This Wheel Turned My $50 Bicycle Into an Electric Bike
My bike isn't exactly what you'd call "nice." I bought my humble three-speed for $50 bucks off Craigslist. I believe the original owner bought the bike for about twice that amount at Walmart. Over the summer, however, my second-hand Craiglist bike was converted into a fancy electric one thanks to EVELO's Omni Wheel, a motorized wheel that replaces a regular bike's front wheel.
The Omni Wheel EVELO
As a recreational bicycler, all I want in a bike is simple yet functional riding. So when EVELO sent me this 20-pound, $1,000 wheel for a test spin, I was skeptical. The installation process, which the company says should take most people only 30 minutes, took me and a friend (a sometimes frustrating) two hours. Admittedly, the lengthy installation time could also be down to how bad I am with simple tools. That being said, the EVELO team was happy to answer any questions I had and there's also a 5-minute video tutorial for reference.
Upon successfully installing the wheel, my friend had the perfect words about my newly electrified bike, "It f—ing works!"
It really does work. The lithium-battery powered Omni WheeI basically turned my bike into a scooter. After effortlessly zipping around with it for the past month, I realized something—I kind of love, and maybe need, an electric bike.
My second-hand Walmart bike I bought off Craigslist for $50 was pimped out this summer with EVELO's electric wheel.
Electric bikes, or e-bikes, do not require as much pedal power but they aren't just for the lazy. With my Craigslist-bike-turned-e-bike, I biked more than ever before. Research actually shows that e-bikes make people cycle longer and more frequently. Instead of hopping into my car like I usually would, I biked to the gym, met up with friends and yes even biked for fun.
The wheel I tested came with a thumb throttle that pushed me at speeds around 15 miles per hour, which felt pretty fast to me. At that speed, I was biking faster than the 10 mile-per-hour speed limit for my apartment complex driveway.
For those of you who enjoy biking for the exercise, you can switch between the throttle or old fashioned pedaling whenever you want. While I was out riding one day, the battery ran out of juice and I easily pedaled the rest of the way back home.
I live in a beach town in South Carolina so biking was easy on the flat pavement, but EVELO says that their wheel is powerful enough to tackle hills and long distances with ease.
A full charge on the Omni Wheel puts a rider into the 40-mile range and lasts around 4 or 9 hours depending on the wheel model. The all-in-one wheel kit includes a wireless display panel you place onto your bike's handlebars that shows how fast you're going, how many miles have been clocked up and how much battery is left.
The wheel comes in two sizes, 26" and 700C, meaning it fits a wide range of bikes. Starting price for the cheapest wheel is $999, which is hundreds less than low-end electric bikes.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
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The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.