They say that necessity is the mother of invention. And one Canadian man had a serious need for Vietnamese takeout. But since the bike paths hadn’t been plowed, he turned his e-bike into a DIY snow plow using leftover parts to go get his fix.
His evening ride for Vietnamese food went viral and made it on the news, but it’s far from the first time he’s taken his e-bike snow plow to the streets.
Phil Marciniak of Saanich, British Columbia, built the intrepid device after working through a few prototype designs.
He uses a cargo electric bike for his job as an appliance repair man, so he already had a large e-bike on hand that he uses for transporting tools. He also works with electric bikes, so he knows the ins and outs of the devices.
And with a background in handiness and repair work, he was able to easily fashion up a snowplow for his cargo e-bike.
The current design he’s showing off uses a split plow made from two sections of an old 200L polyethylene rainwater barrel (something akin to a 55 gallon plastic drum, for the Americans in the room). A frame to hold it onto the bike was built from a pile of scrap wood.
The design is already a few iterations deep. Last year he experimented with earlier prototypes like a single angled plow, but found that it would push him sideways and tended to make it harder to steer. He concedes that the split plow isn’t ideal for clearing bike paths as it’d be better to push all of the snow to one side, but it makes it much easier to control the bike, and thus, more effective.
In fact, he can hit speeds as high as 20 km/h (12 mph) while slinging snow in both directions.
Marciniak reports that his e-bike snow plow works best in snow depths of around 10 cm (4 inches), but that it could work in as much as 15 cm (6 inches) of snow. He tried it in 30 cm (12 inches) but found that to be too much.
When passing over areas that have already been cleared, the e-bike’s snow plow can be lifted above the road surface with a strap that also helps makes it easier to cycle.
So far Marciniak has kept to the bike lanes and avoided plowing on streets and near traffic. “I don’t want to be anywhere near cars in the snow,” he explained.
For those wanting to follow along and build their own e-bike snow plow, Marciniak shared a YouTube video yesterday showing how he built his setup.
In addition to the bucket that forms the plow blades, he used a wooden 2×4 frame to give it support and connect the plow to the bike.
Using a heavier cargo bike likely helps keep the bike so stable while plowing through heavy snow, so your mileage my vary if you try to do this with a lightweight folder.
If you want to try your own hand at building an electric bike snow plow, be sure to take lots of pictures and videos to let us all know how it went! We’d also recommend that you check out our winter e-biking tips to stay safe out there too!
While cities probably won’t be enlisting these DIY designs into their fleets any time soon, they sure do make a nice addition to bike lanes that are often neglected after snowfalls!
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