PLATTSBURGH - State University of New York at Plattsburgh students teamed up with professor Ken Podolak to create an electric powered bicycle, as part of a green grant fund.
Podolak, a member of the university's physics and engineering department and resident of the village of RousesPoint, serves as an advisor for the SUNY Plattsburgh Physics Club, which prompted the electrical bike project.
"Some students and myself at SUNY Plattsburgh got together," said Podolak, "and thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could build a bike that was electrical, and ran on an electric battery.'"
According to Podolak, students took a preexisting bicycle and modified it to run on electrical power.
"We took a traditional street bike, and instead of the back wheel, it's now a wheel with a motor on it, that has an electrical attachment to a lithium ion battery," he explained.
To create the bicycle, students simply purchased an electric bike conversion kit known as an "E-BikeKit."
"So, it's just one website where you pick and choose, and then you get it in the mail, and you can install it right on the back of your bicycle," said Podolak, which is something "almost anyone can do."
Although able to be operated manually as a traditional bike, the electric bicycle can also be passively ridden.
"The principle of it basically is that if you engage the motor it will pedal for you - it will drive the bicycle and let it go," explained Podolak.
Unlike a regenerative battery, the electrical bicycle requires three to five hours of charge from "dead to full," noted Podolak.
However, the capabilities of the bicycle are impressive.
"From what we've tested so far, just on the battery alone you can go to around 25 miles per hour on the battery itself, with the motor and you can go almost 30 miles if you use a little bit of peddling, but mostly on the battery," said Podolak.
For these qualities, Podolak touted the potential of using the bicycle for daily transportation.
"Another motivation obviously is the rise in gas costs; it's expensive to commute. Having something like this electric bike is a good alternative for commuting, for people to consider as far as transportation modes," emphasized Podolak.
Podolak also noted the merits of the bicycle in terms of navigating terrain.
"If a hill comes, chances are I'm walking it. With this thing, you can put the motor on, and pedal on the flat parts and downhill," he said.
Additionally, Podolak also stressed that the electric bike is "fairly cost effective."
"If you have the bicycle it costs like $600 to $1,000. But if you think about the cost of gasoline, and how much you use the bike going back and forth to work, it'll pay for itself," emphasized Podolak.
The project is important in terms of its ecological impact, said Podolak.
"It's a nice healthy alternative to gas consumption of other vehicles," he said. "It's just a cool way to get around from A to B."