EcoSpeed, B-line deal helps bikers haul heftier cargo

The B-line delivery service could benefit from using Eco-Speed's motors.

The B-line delivery service could benefit from using Eco-Speed's motors.

A Portland cycling specialist and a prominent city delivery service are collaborating on a service that could help move heavy goods around town sustainably.

EcoSpeed Inc., which designs and makes electric bicycle motor systems, and B-line Urban Delivery will test the Ebike system to ensure it can work commercially. B-line's riders will use the EcoSpeed systems to deliver heavy cargo loads.

The EcoSpeed motor system drives the bike chain in a way that utilizes all the bike's gears. As a result, it can make climbing a hill with, say, a 500-pound load much easier.

Or, as EcoSpeed's Tad Beckwith puts it, it's like getting the equivalent of two additional professional cyclists pumping up the hill with the already-capable courier.

"As commuters see this heavy trike heading up the hill they may get the confidence they need to go 'carlite' with an electric bike, even if they need to haul kids or cargo," said Beckwith, EcoSpeed's sales and marketing director, in a statement. "

They can now see it being done on Portland streets every day."

The EcoSpeed drive system uses dual lithium batteries that provide a range of about 40 miles. Because the motor is limited to just above one horse-power, it's legally an "electrically assisted bicycle" under Oregon law, meaning it can use bike lanes and paths along with other bicycles.

B-line's riders are frequently spotted throughout the city toting Dave's Killer Bread and produce to Portland's restaurants.

The EcoSpeed line could help the riders move pallets and other heavy and unwieldy goods to industrial customers.

B-line's chief mechanic Bill Murdock said the EcoSpeed motor is relatively small, making it easier to achieve "the maximum power-to-weight ratio possible with a freight trike."

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