E-bikes - CycleBlaze

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E-bikes

Mark Boyd

Yesterday, doing my daily ride on my US upright touring bike. I saw more e-bikes than regular bikes. That has never happened to me before in the US. Two years ago, riding in a hilly part of Germany, I regularly saw more e-bikes than regular bikes on the roads. In Asheville, NC I rarely see e-bikes.

When I rode out of my driveway yesterday I saw a bike quickly approaching me from behind. Since the street I live on is not flat and I was going up a modest, by Asheville standards, slope, I figured it was an e-bike. I was going about 10 mpg when it passed me going roughly 25 mph. The young rider was sitting upright and not pedaling very hard. He was also wearing jeans and a jacket that was zipped up. If I had been dressed like him, I would have overheated very quickly. He was using his e-bike as the modern equivalent of a moped. That was the first time I'd seen that behavior in the US, although I have seen it, on much cheaper e-bikes, in countries in eastern Europe.

Roughly a mile later, I was climbing a steep hill when I came upon a dozen e-bikes parked, at an a overlook, completely blocking my lane. Their riders were a group of tourists on a commercial bicycle tour. I've seen many groups like this in Asheville in the past few years

I had to wait because a car was coming in the other lane of the narrow road. As I pulled around them, I hear the tour leader, who had been telling them about the view, tell them how to get their bicycles started on the hill. "Set the control to 5 and start out gently across the road before trying to turn up it." He was demonstrating this as I looked back in my mirror after riding past.

I stayed ahead of the group for 10 minutes of so before they passed me near the top of that climb. I passed them again maybe 20 minutes later. They had stopped before a downhill corner on a different road.  I found out why they had stopped when I went around that corner at 20+ mph and saw a young bear - probably weighing roughly 100 pounds - walking down the side of the road on the other side of that curve. Neither the bear nor I were upset by that encounter, but I guess it was a potentially scary situation for the tour group.

I passed two more young e-bike riders coming towards me a few miles later on the final climb of my route and final, a much older, rider standing over his e-bike half a mile before I got home. Not counting the group, that was four more e-bikes than I usually see on that route. All of the bikes were fancy, and expensive, e-bikes. I only remember seeing one other regular bike on that, roughly hour long, ride.  

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1 month ago
Mike AylingTo Mark Boyd

Shock horror!

When I was at school in the nineteen fifties the sports master used to refer to those who sought exemption from the weekly phys ed segment as the sick, lame and lazy.

Most recreational ebike riders will fall into one of these categories.

They are great for commuters because they can ride to work in street clothes and not require a shower and a change of clothing before starting work.

Re speeds achieved - Australia has adopted the European standard  where the assistance cuts out at 25 km/h and they are like locusts here.

Mike (Rapidly heading into the lame category.) 

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Mike Ayling

I have three bikes that I have e-biked and I've spent a lot of time touring in Europe, so my reactions to the use of e-bikes as 'mopeds',as rental bikes for tourist in Asheville, and as replacements for recreational bikes are all positive. 

The bike I was riding yesterday is the bike that was the first bike that I e-biked and the only bike I have restored to a regular bike. The other bikes, my old V-Rex and my newer, but still old, RANS Fusion, are e-biked and I also use them for my daily rides.  

I did the first conversion while I was still suffering from "severe spinal stenosis" so that was  a painful process, but doing it enabled me do much more interesting daily rides. I did daily rides every morning because that greatly reduced the pain from my spinal stenosis which was the result of my lower spinal cord being caught between my L3 and L4 vertebrae. When I rode on an upright bike for an hour or two each morning it removed the pressure on my spinal cord and I was pain free while I was riding and for several hours afterwards. 

Until I got out of spinal stenosis, it was too painful to ride my V-Rex, but, after I got out of the stenosis I could ride it again. I quickly e-biked it. Later, I got the Fusion which I e-biked at the same time that I removed the e-biking from my upright my upright bike. 

My e-biked bikes have torque sensing assist which means that riding them feels like riding a regular bike with 'bionic legs' and adjusting the assist level allow me to get a good workout when riding them.  I was able to gradually  transition back to riding my upright bike without assist except on very steep ( > 10% grade) hills and, after I removed the e-biking, I changed my routing to not have any hills steeper than about 8%. 

Last summer, I did my first e-bike tour and posted a journal here.  

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1 month ago
Mike AylingTo Mark Boyd

Hi Mark,

You definitely qualify in the "lame" category.

Mike

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1 month ago
Mark BoydTo Mike Ayling

At 75, I've lost over 50% of my sustained power output and quite a bit of endurance so I do feel a bit lame, but my episode of spinal stenosis, which could have left me really lame, did not leave any nerve damage.  I plan to do my next tour on my V-Rex.

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1 month ago
John PescatoreTo Mark Boyd

The more people biking on trails and roads, the more likely the trails and roads will see more funds to be maintained and/or improved.

I imagine that in the 1880s in the US penny farthing bike riders were aghast as those skill-free "safety bike" riders starting showing up - within a few  years the numbers of cyclists doubled, including many (eek!) women cycling for the first time.  But, then cyclists and their clubs had the political power to get roads paved.

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1 month ago
Paul MulveyTo John Pescatore
"The more people biking on trails and roads, the more likely the trails and roads will see more funds to be maintained and/or improved."

This. 100% agree.

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1 month ago
Paul MulveyTo Mark Boyd

I'm in favor of eBikes in general. I bought one for my wife so she can travel the distance in a cycling tour and we can travel together. With the eBike she's able to ride about 50 miles before needing to recharge and we can travel motel-to-motel (or electric outlet to outlet). It's given her the keys to freedom. She still has to pedal but it's more like she has those "bionic" legs which allow her to travel the distance and keep up with her riding partner. In fact, she's the one who normally summits hills first now :-) 

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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauTo Mark Boyd

I think the first time I saw an e-bike was before I even knew there was such a thing.  I couldn't figure out how that guy sped past me so easily, nor could I figure out what that whirring sound was.

Eventually I learned about e-bikes and my initial thought was, "that's cheating."  Now I see them all the time.  It's progress.  Even my 36-year old son recently bought one. 

When he lived in downtown Seattle, he was a bicycle messenger.  He rode his urban roadie bike up and down those steep hills from the Puget Sound to Capitol Hill and beyond every day.  And when he was done with work, he rode those same hills for shopping, errands, and recreation.  He didn't own a car.  He was one of the strongest bicycle riders I knew.  There was no way I could keep up with him and his bike messenger buddies.

Now he lives in the Seattle suburbs.  He still doesn't own a car, but he can cover the longer distances thanks to the electric assist.   He loves it, though he does still ride his urban roadie bike for fun and exercise.

So I've come to accept e-bikes.  I foresee getting one myself at some point, but my goal is to continue touring on my Long Haul Trucker until I'm 91 years old.  Maybe 92.  We'll see how it goes.

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory Garceau

91!!  I’m impressed.  I’m shooting for 80, personally.  Probably if I had a Cariboo Coffee bike jersey I’d be good for a few years beyond even that.

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1 month ago