When asked to work the outside eBike test ride area at the fall bike show, I replied with an enthusiastic yes knowing there would be interesting conversations ahead about eBikes.
Sure enough there were, and one of the most interesting ones was with a woman named Kelly. She owns an eBike along with a couple of other regular bikes, but she wanted to know what I thought the future of Electric Bikes might look like. That lead to a deeper conversation and a follow up meeting where she laid out her interest in testing an eBike-based initiative next summer!
In her outreach to learn about eBiking opportunities, Kelly came across the organizer of Crank the Shield, a 3-day stage race in the area of Sault Ste. Marie. Crank the Shield is an awesome event, and this year it is opening up a new category for eMtb’s. “eMTB” meaning electric-pedal-assist mountain bikes.
Kelly is nothing if not gung-ho, so upon learning of the event, she decided to enter the 2019 race in the eMtb category. Now came the hard part; gaining confidence that she could actually do it, and getting ready for the challenge. That’s when I got the call.
Although she has a mountain bike and enjoys riding trails, she felt the only way to do those kind of distances in that kind of terrain would be on an eMtb. To understand the feel of an eMtb, she wanted to ride one for a weekend and asked if we would rent one to her for that purpose. Since we just recently started renting eMtb’s, it was easy to say yes.
Kelly required an extra-small frame and the one we had in that size was the Liv Vall-e. We set it up and off she went to see how she felt about undertaking the race. Already mid-November, the weekend weather was still looking great, especially riding on a new eMountain Bike.
We caught up Friday for her report on the eBike, and how she felt about it regarding the potential for doing the race. Kelly started with declaring she loved the experience and was definitely getting her own.
On Saturday, she had gone to Albion Hills for 3 hours of riding both double and single track. Overall, she enjoyed it but the 28 kms she covered (mostly in eco mode) chewed through 40% of the battery life. Clearly, she would need to get a bike with a bigger battery to be able to cover the 75km first leg of CTS.
The next day, off she went to Hardwood Hills where she found a white winter wonderland to make riding a little trickier. An example of that was the spinouts that occurred climbing when she applied too much torque. Even with some snow challenges, Kelly still stayed out for 1 1/2 hours riding mostly in the Eco power setting, and during the entire ride, she saw no one else, only a deer that appeared about 20 feet away. Ahhh, to be out in nature!
After a few days to filter through her impressions, Kelly’s assessment is that she hopes to find a lighter eMtb, with a shorter wheelbase and at least a 650 Wh battery to complete the distances she will be riding.
Armed with all that information, the job now is to find the best eMtb for a determined woman who is going to ride her first Crank the Shield event.
Thanks to CJ Lou, the One Sport Ninja, for this blog post. And while this particular post may not be about eBikes…, it is about commuting by bicycle in the urban environment. Something that all cyclists can appreciate and share their experiences about.
I remember my first bike–a black cruiser bicycle with a comfortable saddle and handlebars, complete with knobby but medium-sized tires. Riding it was probably my go-to activity every Saturday and Sunday morning while most kids my age would still be sleeping in. I became so accustomed to morning biking that even in college I would still bike to class no matter how far my classes were.
After finishing college, I began working in the city–an environment drastically different from where I grew up and went to college. Because the city streets were notoriously dangerous, crowded, and complicated, my parents strongly opposed my biking to work and urged me to try public transportation or Uber. I quickly was hooked on the convenience of Uber–I mean, who doesn’t like to sleep in and call a car at the push of a smartphone app? As the first half year went by, I barely biked, and I could feel my body and metabolism slowly deteriorating.
The Damage Done A little more than two years later, I was 20 pounds heavier than I was previously, and I could barely even make myself run a full mile in one session. I was extremely disappointed at the physical state I was in. Throughout the day I would get easily lethargic, drowsy, and even my motivation to do simple things like socialize with friends decreased. These physical problems compounded with my only-increasing costs of commuting via Uber or Lyft were detrimental to my mental and physical health. On days when Uber charges were ridiculous, I even tried renting a car for a few days to try my hand at driving. The one-way streets were hectic and the parking charges were just a few dollars shy of that ridiculous Uber price I tried to avoid. Not to mention the city streets only got busier and my commute, in turn, became longer due to daily traffic jams.
I wasn’t getting any younger, I wasn’t proud of how I looked or lived my life, and I knew something needed to change.
The Changes I Made Determined to get back to a healthy physical state that most people in their early and mid-20’s should be in, I started to incorporate more fitness into my daily regimen. Sacrificing some sleep time in the morning, I began to walk further to a bus stop to take the bus rather than using ridesharing apps. However, when the weather became cold and the days started getting darker earlier, I became more uncomfortable walking outside at night. While I was getting some exercise in by walking from and to bus stops, I lengthened my commute time because public transportation was often delayed and overcrowded.
As a result, I turned back to the only mode of transportation I have yet to try in my urban environment–biking. Recalling the black hybrid bike from my adolescence, I browsed for the best men’s hybrid bikes to hopefully reignite my love for biking in the city. After some research, I decided to purchase a hybrid bike that seemed to give me the riding comfort and sustainability I needed on my daily commute. After some assembly, my new hybrid bike and I were ready to go.
The fears I had about cycling in the city quickly dwindled as my years of experience with navigating around the city kicked in as I maneuvered my bike flawlessly through the streets. I admit I was out of practice at first, but there was no going back. Cruising down the streets, passing by the still cars in what it seems to be perpetual traffic jams, I was pleasantly reminded of my college days.
Half a year later, I am fitter than ever, more awake through the day, have lost the 20 pounds I gained, and felt more pumped for work every single day than I have ever been since day 1. Shaving off 20 minutes from my original commute meant that I could get to work earlier, leave earlier, and sometimes even beat the rush hour. Overall, returning to biking for my commute has made me happier, healthier, and fitter than I ever was back when I was 23.
Now for the most important part — my safety tips for bike commuting. How to stay safe on your commute, especially if you’re a beginner Even though cycling to work isn’t necessarily dangerous–you don’t have to worry about wild animals, predators, or terrible road conditions–but there are still a few things to keep in mind.
Equip yourself with protection For the simple reason that you’ll be on the road, you need to equip yourself with effective headgear. In the unlikely event of an accident, you always want to protect your head. The helmet It’s your first line of defense against any potential injury. Even if you’ll be riding on bike paths, you need a helmet. Careless bikers, stray animals and bad conditions can cause a crash, and injuring your head can have detrimental consequences.
Familiarize yourself with road safety regulations You are no longer driving or a passenger–you are someone who controls a vehicle on the road. As a result, as a first-timer you should at least brush up on what is expected of the biking commuters on the road.
I don’t want to scare you, but data has shown that there are more fatalities from cycling accidents than from car crashes. Why, you think? No matter how durable your bike or your helmet is, a car driver is much more protected in his larger car than you are on your bike.
Aside from the generally accepted rules, your local city may have other specific laws. This is why you want to know and grasp all these regulations.
As a rule of thumb, be cognizant of other road users. Shoulder check before you make a turn, mind the turn signals at vehicles in front of you when approaching intersections. Pass on the left and always alert others that you are about to pass them.
Stay visible to others on the road In a world where everyone is on their phones or busy thinking about the next project or event, mistakes can easily occur when a driver or pedestrian fail to see you zooming by an intersection.
To prevent tragedies, be sure to wear vibrantly colored, reflective clothing to stay visible to everyone else on the road. This ensures that other bikers, car drivers, and pedestrians will be able to identify you even if you ride into the dark of the night.
Equally, you’ll need a source of light to help improve your visibility. Be sure to purchase blinking or bright lights for both the front and rear end of your bike to stay visible at night. The lights are not for your eyes, but for the eyes of the drivers and pedestrians around you.
Dress and prepare accordingly While it is all great and dandy that you found your dream mode of transportation to work, it is unavoidable that biking will make you sweaty–and perhaps stinky? Be sure to pack some deodorant, a change of clothes, and a hairbrush to ensure that your helmet hair is not permanent throughout the day.
At the end of the day, remember that you are still going to work and depends on what you do, you need to look neat and “put-together.” Staying safe should always be your priority, but be sure to equip yourself for any foreseen “beauty” disasters that may arise at the same time.
In a nutshell, bike commuting is the way to go
Do it for your health Cycling is an amazing form of exercise, and biking to work ensures you get enough exercise on the daily. Studies have proven that regular physical activity is linked to health benefits including, decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, obesity and much more.
Fun Fact: Did you know that an average road cyclist burns about forty calories per mile at a relatively sedate fifteen miles per hour? This implies that by having a weekly commitment of just five hours on your bike, you could potentially burn a whopping 3,000 calories!
Do it for the environment Biking in the city is a great way to commute and to stay eco-friendly. Many cities across the country face problems with traffic jams and air pollution everyday. Some studies show that in the U.S., auto vehicles contribute up to 75% of carbon monoxide pollution. It is just not worth it.
By using your hybrid bike to commute, you’ll not only be skipping those intimidating jams, but you’ll also be lessening the traffic and pollution burden on your environment as well.
Do it for your wallet Other than perhaps bike maintenance fees, you don’t need to shell out a lot of money for your bike. There is no gas, no fuel, that needs to power your bike! However, with some of that money saved, I strongly encourage you to invest in high-quality bike safety gear. Other than that, all you need is a hybrid bike, safety gear, and a great waterproof backpack, and you are ready to go.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to CJ Lou for contributing his story to our Blog. We love to hear from our readers and customers and if you have something you’d like to share we’ve be very interested in hearing about your cycling stories, experiences and adventures. Send us your stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, let’s face it. The days are getting shorter and colder. Fall is officially here and winter is not far behind…
If you ride an eBike, you may be wondering about whether your bike can handle the cold. Well, the short answer is yes. However, there as several things you should consider to help keep your bike running properly and efficiency during the cold weather months.
Get your eBike ready for Winter
It is highly recommended that you first give your bike a complete check-over. This is to ensure that your lights, brakes, gears, motor, etc., are all in proper working order. (Not sure who to do this… drop by any Gears Bike Shop or your local eBike Dealer)
Its important to know that rain and snow will have little effect on the bike as all your motor-drive and electrical components are well protected.
However, the salt used on many roads in Canada to help clear ice, can have a highly corrosive effect on your bike. Especially your drive train components (i.e.: chain, cassette, etc). It is advisable to wash down your bike with clean water after a messy ride and then dry it off with a rag. Using a “wet” lube on your chain will also help it to shed moisture. Many veteran eBike riders also get a neoprene cover to protect the battery from extreme cold. (i.e.: when the temperature drops below zero)
Your Battery and the Cold
While the battery on your eBike is robust and built to take the day to day effects of riding, it is susceptible to the cold and can easily loose capacity when used during low temperatures. The the temperature drops below zero, it is highly advised that you remove the battery (when not in use) and store it at room temperature – ideally between 15° and 20°C.
When charging the battery, the same rules apply – Lithium-ion batteries should be charged at room temperature.
Not all of us want to brave the cold and many would prefer to store their eBikes during the winter months. Should you wish to do so, there are a few tips one should consider:
Store the bike in a place that is protected from the elements. such as a garage or basement.
If the bike is to be stored in an area that is unheated, be sure to remove the battery from the bike and store it inside. Ideally in a dry place where the temperature does not rise above 20°C (high heat and extreme cold will lessen the lifespan of the battery)
The battery should also be stored with 30 to 60% capacity and it is advisable to check this a couple of times during the winter. Do not store the battery at 100% charge for long periods of time.
If you plan to call it quits once the ground turns fluffy and white, we also do offer Storage Options for the colder months. Give us a call or visit us in-store for details!
Embrace the winter and don’t be afraid to get out there and enjoy your eBike. And remember… there is truly no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. (which is something we’ll address in a later blog posting)
Seems that everyone is jumping into the eBike market these days as we can see from some recent announcement by Tesla, General Motors and Maserati.
Tesla Electric Bikes?
We know that Elon Musk is always working on something. From electric cars to rockets, and solar energy systems to underground roadways… he’s got a lot going on.
In a recent interview he mentioned that Tesla maybe looking at developing an electric bike, specifically designed to compete with Uber and Lyft ride share systems. No details have been announced but if past experience is anything to go on, we can look forward to some rather interesting technology coming from the Tesla brand,
General Motors Announces New E-bike… and it needs a name.
GM is looking to be very close to launching a new propriety eBike developed by their Urban Mobility Solutions division in Oshawa Ontario.
Under the guidance of director Hannah Parish (who brings a wealth of cycling industry experience to the project) it appear this eBike will be available in two models… one that folds and one that does not.
GM’s CEO Mary Barra said in a press conference that a concept eBike would be “designed to help people stay mobile in an increasingly difficult-to-navigate urban landscape.”
At the current time GM has not released and technical specifications, but based on images it appears that the bike will have a great deal of integration, delivered in a sleek and compact package.
The bike is yet to be named… as such GM has also announced a public naming contest with a rather healthy $10,000 USD for the winner and $1,000 for the other nine finalists.
From the high-performance world, Maserati has just announced the Trofeo e-race bike which features Bafang’s ultra-compact M800 mid motor.
The Bafang M800 has a 200W power output and a max torque of 55Nm. The claimed total weight of the system is less than 4.4k, including the integrated 200Wh battery, 2.2” TFT display and ‘satellite shifter pods’.
According to the official Maserati press release, ‘Since an e-road bike will very quickly exceed the legal motor assist speed threshold, the drive unit has been tuned to perform optimally when starting off and accelerating on short sprints and steep climbs. But even more important: when the limit is reached, the drive train runs almost resistance free and the rider’s own pedaling effort is not affected.’
The Maserati Trofeo will be available in Europe from Spring 2019 at a suggested retail price of € 9999.
There is no word yet, if this technology will be available in North America. We can hope.
Thanks to Explore Magazine for the permission to re-run this editorial in our eBike Emporium Blog.
THE NEW BIKE IN TOWN
E-bikes have hit the mountain bike world full-force — what does this mean for trail networks and users?
By Ryan Stuart (Explore Magazine)
As an Olympian, World Cup racer, two-time national champ and winner of multiple mountain bike stageraces, Andreas Hestler is no slouch on knobby tires. He can race through roots and rocks faster than most, but when he jumped on an electric mountain bike he still saw the potential.
“They’re a lot of fun,” he says. “They open up a lot of possibilities and new kinds of riding and open the sport to people who wouldn’t ride otherwise.”
Hestler is not unbiased. He works for Rocky Mountain Bicycles, which launched a motorized version of its Altitude mountain bike this year. Hidden in the drop-tube of the bike is a small electric motor that’s integrated into the bike’s gear system. When the rider pedals, the motor kicks in about one horsepower of assistance, enough juice for any of us to keep up to someone like Hestler. (Most e-bikes max out at about 30 km/h.)
It adds distance for people without the time or inclination to build the stamina themselves. Which is why they’re selling. According to one retail tracking company, mountain e-bike sales in North America increased from $500,000 in 2015 to $2.5 million in 2017. Just about every major brand sells a mountain e-bike now. There are even e-bike categories at some races, and a dedicated magazine.
The problem is where to ride them. Even whether to allow them on paved bike paths has cities conflicted. When it comes to mountain bike trails, uncertainty paralyzes land managers and clubs as they fret over everything from increased traffic and corresponding trail impact to how to allow e-bikes without opening networks to electric dirt bikes. A sure sign of the indecision comes from the International Mountain Bike Association Canada, the grand poobah of mountain bike advocacy.
“It’s a very challenging topic to have a consistent, countrywide recommendation for clubs,” says AJ Strawson, the group’s executive director.
“What might make sense in one community might not in another.” He notes that everything from traffic, terrain type, drainage and weather and other factors come into play.
Generally, most trail networks consider e-bikes motorized, which makes them illegal on humanpowered trails, though many jurisdictions are reviewing their status. The biggest issue with changing the rules, says Strawson, is liability, which generally rests with mountain bike clubs or land managers. “Right now trail networks are designed to use distance as the filter, putting harder trails farther away or at the top of long climbs” he says. “Only the strongest, fittest and most skilled riders can get to them. E-bikes disrupt that system.”
Not all clubs think that will be a problem. Rob Sanders, general manager of the Mountain Bike Club of Kingston, one of Ontario’s largest clubs, says none of the 1,400 members have asked about e-bikes yet.
“Most people that mountain bike do it for the workout,” he says. “The guys who are going to buy these bikes are the ones that can barely get around our easiest loop right now. They’re going to give a group of people who couldn’t mountain bike otherwise a chance to get on the trail.”
On busy trail networks that’s enough reason to ban them. “Our trail builders are telling us they can’t keep up with maintaining the trails with the usage they already have,” says Strawson. “Adding another user group is not something they’re ready for.”
But, as motors shrink further it will become difficult to tell an e-bike from a normal one. Then there is the blurring lines between pedal-assist and throttled electric dirt bikes. Where to draw the line between what’s allowed and what’s not, how to distinguish between the two and then how to enforce any rules is only going to get harder.
In some ways the tables have turned. For three decades mountain biking fought for legitimacy with other user groups and land managers.
Now mountain biking is one of the most popular sports in the woods. Mountain bikers learned to share the trails before and they will figure it out again, says Hestler. It will just take time.
“The problem,” he says, “is that everything is changing and growing so fast in this sport it’s getting harder and harder to keep up.”
Now that we’re done with the obvious, yet necessary pun…
Powerful. Capable. Inspiring. The 2019 Trance SX E+ Pro 1 introduces a different style of riding to your typical rip in the trails and is an experience like no other; from smartphone connectivity to ride quality, this bike is awesome! I rode it around the city and in the Don Valley for two days, and it was hard to get the smile off my face!
Around the city, the instant power makes stop signs and red lights less of a nuisance, now that your acceleration of the line closely matches a car’s. The 140mm of travel in the rear and 160mm in front, renders potholes, bumps and streetcar tracks meaningless, especially when paired with the beefy 27.5+ tires. For a commuter this monster of a bike gives you confidence, speed and comfort, all while you get to work or school without sweating. It also makes that little piece of single track you pass by that much more tempting, knowing you won’t be late and won’t be defeated by the Dons’ punchy cliffside climbs.
For my own riding and the trails I frequent, (lower Don, Science center and Loblaws areas) the highest level of assist is just too powerful! I found myself mostly using Levels 2 or 3, out of the 5, and still with significant benefit from the extra torque and power, meaning my two-hour ride covered more distance, because I didn’t need to stop and catch my breath.
Now for the Tech side of things. The Giant Aluxx frame, Fox suspension, Shimano XT 1×11 group with 4-piston brakes and Maxxis Minion DH tires, all deliver a predictable, smooth and responsive ride.
The 2019 Trance SX E+ Pro 1 features their SyncroDrive Pro motor which delivers “360% support.” (Meaning tons of fun!) The weight, being an eBike, is still a downfall in my mind and does take some getting used to in-air and in tight technical sections.
All-in-all this bike is crazy fun and seriously impressive.
Special Thanks to Giant Bicycles Canada for providing this beast of a bike.
eBike Group Ride World Record
As with all breaking trends, new records are part of establishing the trend as more than just a short-term blip, and more of a major new development.
Now, a world record has been set for the biggest eBike group ride, helping the new phenomenon to become more established in the public’s mind. In Seattle on September 15th, 406 eBiker riders broke the previous record, which was set with 271 riders, by riding a 2 mile circuit around Magneson Park.
eBikes Becoming Increasingly Important
Milan, Italy – There is a growing interest for participating in the e-bike section of the upcoming EICMA motorcycle and bike show.
In Italy and many other countries, eBike mobility is now a growing reality. Italian companies are contributing to the market, not only in manufacturing and sales, but as part of the whole supply chain – suppliers of components, and designers with established patents. In 2017 production in Italy of eBikes increased by 48 percent compared to 2016. Sales of approximately 150,000 in 2017 represented an increase of 19 % over 2016.
Bully for Bulls
The German high-profile eBike company Bulls has released in their words, “the most cutting-edge eMTB bike on the market”. Although somewhat tricky to remember, its name is the E-Core Evo EN Di 2 27.5+, and it offers a high-end dual-suspension, a big twin-core battery pack, all packaged in a sick-looking design.
Along with a new lightweight eRoad bike concept (below), called the Alpine Hawk Evo featuring the super light and compact Fazua Evation 250 watt drive system. They are e-just two of 14 new Bulls e-bikes announced at Interbike for 2019, including eMTBs, eTrekking, eRoad, eCruiser, eCommuters, and more!
Haibike Hands Out More Now, and There’s More Coming
The latest Sduron, Xduro and Nduro eBikes from Haibike were displayed at Interbike, and they teased attendees with a preview of their 2020 prototype Flyon eBike featuring the new high torque TQ mid-drive motor system.
Bosch Previews Kiox Colour Display
The latest Kiox color display from Bosch eBike Systems was shown by Claudia Wasko, Director of eBikes, Bosch America. Offering many new features including ride data on speed, rider performance, heart rate, battery charge and more.
While presenting, Claudia also related how more police and fire departments are using eBikes in their range of vehicle fleets, and that increasingly, ski resorts are welcoming eMTBs to their trails.
Survey Predicts Big Future for sCargo Bikes
A 2-year study into the use of ‘Light Electric Freight Vehicles’ concluded that eCargo bikes are a great alternative for perhaps 20% of all delivery vans currently being used in large cities. The study, involving the improvement of city logistics, was conducted in partnership by the Amsterdam and Rotterdam Applied Sciences. A sobering thought was also suggested with the information that various practical problems have yet to be solved.
eBIke Torque Requires Stronger Chains
Specifically, the torque generated from mid-drive motors has been proven to put too much strain on a chain made for regular bikes. This results in early chain wear which also affects the condition of the cassette. The answer is stronger eBike-specific chains.
Showing the industry is on its toes when it comes to eBIke tech developments, stronger chains are now starting to hit the market. A prime example is a chain from TAYA using their exclusive DHT self-lubricated hardness treatment. The process involves applying the treatment on the pins to strengthen them by more than 50% over regular chain pins.
New ‘e’ Trend Fuel For New Frontiers
Now that there is no longer any question about the new and established trend of eBikes, it is seen to be driving the ‘planning & analysis’ of other areas feeding into the trend. Electronics, with the inherent sophisticated software, are finding their way into helmets, locks, brakes with ABS systems, ‘connected’ bikes and as mentioned in a previous post, clothing featuring graphene to make any wearer fully ‘connected’. And we’re witnessing just the beginning.
Bosch PowerTube 500 Wins Award
Reno, Nevada, announced as the 2nd annual eBike Product Innovation award winner, Bosch PowerTube 500 took the prize for its clean integration into the bike frame down tube.
“We’re proud of this award and to see so many gorgeous PowerTube-equipped eBikes start to hit dealer showrooms,” said Claudia Wasko, Vice President & General Manager of Bosch eBike Systems Americas. “The PowerTube 500 sets a new eBike standard by showing it’s possible to get both a really capable, high-range eBike that looks more and more like a regular bicycle,”