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Thread: Electric Assist Bicycles

  1. #1
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Electric Assist Bicycles

    I've been following these for several years now. For a variety of reasons, particularly the ruggedness of the terrain where I live, and my concern over my slightly-damaged knees.

    I finally took the plunge last week, and took delivery yesterday of my first hybrid vehicle, a Trek SuperCommuter +8S bicycle. It has the snazziest Bosch power-assist technology, nicely-integrated into the bicycle.

    You still have to do work, the battery assist system merely provides boost to your input, with 4 levels ranging up to 300% increase. The battery has sufficient range for ~90 miles of riding if you don't leave it in Turbo power mode and ride straight up mountains constantly. In that use-case, which is mine, you get about 30 miles or so.

    The assist system only assists up to 28mph, after that you are on your own. On very steep hills, it will not be going 28mph unless you have legs like Conan, but you can still manage a good pace.

    It recharges in ~4 hours. The charger isn't terribly heavy, but is about half the size of the battery itself, so it takes up a little room in your day pack if your intent is to top up the battery at your destination.

    The ride from town to the entrance to my community's road system, ~4 miles, takes me 13 minutes on this bicycle, up a mighty steep hill. It's 8 mins by car (low speed limits here). There's about 600 foot of elevation gain, most of which is the last mile or so.

    On the flats, I can easily and happily pedal at the 28mph. I can't go much faster due to the gearing of the bicycle, which tops out at about 30mph. I've broken 50mph downhill, but that's cheating.

    Using it with the power system off is possible, the bike weighs 52 pounds however, so it's a bit of a pig at that point, not too bad though.

    This bicycle really takes the sting off older/damaged knees. It also removes a lot of the pain of the winds we get here, and flattens out the moderate hills so you don't even notice them. You still have to work, especially on the severe hill, but it's not an unreasonable amount of effort. Even going up the nastiest bits, my heart rate never exceeded 125bpm (for reference, when I'm doing heavy exercise for conditioning purposes I target 140-160bpm, my resting heart rate is 55, and I'm 56 and way too heavy)

    I think this technology is a gamechanger for older or disabled or less-fit individuals, and for people who live in places where the terrain challenges bicycles.

    I rode to my friend's house for lunch today, 20 mins to her door from mine. Takes me 17 minutes by car on the same route. Took me 28 minutes coming home, because of the mountain issue. I didn't even arrive all smelly/nasty from biking.

    Go technology, and happy Earth Day.


  2. #2
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Rugged looking tires which should make for a nice ride as well. Thanks for the evaluation of the features.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    Rugged looking tires which should make for a nice ride as well. Thanks for the evaluation of the features.
    They are sort of big-balloon-ish tires, which help a lot with our horrible roads here. Note that the bicycle has no suspension, it's not a modern mountain bike. But these tires soak up a goodly amount of the abuse. I would have lost road-bike thin-fast tires a couple of times today I think.

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    I have been curious about them, thank you for the informative report! Glad you can keep biking comfortably.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nswef View Post
    I have been curious about them, thank you for the informative report! Glad you can keep biking comfortably.
    It's never seemed a reasonable option until now. With this, I can use it for my daily village errands without too much trouble, for probably 8-9 months of the year.

    I'm not sure I'm saving any money over using my automobile, even discounting the cost of the bike, considering how much food I have to throw into myself to power it :-)

    One safety observation - our roads here are narrow, with no shoulders, and biking always has looked quite dangerous with the auto traffic. This goes enough faster that it reduces the speed differential between you and the auto (speed limit is 35mph or less in most places here), and they seem to give you more road space as a result, instead of crowding you. It may also be that I look like a Sasquatch riding a bicycle and they don't want to total their car hitting me :-)

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    That Trek E-bike is a thing of beauty.

    Using it for your daily commute, you will cut congestion, pollution and noise all at once.

    Is it ill-advised in conditions of rain and fog?

    Do you have concerns about diesel particles you might be inhaling?

    In the Netherlands after hundreds of cyclists had been injured and killed, the government set aside serious funding for separate bike paths, not just "bike lanes" at the right side of lanes of vehicular traffic.

    As the linked article goes into, different states have different policies on permitting and use of e-bikes. http://peopleforbikes.org/our-work/e-bikes

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    My husband rode pedicab as a career for about 5 years here in hot Arizona. He would ride over 12 hours a day on festival days, hauling up to 3 people and their luggage. He had an electric assist. It saved the day. He still worked his ass off.

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    Ouch on the price. While fat tire bikes are popular for snow here, I would have looked at a different bike with the drill motor conversion, or (more likely here), one of those Chinese motors, different tires. (where I would have probably made it look like an antique motorcycle)

    So are the fat tires so you don't ride on the roads? Speed doesn't really do much for mass problem. (bike verse car) Make sure to get a good helmet. (and lights, reflectors, reflective vest, etc)

  9. #9
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Oh lordy, what a handsome ride!

  10. #10
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    Cool bike. People here drive like maniacs so I am afraid to ride a bike.

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