The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Now you can charge your e-bike at OMSI

Posted by on July 30th, 2010 at 10:53 am

Now at OMSI.
(Photos: Scott Ewing)

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has installed a solar canopy charging station for electric vehicles. The station includes infrastructure for charging e-bikes, and according to OMSI, it’s the first such facility in North America to provide “a solution for the increasing use of alternative transportation.”

OMSI partnered with Portland General Electric, Sanyo (for the solar panels) and InSpec Group (for design) on the project. Mayor Sam Adams, fresh of presiding over the adoption of a wide-ranging electric vehicle report last week, said of the project; “It’s a model for how we can deliver economic prosperity and sustainability side-by-side.”

The “solar canopy” is located in OMSI’s south parking lot and features weatherproof lockers each with 120V AC outlets. There are also bike racks with charging bays for Sanyo’s eneloop e-bike (I assume other bikes can be charged here too, but I’m not totally clear on that). Sanyo has also given OMSI three e-bikes as part of the project.

For more details, see the press release from OMSI.

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  • Scott E July 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

    The bike rack with charger -appears- to be just a regular outlet, but I’m no expert. Nothing looked out of the ordinary.

    The official opening event is at 12:30 PM today (Friday 7/30). Expect speeches of various sorts.

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  • Anonymous July 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Bonus points for being solar powered instead of just taking power from the grid.

    All the other recharging stations I’ve seen don’t take into account paying for the power.

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  • Duncan July 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    bikes shouldn’t have motors and motorcycles shouldn’t have pedals- stop the madness!

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  • Recumbent Bicycle Source July 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Interesting that Samsung chose Portland which isn’t exactly known for it’s days of sunshine to implement a Solar System. Is there a fee to use this or is it subsidized by Samsung? Trek is introducing a line of bicycles with bionx motors that offer electric assist in varying levels. The Kit motors are available as hub wheels with very lightweight batteries (Well as light as they can get for now) to modify practically any bicycle. They are spendy but potentially worth the money. As a youth I spent my share of time biking in the Hills around Portland. The West side offers some real challenges. So this article was interesting to me because of OMSI’s location. So many places to ride on the East Side without hills. Who exactly do you believe is the intended user of this station? The commuter, zoo worker, OMSI Employee?

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    • Tim January 8, 2011 at 4:26 am

      It is promoting Portland to us people all over the world (I am in Switzerland) as a really forward thinking town. I am sure many people will use it and it shows how easy it is to get things done when a bit of free global advertising is involved! Hats off to Samsung! And Sam of course. 🙂 Great stuff Portland, I hope to come visit soon!

      I have a Bionx set up on my machine and I can assure you the hills of Oregon will be easy work for it.

      Come take a look at my set up and see some ebike tips too! I have over 2,000kms on mine, all in the Swiss hills…


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  • q'Tzal July 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    And so crank up the EV haters again.
    This holy than thou “bikes and human power are that you will ever need” attitude is counterproductive to the over all goal of getting more non-cyclists to even consider bicycles as a valid form of transit.
    There needs to be diversity in transit methods to support the transit needs of all people, not just the able bodied.
    This implyed “you’re fat & lazy, we’re better than you” message that keeps getting broadcast from the cycle community is destroying good will one a daily basis.

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  • Chris July 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    This is pretty awesome! I asked OMSI if it would be J1772 level 2 compliant (for charging the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt) and they said that the main charging unit (EVSE) will be swapped out with a J1772 compliant unit in late September.

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  • Paul Hanrahan July 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    It would be nice to see Portland pick up this idea and make all of their electric car charging stations solar powered with grid back up.

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  • jeff July 30, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Its not a bike if it has a motor.
    It then becomes a motorscooter.

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  • Paul Tay July 30, 2010 at 4:49 pm


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  • A.K. July 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Will it be compatible with my inside-the-seat-tube mini motor?

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  • Duncan July 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm


    Joking! Jesus Mary and Joseph would it kill you people to crack a smile from time to time!

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  • Barney July 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Solar is great until you do the cost analysis of the $ per kwh delivered. The donated equipment certainly helps but when you add in installation and maintenance of the solar specific components I think that many people would be surprised at just what the cost of free energy is.

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  • Wake Gregg
    Wake Gregg July 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Sanyo’s three big green products are solar cells, rechargable batteries and eBikes (they sell 5k ebikes/month in Japan) (and they make the motors for Giant and Kalkhoff electric bikes) so it is cool to see them working to build the marketspace.

    All the best,
    The eBike Store
    201 N alberta

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  • ChaseB July 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    >Will it be compatible with my inside-the-seat-tube mini motor?

    The system OMSI installed consists of a series of regular household outlets, so if your bike can charge from a household outlet then it should work fine. For those whose bikes use a removable battery and off-board charger, the coin-op lockers have outlets inside so people can’t steal your battery or charger while recharging.

    >Bonus points for being solar powered instead of just taking power from the grid

    The system is grid tied, so if you plug in after dark or if there are more users than the solar panels can support, the power comes from the grid. During the daytime, if the chargers are not in use, the power goes into the grid.

    >All the other recharging stations I’ve seen don’t take into account paying for the power

    The cost of the power is negligible; my electric car uses only pennies per charge. One of the reasons most charging stations don’t require payment is because the credit card transaction fees alone would cost more than the electricity, so requiring payment is a losing proposition.

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  • West Cougar July 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    “Now you can charge your eBike…” and your iPhone and your laptop and your mobile sound system and pop popcorn and project bike-in movies for friends and strangers. This thing is a fabulous!

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  • bikesalot July 30, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    You should try to find a place just to charge LIGHTING batteries when out on extended bicycle tour. The idea of lockers to secure charging batteries is brilliant. I had charger and batteries stolen from a campground in North Vancouver, BC a couple of years ago.

    A strategic network of resources like this across the country would have real value. It would take a lot of them to support batteries for propulsion packs for anything beyond local travel, however. Nice to see a start being made.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 30, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Yes the security issue is an important one…batteries and rechargers are a pricy portion of the e-bike cost.

    In concept it is a good idea to offer bikes of the option of recharging away from home just as cars will have…but a lot will depend on how easy the companies make it to plug in? Do they make the recharger a large external device (so as to reduce the running weight of the bike) or make it integrated into the bike (to aid recharging on the go/ protect it from theft or rain).

    Our 2nd generation Giant Twist fleet bike’s converter was not too bad size wise (size of an old Motorola late 1980’s mobile phone) – but not something you would want to carry around everyday.

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  • CaptainKarma July 31, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Electric bikes make more sense than electric cars, for sure; though I do not like getting run over by silent-scorchers in the bike lane! And just wait ’till Segways become more affordable to common mortals. What are the laws regarding those contrivances?

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  • Jeff Bernards July 31, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I couldn’t get the bike check-out system in Paris to work, so the only bike I could rent was an electric bike. Riding in Paris in one of the most dangerous cities I’ve ever riden in & I’ve been around the world with a bike. The electric bike allowed me to keep up with the traffic around Paris and feel someone safer than being run over by the Taxis & Buses that share the bike lanes. I’m an electric big convert after that crazy day. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, it’s better than the Prius.

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  • Red Five July 31, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Awesome! Electric Bikes! Yet another form of transit for elite cyclists to wage jihad against!

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  • Anonymous July 31, 2010 at 8:22 am

    “The cost of the power is negligible; my electric car uses only pennies per charge”

    Now it is negligible, in the future what is the cost when more electric only vehicles appear on the streets. These charging stations cannot remain free.

    This again becomes the government trying to create a demand for a product before its time.

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  • Oliver July 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Twenty odd years ago the first Compact Disc recorders cost $100,000. A quick search now reveals a low-end retail of $20.00

    This infrastructure is expensive now, but with the current investment in Solar (mostly overseas, sure) once there’s one on every 3rd corner it will be reasonably cheap.

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  • Robert July 31, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Great point, Oliver! I hear you. I am into solar myself. In the course of my search I located and got an electric bicycle motor kit that is 72V 50AH, does 75mph and 70mi on a charge, by far the most extreme e-bike on the roads, and it costs NOTHING to charge. @CaptainKarma – the laws say 250watts in some places constitute no regulation whatsoever. My kit is 10,000watts and Im not sure what the laws are to be honest.

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  • Dan July 31, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    This is great news, hopefully a growing trend. Reducing the use of the internal combustion engine is a good thing. Reducing the use of automobiles is even better.

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  • Bill Stites July 31, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I suspect e-bikes will always be rechargeable at a standard 110V outlet.

    I’m sure there’s some electrical engineers out there that could set up a fast-charge system on an e-bike … that goes into a high voltage outlet such as what cars might use.
    A 90 second fast-charge could be significant, no?

    Does anyone know if plugs/outlets are standardized yet? They surely need to be shock-proof, weather-proof, idiot-proof.

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  • Zaphod August 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Chase B #14 … The seat tube mini motor is a reference to the latest potential threat to the professional cycling called, “Bike Doping” where instead of using EPO or whatever for the athlete, they add a small motor to the bike. They’re seriously x-raying bikes for this. Crazy but true.

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  • Pandora Patterson August 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I rode down the Springwater to OMSI and took a look at the charging station. I love it!

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  • Bob August 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    There are many who won’t ride a regular bike because of hills and insecurity starting near cars (fear of wobble). I’d rather have them pedaling an electric-assisted bike than in a car. Overtime they’ll get more confident and stronger. In the meantime, they’re not driving.

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  • CM August 3, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Charging electric motors is relatively cheap (for now, at least), but keeping up with the demand will not be cheap. The electrification of transportation will require an expansion of power generation, and on-site generation (through grid-tied or battery-backup solar) is one of the many great ways to offset that demand.

    This pilot project is a great demonstration of how renewable energy can be used with an existing infrastructure (the “Grid”) and an emerging technology (eBikes and EVs) to create one more great innovation. We’ll need many more to handle the rapidly changing world ahead.

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  • Vance Longwell August 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Wow – Good to see I can count-on a plethora of ad hominem attacks against anybody not toeing the party-line!

    Bicycles with motors go by another, more pervasive, name. M-O-T-O-R-C-Y-C-L-E It’s plenty bad enough to be up to my eyeballs in hipsters, posers, do-gooders, and Earth Crusaders AND forced off the Oregon highways, and into bicycle specific infrastructure with them… No, now I am expected to gleefully share it with motorcycles too.

    Seriously. If ya’ll simply must save me from myself, could we get a little direction, maybe? I mean, it’s only my life and all. Operative word there, “my”. I started riding a bike to get AWAY from self-absorbed, “me first”, fools.

    Now, ride all the motorcycles you wanna ride, just keep them out of the asinine infrastructure I am forced, ostensibly at gun-point, to use. Oh. “Please”. Sorry.

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  • Brent August 4, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    What’s up with those who are dissing e-bikes? If all of you think that after the revolution we’re going to sweep everything that’s not human powered off the roads you must be smoking something better than I have access to.

    Really, the question is who do we want to share the road with? Would you rather be passed by a 5000lb SUV spewing hot hydrocarbons in your face from a 3 inch pipe or a clean, quiet 50 lb e-bike?

    Seriously, studies have shown that e-bikes are not being used to replace bike trips, they’re replacing car and transit trips. So next time you see an e-bike, think one less car, not one less bike. If you see twenty e-bikes, think one less diesel belching, pedestrian squishing bus.

    In regard to the charging questions above (I am an EE), you don’t need any special charging infrastructure for e-bikes. A standard AC outlet anywhere is a charging station. And, that standard outlet can theoretically charge a typical e-bike battery in about 15 minutes — faster than any bike battery currently on the market can take. As for the effect of millions of e-bikes on the electric grid — it would be approximately zero. They use that little energy.

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  • pdxebiker August 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I rode over to check out the new charging station, and it’s pretty nice. It didn’t remove any car parking, and feeds back into the grid any additional power it generates over local charging requirements(except at night, of course, when it would pull from the grid). Each of the lockers and post-style locking stations have 2 110v standard 3-prong outlets, so if you’re carrying your charger, it should be compatible. 2 of the lockers appear to be intended to include a Sanyo charger as well, so eventually, if you have an Eneloop-compatible ebike, you may not even have to carry your charger with you.

    I’ve been by twice now this week, though, and – excepting myself – haven’t seen anyone else using it.

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  • Charles D August 7, 2010 at 9:14 pm


    A proper e-bike is more “bike” than “e”. That’s not so true for the heavyweight Chinese “e-bikes” with their lead-acid batteries and largely decorative pedals, but it’s very much true for most of the e-bikes built and sold in Canada and the US.

    I have e-bikes, and I have traditional bikes — lately, I ride the latter more than the former, because commuting with my e-bike daily for a year made me a strong enough rider to be able to do my 14-mile commute with human-power only.

    Think of a modern mid-drive e-bike as someone riding a tandem with a strong stoker on the back. You don’t complain about sharing the road with tandems, do you?

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