Author Topic: Don't buy an eBike  (Read 989 times)

Templogin

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Don't buy an eBike
« on: June 29, 2018, 09:47:46 PM »
It is 18 miles from my house to work, and roughly the same distance to my partner's house.  Shetland is a windy place, I am old, overweight, unfit and asthmatic, the eXp is heavy and I am usually carrying at least 12kg of stuff.  This leads to a journey time of about 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus or minus 15 minutes depending on wind speed and direction.  One night the wind was so bad that it was difficult to go fast enough to be able to maintain my balance.  When I finally arrive I usually feel like a wrung out rag.  The solution had to be an eBike for trips into work (only on the finest days) and the eXp would be used for local rides to the shop (6 miles away) or the local ferry terminal (4 miles away) where there is wifi available.

I was amazed with the AARC Moulton TSR8 as it would cut my 18 mile trip down to as low as 1 hour 10 minutes, and I didn't feel like I needed a few hours to recover.  Gradually though I found that I was barely using the eXp and the Moulton was becoming the bike for all journeys.  I recently rode the eXp to the ferry terminal and found it quite hard going without the assistance.  I had the wind behind me as well.  Riding it back into what was a light wind for Shetland, somewhere between 12-18mph, I found it even harder, having to stop for a couple of minutes to get my breath back.

eBikes are wonderful things, really slashing journey times, but there will be hell to pay if you don't mix this with normal unassisted cycling.  Eventually you realise that although you have been giving your eBike assistance (it's a pedelec) to move along, I suspect the effort is probably around 25-30% of what you would be using on an unassisted bike.

So my advice to you is put off eBikes until you are really struggling to ride a normal bike.  Fitness is hard to build, but oh so easy to lose.

jags

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2018, 11:36:45 PM »
That's a terrific post i never looked at it that way ,one of the main reasons i was thinking of Ebike was getting up hills easier,i haven't been on the bike for months  kinda lost interest long story. ::)
a very experience cyclist told me one time if you want to go faster for longer get the lightest bike you can afford  CARBON works well on that score really good set hoops and rubber and your away in a hack ;D.He was 100% correct mind you i still like to give an ebike a blast see how we get on.

anto.

Danneaux

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2018, 02:24:42 AM »
Quote
Fitness is hard to build, but oh so easy to lose.
There is wisdom to this.

Some other thoughts on the topic:
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/06/the-surprising-health-benefits-of-an-electric-bike-2/
https://theecologist.org/2013/jul/31/how-electric-bike-improved-my-fitness

Recently, I've been back riding Fixed again on an old 1970 road racing frame I converted. It is a great way to build fitness quickly. Hasn't improved my form as I usually ride my Nomad and other freewheel bikes without coasting at a high, light "hummingbird" cadence, but oh! for downhill resistance training, it is hard to beat a true Fixie for quickly ramping up to full-on tour condition. Now it has done its work for me, I'll bench the Fixie while I take the heavily loaded Nomad out for some remote self-supported tours.

Best,

Dan.

Templogin

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 03:28:56 PM »
Thanks for the comments folks.  Using eBikes to get the unexercised moving is a great idea.

Andre Jute

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2018, 04:54:45 PM »
Using eBikes to get the unexercised moving is a great idea.

After considerable experience on an electric-assisted bike, and watching the people who stop me to talk about cycling or even getting an e-bike, I don't know that I agree.

In my small town the only successful electric bike is mine. And I was already an experienced and committed cyclist (gave up the car altogether in 1992) when I electrified for health and geographic reasons (two heart surgeries, then moved up the steepest hill in town). The rest fall into two categories of failure:

The unfit, who don't hear when I tell them the pedelec they can buy ready-built only assists their pedaling. They hear "electric motor bike". Their e-bikes have the same fate as standard pedal bikes bought by such people: after a few rides they end up in the garage, unused and unloved. Some of my pedalpals never service their bikes: they just buy a hardly-used expensive bike out of such a person's garage for a maximum of fifty euro -- many will pay you to take the thing away -- and ride it into the ground.

The hopelessly untechnical, who don't hear when I tell them to buy the biggest battery they can afford (and this is an affluent area, Range Rover heartland, so they can all afford a humongous battery) and that they should treat the battery like a venerable object in their religion, recharging it after even the shortest ride. They complain that the dealer promised them x miles, when I know bloody well that the mickey mouse battery they bought because the dealer said it would be lighter is only good for one-third x, and then they rode it flat, repeatedly, and grudgingly recharged it, and in short order ruined it.

To operate an e-bike successfully (success being defined as adding to your fitness and longevity), you need to be informed about what it can do for you, and how it does it. It does the e-biker no harm to know what a coulomb is and how it affects what is possible on his e-bike and what he can and should demand of it if he is not to wreck the battery and burn out the motor. Secondly, discipline is required, as in any sport; it's a hard thing to be forced to learn late in life, and most falter at this high bar; it helps to have been an athlete of some kind earlier in life, again in order to have reasonable expectations. Third, there's a lot to learn: not only about electronics but about physiology (how will you measure the effects and results?); some people just can't help getting a migraine when one brings up gear ratios. Fourth, but not finally, it actually helps to have considerable experience of unassisted cycling, because that inculcates the right attitude; without it, in my experience, failure through overblown expectations is just about guaranteed. There are other contributory factors to failure, but these mainly intangibles are, I think, the main causes of e-bikes -- in fact, bikes in general -- ending up unused and unloved in garages, and their owners dying before their time.

I think the OP is fortunate in that he at least has from general cycling experience a yardstick against which to measure e-bike outcomes so definitively.

Interesting thread: it forces one to clarify vague suspicions.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 11:11:23 PM by Andre Jute »

mickeg

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 05:33:17 PM »
There is an e-bike store in my community.  They are located next to a bicycle and pedestrian path (motor driven vehicles not allowed, but that is a different story).  There is a shallow hill on that path, not steep enough for me to need my granny gear on my triple crank, but steep enough that I am down to  maybe half the speed that I ride on the flat.

I am always amazed at how many obese people I see trying out e-bikes.  They seem to really enjoy getting fit while they do not even have to pedal.  In fact they coast up the the hill twice as fast or maybe even three times as fast as I can pedal up the hill.

***

Fixed gear bikes - I never understood the interest in that.  The main thing that concerns me on fixed gear bikes is that my knees have been much happier since I stopped standing on the pedals to accelerate from a stop light or power up a hill.  Now I gear down and stay in the saddle, knees are much happier.  I suspect with a fixed gear bike that I would be on crutches within a week.  With gears, I can change gears for different grades.

energyman

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2018, 09:58:32 PM »
Locally there are two types of E-Bike.  The ones you can just sit on and the E just drives you along if you are too lazy to pedal and the other type, like mine, where you have to pedal or go nowhere. My E-Bike a lot heavier than my other bikes what with a 3.5 kg battery and a frame that feels like it's carved out of solid rock.  It is a sit up Dutch style riding position.
There was a study by a Dutch University that came to the conclusion that the energy expended on a pedal assist type was just the same as an ordinary bike but you just went a bit faster.  (I read that in one of the "London" papers so it must be true !)
I wonder if AARC would convert my Moulton ?

Mike Ayling

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 06:11:56 AM »
This bloke makes some good points.

https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/tourdefrance/e-bikes/

Mike

Andre Jute

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 12:58:14 PM »
This bloke makes some good points.
https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/tourdefrance/e-bikes/

Thanks for posting that, Mike. That fellow has his head screwed on right. His conclusion is spot on: a very apt and concise statement of what the tourer who is no longer young or fit should and can expect an e-bike to do for him:
Quote
"What this has all meant for us in practical terms, is that our daily distances and total trip length has returned to where it was eight years ago."

Notice that underlying his entire screed, and axiomatic in his conclusions, is the fact that they are experienced cyclists who know what they want and how much they want to and can contribute to forward motion, a factor that in its absence looms large in the e-bike failures I described above. Also worth saying is that it applies not only to big time tourers like this couple but also to credit card tourers who hardly ever go more than a day's journey from home*.

*I should explain that a day's journey from home in the Irish countryside can actually be a hundred or two miles further than I would normally cycle. See, at the bus driver's discretion, you can load your bike in the luggage compartment of the bus; he may also charge you, but most don't and the inspectors don't care about it** -- this practice is so firmly established that I cannot actually tell you what the charge for a bicycle is. Nor has my bike ever been refused, though I'm careful not to demand service on a Friday evening when the bus is full of students going home, with their laundry being taken home to mom crowding out the luggage department. But at all other times, by the time the bus gets to my village, everyone has a good idea of how full the luggage compartment is likely to be.

** A footnote to a footnote! The bus drivers and inspectors are generally very agreeable. Once when my train from Dublin was an hour late, I found the scheduled bus still waiting at the station, and he made a detour at my destination to drop me in front of my door. On another occasion, I asked the bus driver to slow down as he crossed the only side street in another village so I could take a photo of a piece of topiary. "Nay, lad," said the inspector who joined us at the previous village, aware that the bus was full of American tourists returning from the same musical festival I'd attended, "we'll stop for you, and everyone can have a looksee and take a photo." A few weeks after that the editor of a magazine distributed to Americans of Irish origin sent me a piece for an opinion before she published it, and I was happy to reassure her that I was the "charming Irishman" for whom the bus was stopped, and to confirm that the story was true in every particular.



Bill

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 05:43:53 PM »
I was riding along a bike path in the city last week, when I was passed by a bike that was powered by an internal combustion motor.
He was towing a trailer filled with landscaping implements. Obviously a small landscaping/gardening contractor.

It got me thinking. Has anybody seen an e-trailer that could be used with a bicycle? It seems to me it would be useful. You wouldn't need a new bicycle, but if you had to move a heavy load it would make it possible to do it by bicycle. You could take your kids for a ride, or pick up a Costco sized load of groceries.

If you've ever carried or towed a heavy load, you will know that hills are killers. A boost on the hills would make an other wise tough ride easy and fun.
 

Danneaux

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 05:57:24 PM »
Quote
Has anybody seen an e-trailer that could be used with a bicycle?
There's a surprising number of them on the market:

https://electricbikereport.com/electric-cargo-trailers-guide-video/

I see them here occasionally and have occasionally asked how their owners liked them. The only downsides mentioned so far is they are a trailer rather than a bike alone (so extra considerations wrt to width and overall length) and there can be a tendency under some conditions for a "push effect" on bike handling, a bit like the tail wagging the dog, and limited cargo capacity (depends on design, as some integrate the battery and motor nicely while leaving room for cargo. Others, not so much).

Best,

Dan.

Bill

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 10:37:48 PM »
Dan, I guess I could have googled it myself, but thanks for that. I've never seen one around here.

I am peripherally involved with a group that builds and maintains multi purpose trails in the foot hills of the Canadian Rockies.
The parks department trail crew has a couple of electric bikes, which is a good way to get out to the more remote locations. If anything of any size or weight has to be moved, a quad or motor bike is required. Or a power wheel barrow.

A couple of electric trailers would be perfect for travelling out to the work sites with tools and stuff. Most of the trail crew volunteers are cyclists and the usual way of getting there is by bicycle.
 

ians

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2018, 12:39:24 PM »
I wondered where this was going when I read the title of the topic.  I'm a passionate believer in e-bikes (having a converted Sherpa).  Without it I would simply not be riding a bike now.  But it's not a necessarily an easy option. It's heavy.  So manoeuvring it (when not riding) is a bit of a pain. 

But there is one thing I think that's been missed in this thread.  I was in Oslo in May.  My hotel was on a main road into the city centre - about a 20-30 minute walk.  From about 6 in the morning I would see people walking to work - as well as jogging, running, scooting, skating, cycling (many on e-bikes) and taking the bus.  A few were driving in by car.  The car was in the minority.  Unlike the UK.

Directly outside the hotel was an e-bike docking station - it held about 40 bikes. People would walk from their homes nearby, pick-up a bike and take it into work.  In the evening the process would be reversed.  Sometimes in the evening, the docking station would be full.  So a returning user would simply look at an app on their phone to find the next local docking station and return the bike there instead.

As I wandered around the city I discovered lots of these docking stations - outside the bus and train stations as well as major centres of employment and recreation.  This tells me that in Oslo e-bikes are part of an integrated transport system.  Which is surely what all cities need.

The vast majority of people I saw riding them were not fat or unfit - they were simply hopping on and off and using the bikes as another form of convenient public transport.  And this is the bit which often gets overlooked in the debate about e-bikes.

So maybe you shouldn't buy an e-bike - if you can rent one.

energyman

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2018, 03:01:55 PM »
https://www.hammacher.com/product/only-seven-person-tricycle-1

I suppose it could be fitted with an electric assist  !!

Templogin

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Re: Don't buy an eBike
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2018, 05:19:23 PM »
I remember seeing something similar, but it may have hand a German oompah band playing on it as it went along.  Either that or it was a particularly heavy night.