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Thread: Power in Flux excerpt: The Blade

              
   
   
  1. #1
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    Power in Flux excerpt: The Blade

    So, I'm working my butt off on the book, I have about 12 email threads going with various people, I have my story line, and am kind of tucking everything into bed. I have several Facebook Friends who are in the business, and one of them is deeply connected in the Northwest EV community, due to the fact that he's the CTO of one of the main components of many EVs. I'll let you guess who that is, but there's about a 50% chance you've bought his product.

    He says to me, OH HEY, have you ever spoken to Ely Schless? He's a great guy, he might be able to help you.

    The book is more about how technology comes together to push a breakthrough, and I'm coming from it as a "History of Science and Technology" background, not to mention my Philosophy studies, and after talking to Ely for about a day, I realize that he has been at the core of the development of electric motorcycles since he first set eyes on a Marzocchi mountain bike fork. Yet, there's very little available on Ely online, and though I now know people who've met him and raced with him, I realized this may be the single most influential thread of work throughout the entire time period.

    Needless to say, I had to, for the most part, start over. I'd missed a huge part of the story.

    It seems a little slow on the forum, so here's the chapter on Ely Schless and the Blade. I'll do it in installments, just to keep it readable... Don't let that keep you from chiming in, though! (Please respect my copyright, though. Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles is Ted Dillard, 2017, all rights reserved.)

    Here you go:


    --------------------------

    Chapter 6: The Blade

    Ely Schless is happiest when he’s making something. Mostly he likes
    making motorcycles, but he likes making bicycles, electric cars, mountain
    bikes, and batteries too. When he saw the 12" travel Monster T Marzocchi
    Bomber Z1, a new mountain bike downhill fork, he took a Scott motor (the
    same as Electrathon used), bought a Bomber, and with the help of Brett
    Gober designing and fabricating the frame, they hacked together their first
    “powered mountain bike” in 1997.

    blade.jpg

    By the late ‘80s, Marzocchi had roughly 40 years experience in the
    suspension business, both for motorcycles and race automotive applications
    (Ferrari Formula One, for one example), and in ’89 entered the burgeoning
    mountain bike market with the Marzocchi Star. The Star was an air-sprung
    affair with about 2 inches of travel. By the mid-‘90s it had inspired the
    aftermarket industry to step up but the performance hadn’t got much better.
    By the time the Z1 was released in 1997, most available forks still had
    around 2 inches of travel, and they were still bicycle-grade products:
    “spindly” at best. The Bomber Z1 hit the market with an oil-damped, 4” of
    travel, a coil-spring motorcycle shock that resembled one of their full
    motorcycle suspensions more than anything anyone had strung onto the
    front end of a bicycle before.

    Between the shocks and the electric drive, a new concept in two
    wheeled riding was born – the Denali: an electric powered mountain bikemotocross-
    trials-almost motorcycle with full suspension, knobby tires and disk brakes.

    Schless also likes to make and run small companies. After his first
    prototype he started up Denali Electric Bikes, and later the Electric Cycle
    Company (the Viento scooter) and ElectricMoto, (the Blade). Denali ran for
    a few years, merging into ElectricMoto around 2001 or so, and the Blade
    was pretty much a direct descendant of that first “hacked” mountain bike.

    From 2001 to 2004 they sold about 40 Blades, (the first one to Gunnar
    Lindstrom at Honda R&D, to be followed by a second order from them a
    few months later), until Schless, at ElectricMoto, got blindsided with a stock
    deal that lead to about 2 years of filings with the SEC with him as CEO.

    He ultimately stepped down in around 2008 and assumed the role of CTC
    (Chief Technology Consultant), and the company, after establishing
    worldwide distribution and four available models, shut its doors soon after
    that.

    (to be continued... )
    Last edited by Ted Dillard; 18 September 2018 at 0742.
    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Stevo's Avatar
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    More pics please! Any pics of Ely? (for this forum write-up, not necessarily for the book, as I'm sure adding pics increases the costs)
    Current rides: '96 Honda Ohlins VFR, '03 Cannondale C440R, '03 Cannondale Cannibal, '06 Yamaha 450 Wolverine 4x4
    Current builds: WORX.VOR.v3.2

  4. #3
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    LOL

    I had to decide if this was going to be a picture book or, well, not, and went with not. As it is, it was over 300 pages...

    ...maybe there's interest?
    Last edited by Ted Dillard; 18 September 2018 at 1018.
    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

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    Senior Member Stevo's Avatar
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    I was actually requesting the pics for this write-up that your doing here.... since you are using this media. I mean, internet story telling without pics IS kinda boring!
    Current rides: '96 Honda Ohlins VFR, '03 Cannondale C440R, '03 Cannondale Cannibal, '06 Yamaha 450 Wolverine 4x4
    Current builds: WORX.VOR.v3.2

  6. #5
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    Oh lordy. But I DID put in ONE photo! lol

    No, I don't have much more in the way of photography than what's in the book, but if I have some time I'll try to scare some up.
    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

  7. #6
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    Here's Ely in 2007:

    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

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    Senior Member Stevo's Avatar
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    THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!! Very cool Ted! Maybe others on here can add to this thread as well, (Maybe Ely himself!)
    Carry on!
    Current rides: '96 Honda Ohlins VFR, '03 Cannondale C440R, '03 Cannondale Cannibal, '06 Yamaha 450 Wolverine 4x4
    Current builds: WORX.VOR.v3.2

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  10. #8
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    I know Ely spends (used to spend?) a lot of time on Endless Sphere - haven't seen him here though.
    Last edited by Ted Dillard; 18 September 2018 at 1118.
    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

  11. #9
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    Here are a few more breadcrumbs...

    In the meantime, John Fiorenza, working at Briggs and Stratton, had
    picked up a Lynch motor, tested it and torn it down, convinced Briggs and
    Stratton to buy limited rights to the design and redesigned it to yield a
    motor that was easier and cheaper to manufacture, yet nearly as powerful
    and every bit as efficient as the Lynch: the ETEK. B&S intended to use these
    motors for lawn and garden applications, as well as recreational products
    (an outboard motor, for one example), but the license was fairly restrictive
    on the use for vehicles.

    The first ETEKs became available in 2001 and Schless got his hands on
    a few: “We built prototypes with both motors. Cedric’s motor was better
    and he was clearly 'da man', no doubt, but the ETEK was awesome and
    inspiring because it was cheap, light and really more engineered for
    production than the Lynch. Not much was sacrificed versus the Lynch,
    provided you watched the thermal rise. I love the design of the first ETEK
    even today. I have about 7 new ones in the box, the originals.”

    With the boost in power from the ETEK as well as a significant increase
    in weight, (from around 115lbs for the Denali, to about 150lbs for the new
    design), Schless designed a bigger, more robust chassis with stronger forks
    and wheels, a wheelbase and stance matcing a Honda CLF150, and nearly
    250cc class performance: the Blade. The Blade, in 2001, was still running
    lead-acid batteries yet arguably the first full-on electric motocross bike.

    ..tbc
    Last edited by Ted Dillard; 18 September 2018 at 1202.
    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

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  13. #10
    Senior Member Ted Dillard's Avatar
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    The Denali started with lead-acid, which, in spite of the weight, gave
    the bike a lot of capacity and power (lead acid can discharge at alarmingly
    high rates). Though Schless had been following lithium battery
    development since around ’95, the products were nothing that could be
    used in a commercial product. It wasn’t until 2003 that he began working
    with lithium in the Blade XT. He started with the Thundersky batteries and
    BMS, and the switch to lithium meant he had to redesign the frame entirely:
    “I had just built parts for 50 bikes; swing arms, frames, plastic parts (we
    did it all in house), based on lead acid. So integrating the lithiums, which
    were light but bulky, meant butchering the existing frames and swing arms
    to accommodate them. I preferred lead acid for simplicity and higher
    currents.”

    However, as he explains in a 2005 interview, his lead-acid bikes had an
    equivalent gas tank capacity of about a half-gallon. The switch to lithium
    gave the bikes about a 2 gallon equivalent capacity. In the meantime,
    Briggs and Stratton had pulled the plug on ETEK motor availability, and,
    after designing the bikes around the ETEK Schless was forced to find an
    alternative. He settled on the Perm (Cupex), the same choice Brammo
    would make a few years later with the Enertia.

    denali.jpg

    As early as 1998, the Denali was getting press in media like Mountain
    Bike Action magazine, including a cover. By 2007, the Blade XT3 was getting
    coverage in the mainstream gas-centric motocross media as “the world’s
    first motorcycle to run on lithium batteries,” and was sporting some fairly
    impressive specs:

    Blade XT3 Specifications

    • Motor: 21.2Kw electric motor
    • Battery: 60 volt, 50 Ah, Lithium Ion
    • Run time: 3 hours casual, 1 hour MX
    128
    • Recharge time: 30 minutes to 90 minutes
    • 0-30 mph speed: 4 seconds
    • Frame: CNC aluminum/steel down tube
    • Brakes: hydraulic discs
    • Suspension: 35mm Marzocchi forks/WP rear shock/260mm travel
    • Options: 38mm Ohlins forks/Ohlins shock
    • Wheels: 24″ x 3″ mountain bike

    Here you go, StevO:



    more to come...
    Last edited by Ted Dillard; 19 September 2018 at 0551.
    Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles
    www.powerinflux.com

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