Tester notes: Alpha Unit
Throttle response is excellent Gearing seems right on. Good acceleration in midrange. 40mph easily attained.
35 PSI in tires reduces rolling resistance but increases ride harshness.
Vehicle sensitive to wind gust cross winds and road crown. Need to countersteer to compensate. Stability seems good otherwise. Suspension feels compliant, but pot holes are harsh. Wheels roll over obstacles well. Ground clearance is minimal ( 3) picked up some twigs in undercarriage.
Aluminum steering column needs to be more secure feeling, some looseness. Doesn't affect steering. Full lock turns require awkward hand position re; throttle and brake when turning around in street due to handlebar clamp off set used.
Canopy movement and flex over bumps, turns is evident. Seems normal. Rubber hold down clamps appear to be absorbing shocks well. Backing up is a hassle since it requires holding canopy up while pushing and steering. Easier to use fairing strut to hold up fairing and manueuvering vehicle from outside like a motorcycle.
Cornering seems good as testing builds confidence. Steering column flex not helpful, but getting used to it. (Stiffer column recommended for production).
Nice wind shadow effect. No cockpit air turbulence except minor effect around neck and shoulders. Nice when its hot out. Cowl fans do good job of air circulation (Three used in proto)
Rainex seems to work. Rain beading on canopy requires looking past them. Distracting, but ok after getting used to it. Ambient noise level acceptable. Some rumbling from fairing over rough pavement, bump sounds from wheels on impacts. Chain and motor tone/level pleasant and appropriate. Good audible feedback. No wind noise noticed. Sharp cracking sound heard over bumps.
Noise traced to seat pan flange hitting battery pan corner. increased clearance solved problem.
Canopy Velcro attachment is minimal but canopy seems well secured mechanically. Rear removable canopy pops loose from fairing from flex but still secure. Need additional attachment along sides (clamp? Xtra Velcro?) Lights/signal/horn bright and loud. Excellent visibility through canopy.
BugE top speed (level road, no wind, 40 degrees) is 43 mph with 50 mph on slight downgrades. Seems to run effortlessly and continuously for 6 miles at 40mph (length of run) no loss of power or noticeable battery drain. Vehicle ran smoothly with no vibration. Felt stable other than drift caused by road crown, compensated by slight countersteer pressure. No significant turbulence noted by passing vehicles. Needs minor brake left/right adjustment. Noticable fairing shake on rough gravel road over railroad tracks etc.
Drove the Buge for aprox one hour at night. One light (low beam) puts out a bright beam easily illuminating the road, with both headlights on, night vision is excellent, as is visibility out from the cockpit. very little refraction off canopy. kept hitting the horn button instread of the turn signal..oops.. After 45 minutes of stop/go, checked battery and still had plenty of power, so went out for another 15 minutes and we shot some video.
Drove on highway into town, then city traffic, stopped for an hour to answer inquiries, then drove back. ran out of power at 38.5 miles. stopped at a gas station for coffee and charged up for 15 minutes, then drove 5 miles to vendor for full recharging. first deep cycle on new batteries. Not bad at all for highway/city mix ! One of theTailight nuts came loose. generated lots of positive attention in town.
Installed Kit Production Wheels
Black powder coated wheels, bigger brakes and better tires. Required revision of brake mounts.
Changes for production:
Shorter shock mount
Angle steering column back 5 degrees
T nut insert for tail hold down
Revised brake stay locations
Neoprene fairing damper
Work with supplier on improved canopy sizing
new tires have directional tread. will require builder to flip right front tire on rim.
significant improvement on braking effect.
Noticable left /right pull when using only one brake.
Note as CAUTION in Owners Manual to use both brakes together.
Allowed several test drives to solicit novice impressions on controls/handling/performance
Results were positive. Familiarity takes about "50 feet"
TV news story
confirmed 60/40 weight distribution
600 lb GVLW weight within max tire load rating of new tires.
At max rating on rear tire. Front tires can handle additional cargo weight.
managed to cram two ten pound bags of Cat food and four plastic grocery bags of stuff in the BugE trunk (bonnet?)
Suggest some foam padding on the floor if carrying jars or cans.
Performed a series of panic stop brake tests.
Run 1: 30 mph; Stopped in 45 feet with right brake locked up (wet tire)
Run 2: 30 mph; Stopped in 38 feet
Run 3: 30 mph; Stopped in 35 feet
Run 4: 30 mph; Stopped in 35 feet
D.O.T. requirements: 30-0 in 45 feet.
Performed a series of slalom tests with 5 cones space 20 feet apart.
Vehicle felt predictable and stable to limit of traction (aprox 18 mph)
Front outside tires would start to skid at the limit due to small
contact patch of tire. (4 sq in @ 35 psi)
Approximately ten 0-25 mph fast acceleration starts in about a 10 minute period with 205 pound driver, the motor is noticeably hot, but red paint is not discolored
performance testing to date has been fulfiling. although performance has been excellent, we are concerned that the motor is running too hot under some circumstances.
We are therefore upgrading the motor specs to a larger model. this will improve relibility and performance. The bigger motor will be mounted on the left side rather than the right side, and it will stick out a couple more inches.
Tester notes 4/13/07
New motor evaluation. Oh...My...God.......!
good torque and accelertion. top speed 54 mph. vehicle smooth and stable at speed.extra power and speed will obviously draw down the batteries faster, but appears same range/speed profile as before.Motor runs nice and cool (32.7 c) after full power high speed run. aerodynamic motor cover will add rain protection but should not affect cooling.
The BugE debut at our local earthDay festival was a big hit despite steady rain.
our display was as busy as we could handle.
we delivered three kits, took orders for more and have two more to ship. since wednesday...
Driving the BugE in rain is interesting. At speed, the water tracks away like flying through little astroids..cool....!
the trick is not to focus on the windshield, but through it.....
50+ mph tracking is good, with bumps not affecting the handling, and suspension is smoother.
Going fast uses a lot of energy though.....
Bumping over pot holes etc at slower speeds in the city is bothersome, as is Fairing shake and bounce.
Some additional seat suspension would be nice.
Low speed maneuverability is very nice.
acceleration in city traffic is excellent (20-30mph) is where the the torque curve increases.Range will certainly suffer since it is so much fun to play with the quick acceleration.
Pull to the right was tracked down to an adjustment of the stabilizer bar.
motor(chain) noise is a love/hate experience...some may find it annoying,others will take it as the perfect "Star Wars" sound effect for an EV.
Observations from the chase car:
It continued to track straight even when hitting large pot holes. Accelleration was very rapid, we could not keep with it. The rear lights are very visible. Interesting to see all the heads turn when people noticed it. No spray seemed to wrap around on the driver.
got a chance to run the BugE around Portland International Raceway after the Electrathon Gran Prix/HPV races on memorial day It will take some practice to hang it out around the corners in a three wheel drift, ( remove the fairing stops to lower the fairing around a recumbent racing seat with a roll bar and harness...maybe next year...) but full chat down the straight was fun, it sounded like a baby indy car ( see video clip) Lots of interest from spectators. will be at the Da Vinci Days festifal in Corvallis in July.(see picture page) the removable rear canopy is great on hot days. we can store it behind the seat if necessary with a bungee cord. other ideas/experiments include gate latches for a more secure fairing hold down option, suspended seat for more cush over bumps, fairing struts to reduce fairing shake. (see updates and ideas) system reliability has been excellent. love this motor!
Field reports from BugE Assemblers:
first kit built BugE's are now on the road with a part time build time of about 1 month.
We have heard of two DC/DC failures with the units replaced by EVparts
and one controller failure replaced by Alltrax.
We have added several updates and ideas including a nifty seat slider, and a retrofit contactor to protect the controller.
(See site map for clarifications and improvements page)
Builders are creating very individualized vehicles with a lot of innovation. We are posting them on the website as we get photos.
Lots of parade and display opportunities as well as media attention, Including a documentary in progress.
Confirmed 20 mile range at 40mph.
new motor with reverse available ADC 140-01-4009
Hillclimb road trip.
for this BugE test we chose an open highway two lane road that goes over a ridge of hills,climbing about 500 feet in elevation.there are several grades on this route, gentle, moderate and steep,with a variety of curves from gentle to tight.Since we didn't know what to expect, we drove it very conservatively.
mile 1 to 3 level = 30mph,
mile 3 to 5 level= 40 mph
mile 5 to 7 uphill= 35 mph
mile 7 to 10 downhill 40 mph.
at the end the BugE had 3/4 of its charge left.The BugE had plenty of power climbing, did not bog down nor was the motor stressed or heated up.we could have picked up the pace considerably or made a round trip with power left.we will do the same test again in return, but driving more aggressively at a faster pace.stay tuned.
City Cycle range test
We tried various city traffic patterns until the vehicle could not maintain 30 mph.
Suburban: Range: 20 miles in long block suburban scenarios of coast down/stop/ acceleration to 40 mph with occasional sequenced signals.
Downtown Urban: Range: 40 miles in downtown stop/go patterns where coast down/stop/acceleration to 30mph involving longer, frequent waits at signals for lights to change. Obviously range can vary widely depending on conditions and driving patterns.
2008 model BugE improvements.
The Tie Rod Spindle Arms are now 2 longer, which slows down the steering and reduces steering effort substantially improving control, however it does increase the turning circle a bit. Overall though a nice improvement.
A new Fairing Bulkhead has been added in the cabin to stiffen the Fairing structure. It also adds a nice place for switches and speakers etc.
The Fairing pivot has been moved off the front axle to reduce unsprung weight. This allows the front suspension to be more responsive, improving the rider and reducing motion of the Fairing over bumps as well.
And finally a Rear Suspension has been added that neatly incorporates a elastomer shock. ( Rubber BugE Bumpers) This significantly reduces the severity of bumps. It is very simple yet is adjustable for weight and ground clearance.
We also noticed that these improvements also reduced interior sound levels and motor noise.
Most of these changes are applicable for last years BugE's. (The Fairing pivot is not upgradeable, and upgrading to the rear suspension requires welding)