Over the years, I have developed, customized, and perfected two wheel mushing vehicles for use with almost all types of dogs. I’ve always loved biking with my WooFPAK. It’s the perfect way for them to stretch their legs and experience the joy of the open road and forested trails in safety. I eventually realized that I had the need for additional power over what a traditional bike could offer, however. The dogs would want to run faster than I could peddle and would try to access places that I couldn’t maneuver around unassisted.
It started back in 1997, when I discovered electric bikes were becoming readily available. My first experience was with a traditional ten-speed style Curry bike with a rear-mounted battery and a rear hub motor. This bike proved sufficient to mush my small WooFPAK at the time (Czar and Hudson, my beloved canines). However, there was much improvement to be had as I always like to keep pushing the envelope of technological evolution. The earlier biking technology was rife with battery problems. Older styles usually relied on AGM batteries…they were cumbersome, heavy, and had fewer power cycles and less mileage. Their low range and limited longevity did not make them an ideal choice for my dream of a perfect electric bike. Each charge took away from the battery’s life and shortened its range all the more. Worse, the excessive weight of this battery created a degree of instability for my two wheel bike, as it was rear mounted and there was nothing to counter-balance the weight up front. The unbalanced nature of this setup meant that steering was a struggle, leading to inefficient and challenging rides. Adding to the disadvantages of this design, the large Curry bike was a feat to transport on road trips because of its weight and size.
These issues must have simple solutions, so I set out looking for a smaller, lighter bike… something easier to transport to the trail and sporting a sleeker design. That’s how I came upon my next bike investment, designed by Lee Iacocca of the Chrystler corp. He was one of the main principles of the company that produced my second electric bike, which again sported an AGM battery. In this model, however, the battery was placed in a center console for better balance and steadier steering. The best part of this bike was the smaller frame, which was a vast improvement over the Curry bike- and it even folded for convenient transportation! Once again, the biggest problem turned out to be the battery, a NMH, which had limited range and still degraded quickly with heavy use when I was regularly mushing the dogs. Thus, I was still in the search of a perfect vehicle. I appreciated the folding capabilities immensely, but as the electric bike craze evolved I was able to find a model that better suited my needs.
The Xootr Swift, my third bike, was designed without an elector motor. Fortunately my bike shop was able to custom fit it with a new innovation in motor technology, produced by the BionX company. As with the Curry bike, this design was rear hub motor powered. One great addition this BionX motor offered was a trip computer which told battery conditions, speed and other stats. I found this information very useful in tracking battery efficiency. Our BionX motor offered the option of center-mounting the battery. Additionally, this BionX motor system offered regenerative breaking technology which recharges the batteries as the breaks are engaged. With the WooFPAK’s propensity for speed, we were able to take frequent advantage of this feature. This motor also offered a programmable resistance setting which could be engaged to create a more challenging pace for the WooFPAK if necessary, as well as help slow our canines down on those occasions when their enthusiasm for speed overtook them. This resistance feature charged the battery as well. The BionX system was a perfect choice for this vehicle for so many reason. The configuration I settled on was available in either 24-volt or 36-volt AGM batteries, and I chose 24-volt option. At the time I thought this was way more power than I needed… Oh, how I would shortly be proven wrong in that assumption! As my ventures turned more and more to mushing, and the availability of high-capacity batteries grew, I was able to retrofit the BionX motor with a lithium battery pack. Though limited to 24-volts, the lithium battery offered extended mileage. I was slowly able to introduce more dogs to the WooFPAK, and now needed to find room to mush four dogs on the bike. I re-purposed a child’s gator bar (normally used to attach a buggy to the rear of a traditional bike) to the front, and attached more springer units to tether more dogs to the bike. Visually bizarre, yes, but what a functional display of WooFDriver ingenuity! It was inspiring to see that an outlandish idea, existing solely in my mind, was able become a reality. The only challenge with the BionX was the ability to keep it upright when loading, unloading, and watering the dogs. I fashioned a tripod-like kickstand, customized specifically to provide a stable base fit for this bike. This called for adjustable legs, which can be manipulated to park on any uneven trail surface with ease. A lot of work and creativity went into bringing this bike into existence. While later vehicle progressions found me focusing on the trikes and quads which I primarily use today, I’ll still venture out on the WooFWheeler 18 Wheeler with a pack of four dogs for added fun and a change of pace- Sixteen paws plus two wheels… the only way to travel!
My next acquisition was born out of necessity for a mushing style bike with more stability. I found a company called Hanebrink that makes an electric bike with low-circumference, super wide tires, almost a golf-cart style wheel. These machines are hand-made to order with an extremely durable frame, built specifically for rigorous mountain biking. The battery options are impressive, but I went with a lower end model as I wouldn’t need to achieve the high speeds typical of the higher end batteries. With the amount of wear I regularly put on my bikes, I have had a few motor issues… but they have not proved insurmountable. Fortunately, this bike was built to run on a 48-volt lithium battery, as I use with my other quads and trikes, so the battery is conveniently interchangeable between my bikes. This bike, with its fat tires and small frame design, has a generally odd appearance… It looks like a moon lander! But it’s plenty of fun to drive and mush the pack on.