yeah, some of the islands in this chain, are what you would consider remote. You know, there might be 20 square miles and there’s 300 people living there. We chose this island because it is serviced and there’s 10,000 permanent residents here, and it’s serviced by three different ferries, and there’s a hospital, there’s a couple of grocery stores that you could get anything that, you know, you might want, and so you can do business here and not be too hampered. You know, the courier comes every day, if need be. So there were other islands that we looked at when we were looking for a place to come. We came from Vancouver, and the courier might come once a week, so that was hard to, you know, nice for an artist or something, but hard to do business from there.
Klaus: And you do business. I understand that you’re a sort of manufacturer, you build, you sell, you service e-bikes as a business.
David: Correct. Yeah, yeah. But changed when we moved here. I didn’t come here with that business. So I built it up over the past eight years that we’ve been here. And yeah, it is a bit of a challenge. It costs us much to get a container from Vancouver to Salt Spring, as it does, or actually more, than it does to get a container from China to Vancouver. And you have to, you know, figure out how and where you’re gonna deal with it, because the roads are narrow and that kind of thing. So it would certainly be easier to do business in Vancouver. But we like it here.
Klaus: It sounds like an extra challenge that is in balance with some, say, personal lifestyle choices that you made, and it’s not like a disadvantage or a big disadvantage, from what it sounds like.
David: I suppose it depends on what your goals are for the business. You know, if I wanted to grow the business into a multi employee thing, where I had a big warehouse full of bikes and I was distributing them, this wouldn’t be the place to do it. It would just be… there would be too many hurdles. But if, you know, if you can keep it small and still be successful and… yeah, then we can make a go of it, for sure. And, as you say, we’re choosing lifestyle over, you know, over maybe the expansion of the business, you know, into a large enterprise, which could be, with ease, with e bikes these days. If you’re not successful with e-bikes these days, you’re really doing something wrong.
Klaus: I see them popping up all around me, and I understand what you mean. And you’re sort of leveraging the… also technology. I mean, the internet gives you the possibility to sell your bikes via your online shop. And you can sort of import the bikes and make changes, build the bikes and/or customize them and then ship them again using all that infrastructure that is there. You say the courier is coming once a day. That’s perfect for you, basically. So actually the location, the remote location, isn’t that important for you at this time.
David: That’s right. We may not have been able to do this, certainly not 20 years ago, you know, so there is a lot of people on this island who do remote work, because there’s not a lot of work here. If you’re not in the tourist business, and of course right now, being like covid19 is, you know, worldwide, the tourist business is way down. You basically have to bring your work with you here. So there are, you know, artists and artists, and, of course, and there are, you know, people working on various Internet projects or what things they could do remotely. And they can, you know, live the lifestyle and still enjoy living in a little bit of paradise.
Klaus: David, what made you start working with e-bikes? What was your initial thought? What was the spark that started all that?
David: It was about 15, maybe 18 years ago, and it was just happenstance, really. We were driving past a parking lot and there was a sign up that said “Electric vehicle show”. And so we thought: “Oh!” We had no plan to go there, we were just passing by. So we stopped in, and there was a fellow who had e-bikes and we, you know, I jumped on an e-bike, and it was just… I was sold instantly. And I think that’s a lot of other people’s experience. So from there, I converted a bike and then another bike and used them for many years, and also a trike that I still have now. And then when we moved to Salt Spring, about eight years ago, I was actually doing custom audio, mostly residential custom audio, so home theaters and multi room sound systems and this kind of thing in Vancouver. I’ve always been an audiophile and I… so it was kind of a natural thing for me to be doing. But when we moved to Salt Spring, it just wasn’t going to fly here. There was just not enough to support a viable business. There’s some work, but, you know, it would have been a part time thing. And I think I was ready for a change, too. I wanted to get into the sustainability area. We just started off small, maybe a year, two years after we moved here and started, you know, doing conversions for people and fixing bikes. And it just built from there.
Klaus: So you had some, let’s put it that way, electronic and electrical basic knowledge that helped you start working with the e-bikes already?
David: Yes and no formal training. Just… I’ve always been interested. You know, one of those guys who takes apart the radio, you know, when they’re 12, and tries to figure out how it works and, you know, add some more speakers to make it sound better or something like that, right? [laughter] So, yeah. So I’m always learning, but of course, building an e-bike is the best way to learn. If somebody wants to get into electric vehicles, it’s a fairly low barrier, you know, to buy a kit and put it on a bike. And depending on how ambitious you are, you know, you might want to make it go faster or climb a hill better, you know, and then you start playing with batteries and you’ve got all the sort of major components of an EV there: you’ve got the battery, you’ve got the motor controller, you’ve got the display, you’ve got the motor, you know, and all the wires that connect it up…
Klaus: …and then you’re good to go! But that’s what everybody says: “It’s easy”. Everybody says that, who knows about the things, right? To me, all that electronic stuff is like out there. No idea of how things work. And I guess once you start to, sort of, make it, to improve everything, to optimize things, it’s not just simply putting together things from the shelves.
David: That’s right. And it sort of surprises me, like I think that the education system lets us down because so many folks who are not really maybe too interested they maybe have other interests. I don’t know the first thing about electricity, you know, the thing that powers their life, they don’t really know very much about it. But there’s so many good resources, you know, just just a click away, right? I’ve come across recently more advanced information about electric bikes, improving efficiency, a whole series of videos. So the more advanced technical stuff on bikes, and it’s all just, you know, it’s on YouTube. I think you have to have hands on, you know, if you’re theorizing and living in your brain and trying to figure out how you’re going to do something, It only goes so far. And then you have to just, you know, connect some wires up and you start small, do some experiments. Right? If you don’t know how a circuit works, you know, grab a battery and some wire and a light bulb and a switch and, you know, and get yourself a multimeter from… online, you know, for $20 and away you go, right, that’s the start.
Klaus: Did you start in your garage?
David: Yes. And that was one of the things that we looked for when we bought here was some sort of facility that we didn’t have to build. So the property that we bought has an 800 square foot shop/garage. And that’s what I work out of.
Klaus: I always ask that because the garage is such an important place for, at least for mechanical or stuff where you need to weld or do something with your hands. And there is this famous garage of HP in Silicon Valley, which I visited and was so impressed by. And it’s… there is that special aura around the garage for starting something, I think.
David: Yes, yes. But, you know, before I had a garage, I had a little concrete pad outside the door and, you know, I would build things, you know, get the saw out and a couple of planks and, you know, saw away and drill away and build something just on a pad of concrete when you know. So if there’s a will, there’s a way, really.
Klaus: I like that. I like that a lot. David, you’re saying on your website that you are an e-bike believer and then I can see that you built like a transportation trailer for your bikes for the… like hauling of stuff back and forth, to the ferry or to deliver bikes to customers. And you say that it’s something that can change your life for the better. Is that something that you have experienced yourself, that the e-bike has cost you to leave your car, for example, and to be more outside using the bike and e-bike?
David: Yes. It’s an enabling technology. S, I have a touch of asthma, so especially if it’s cold outside, I can’t do a big exertion, I can’t climb a big hill, right? So my options are fairly limited, depending on the terrain on a bicycle. And I really was not a cyclist until I got on an e-bike. I cycled when I was a kid. I cycled to school every day, but, you know, once I got my driver’s license, that was sort of tossed aside, you know. And so the e-bike brought cycling back into my life. And I can see it with so many customers, just, you know, the physical disabilities that are overcome with an e-bike. And also not necessarily just that. It’s the long commute that just isn’t really viable day to day on a regular bike, because you’ve already worked eight hours, and now you have that big hill to climb and, you know, it’s psychologically and physically… it’s too much. So overcoming that with an e-bike… And I think the possibilities going forward are, you know, the electric transportation, it really is so simple to power something up with an electric motor. So there’s I think there’s a lot of space between an e-bike and an electric car for different vehicles that suit different needs. So if you’ve got further to go and you need to go faster, say, you know, say, if you’re traveling on an e-bike you are traveling 30 kilometers an hour. Well, maybe that’s not fast enough, and it takes too long. So what if you traveled 50 or 60 kilometers an hour? Well, you don’t need a car for that. You could do that, you know, maybe on something between a motorcycle and an electric bike. You could still paddle it, you still get some exercise. And I think that’s another sort of a really important aspect of an electric bike, it’s that you’re not just sitting on it, you know, you’re getting some exercise and who doesn’t need a little more exercise? So, you know, versus an electric scooter where you just sit on it or… So, yeah, there’s a fellow here in BC that I know he’s building, I would say, a heavy electric bike that has the potential to go faster. And he’s built it with a generator instead of having a direct connection to the pedals, which, of course, brings up all sorts of people telling them that that’s not a good idea. But he seems to have a good system and, you know, that has… you sit back, and you have a windshield, and you know, it maybe weighs 100/120 pounds. And you can easily go 60 kilometers an hour on it. So a vehicle like that, very energy-efficient, not, you know, 1/10 of the materials are of an electric car, and you could get to work, you know, comfortably, you could do it in all weather. So yeah. And I suppose, the one of the main barriers to this -well, there’s a couple- one is government regulations. So, you know, if you have a bike that doesn’t fit into the rules for an electric bicycle… Here we’re limited to 32 kilometers an hour and 500 watts. And, you know, I know in Europe there’s more than one category of electric bicycles. So you do have the Speed Pedelec, and I assume you have to get a basic license for that.
Klaus: Not sure. I know that it runs up to 50 kilometers, and I have some friends that have them and use them. But they have a car license anyway. So I will have to check that.
David: Yes. My impression was that you had to get some sort of basic license and insurance.
Klaus: You have to get insurance. Yes.
David: Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. So that category doesn’t exist here, and, you know, of course, government is always lagging behind the technology. And the other barrier is the roads, right? If there is good infrastructure, if there’s like… I hear there’s bike Super Highways in Germany. You know, if you if you have somewhere where you’re not concerned about getting plowed by a truck, then it really opens it up for many more people, you know, not just the guy who has the guts to drive on the road, you know, but anybody who’s willing to get on and enjoy the ride, you know, because it’s so peaceful and quiet and enjoyable if you’re not worried about the traffic.
Klaus: Yeah, Denmark is very famous for bike super highways, let’s put it that way. And they have built a large network around Copenhagen, just for bikes. And there’s no cars on these streets at all and there is lots of bike traffic. I mean, lots of people. And the place I am, there’s lots of bikes also. And for example, one of these bike highways is being built or projected at the moment, and it’s being built soon. Yeah, that helps a lot. That’s true, because in a way, there’s always competition for space among the vehicles and the road trucks basically use most of the space, and they usually can’t control everything around them, and they can’t be… can’t look for everything around them. Then lots of cars, and then the bikes is always… Well, it’s a good way to do… to commute, but it still seems dangerous once in a while. If there’s too many cars around. Yeah, I understand what you mean.
David: In a rural area, you know, there’s probably not the population density. To have a lot of bicycle infrastructure, especially, you know, if we’re sort of going from a car-centered transportation culture and transforming into something else. You know, it’s easier in the city. In Vancouver and Victoria, there’s great cycling infrastructure that they’re building out all the time. But here you’re on whatever shoulder there is and it sometimes is not much, so it takes a bit of guts to get on a bike.
Klaus: With all these experiences around also, say, rural roads using e-bikes on your roads. Did that change the way you built the e-bikes, you equip the e-bikes? I mean, you have equipped, or you have… I mean, you have created your own brand: Hill Eater. Hill Eater is… it’s a really nice name, I think, but it’s a brand that you created. So does that reflect that experience, reflect the designs and your bikes that you deliver to customers? Are they special in a way, in such a way?
David: Yes, that’s an interesting question because it does reflect on where we are. In the city, the 32 kilometer an hour limit… it seems completely reasonable because, you know, you start and go, there’s more traffic, there’s more people on, you know, bicycles on the same path, and they may be powered or they may not. But here you’ve got a long stretch of open road to get anywhere. So 32 kilometers an hour… It may seem quick enough at first if you’re new to an e-bike, but quite quickly as you gain some experience. So, having a bike that will comfortably do, say, into the mid forties, it makes all the difference. You know, going faster than that, you start to run into a lot of air resistance and you’re starting to really use power, so you’re having to spend more money on the battery, basically. Up to the mid forties kilometers an hour is something that the bikes can… our bikes can do. We send them out with the limit with the legal limit and then we leave it up to people, the individual customer, whether they want to change that limit. And here the enforced… there is no enforcement to speak of. So we can get away with it. I just tell people, and of course, it may not be good for my company liability, and that’s why we do send them out with the legal limiting. But I tell people to be sensible. You know, if the situation calls for riding slower, if you’re in the middle of the city or in the town, there’s other people on the road, you know, walking or whatever, you know, it’s just like driving a car. The car has the ability to go 100 miles an hour, but you’ve got to use your common sense. And, if you use your common sense here at least, and the bicycle doesn’t look like a motorcycle, it still looks like a bicycle, then you’ll be fine. And that’s been our experience. So, yeah, so our bikes are our Speed Padelec, even though we don’t have a Speed Padelec category here. And the other thing we’ve… we’re playing with now is regen braking, which hasn’t been very common on e-bikes. It is… it has been available, but not on very many bikes. And there’s a new development, in a geared hub motor with regen, which is unusual, and it’s… I find it on long stretches, especially around here. You basically… there’s very few flat areas, so the regen braking, even though it doesn’t give you… it’s not like it extends the range very much, but it’s a great way to slow down when you’re going fast. It makes a great brake. You know, you don’t go through brake pads nearly as much as you would. You know, you’ve got a heavier bike that you’ve got to slow down. Yeah, and we… and the other thing, as we concentrate on hub motorbikes. We really haven’t done the mid drive, which is unusual as you get into a more premium e-bike. Usually you see it go over to a mid drive, but our bikes are targeted towards people who use them either for commuting or as a car replacement. And I prefer the hub motorbikes for the simplicity, and especially if you’re putting more power through the drivetrain, you start to run into trouble with a bicycle drivetrain, transferring the power through, you know, bicycle chain and cogs and derailleurs. And, you know, you’re wearing parts out quickly. If somebody’s doing, you know, a 40 kilometer-60 kilometer commute every day, you’re gonna wear that drivetrain out quite quickly.
Klaus: Yeah, I always wondered why there is that mid engine or mid motor design, but I guess it’s for balances. It might be better balanced, the bike, but it can’t do the regenerative braking, I think.
David: That’s correct. Yep. By design, it can’t do the regen braking. Interestingly, most hub motorbikes don’t do the regen braking, either, because they use a geared motor. So there’s a planetary gear inside the hub that runs, say, 5 to 7 times the speed of the wheel, and they have a clutch, a one way clutch. So, if you were to utilize regen braking, you would have to always have… the gear is engaged, and there will be a significant amount of drag if you’re not using the motor. If you’re freewheeling down a hill, right, you’re gonna be driving that motor and gears, and you’re going to feel that drag when the motor is not actuated. But we’re using a system from a company called Grin Technologies, which is a Vancouver company, and they’re famous worldwide for their electric bike conversion hardware. So they make a dashboard called the Cycle Analyst, which is utilized worldwide by e-bike enthusiasts. And even I noticed that companies that are developing e-bikes will have a Cycle Analyst on the handlebar as they’re going through the development of the bike because it’s such a great tool. So, anyways, what Grin has come up with is a geared motor. And the thing with a geared motor is it will generally be lighter weight than a direct drive hub motor, and it will be more efficient climbing hills because the motor is running at a more optimal speed, even if you’re climbing a hill relatively slowly, you know the motor is running 5 to 7 times the speed of the wheel, as opposed to, you know, just the speed of the wheel. So it tends to be more efficient climbing hills and lighter weight. But what they’ve come up… So what they’ve done is lock the clutch so the motor always runs. And then they were introducing some power as you’re freewheeling, so the drag is overcome by a small amount of power from the motor.
David: Yeah, and it’s not much. It’s usually something like between 20 and 30 watts. And if you consider how often do you actually freewheel you’re not… you’re more than making up for that power usage as you’re freewheeling by the regen you’re gaining back, you know, going down a hill or stopping.
Klaus: Sounds like a very smart system. Since Grin is located in Vancouver, and you, actually, also, is there lots of, like, interaction between you and them for, say, experiments and improvements?
David: Yeah, well, I’ve been a Grin dealer, basically since I started commercially… working on e-bikes commercially. I had purchased their kits right from the start because they were local and I was lucky enough to sort of catch on to what they were doing instead of just going on eBay and finding some random kit. Because what they… the stuff they’re producing is quality, and they back it up. So, you know, you’re assured that you’re not buying something that’s just gonna break down on you. So any case, I’ve worked with Grin… they’ve actually helped me out a lot, as my business is growing and being very, very accommodating. They actually warehoused bikes for me for a certain amount of time. Well, they had extra warehouse space, and I ended up not carrying that on, and they needed the space, so we’re not doing that these days. Put it this way: they’re very, very busy so, you know, they don’t… Yes, and it’s great. And it’s an amazing facility they have in Vancouver. You know, you think of e-bike operations that are not in China as being… especially sort of kits and things as being a fairly small operation. But they have a very impressive facility in Vancouver with C&C, all sorts of… a wind tunnel they even have, a projection facility, R&D facilities, you know, last count, I think they had 16 employees. So anyway, it’s a very, very impressive operation that they have in Vancouver. And, you know, they’ve been glad to support me in developing the new bikes. It’s so important to have local tech support and somebody who you could get on the phone to solve problems, that kind of thing.
Klaus: I also understand that you do that for your customers. You help people to find the right bike, right, e-bike? I understand that there’s lots of consulting going on for them, so they are happy with the result with the bike that you deliver for them. But then you’re also there for them when they have extra questions. And that sort of forms a connection between you and the customers, I think.
David: Yes. I suppose I attempt, at least, to treat customers the way I would want to be treated. And I have the enthusiasm for the product. I want it to be a successful venture for them too, you know, because I know it can be, it’s just we need to find the right bike for them and we need to keep it running reliably. And, yeah, there’s… working online, you know, is hit and miss, right? You could buy an e-bike online and not have that backup support. They’re interested, you know, maybe in selling the next bike and not so interested after the bike is sold. It’s not easy, of course, this point of basically a one-man operation, to keep up with everything. But yeah, it’s just something I would expect when I buy some product. And so I try to fill that on the other side.
Klaus: You’re Canadian, you were… you’re servicing the Canadian market. Does that make a difference? Would that… the same model work also with U.S. customers, for example? Or do you do more international sales, also?
David: We don’t sell e-bikes, even into the States right now, just because of the cost of getting a bike down to the States. You know, the model for online bike sales is free delivery when it costs $5 to $700 to get to ship a bike, that’s just not a viable thing. And when you tag that price onto the purchase of a bike then it becomes something that people think twice about, you know, maybe they can find something more local that doesn’t have that extra cost. So yes, for bikes we’re concentrating on Canada. There’s certainly… the market is probably 15 times more in the States than it is here. And, I think there are people who are doing a good job in the United States, with customer service and online sales. You have to have the intention to do it. You know, you have to put that service department in place if you’re, you know, if you’re growing and it’s more than a one-person operation. It has to be a priority, you know. And over the long term, the… I mean, just open up Facebook and go on an electric bike thread and you’ll find people complaining. And, you know, what does somebody do when they’re looking for a bike? They’ll start doing their research. They’ll do a Google Google search. They’ll go on Facebook and look for a bike group. Maybe they’ll find an owners group on Facebook for the brand that they’re interested in, and they’ll start reading. And, you know, if your service department is not following through and keeping those spikes going, they’re going to know it. You know, I think there’s… people are focused on the technical aspects or sales aspects, especially, you know, when you’re starting out, you’re thinking: “Well, I’ve got a great idea, this technical idea, and I’m doing product development…” and the customer service may just sort of get sort of forgotten about a little bit, you know. And the companies that are really growing in the e-bike field have somebody behind them who is not necessarily a technical person, maybe, you know, maybe they’re not the guy who started the company. But the guy who started the company was smart enough to hire somebody who knows how to run a business and have a proper customer service department.
Klaus: So, actually, the Internet helps you to do your job really well. It helps you to sort of get discovered, using your website, making online sales, you might be using Zoom for conversations and sales calls, and stuff like that. You’re servicing, as I understand, Canada, which is a big, big country from the western edge of the country and I understand that you take that service very serious. But is there anything else that helps you market your bike save, for example, to sell it to Toronto? Or don’t you do that because there is no personal connection?
David: Yeah, I think what helps us is what online presence we do have. I could have a dedicated online person, you know, just a marketing person who worked on just keeping track of the Facebook groups keeping a good blog, you know, keeping up on the latest interesting stuff that’s happening here and making sure that it’s available. You know, educational. If we have to take a hub motor apart and replace a planetary gear or document it and put it up on the blog and then if somebody asks on Facebook: “Well, you know, I’m having trouble with my geared motor” and “how do I take this apart?” you could just put a link into the blog, you know? Then they’re on your site, and maybe they’ll look at your product after they read the blog. So that kind of thing… Having dealers is actually the model that we started out with when we stood for… When I first started selling e-bikes, we were selling a U.S. brand of bikes, and they had dealers, so we got a dealer network. But of course the problem with that is you have to build in a dealer margin and you’re competing against companies that are selling direct, and, you know, it’s $1000 more for the same bike, basically. So there are people who will buy that to pay the $1000 because they know that they’re getting the support of a dealer, right? But I think that the majority will take the discount and take their chances. [laughter] So that’s where the email support and that kind of thing comes in for any bike seller, yeah.
Klaus: David, I understand that you probably… you have inhaled or… what’s the word? …that electrical X is very important to you. You build e-bikes. I’ve seen that you build… you have built an e-trailer that helps you to transport the e-bikes, which is kind of nice, because that way you’re using the product to transport and deliver the product. That’s kind of a nice take on these things. You also drive an electric car?
David: Yep, yep.
Klaus: And you’re thinking of building an electric boat.
Klaus: …which is where we come full circle since you’re on an island and stuff like that. And that was also the place where I got to… I was made aware of your work, in a Facebook group, where you spread the idea of… to use that Nissan Leaf drivetrain battery and whatever technology that’s there simply to put it in a boat. And I thought that was a great idea because it seems so simple. But before we start to talk about that is, are you planning to sort of get rid of your Nissan Leaf and sacrificing it for the boat? And that’s not having another car? Or what’s the plan here?
David: No, a wrecked car. So I’ve… It’s a great source and going forward, as electric cars become more and more common, there’s, you know, there’s always going to be the wrecks, right? So a fantastic source of batteries, motors and all the other little bits and pieces that go into any electric vehicle. So, Tesla… Tesla modules are the go-to battery. So when you buy a Tesla model S, you’re getting, say, a 70 or 80 kilowatt/hour-100 kilowatt/hour battery, but it breaks down into 16 modules, each of them about 24 volts and about £60. So they are manageable by a homebuilder and they’re the most energy-dense battery that you can buy. And, you know, getting it out of a wrecked car with maybe 50,000 kilometers on it, you just can’t buy a new battery of that quality for anywhere near the price you… about U$S1200 to U$S1500 will buy you a five kilowatt hour. Think about £60, with the ports for liquid cooling built in, the highest quality, each cell in the battery, I think there’s 330 186 50,000 built in, each cell is individually fused, the manufacturing quality is, you know, the highest quality. And for $1500, you know you’re getting one of these so you can stack them in parallel, or series, whatever you need, to get the boat that you want. So yeah, it’s really exciting to have that… those high-quality, mass- produced items that are available on, you know, from a wrecker, or from somebody who’s parting the car out and selling it on Ebay.
The goal here, at the household here, is to get off gasoline altogether. So we have all sorts of electric things, we have a… (we’re not quite there) a weed eater, we still have a weed eater that came with the house and, you know, a heavy-duty weed eater, and it is gasoline. But yeah, we’ve gone… the lawnmower… I converted a wheelbarrow, so we have an electric wheelbarrow. We have a chipper because we live in the woods here, so we need to be able to handle fallen trees and this kind of thing. So I recently put a 7.5 horsepower 220 volt motor on this chipper that I got from some guy who was selling it because he’d seized the engine on it. So now we can chip without using fossil fuels.
And actually, I did a boat, about seven years ago. I built a boat for my sister who lives on a water-access-only property north of Vancouver. So yeah, everything’s electric. And of course, we have solar here and so, you know, I’m just… I’m so excited about it. I need to tell everybody who I can that we don’t buy gasoline anymore. So we don’t have a gas bill. We make our own power with solar, so our electricity bill’s about $50 a year, plus a connection charge, which is about $14 a month. So all the power for the car, and to run the household, and all the other electric things comes from the sun. Of course in the winter we don’t make enough because, you know, we’re in a sort of a more northern and cloudy area -it rains a lot here in the winter- but we make up for that in the summer. So we make a surplus in the summer. Yeah. So it’s just… and for the price of renovating your kitchen, you know, you’re putting solar on your roof and you know you’re making power for 30 years, at least. It seems like such a no-brainer.
Klaus: And it also seems such a no-brainer to use a car wreck and get all the bits and pieces out there and sort of… And you don’t have to be the real electrical genius anymore because everything is already in place and interconnected and put that in the boat, for example, or it may be in some other vehicle.
David: That’s right. Whether be it like a classic car that’s becoming more and more popular, to take your old MG or your Volkswagen Partner or whatever, what have you, and turn it into an electric car using those pieces. But it isn’t as easy as it would first seem, because the cars now are completely computerized, right? They work on a network, so everything in the car is connected to that network, even the headlights, the airbags, the seatbelts, everything. And everything has to be right for the motor to start.
Klaus: Okay, so you have to have a lot of knowledge about that car and about that system, and you basically have to fake everything if you want to put that in a boat.
David: Yes. And I’m doing some research on it. I have found there are people now who (and this is not something that I would get into, I’m just not a computer programmer, or like an electronics technician) but you can now buy a little black box that plugs into the inverter of a Nissan Leaf. The inverter drives the motor, and that box will talk to the Nissan inverter and tell it to start up and you connect a throttle to that box, you connect an on-and-off switch, you connect, you know, anything you need. What do you need on a boat? You need to be able to turn it on, you need to be able to put the motor in forward and reverse and to control the speed. So all of those interfaces are connected to this little black box and then the little black box has a program in it that will interface with the Nissan, what the Nissan, the inverter, is expecting to hear in order to start the motor and run the motor properly. So then you don’t have to worry about whether the airbag sensor is detecting an airbag or any of that. That can all be dispensed with. And I think that’s the best solution for somebody who is, you know, not a computer genius. I mean, still, the easiest way is to buy a package from a vendor of EV parts, you know, somebody who sells electric car conversions can sell you a package of a motor, an inverter, and the throttle and it all just plugs together, right? But I think just in the last couple of years, we’re starting to see these interfaces coming. So now we’re starting to see Tesla interfaces as well. And it’s a very difficult challenge because you’re not getting any help from the car company. You have to basically backward-engineer their system and figure out how to talk to it. Up till now, it’s been: okay, well, we’ll use their motor, but we’ll have to build an inverter to run their motor because we can’t figure out how to make their inverter work without it being in the car, you know, being an integrated system. Especially when you consider a Tesla and how it’s just so automated and, you know, everything is tied together through the touch screen and, of course, you know, it only takes one sensor to detect that something’s not right and the whole system will not work.
Klaus: Right. So it would be great to have some sort of open source style, interfaces, manuals, descriptions of the workings of these electronics that help you to use the parts in another scenario.
David: Yep, yep. And it’s happening. It’s happening in… you know, businesses are being created around all these things and the trick is to search them out. I go… just start Googling, and the danger is that you buy a system like, you know, you purchased a wrecked Chevy Bolt, say, because it’s got a 64 kilowatt hour battery in it. Right? So it seems like an appealing thing, but is there a way to make that work without personally backward-engineering a Chevy Bolt, right? So I’m sure that somebody is going to… some guy who maybe worked for Chevy at some point or just has the in-depth knowledge is going to make that box is going to make that interface that we can hook a sample throughout all up to and make it work. That’s not something I want to do, so the trick is to find that before you commit yourself to a certain system.
Klaus: So right now for you, it’s rather, let’s say, one off project, hobby-type of project. And it’s not like 5 to 10 years ago when you started to look into converting bikes to e-bikes as a new business opportunity for you. I mean, you could do as a business converting boats or building boats with electric drive trains?
David: Yes, completely. And there are… It’s so great to see when you start researching electric boats that there are many, many new startups that are coming to market. You know, this year next year, announced two new products, you know, whether it be a complete boat, or an outboard motor. It’s just… it’s amazing how much is going on. So, yeah, I would love to… I could start up five new businesses, right? I could… every time I use the electric wheelbarrow, I think. “Well, this is so great, you know. Why doesn’t everybody who have… who uses a wheelbarrow, you know, or carts around firewood or something, have this thing to take the load off? But yeah, so it’s just… For me, this boat will go into service at my sister’s place, so they have a community… Like I said, it’s just north of Vancouver, and it’s water-access-only, and there is quite a collection of homes all along the water, and, you know, they live almost like it’s… they’re in the wilderness, except there’s a 20 minute boat ride in there in Vancouver.
Klaus: And they do have electricity.
David: They do have electricity. Yes, there are there on the grid, but there’s no road. And really, that’s not such a factor if they’re leaving the boat at the marina because they could be charging at the marina if they didn’t have electricity at home. Of course, it does help to have power where you’re storing the boat. But in any case… And I see these people: some of them have kids, and they’re taking the kids into school in the morning, going back home and then going back out in the, you know, in the afternoon to pick the kids up. Okay, that’s $40 worth of gas, each and every day. And the wear and tear on an internal combustion. You know, a $12,000 of outboard engine on your 18 or 20 ft speed boat doesn’t last all that long when you’re using it every day. You may have a five-year life on that, versus an electric drivetrain, which is gonna last…
David: Forever, yeah. You may have to replace, you know, seals on that kind of thing, but yeah. So I think if somebody saw… one of those people up there saw somebody using this, an electric speedboat, that could make the round trip in just the same time as the boat that they’re using and it costs… instead of $40 it costs $3 or $2, you know, and it’s not polluting the lovely area that they’re living in, if they, you know, they don’t realize it’s because they’re not focused on this. They’re focused on the kids and they’re focused on their jobs and stuff, so people need to see it, see it working. So that’s my idea. It may take some time because it’s not like I have… you know, I’m not retired, but that’s what the research is happening, and hopefully we’ll, at some point, we’ll get that into service and people will see it and they’ll go: “Well, where can I get one of those?” instead of just going down to the local marine store, you know, and buying what they have there, then they’ll go down and say. “Well, why don’t you have…? you know, I saw this boat: it costs a fraction to run, much more reliable, it’s quieter. You know, why can’t I buy that here at the Marine store?” Right?
Klaus: Yeah, I see what you mean. And I also see… I have… I’m watching closely that electric boat market. I met many companies on Interboat in Dusseldorf in… excuse me at Boat. We have Interboat at Lake Constance where I’m located. And we also had Michael Goddard of Domani Yachts on the show some episodes ago, who is building a new electric chase boat, they’re calling it, which is a very, very elegant boat. But what they do is they do everything from scratch. It’s a perfect boat. It’s very elegant…
Klaus: … it’s very efficient, and they have experts for all of these things, and they pride themselves to make this boat as efficient as possible. And then you have to look into everything. You just can’t use anything that you convert from something else or use an existing hull. They built the whole boat from scratch. But do you have any idea of how your boat looks like? Do you have, like, a donor boat that you envision to use?
David: Yes. So the typical commuter boat in that area would be like, say, 8-18 to maybe a maximum of 22 feet. And the people who live up there, some of them have money, but a lot of them don’t. They’re making a lifestyle choice. So these aren’t fancy boats. There you can… I mean, you walk through the marina and look at them and you… their vehicle that is used and abused. And it’s weathered, you know, weathered all year round and so there are a few, you know, $100,000 aluminum boats up there that people use to commute, but most of them are, you know, just a fiberglass speedboat. So the goal with this boat is to be able to use a boat that the normal person could afford. You know, you could buy a used speedboat for maybe $5000 or $7000 or $8000. Maybe it has.. at the agency’s there’s something like that, so you’re getting a good deal on it. Or maybe you’re buying one with an outboard, and then you’re reselling the outboard to pay, you know, help pay for the project. Right? So, because we can buy this EV battery that has, maybe… my target is 40 to 60 kilowatt hours. We… The efficiency is not as important on a commuter with that amount of power, because the boat is only making a half hour round trip. It’s not like we have to try to make it work all day. They’re not going out fishing and, you know, they’re going offshore or something. The boat is very seldom used for anything but this half hour round trip. I mean… and of course, if you’re puttering around in the boat on a Sunday, you could go all day if you’re not planning, right? That’s the thing with a boat. And if you’re going three or four knots, you know, it takes very little power. So that’s not really an issue, for most people understand that they work within the limits. So the use case for this is, like I say, it has a fairly well-defined use case, so we know that this trip is going to be half an hour, so we can hopefully design for an hour’s worth of endurance and any more than that is a bonus. So, you know, they’ve got enough that if they need to turn around and go back, they could do that.
Klaus: And safety.
David: Yeah, some safety margin. So that helps. And now, if some… you know, there’s maybe another pleasure boat, the use case is not as well-defined and then there would be more worry about. And I would generally say to people: “If you’re not in such a hurry, then it’s a lot easier, right?” If you’re willing to go maximum of maybe 10 knots, you know, and just enjoy the ride, enjoy the journey, then it’s a lot easier. Of course we do have to worry about the hull, the shape of the hull. If it’s a planing hull, then it’s not going to be efficient unless you’re planing right. I’ve actually seen people take that planing hull and add an extension off the bow, story of the stern, to make it more efficient as a displacement hull. But, you know, getting a sailboat might be a better start for a boat like that. If you take a look at the styles of boat, you got to go back like to the 1800s when you saw these long, narrow boats and because they were limited in the amount of power that the engine would put out. That was that was the type of boat to put a, you know, to put a 10 horsepower engine on and be able to cruise all day. You know, a long, narrow displacement boat. And, of course, you just don’t see them these days, right? Because we’re used to putting 120 or 200 horsepower on the back of the boat and away you go.
Klaus: 300. Three times 300.
David: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Three times 300. Yeah. Yeah, that’s the new thing. Multiple outboard motors on the back, burning through those fossil.
Klaus: Costing a lot of money and burning a lot of fuel. Yeah.
David: Yeah, yeah.
Klaus: Okay. But you said it’s like a project, I’d call it R&D, and it sounds like you have made already in that… such a progress in your plans that there might be a new business for you at some point.
David: Oh! Mmm… I suppose… I suppose if… I would almost wanna hand it off to somebody, you know, given the amount of work we’ve put into the e-bike business. You know, we can’t do… I can’t do both. I mean, I would like to be Elon Musk, where I’m just kind of the brains behind the ideas, and then, you know, some other engineer builds the idea, right? But I would be happy to have somebody see this boat and go: “Wow! You know, I could build this boat for less than $20,000” so basically the same cost as any other boat and have all of these advantages and really get excited about that and take it and run with it.
Klaus: So you could well document the process, the layout, the technology, may be sort of open-source it, in a way, to make it accessible for others and thus have a… sort of build a tradition, possibly, or build something others can build onto.
David: Yes, and I do… I do generally do that with the bigger projects that I do.
Klaus: I’ve seen that with the trailer, with your trailer that you’re building, that you have basically given everything away, how you build it and what your thoughts were behind.
David: Yeah. So I put that on the blog on hilleater.ca and also Endless Sphere. So it is a site, it’s a do-it-yourself electric vehicle site. It’s mostly e-bikes, but it does have other light electric vehicles. And so I’ve posted the trailer project on there as well as a cat tracker, a tadpole trike that I did and the electric boat that I built seven years ago. So I documented all those in photos and put them up on Endless Sphere. And now, of course, I would probably put it on my blog as well, just because, you know, it’s not hard to do. But yeah, because I have the enthusiasm and I want… I wanna, you know, breathe fresh air and I want other people to jump on the bandwagon, so… And there’s so many people when, you know, when you’re on Facebook or something who want to do this stuff, but they don’t know really where to start. So, super happy to help out. And if… that’s an interesting thing, when I think of Endless Sphere, that Justin from Grin Technologies actually bought the website, the Endless Sphere website, because it had had run into trouble with… financially, at some point, quite a few few years ago, and there was either gonna have to be a change where they were gonna have to commercialize it and put ads on it, or it was going to die. And he actually bought the website and he rescued it, basically. And he is one of the… he actually uses it almost like an R&D resource. So he’ll post a new product and he’ll get people who are enthusiasts who want to beta test and he’ll send them out, say, a new motor controller, and they’ll give him feedback. And all of this is happening on the Endless Sphere blog. So you’re seeing that product development in real time and you’re learning about it, and people are contributing, they’re coming back with feedback. So it’s just such a great resource. You know, you’re learning if you just… If all you’re doing is reading it, you’re learning about this stuff.
Klaus: I’d really like that. I haven’t heard of it, But I will do some research and put the link in the show’s description, and it sounds like a very not-easy-to-do idea for a small or midsize company to do product development, to work together with your customers to make it easier for people to understand what you’re doing and also easier for you to understand what customers actually care for, and have built a very close relationship with customers and… or network of partner/developers. I really like that. It’s a great example.
David: Yep. And it’s… of course, companies want to keep projects secret, right. And I think there is certainly something to be said for that, especially as the initial development is happening so the sort of concept, and the initial engineering, and sourcing. And I think Grin does do that, they don’t like announcing “we’re going to design this” and then try to get feedback on it or something. They’ll get to a certain point where they’re ready for beta testing and then they’ll announce it. So, you know, you’re not sort of giving it all away to the competition. But then they’re getting all that free help from all the people who are so enthusiastic about trying that new motor controller, and they’ll install it on their bikes and then they’ll come back: “Well, you know, it’s not doing this or is not doing that” or “could you add, you know, a software feature?” or something like that. So, yeah, and their whole ethos at Grin is open source, because bicycles are sort of open source. When you think of it, when you’re looking at buying a mountain bike from 1982 you can still get a new spindle for it or sprocket or whatever you need for that bike and you may upgrade the brakes, you know, you may have center pull brakes and you want to upgrade the brakes on it. So you can do that, so a bicycle is like an open source. You know, there are certainly bikes that are sort of… have propriety over things on it, but for the most part, you know, you can get a wheel for your bike from any number of places, right? And that… just carry on with Grin, that is their ethos, it’s that their system, if you buy a battery from them, you don’t have to buy the controller from them also, or vice versa. So it’s open source in that way. And I like that idea too: you’re not tied into a certain manufacturer, and we carry that onto, like, to the Hill Eater bikes, not all the Hill Eater bikes, because it’s not easy to do. It’s actually more expensive to do initially, but our special edition bikes are, because we used the Grin hardware. It’s more of an open source thing that you could… if you’re more advanced, if you want to tinker with things, that you could change things in the future. And yeah, I think it’s a great idea not being locked in.
Klaus: It was like a future-proof thing, being able to change things in the future, adding new technology pieces to it.
Klaus: I’m also always fascinated around the fact that there’s so many standards in bikes around the world. I don’t know how that happened. Might have been by accident, or by whatever efficiency measures that bike producers wanted to have. But that is very helpful. I used to have a very old bike, and I was able to get all sorts of parts even 20-30 years later. So that was perfect. I really loved that, yes.
David: Yeah. And there is some danger of that going away. I think if the bicycle were invented now, I don’t know what would happen. Everybody would go off on their own tangent, you know. But yeah, luckily, it is still possible. You know, when you see sort of really specialized electronic systems on bikes, you start to wonder about, you know, the long term viability of that and and whether that bike frame that you bought that has a custom frame because it has to fit a certain motor manufacturers’ motor, whether that will be viable, you know, like the old bike that you have was in 20 or 30 years.
Klaus: But speaking of inventing the bike, the place where I’m right now is the place where a Freiherr von Drais has invented some sort of bicycle, very, very early. It was not a bicycle with… don’t know the name of… you could sort of not pedal, but you had to sit on and sort of push it with your feet. So it was not the way we have bicycles today. But it looked a bit like the things that children use to learn how to use the bike. And so that was like in 1700 something. And it’s kind of an important part of the history of the place also, although I’ve just learned that the real bicycle, the modern bicycle, was invented in Scotland a few years earlier.
David: Okay.Yes. I think they call it the “safety bicycle”.
Klaus: I have no idea. [laughter]
David: Okay. Because there was the penny-farthing, right? The one before they came up with the idea of driving the wheel with a chain. There was the, you know, driving the wheel directly with the pedals. And of course, the bigger the wheel was, the faster you could go, so the wheel, the driven wheel, got bigger and bigger until you had to climb, you climbed up the back of it.
Klaus: Yes. Now I know what you mean. No, I’m talking about something that actually looks like a bike, but it’s sort of… you sit on a saddle and then you… with your feet you sort of… your wedel. And that way you propel the bike, and it has equal size tires and stuff like that
David: Right. And with wooden wheels, probably
Klaus: Wooden wheels, certainly, yes. That was pre Dunlop.
Klaus: A long time ago.
Wow. Also, you talked about your electric wheelbarrow. I had to think of James Dyson, the Englishman that invented that Dyson vacuum cleaner, and his company is developing all sorts of things right now. Even the car that I think they have discontinued now. But he, in a podcast interview, he talks about inventing a wheelbarrow as one of his very first projects, commercial projects. And the way he built it was I think he didn’t use a -I didn’t see a picture yet- they didn’t use the wheel, but some sort of ball so you could maneuver the wheelbarrow very easily in a small garden also. But commercially, it was not helpful for him. So you better stick to the e-bikes and don’t develop the electric wheelbarrow.
David: Yes. Yeah. Well, there are electric wheelbarrows you can buy. You could buy them. Somebody else has done it. It’s just they don’t seem very common. I suspect it’s because it would be a $700 wheelbarrow.
Klaus: [laughter] And you don’t think there’s a market for that?
David: Well, yeah, there’s a small market. And one of the exciting things… So in this wheelbarrow in particular, I used the battery from my electric chainsaw, so I bought a 36 volt electric chainsaw that has a removable battery. So all I needed to do was make a socket for it in the wheelbarrow and then, you know, reducing your investment by probably half, because the battery is a large portion of the expense, right? So having batteries that you can use across different platforms is an exciting thing. And it’s actually something I’m toying with with the electric bikes. So using a DC to DC converter and taking whatever battery you may have and converting the voltage, too, (something that the e-bike uses) to supplement whatever you have on the bike already. So, you know, maybe you want to do a longer trip, and… these days, you know, there’s all these things that are using batteries, maybe even a larger power to a battery, from a drill, or something like that, you know, could be plugged into your bike and give you an extra 20 kilometers of range
Klaus: I know about, like, Stihl or Bosch garden power tools. And they developed their system, and it fits in every power tool they have. They might have a pro series and like a home series type of thing, but that’s very successful, very well made batteries. There’s like an infrastructure around these parts, and I think you could go even that far that you don’t use the batteries that come with the e-bike but you just use these batteries if you add like I think Bosch has commercial lawn mowers where they add four of these batteries at the same time. Not sure right now. But I know from Stihl that they are building for, like, for lawnmowers, for power tools, for chainsaws, for wheat wackers and stuff like that. They have a system in place and… Okay, I think that’s very smart.
David: Yeah, you have to be careful. I have killed a Stihl battery on my wheelbarrow by leaving it on. So they do not have a battery management system built into the battery. It’s built into the tool. So the potential is there to drain the battery and, of course, if you drain a lithium battery completely, that’s it. That’s the end of it. So in this interface, you have to build in just even a simple protection system that cuts the power at a certain voltage.
Klaus: You know Stihl is not far away from where I am. So maybe we can connect you with them and help you with the development of your electric bike conversion kit, whatever. Getting rid of the normal batteries and that’d be more flexible, also. I think if you have something that you get… some tools or some parts that you can buy basically off every hardware store. I mean, the battery is just crazy expensive with electric bikes, oftentimes.
David: That’s right. Yeah, and of course, I mean, it has to be a relatively large battery.
David: I would… sort of the minimum viable size would be about 500 watt hours, which is, you know, for a lithium battery, portable lithium battery, that’s pretty big. I’m thinking that a Stihl chainsaw would have maybe a 200 watt-hour battery, it would be a fairly large battery for a power tool. So using multiple batteries, and, of course, with the bicycle, it’s important that you’re not throwing the balance off. So, you know, not just mounting them on the rear carrier or something. And it seems to me like it would be… make sense as an auxiliary or a range extender, but maybe not necessarily the primary battery. And the other thing you gotta think about is how much drain is the battery engineered for. So if you plugged in one power to a battery into an electric bike, you’re most likely overtaxing the battery. So, you know, if you were buying a Bosch bike, that would be… they would have thought of that, and they would have engineered, you know, so that you would have to plug two batteries minimum to make it work or something like that, right? So if you’re doing it yourself, the idea I have which I’ve experimented with is the DC to DC converter and its current limited so you’re not draining the battery. You’re not actually using the battery to drive the bike. You’re using the auxiliary battery to charge the battery that’s on the bike already and you have a constant drain on that auxiliary battery, and whatever that drain is, it’s a comfortable drain for that battery. So to sort of maximize the amount of watt-hours you’re getting out of a battery if you lessen the drain on it so you’re not taking a bunch of power out all at once, you’re taking it out more slowly, you’ll get more power in the end. Of course, there’s some inefficiency in the DC to DC process, you’re gonna lose some power, but… So what I experimented with was drawing only 100 watts out of the auxiliary battery, and as you’re riding, it’s contributing that 100 watts, and maybe you’re using 500 watts, well, when the motor’s on the battery. But then you stop, you know, you’re coasting or you stopped at a light, well all that time, not now, the battery’s recharging your battery. So given that you’re… maybe you’re going on a longer ride, you can sort of say: “Okay, well, I’m going on a six-hour ride. And I’ve got a 600 watt-hour battery. Well, if I discharge it at 100 watt, it’s gonna be discharging that whole ride. It’s gonna be slowly contributing power to the main battery” And it works. It works quite well that way. You’ve got a lot of flexibility, whether it’s a small battery, then you’re not drawing… you only draw 25 watts out of it. Yeah, there’s lots of flexibility there, and I think it’s a novel concept. I’m not sure… Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see if it actually plays out into something that’s commercially viable.
Klaus: David, we have talked about a lot of tech stuff, and I hope not, but some people might have turned away, turned off the listening to the podcast…
David: [laughter] Yeah!
Klaus: …because we were talking about kilowatt-hours and whatever resistance and whatever. Stuff I don’t really, really understand myself. Although my father, he’s very he has spent his life, his working life, with these things, and I did that with RC cars and boats and stuff like that, so I do have some knowledge. But it’s special, and that’s why there is people such as you that help everybody else, the rest of us, to sort of get to where we want to be…
Klaus: …technically and finding the right stuff, the right equipment, the right combinations. But behind all of that is behind the… what we want to buy, what we’re looking for, or for you, why you started your business, is your motivation that we have talked about that also. But I wanted to close our conversation with a bit about that motivation and because I’ve read some thoughts of yours about how man is treating nature. And I think that that was probably also very, very important for your decision to go solar, buy electric vehicles, build a business around e-bikes, start using electric drivetrains and boats and stuff like that.
David: Yes. And, you know, I wasn’t always like that. There was a point where it sort of hit me and it was around the time that I started to get into e-bikes. You know, when I was in my twenties or even at high school, I was building a hot rod car, you know, not really thinking about how much gasoline I was putting into it on and all that kind of thing. It just… and, interestingly enough, living on this island, I have met so many people and young people now who have this awareness right away, even in grade school, they have this awareness of protecting the environment. And, you know, I’ve always appreciated the natural world and, you know, sort of explored it. I mean, BC is just a nature lover’s paradise, right? Living in Vancouver you can be snowshoeing on the mountain from your house in 45 minutes and then, you know, get on a boat and go kayaking the same day, you know? So, yeah, I think maybe, as it’s become more of an issue over time, I’ve also sort of tuned into it and become more and more aware of it. So I guess what I’m trying to say there is, and there’s hope for people who are not, you know, who are still flying, you know, to their vacation and not really thinking about what’s behind that flight right there. You can still sort of realize that maybe that’s not the best idea. Maybe I should try something different. So.. So yeah. And I guess I’ve just become more focused on it as time goes by and made more decisions in my life and trying to help other people. And, you know, being in an e-bike industry it’s so gratifying to see somebody… I’m selling a bike to somebody because they are going to leave their car at home for their commute now, right? And they want to do that for any number of reasons: often does, you know, some physical exercise. There’s monetary, and there’s… they realize what’s going on with, you know, we’re in a climate emergency, right? Yeah. I don’t know if I have answered your question fully, but that’s… I get off on tangents. [laughter]
Klaus: [laughter] Well, David, thank you very much for taking the time for this conversation on The 2pt5 podcast. Thank you very much. And good luck with all these projects that you’re working on. And I’m really looking forward to see the new electrical boat evolving that you’re building.
David: Well, thank you. Hopefully you have some patience, but yeah, it’s been great. Great to share.
Klaus: That was my conversation with David Elderton. Check out The 2pt5 website for all the links, a transcript and the extras mentioned in the episode at the2pt5.net. I have included the link in the show notes. This episode was recorded on August 2nd 2020. I am very grateful to David for taking the time for this conversation in this difficult period. Thank you also to music producer Imex for creating the music of this show. Creating this podcast is also an adventure for me. It is a labor of love, lots of work and great fun. Hosting and producing the podcast is broadening my own horizon and helps me to grow personally. I hope it helps you too. If you enjoy listening to these episodes, please show your support. Subscribe to it on your favorite podcast app and rate the show on podchaser.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. That way you help others to discover the show. And while you’re at it, please follow the podcast on social media and tell your friends. You find the links on the show’s website at the2pt5.net. My name is Klaus. The podcast is hosted in Baden-Württemberg in the Southwest of Germany. Thank you for listening to The 2pt5 – Conversations Connecting Innovators.
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