Electrically Powered Bicycle Trailer & Hand Cart (DIY)

electric powered bike trailer

The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.

carla cargo bike trailerThe electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.

The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.

Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.

Chinese Wheelbarrow, Meet the Honey Badger Wheel

modern variant of the chinese wheelbarrow

Mike Merrell writes us:

“I’ve really enjoyed reading articles on your site since I found the article on the Chinese Wheelbarrow. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for information on the wheelbarrow, and I was immediately hooked. It turned out to be some of my inspiration for our new product we’re calling the Honey Badger Wheel. Our Kickstarter project began March 10th and will run until April 30th.”

“Because you provide awesome content for all of us interested in simple technologies with big benefits, would you be interested in running an article on your site about the modern interpretation of the Chinese Wheelbarrow? My hope is that it would add value to your audience, especially since it’s in line with with new and exciting info for us techies. On a more personal note, I appreciate the boosts of small inspiration from your site that lead to big ideas.”

[Read more…]

A Trunk on Wheels

tripl elektric motor bike

Denmark’s Tripl electric motorbike has more cargo space than a Mercedes E-Class estate. The vehicle is aimed at goods delivery in large cities. Heated and refrigerated cargo boxes are available. Some specifications:

  • Cargo volume: 750 litres
  • Load capacity: 200 kg
  • Electric motor: 4 kW
  • Top speed: 45 km/h (28 mph)
  • Battery: 5.3 kWh / 6.7 kWh / 8 kWh
  • Charging time: 5.3 – 8 hours
  • Range: 70-100 km (with 8 kWh battery), 50-80 km (6.7 kWh battery), 30-60 km (5.3 kWh battery)
  • Weight excl. battery: 221 kg
  • Weight with 8 kWh battery: 301 kg
  • Length: 241 cm
  • Width: 127 cm
  • Height: 1170 cm
  • Wheelbase: 150 cm
  • Turning diameter: 7.5 m

A Market for Simpler Trucks

low-tech truckThe pace of technological change in trucking over the past decade has been breathtaking. Commercial vehicles rolling off assembly lines now boast standard and optional features that would have been unthinkable on high-end luxury cars just a few years ago.

The proliferation of technology has penetrated virtually every aspect of truck design, from Bluetooth systems that enable drivers to talk on the phone safely to GPS-oriented telematics systems, computer-controlled integrated powertrains and high-pressure common-rail fuel injection systems.

Yet, more fleet managers are becoming less than enthusiastic concerning trucking’s technological explosion. That’s because all the new technology found on today’s commercial vehicles comes with tradeoffs – and many fleets cannot see an end to the new problems that have piggybacked these high-tech models. The most glaring unwanted burden has been skyrocketing truck prices…. At the same time, the exponential leap in new and advanced technologies found on today’s trucks is stressing the industry’s service and support network, which already is struggling with a crippling technician shortage….

Finally, fleet managers say, there is the issue of durability. “I talk to owner-operators leased to our fleet all the time,” says Margret Hogg, general manager of Toronto-based J.G. Drapeau, a long-haul hazmat fleet. “They all drive beautiful old trucks that are dependable day in and day out. They don’t want anything to do with all these new technologies because they run trucks that work when they need them to.”

Hogg believes vehicle reliability has never been lower than it is today. “We still have a 2002 model in our fleet that is far more dependable than a comparable 2012 model,” she says. “We’ve only had six major repairs with the ’02 truck since we got it. In contrast, the ’12 model has already had 11 major breakdowns. That’s not an isolated event, either.”

Read more: Low-tech truck revolution: will modern truck technology create a market for simpler, more affordable trucks? The picture is from Rainier Truck & Chassis, the first outside component assembler to market its line of low-tech models in North America.

A Scooter for Everyone

electric scooter johanson3

The Johanson3 is a stable three-wheeler, with the driver leaning back rather than sitting (though sitting is an option). Feet rest on a plate, and pressing down on that plate creates a lean on the front wheel, turning the vehicle while the rear wheels remain solidly on the ground.

That makes for easy on-and off, especially for those who – owing to age, injury, or fashion choice (“skirts, saris, djellabas, and kimonos” are accommodated, according to Johanson3) – cannot throw a leg over a bicycle seat. Various models accommodate single riders or as many as three adults plus two kids, and can haul up to 660lbs of flesh and cargo. Read more: The J3, a trike that hauls freight, spares frocks.

The Johanson3 is available for pre-order and costs $3,150 – $3,900.

Trolleytrucks in Los Angeles

siemens trolleytruck“A project testing a new way to power trucks with electricity is moving forward along selected highway lanes near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”

“The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, has selected a company to install a catenary system.”

“This is essentially overhead electrical lines that supply trucks with electric power, similar to how modern day trolleys or streetcars are powered on many city streets.”

Read more: Truck Electrification System to be Tested at Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach. Thanks to Paul Best.

Previously:

Eight-Wheeler Cargo Cycle

8wheeler cargo bikeThink you need a car or a van to move large and heavy stuff around? Think again. This eight-wheeler cargo cycle features a 10 m2 bamboo loading platform and a 450 kg loading capacity. The chassis is based on that of a concrete mixer. The vehicle has four-wheel steering and independent wheel suspension. With two drivers it achieves an average speed of 10 – 15 km/h, which could be further increased by the use of electric motors.

The cargo cycle was designed and built by Berliner Nico Jungel. Find more pictures and videos at his website. The vehicle was spotted at the International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. See all pictures of the event (including more images of the 8-wheeler). Previously: Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets.

Furoshiki: Zero-Waste Shopping in Japan

In a time when cloth-making was one of the most advanced technologies, a piece of square cloth was all that a man needed to carry goods around. Japanese call it ‘Furoshiki’, a square cloth that with different wrapping techniques can basically transport anything. With its name meaning ‘bath spread’, Furoshiki is a traditional kind of wrapping cloth made of natural materials like silk and cotton. It is believed to date back to the 8th century. What was at first used to wrap up noblemen’s clothes in bathhouses gradually transported goods and gifts.

Furoshiki zero waste shopping in japan

Click to enlarge. More pictures here.

Modern bags might have outshone Furoshiki, but recent years have seen its comeback as a green alternative to shopping bags, thanks to the ‘Mottainai Furoshiki’ initiative by Yuriko Koike, Japan’s Minister of the Environment, in 2006. “It’s a shame for something to go to waste without having made use of its potential in full,” said Koike. Like what beauty label LUSH has followed to produce, the modern Furoshiki Koike upheld was made of recycled PET bottles that, as the Minister put it, “can wrap almost anything in it regardless of size or shape with a little ingenuity by simply folding it in a right way.”

The above graph demonstrating different wrapping techniques went viral on the internet. A wave of shops emerged to sell fancy furoshiki. The Minister’s statement holds some truism because a furoshiki does wrap up almost anything of all shapes and fragility – from vegetables to bottles, from wine glasses to eggs, from a baby to a dog. Besides its diversity, Furoshiki is a great alternative to adopt also because of its portability, leaving almost no room for excuses like ‘I forgot to bring my own bag’. Most of the time very decorative because Japanese treat it as an artistic craft, a furoshiki makes a great scarf, headband or pocket square.

ren wanLight and small, it comfortably fits in your pocket or day bag, whilst some furoshiki clothes are big enough to a bag whose form you can change every other day. A personal experiment proves that it helps encourage shoppers to opt for less- or un-packaged options. To avoid unnecessary packaging I visit local grocery stores for unpackaged tomatoes and to the plastic bag addicts’ surprise, it is very easy and light to transport. Just think about how one piece of cloth has the potential to replace all shopping bags. Does it not make it one of the smartest solution to shopping bags and excessive packaging?

This is a guest post by Ren Wan, a writer and sustainability advocate who is based in Hong Kong. She runs JupYeah, an online swapping platform, is a managing editor for WestEast Magazine, and blogs at Loccomama.

The Venetian Handcart

venetian handcartGiuliana Fornaciari draws our attention to yet another example of ingenious handcart technology: the Venetian cart.

The vehicle has two small wheels at the end of the horizontal bars, which are used to overcome the steps of Venetian bridges and staircases.

We have said it before: low-tech solutions are by definition local solutions. It is technology that adapts to the environment, not the other way around.

The picture comes from classified ads website Subito; the cart is for sale (199 euro). To be picked up in Venice, obviously.

Three more pictures here, here and here. More sustainable small-scale cargo options.

Handcarts on Rails

Looking for an even more efficient cargo vehicle than a Chinese wheelbarrow? Try a handcart on rails. The light railway shown on the pictures below was built during the early 20th century in Ghana, then a British Colony called Gold Coast. The human powered railway was used for conveying cocoa from the factory in Akuse to the river barges on the Valta river.

hand carts on rails

hand carts on rails 2

Source: EngRailHistory.