IZIP E3 Metro—All New for 2014

IZIP E3 Metro—All New for 2014.

With a distinctive look and a great ride, this E-bike from IZIP will appeal to many.

Here is a re-designed E-bike from Currie Technologies with a lot of great features. With racks front and rear it is almost worthy of being called a cargo bike. Comfort, up-right seating and plenty of hill-climbing power are just a few of the reasons I like it. Although its looks are kind of different from your regular bike, I think the styling fits fine. Last years model rode well too, but I was glad to see that big front down tube (that retained the battery) go away.

 
Now the battery is in the enlarged seat stay. This seems to come from the eFlow family of E-bikes, as does the display / control unit. With a 500 watt geared motor running on 36 volts, it has power to spare in every riding situation I put it through. The display reads out many needed things and is close to hand on the left side of the handlebars. The way the control system works is ok, yet I did have a few minor gripes about it.

 

Room for all your gear can be found on both ends of the E3 Metro.

You may know that we have been trying to decide on a replacement commuter bike for my wife. Her 6-7 year-old eZip has been begging for an up-grade. It still runs and works fine, but with all the advancements in recent E-bike years, I think she deserves to move to the present day with each ride. We had already decided on a low-frame IZIP E3 Path+, but during our recent visit to The IZIP Store in Santa Monica (a whole other story that you will learn about soon), we were offered this for her to try out.

 
The E3 Metro is a one-size and one color fits all bike. The matte black is cool and it does have some aqua (green?) highlights here and there. It also sports some bamboo for the base of each rack. We thought a couple bamboo fenders and a new Lazer helmet with a bamboo finish could really put the full wood look together. The front rack is rated at 35 lbs. , enough to carry lots of stuff. Because it is frame mounted (and easily removable too), it doesn’t affect your steering at all. I would think the rear rack could carry quite a bit too, so you can really haul the mail (so to speak).

 

Ready for a ride to work or for play, the IZIP Metro has power to spare.

The beefy looking aluminum frame matches up well with the large cross-section 26” tires. It rides solid and firm, using a seat post suspension to help smooth out the rougher bumps. The saddle was a surprise, as so many companies put those narrow racing ones, or the way too wide cruiser ones. With a built-in rear lift handle and a great feel, I could see this item matched up to many of the bikes in the IZIP roster.

It rides well without the power, having an easy roll and a decent drivetrain. The one thumb shifter is awesome, and working it is a breeze and a pleasure. Like many hybrid bikes the steering isn’t too touchy, but responds well at all speeds. The disc brakes are ok and from a good maker, but a step up to the BB7 ones would have been nice. The stem has a rise adjustment and the bike fit every different height person who gave it a try.

500 watts—plenty of gears—and strong stopping power are all visible from this angle.

My wife really loves riding it, but we did decide to stick with the Path+ as her next E-bike. The few reasons why are all basically minor ones, but seemed to be enough to make the call. I like this center stand (that tucks to just one side when up), but it just doesn’t keep the bike up-right on all surfaces. I like the smoother riding tires, the Path+ has the skinner 700c ones, so this was one thing we are making a concession to. There are some things about the control system that gave me pause (more on this before I’m done).

 
As much as the IZIP E3 Metro has its own look, I am more taken by the appearance and color of the E3 Path+. It just looks so much more bike like. The front rack on the Metro is very strong and useful, but I found to load the bike on my rack (when carrying two bikes) it needed to be removed. It is pretty easy to do and we may not transport her new commuter bike much, but I did take this into account. One more thing that raised a concern is battery security. On the eFlow there is a place to add a small padlock on the holding latch, but I sure don’t see one on the Metro. I’ve had her feed her cable lock through the seat handle and keep it tight enough where the saddle and battery can’t be lifted far enough to remove it.

What a beefy and useful profile the E3 Metro exhibits.

Ok, what about the control system? You might know that these are a very big deal with me. So many people who ride E-bikes either aren’t strong enough to deal with jumpy ones, are aren’t bike savvy enough to fully understand all the nuances. The buttons on the display panel are close at hand, yet you do need to take your hand off the grip to use them, and your eyes off the road to see them. This is common with so many E-bikes, but some (like the Path+) have made them safer to use.

 

Load your gear, sit here and ride.

My real issue here is found on the new Zuma and Twn:exp also. When in the pedelec mode, the power level is chosen on the display. On most when you pedal, the bike goes to that power level and stays there while the pedals are moving. With this new programming Currie tech is using, the electronics also sense how fast you are pedaling and increase the power level to match. Problem here is they don’t always match.

On the whole it is fine, but there are two things about it I don’t like (when in the PAS / pedelec mode). One, with most E-bikes you don’t need to downshift every time you stop, the motor helps you get going again without it. On this Metro (and the two others mentioned) if you don’t downshift before a stop, as you take off the pedals aren’t moving fast enough to get the motor to kick in. You can use the hand throttle, but in the pedelec mode it doesn’t work until the bike senses the pedal movement. Add to this if you are not in the top power level the power doesn’t come on at all with that slow pedal speed. So I found downshifting at for a stop was kind of necessary.

 
The other is that during a cruise if the pedals are not turning quick enough then the power level is low. Then you downshift to get more motor power (just one gear), and then the bike starts going faster than your desires and you are pedaling too fast. This too wasn’t to my liking and seemed wrong. I found using the POD mode (power on demand / throttle only) was just easier, more comfortable and safer than using the PAS mode (power-assist). It gets a little old holding the throttle on all the time you want assist, but I felt it was better than putting up with the PAS system.

 

A sincere thanks goes out to the folks at Currie Technologies for letting me spend the time needed to fully report on their great E-bikes.

Regardless, the IZIP E3 Metro is quite a bike and I enjoyed my time on it. I do think the eFlow technology use is part of the higher price point and in that category you would expect the slightly better brakes too. I think many would look past the drawbacks I’ve noted and become one with this E-bike. Maybe Currie Tech will hear my pleas and make the changes for next year, but even still this bike is worth considering.

 
Carry that load, Turbo Bob.

“Happiness is actually found in simple things, such as taking my nephew around the island by bicycle or seeing the stars at night. We go to coffee shops or see airplanes land at the airport.”—Andrea Hirata.

You can find Currie Technologies on the web or Facebook.

http://www.currietech.com/

https://www.facebook.com/currietech

Here is a video I posted showing the IZIP E3 Metro from different angles.

And one from last years Interbike

 

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Thule T2 Bicycle Rack—Major Up-grade for My Bike Needs

Thule T2 Bicycle Rack—Major Up-grade for My Bike Needs.

This is how I got the Thule T2. The solid box held it all great and the work to assemble it was minimal.

As a child I never transported my bike (as far as I can remember). If I wanted to ride at the beach, I rode there to do it. It was just that simple. When I got back into bikes in 1991, same story. I rode my bike where I wanted and back home at the end of the day. Times sure have changed in that respect. 10 years ago I found that loading them in the back of the station wagon could lead to a great riding day anywhere we liked.

 
As we got into the heavier E-bikes that wasn’t an option. We would still take our bikes places, but only the ones light enough to lift and fit the pair in the back of the wagon. So our beach cruisers and E-bikes couldn’t go out of town because they didn’t fit in the car. We have since gotten a bike rack and folding bikes to open up our riding location thrills. The cheapo bike rack we were using was solid enough, but had some serious drawbacks (I did a post on that rack quite a while back).

This year we went all out and picked-up a brand new heavy duty hitch mounted rack from Thule. The T2 from Thule has made a big difference for us and I fully recommend it. Although getting the model with a 2” receiver would have been better, it wasn’t an option as both our cars only fit the 1 ¼” receiver. Thule also offers a E-bike specific model, yet it only fits the 2″ set-up.

All set-up and ready to go. It easily folds up when not in use.

Since I got my bike rack several years ago I have been noticing so many different types I have been convinced that one that holds the bikes by supporting them under the tires was the only type I am interested in. With the heavy E-bikes and ones with low frames, I couldn’t imagine carrying them any other way. That, and those types seem to let the bikes bang against each other (scratches and ?). I’ve seen many T2 racks over the years and decided it was the one for us.

 
The T2 is one heavy duty unit. It folds up straight when not in use (I found with my old one that I would remove it and put it in the back of the wagon when were out riding). It came with a nifty lock for the mounting bolt so I am always pretty confident it will be on the back of the car every time we return from a ride. It also has two locking cables to secure the bikes to the rack, a big plus. The rack and the bikes seem to be protected well at all times.

 
The way the rack holds the bikes is a big improvement over my old rack. The uprights fold down for bike loading and when not in use. My old rack didn’t, so this required a dead lift of the bike over a maybe 2 1/2 foot barrier, something I don’t miss on those 60 and 70 lbs. E-bikes. Plus the way the bikes load in general has taken off a big load, I just set the front wheel in the holder and then swing the back wheel up next. No full lifting of the bike is needed.

Loaded down with a couple E-bikes, I am confident they will be there when I reach my riding destination.

The rear wheel holding block slides on the rail for different sizes of bikes and has a nice hold-down mechanism and strap. It is designed to fit the skinny road bike tires and the beefy beach cruiser ones too. The front wheel tray is big enough for every bike I’ve tried (sand bike–maybe not). The fold-down upright is foam covered where it touches the bike and has a strong ratcheting mechanism. It is designed to clamp on the tire, so bikes with fenders can be different. Even the 20” wheel bikes are within its range. It seems I can use this on the frame instead of the wheel if desired.

On the bigger and heavier bikes I use some two-sided Velcro straps to secure the up-right to the wheel for some additional piece-of-mind (and on the longer trips too). I came about doing this on bikes with fenders where I’d rather set the brace on the tire, not the fender. The bikes stay secure on the rack and never bang into each other. When I use it with our Tweed Ride bikes I find the need to remove the seat of one to keep it from interfering with the baskets. Occasionally I will need to lower or raise a saddle to do the same on some bikes.

 
If there is one thing that I don’t like it is the increased overall weight of this rack. Getting it on and off the car is a touch harder. My old one used to hang in the garage on some bike hooks out of the way when not in use, but I don’t see that happening with the Thule T2. It has been taking up some valuable floor space there, but leaving it on the car more often keeps it ready for use in a flash.

 

This good looking bike rack matches some of the bikes I carry with it.

The Thule people did warn against overloading this rack with E-bikes. Although I am occasionally going past its recommended maximum carrying capacity, I figure those numbers are set way under the testing limits and obtained in the roughest of use (a Baja 500 course?) This does concern me (and might you), but everything seems solid enough even with the lighter-weight capacity of the smaller receiver on the cars. I drive pretty mellow and keep a close eye on the bikes and the rack, so I am not sensing any issue in this direction with all the use the rack has been getting.

There are many things to keep in mind with bike racks. Correct mounting and use are right up there. Making sure the hot exhaust of the car isn’t blowing on your bikes and rack is another biggy. Not obscuring the sight of your tail and brake lights is a issue that could come up, make sure to check that. On many bikes their profile is small, but on some bikes they could block the lights. Make sure the people behind you can see those lights, it is important.

Assembly was pretty easy, although I went on-line once or twice to check clearer photos of the completed rack. Like always the instructions were not as well laid-out in some respects. The only hiccup was at the suggested spacing of the two main rails, one of the foam pieces on the up-right bar got torn from being too close to the other up-right bar. I re-spaced the front rail about a quarter inch forward to prevent this clearance problem. I considered asking Thule for a new foam protector, but it isn’t at a place where it contacts the bikes. If it gets worse I will see what they have to say about it.
I am very happy with this new rack and how it has made carrying the bikes easier. Getting them on-board is now a breeze, and always a one-person job. A great bike rack is a good thing.

 
Let’s ride, Turbo Bob.

 
“Every time you miss your childhood, ride a bicycle”.—Mehmet Murat ildan

You can find Thule on the web and Facebook.

http://www.thule.com/en-us/us

https://www.facebook.com/thulebringyourlife?ref=br_tf

 

Posted in Bike accessories, General bike stories, My Bikes | Leave a comment

EG Electric Bikes—Easy Riding for Easy Money

EG Electric Bikes—Easy Riding for Easy Money.

Thanks to Cynergy EBikes for letting me get the inside story on these E-bikes. This is the Zurich.

On a recent trip to Portland I got a chance to ride 3 of these smooth E-bikes from EG Bikes USA. It wasn’t my first exposure to this brand, but was my first time in the saddle. Cynergy EBikes in Portland is a dealer and one of our stops to check on the E-bike scene in that part of the country. When I mentioned to the owners, Rich and Ruth, that we had been hoping to ride to the new Oregon Rail Heritage Center, they jumped at the chance to get us on these bikes.

 
The bikes we (my wife Barbara, her sister Mari and I) rode this day were the Athens 250, the Zurich 350 IX Step-through and the Vienna 250 EX. Each bike was different, but I did like the fact they come with fenders, kickstands, chain guards and lighting systems (although the folding Vienna had too short of a rear fender and a sprocket mounted guard). Rich told me this line-up of E-bikes have done well at his shop, not just because of their price-point, but because of their quality and ride.

 

The Zurich had the most power and looks good too.

Checking the EG Bikes USA website I see they offer a wide selection of E-bikes, including the Monte Carlo. I saw that E-bike last year at Myron’s ExtremeMachines on their demo day. Not only did I post a video of the bike, but I spoke with the owner of that particular bike and he loved it. It seems EG Bikes USA offers a big punch for the buck, and as I rode these 3 different bikes from Cynergy EBikes I was feeling it. Let’s look at the bikes and see what they are like.

 
First off I thought the simple and easy to understand control systems were set well. Mari was a first time E-bike rider that day and had no difficulties during our adventure. The dual control lay-out offers a hand throttle (twist or thumb depending on the model) and a pedelec mode. The pedelec mode can be turned off and the hand throttle worked the bike in all the settings (something I like). The 250 watt bikes can feel a little under-powered during steep climbing, but for most they work fine and can save you a little during the purchase.

 

The Athens is more my type of E-bike.

My favorite of the group was the Zurich. Not just because of the slightly increased power, but it just rode nice. The bars are set a little lower for more of a sport feel, yet the cockpit was comfortable. This electric-assist bike has the hub motor up front the way many like it. I’m pretty sure it is a geared motor (brushless for sure) because of the almost un-noticeable whine and the sprightly feel of power. The 36 volt battery sports 12 Ah of capacity so it should be good for some long rides.

 
A close second in my approval was the Athens. With the bars sitting higher you could keep your head up and straighten out your back. The motor is in the rear wheel where some like it better. The power isn’t as severe, yet great for all but the steeper climbs. With a front suspension fork and the larger profile tires it was the best (of the two non-folding bikes) in terms of a smooth ride on the rougher roads. These are 26” tires, where the Zurich uses the taller (and skinner) 700c.

 

In front of our destination, the Athens was a fine mount for the ride.

In our group it seemed the Athens was the bike to be on. During our ride to and from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center we swapped bikes several times. Although smiles were a given, the rider’s smile on the Athens was the widest. If you’ve tried (or own) an E-bike already you know what fun they can be. Some of that fun can be reduced on a E-bike that doesn’t ride well or has problems, a thing we had no experience with during our day on the EG E-bikes.

 
Later that afternoon Rich and I discussed the bikes and how EG has such a great selection. He said I wasn’t the first to mention that if the Athens had the power system of the Zurich it would really stand-out better. He pointed out that he would love to have every model they offer on the floor, but we both could see that would be tough. He can get you any bike that you see on the EG Bikes USA website.

 

With a more compact size, the Vienna still has a full-size feel.

Rich has a couple folding E-bikes at the store. The EG Vienna 250 EX is his most popular. I have written much on the convenience a folding E-bike offers and done many posts on them. The Vienna was the most fun of the group in many ways. The full suspension was appreciated by us all and the steering is quick but not twitchy. The 24 volt battery mounts to the seat post and has a decent capacity. The lower voltage was noticeable in the power it puts out, yet with a lighter over-all weight as a plus. The only drawback was the short rear fender (something that I would hope gets up-dated on future models and would be first on my list to up-grade).

 

Full suspension and a folding ability are just a few reasons I liked this Vienna.

When we picked-up the bikes it didn’t take long to get on the road. Like I mentioned the controls are simple and each bike had easy to adjust seat heights. Riding on quiet back streets we were able to talk and laugh, enjoying each part of the ride. The day had a few short showers, allowing stops under some trees now and then. On the way back we decided to not let the rain bother us and Mari was the one who got to find out for me that the Vienna’s fender wouldn’t deflect the puddles. It was OK though and she laughed with us as we all got soaked.

 

Soaked to the bone (but not cold), we were still all smiles. This pic was from in front of Cynergy EBikes after our long day.

Rich and Ruth have a great E-bike shop in the south part of Portland. We sure enjoyed our time with them and the bikes they so generously lent us to make our vacation special. If you can, stop by to see all they can do for you and make sure to say hi from us. I do hope we can make a return visit soon.

 
E-bikes and train museums make a great combo, Turbo Bob.

 
“The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.”—Susan B. Anthony.

EG Bikes USA link

http://www.egbike.com/EGUSA/

Cynergy EBike on the web and Facebook

http://www.cynergyebikes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cynergyebikes

Myron’s ExtremeMachines on the web and Facebook

http://www.electricbicyclecenter.com/

https://www.facebook.com/teammxm?fref=ts

Videos of the bikes and rides

 

 

 

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Let It Ride Electric Bike Tours of Bend, Oregon—The Only Way to Ride

Let It Ride Electric Bike Tours of Bend, Oregon—The Only Way to Ride.

Let It Ride Electric Bikes in downtown Bend, Oregon.

When you are on vacation seeing the local sights is important. Doing it by car, bus or train just doesn’t let you get up close and allow you to stop for every cubbyhole of excitement. Many already know a bicycle is the best way to experience the lay of the land, but others know an E-bike is even better. My wife and I are among those and now her sister Marti is a believer too. Even though a self-guided E-bike tour is great, having a guided one with a fun and knowledgeable local is king. And to do it one step better, try taking two, we did.

I first met Kevin (shop owner) and Kim (GM and top tour guide) at last year’s Pedego Dealer Meeting. Their presentation to the group was, to say the least, up-beat and convincing. I knew right then that visiting their shop and joining in on one of their tours was a necessity. I had no clue when I could go but figured something would work out. Bend is close to Portland where Barbara (my wife) has family so it didn’t seem too far out of reach.

Fantastic countryside and fun times will stay in our memories for a long time.

One day she mentioned a milestone birthday for another sister that lives there and the trip was planned. As luck would have it there is a family log cabin in the woods just south of Bend. Perfect, time with family in Portland, a group trip the three hours south and a chance to E-bike tour with Let It Ride all were within reach. I contacted Kim and all the enthusiasm I first found her with was directed towards our visit.

 
When we rolled into town we stopped by to see the shop and solid up our tour for the next day. I had hoped to do two and that deal was set as we checked out the tidy and centrally located shop. They offer three tours, the Welcome to Bend Tour, the History of Bend Tour and the Brew Pub Tour. If it fits your needs you can also rent the bikes and self-guide your own tour, but I was hot to learn more with a guide. As luck would have it, the firecracker herself, Kim, was set to show us the town.

Families and brews—maybe part of your dream vacation.

The early summer weather was a bit cool the next morning and minor threats of rain hovered, but no excitement was dampened in our group. Marti was in a arm sling, almost fully recovered from some recent shoulder surgery and was concerned about joining in. Kim set her up on the back seat of an awesome Pedego Tandem and her comfort for the tour was ensured. I did mention that Let It Ride is a Pedego shop didn’t I? The other cool thing going was that Kim’s brother Burkley was in town and he mounted a black Trail Tracker (that I understand thanks to Facebook he has since purchased and is in total love with) to join us.

 
Barbara got a just out 26” wheeled Pedego City Commuter (Kim’s personal E-bike) for the first tour and my mount was a City Commuter with the custom off-road treatment. We headed off from the shop for the Brew Pub Tour with two families behind the handlebars. What a thrill it was for this special group to ride together and hit the local pubs and micro breweries. Kim lead us easily and before long our first stop was in view. Needless to say we had the best time, bonded well and stayed dry in the process.

With vintage photos and a wealth of knowledge, Kim was the best of hosts.

I knew Kim planned to stay all business while we were her charges, but we all let our hair down and went with the flow of togetherness and new friends. During this first tour we stopped at many breweries and the sample sized beers flowed like the fun. We met some people that were in town with their Austin Healy Car Clubs for a convention and saw the Cycle Pub too. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are 14 seat cycles with on-board kegs for touring the town. They thought they were having fun, but our group had them beat by a long shot.

 
The next day we did the History of Bend Tour, and if the our first tour was all family, this one was all locals (except the three of us). By a special request I had mentioned to Kim my desire to make sure we were with a group and not just us. When it comes to reporting on E-bike tours I like to do it with first-timers to get a feel for their enjoyment. Kim came through big and it made the History of Bend Tour incredible. Four lovely ladies who live in Bend became our new friends. Their story is a special one.

What isn’t to like about this image? Great bikes and people help make the day.

They are members of Full Access, a community group that helps adults with disabilities through the Beth Rixe Service Center. Right now they are offering raffle tickets for two Pedego Comfort Cruisers (make sure to get in on that, link below). Kim asked them to come along to get a better feel for the bikes they are raffling and to make my request come about. These women not only knew this town since childhood, but were interested in getting their first time on E-bikes.

 
They handled the bikes well, part because of plenty of bike riding through the years (maybe not all that recent though) and part because Kim makes sure all on the tours are well versed on the bikes and the procedures we would follow during the tour. The smiles and fun they had are fully consistent with the thrill E-bikes bring to all that ride them. Each one of them were on brightly colored Comfort Cruisers, much like the two they are raffling off. Barbara, Marti and I rode the same Pedego E-bikes as the day before.

 
There was one difference on today’s tour, that would be Marti’s service dog Peanut coming on the ride with us. Let It Ride Electric E-bike Tours is big on having kids and pets be part of the tour, and I could tell that Peanut was glad to come along. His small carrier was easy to strap to the rack on the tandem and our whole group loved having a mascot be part of the day’s ride.

 

One of the many stops was this creative rock garden full of sculptures and characters.

Kim brings a folder of classic vintage photos to help visualize some of the changes Bend has gone though. We learned so much about the town, the people, the businesses and the Deschutes River on this tour. Our four new friends offered some of their personal memories too making the tour just that much more special. Our group became as one as we rode the bike paths and bridges of town. Bikes make seeing and stopping better in so many ways, and allow new friends to get close better that any other way I know. I could go on about all we saw and learned, yet I’d rather you go to Bend to experience it yourself.

 

Smile for the camera folks—easy to do on an E-bike in a beautiful town.

Kim isn’t their only tour guide and I’m sure the couple others are awesome, but if you can request she guide your group you won’t be sorry. She is all smile and all enthusiasm, something I appreciated and will remember long after other memories of the two days fade. We met some of the other crew members and were duly impressed. This shop has been in action for four years and has the operation down pat.

 
And so you know, they are a full-service Pedego shop. Any sales, service or rental activities you desire are at your disposal. I love the Pedego family and Let It Ride has the power of E-bikes and family on display everyday of the week. Plan a trip or visit for a fun time with exciting people.

 
Kim, you are my new hero (in a helmet), thanks for being you, Turbo Bob.

 
“Wind is just a hill in gaseous form.”—Barry McCarty.
P.S.—I added this particular quote to remind you that E-bikes keep you smiling during a climb, when the wind blows, and if some fatigue or soreness sets in. That is just one more reason they are so great for touring.

You can find Let It Ride Electric Bike Tours on the web, Facebook and in person in the downtown part of Bend, Oregon.

http://www.letitridebend.com/

https://www.facebook.com/letitridebend

Pedego Electric Bikes

http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/PedegoElectricBikes

Check out Full Access—to help or to get Pedego raffle tickets

http://www.fullaccess.org/

Here are a bunch of videos I shot of our adventures.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bike Shops, E-bike general interest, Out-of-town bike rides | Leave a comment

IZIP E3 Peak—Missed Connection

IZIP E3 Peak—Missed Connection.

Looking light and powerful, the IZIP E3 Peak might be the bike for you.

I often say “If it doesn’t have fenders, a chainguard and kickstand it can’t be much of a bike.“ Although I try to keep an open mind during my reviews, there were other things about this E-bike that didn’t click for me. I fully realize this is a mountain bike with some great advanced features, yet the bike and I never bonded. Thus my title, “Missed Connection”. Let me tell you why.

When I first rode this new IZIP at Interbike last year I liked it a lot. It was quiet and smooth, feeling good for the couple three laps I took in at the outdoor paddock track. Of course that amount of time in the saddle just doesn’t match-up to a extended test like this. Even when I was convinced this wasn’t my dream E-bike, I still took it on many more long rides to decide why and make sure of its attributes. With all that, no positive connection for me ever came about.

 

Although speced with some nice pieces, the Peak and I still didn’t bond

Part of this has to do with the fact that I’m not a mountain biker. Through the years I’ve ridden many trails, slid in the gravel and looked for air for thrills. I’ve been on some pretty nice bikes that handled it well, yet the whole dirt and constant wild ride thing and I are not as one. I prefer more of an upright bike and all that goes with that. The bent-over stance and cockpit layout of a mountain bike doesn’t get my blood flowing.

 
I almost always take the time to get the saddle height and angle set, and the bars and controls too, something I did with this E3 Peak. Even with the optimum groove in this department I just never got comfortable. A semi-lay down sport bike I can handle, but this bike is a little beyond that. The narrow saddle and the extra wide bars might be great for some, just not me.

 
All that I can live with for the testing, but it was the combo of the controls and the motor style that kept my smile from brimming. The extra speed and rush it brings was fun to be sure, yet still no solid feel of oneness came about between the bike and myself. This kind of comes down to the mid-drive motor and the way it all works together for this IZIP E-bike. Much has been talked about mid-drive and many desire this latest technology, but I found some points lacking, some that others might not.

 

350 watts of quiet mid-drive power. FYI, the red item is a reflective leg band. I keep one on all my bikes just in case.

Mid-drive, what does that mean? It means the motor is in the center of the chassis at a very low point. Having the weight of the motor there helps the balance and handling, a good thing and something I felt in spades during each ride. It also means the motor power is sent to the rear wheel through the same drivetrain that your foot power goes through. This feature has its good and bad points.

 
Using the bike’s gears for the motor does allow it to flex its muscles better than a hub motor (generally the most common set-up on E-bikes). It will increase the available torque in the lower gears for climbing and acceleration. In the upper gears it can be more efficient and up your top speed (good points). The bad part of this is that precise and correctly timed shifts become mandatory. On most hub motor electric bikes shifting needs take a back seat (not as important) to the bikes overall performance and rideability.

The many speed drivetrain worked great, but got put to the test from the motor’s power during shifting.

The other issue I have against hub motors doesn’t apply to this bike as strongly because this is no beginner’s E-bike. There are some people who just don’t take to shifting a bike as well as others. Knowing when to shift and timing it correctly during your pedaling stroke and pedal pressure can elude even seasoned bicycle riders. Being in the wrong gear at the wrong time can really affect your ride. Plus shifting with heavy foot pressure on the pedals causes noise and wear in the gears and chain.

 
Anyway, if the motor is applying power during a shift (which it does if you are pedaling) on this Peak (and most other mid-drive E-bikes) you get the same effect, banging noise and a disturbing feel. The control system on this bike is sensed off of pedal pressure (torque) and pedal cadence (speed). It does have a hand throttle, but it is only for low-speed (up to about 8 mph). Most every shift I made was a disturbing one and on this E-bike you shift a lot.

 

The display and its working are much to my delight, it is the way the system is programmed that drew my criticisms.

You can stop pedaling to shift (so the motor powers down), but then again with a derailleur set-up you need to pedal to allow the chain to move to the next gear. This bike is said to have a stretch-free chain (and that left questions in my mind also). I just got to the point during all my riding to realize that it isn’t my bike so all that noise and wear wasn’t my problem, yet feeling in the long (and maybe not so long) run, it could cause issues.

 
As much as I try not to make comparisons to motorcycles and cars when it comes to bicycles, to explain this combo’s feel it is hard not to do. For anyone who has driven manual shift cars and bikes you know being in the wrong gear just won’t work. Trying high gear at low speeds causes no go and risky motor lugging. Low gear at high speeds is even worse. On the Peak during climbs if I shifted under power it kept pulling but made a big gang with each shift. If I let the power off for the up-shift I lost so much momentum that I had to downshift right away (with the resulting banging).

 
All this would seem to be magnified (in a bad way) in actual mountain bike riding. In those situations you need to be in full control at all times. I can’t say if this Peak will excel in such a situation, but there are real mountain bike riders putting this bike through its paces in the hills and mountains. I just hope they will be fully honest with their experiences to tell the real story of this bike’s compatibility with what it is designed for. Some tend to sugar-coat such things so I will be anxious to hear the unbiased truth.

 

The IZIP E3 Peak.

The mid-drive E-bikes I have ridden that I liked either had the NuVinci continuously variable transmission, or throttle control only, (or a combination of both). With those I could control the motor during shifting and / or there were no gears to bang. I do feel that some way advanced motor programming will be needed to make this motor / drivetrain match my needs.

 
Enough with the negative stuff (that’s not my bag). This IZIP E3 Peak electric-assist mountain bike has some nice pieces on-board. That quality shock up front felt great on the road and the rough spots. The hydraulic disc brakes are spot on with the perfect feel and stopping power. 48 volts of lithium battery power give the Peak plenty of speed and grunt. The shifting components are nice and work well.

 

This sweet fork isn’t the best on the market, but worked great for me.

This is a fun bike in so many ways. It is a light-weight bike in the E-bike world. The chassis responds great and those 27.5 wheels and tires worked well on every surface I rode. I was glad to get this time with it and kind of sorry my report wasn’t more up-beat. Not every bike matches my needs and I do think taking one for a ride will answer your own questions about if it connects with you.

 
Mid-drive is here to stay, Turbo Bob.

 
“A good quote is like a handle of the bicycle which has the power to take you onto the beautiful path of life.”—Vikrant Parsai.

Find Currie Technologies on the web and Facebook.

http://www.currietech.com/

https://www.facebook.com/currietech?ref=br_tf

Here is a video I posted on the IZIP E3 Peak

 

 

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Tern / BionX Folding E-bike—The Perfect Combo

Tern / BionX Folding E-bike—The Perfect Combo.

Ready for miles of fun and excitement, seeing Tern and BionX come together makes me very happy

I would think you are either a big fan of Tern folding bikes or a one of BionX E-bike conversion systems. Maybe you just have a curiosity of the two and want to learn more. Now that Tern and BionX have teamed-up for the long run, you will get a chance for yourself to see what a great partnership this will be. This bike is an experimental prototype, but there is nothing temporary about this wave that will be coming to your town. The two companies inked a deal and you are the beneficiary.

 
With dozens of bikes being made (or already made) (and many more coming), this combo is headed your way. I got to ride two of the demo bikes, one a Tern Node D8 and this one, a Tern Link P9 with the BionX E-bike power source. The bikes Tern are producing with the BionX will be Link D8s and Node D8s. With about a month of riding this Link / BionX, I am ready to spill the beans (in a good way). This post is about the bike I spent time with, but I will do my best to relay the info about the bikes you will see on the dealer’s sales floors.

 

With only the tire and wind noise filling your ears, a silent direct-drive BionX motor won’t spoil that feeling.

The BionX kit chosen is the S350DL. This is a high-power, direct-drive, 48 volt kit with torque sensing control and regen capabilities. The battery is a sleek frame-mount and the silent motor is in stealthy black (to match the Node and Link). It weighs in at 14 lbs. and comes with the G2 display console. As a package for any bike these are fantastic, but when added to the Tern line of rock-solid folding bikes they become magic.

 
As with any BionX, the smart and safely programmed unit works to make your legs feel supercharged. The torque-sensing control is the most natural way to get the electric-assist on any bike. It also has a throttle lever (button) that will over-ride the pedelec control at your command. The display reads out so many things and includes a clock (my favorite). With four levels of sensitivity and regen, it can tailor your ride every time you mount-up.

Oh, the places you can ride on a great folding E-bike like this.

Now onto the bike. As you might know Tern makes some sleek, smooth and great riding folding bikes. They have up-scale components and features so many have come to love. There is a wide variety of them to choose from, my wife and I personally owning a pair of the Link P9s (the bike this test subject is based on). Folding bikes ride so nice and are ultimately convenient, that is part of why the Tern bikes are so popular. Add in the electric-assist from a top-end company and you will be feeling all the reasons I am smitten with this bike.

 
People are hooked on bicycle weights, so lets go this route for a moment. Link P9—25.4 lbs., Link D8—26.7 lbs., Node D8—29.3 lbs., Verge X20—20.5 lbs. So you can see that when you add the 14 lbs. of the BionX you will end up with a E-bike that weighs just over 40 lbs., ultra light in the electric bike world. I threw in that last one (the Verge X20) just to show you how light you can go. This makes the bike easy to ride and pedal, and easy to lift and carry. The battery can be removed to help this, but I left mine on the whole test and it still popped in the trunk with barely a grunt.

 

From any angle you will get the feel of what a Tern/ BionX can do to make your life better.

Another thing weight related is the balance of the bike. It is exceptional. With the battery in the center and pretty low, and the motor very low, the bike has a great feel. It is maneuverable but not skittish. The power is right on the money getting you to speed in a hurry and up most any grade without raising a sweat (you or the bike). This baby is perfect for trails, roads, commuting and just plain old-fashioned fun. Anyone who has felt the thrill of an E-bike or a folding bike can appreciate this Tern / BionX without a test ride, yet even a quick blast will get you hooked.

 

Looking for a power comparison?

It does come with a fairly low capacity battery (6.6 Ah), yet due to the fact this is a 48 volt system,, that extends your range unless you have the lead foot (hand?) of a race driver. I took some very long rides with power to spare (35 miles plus). Usually on the longer rides I am more careful of using too much of the assist, yet on this Tern / BionX I never let that bother me and never saw the power meter leave me empty.

 

The G2 console has all the info you will need.

The display does keep you mostly abreast of your power draw. It has a section that shows the amps used and the amps regenerated as you ride. It allows you to choose from 4 levels of sensitively to help your range and determine your workout quotient. And like a cycle computer it shows total miles, ride miles and times, maximum speed reached and the time of day. It has a nice backlight for riding at night and a theft mode too.

 
Every time I stared to ride I envisioned my own Tern with this set-up. I have been a big fan of the BionX for years and this combo has strengthened that bond. This matching isn’t really new as NYCeWheels has been installing BionX kits on customer’s Tern bikes for a long time. They are the experts on electric and folding bikes so this is no surprise. That is one reason I mentioned the Tern Verge X20 above. After my time on this bike my dreams of a Verge with the BionX seems to be a reoccurring one. The most awesome folding bike with the most awesome E-bike conversion kit, yes, the stuff dreams are made of (and at less than 35 lbs).

 

Pretty? Pretty nice I would say.

There was only one negative I felt on the bike. Like all BionX conversions, the rear brake has a switch to put the bike into full regen mode as you slow. As it hits maximum regen the motor acts like a strong drag brake while it converts itself to an alternator to make the power to feed back to the battery. It was just a little too much slowing for my likes. There are modes in the system to adjust this, but I strongly advise you don’t attempt the change yourself. If it really bothers you, then get the help from a Tern or BionX dealer to slightly lessen it. You might like this, but I would make the change if it were my bike.

 
Well, keep in touch with your Tern dealer if a bike like this interests you. They should be arriving soon and you won’t want to miss it. Me, I am slated to hand this bike to the next Tern rep in line for showing it off. It will be a sad day, but the memories will linger in the best of ways.

 
It takes two to tango—Tern & BionX—a dance you might want to do yourself, Turbo Bob.

 
“Bicycle means simplicity and simplicity means happiness!”—Mehmet Murat ildan.

Tern on the web and Facebook

http://www.ternbicycles.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ternbicycles

BionX on the web and Facebook

http://ridebionx.com/

https://www.facebook.com/bionxinternational

NYCeWheels on the web and Facebook

http://www.nycewheels.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NYCeWheels

I’ve been having a tough time posting my You-Tube video links here lately.   If this doesn’t take you right to my video of this bike then you can still find it in the folding bike or electric bike section.

Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike test reviews, Folding Bike test reviews | Leave a comment

FlyKly Smart Wheel—First Ride and Impressions, June 2014

FlyKly Smart Wheel—First Ride and Impressions, June 2014.

 

With fantastic internal complexity, the FlyKly Smart Wheel looks and rides so very simple.

With much talked and written about the FlyKly Smart Wheel, this was my first chance to see and ride this all-in-one E-bike conversion wheel. It’s taken a couple years to finally hit production, gaining much of its help from a Kickstarter campaign. The first round of wheels have started to be shipped and by September the Kickstarter contributors should be getting the electric boost on their bicycles they desired (and helping to get the future on track).

 
I met with Niko in Santa Monica yesterday during his US introduction tour. He stopped first in New York, then in San Francisco before this day on the beach by the Santa Monica Pier. From here he is off to 6 European cites to do the same thing. His plan is to let his Kickstarter helpers see and feel the wheel and to let the media (me) learn about it too. The day was a success, the attendees quite pleased, and I learned more about this new innovation.

 

With the Santa Monica Pier in the background, another of the KickStarter contributors takes the FlyKly equipped bike out for a spin.

This FlyKly is the second of the three all-in-one E-bike conversion wheels I have been able to ride. It is designed to replace the back wheel of a single-speed bike (or many other style bikes) to allow it to help its rider. With only one speed it has its limits, but the gearing tooth count can be changed to better fit the rider’s needs. Also, a three ring front gear set could be used (with a rear derailleur type chain tensioner) to add some versatility in that department (or the two-speed Schlumpf bottom bracket drive).

 
It is fully automatic in its use, yet some of its working parameters can be set with the use of a smart telephone. The phone can also communicate with the wheel to give performance feed-back and other vital information (such as troubleshooting, working modes and theft protection). The phone is not needed for the ride, although it is needed for the initial set-up and to make changes in settings (including setting a cruise control mode). The phone app is a download from FlyKly.

 
The FlyKly Wheel I rode was set to 80% assistance, 16 mph. maximum speed (which is the max assistance speed) and to 80% regeneration. It has three modes—one for normal assistance—off for no assistance—and exercise mode for continuous resistance. As a person who uses no cell phone I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to ride it, but if I did get a FlyKly Smart Wheel, I would need someone with a phone to do the initial settings before I could use it.

 

Niko, the proud papa of the FlyKly Smart Wheel and his off-spring pose in the west coast sun.

So what is a all-in-one E-wheel? What we have is the batteries, the motor and the electronics all housed in the hub of the wheel. There are no external wires or other pieces that it needs. It mounts to the bike easily (making sure the chain path is straight and the gearing is correct). It comes in two different axle spacing widths to fit most all bicycles. Niko said it might be best to get the narrow one so you can use it on all the bikes you might have in mind. Spacers could be used when fitting it to the wider spaced bikes.

 
You have your choice of rim sizes (20”, 24”, 26” and 700c I believe) and it comes in several different colors to fit you personal preference. It also comes with a tire and tube mounted, but you may want to up-grade or change it to match your bike better. It does mount on the back of the bike which can add a little bit of complexity for the do-it-yourselfer, as opposed to one of the other E-wheels that mounts to the front of the bike. The bike I rode had only a front brake, (this was to allow the rider a better feel for the regenerative braking I think), but in all reality front and rear brakes are the best way to go on any bicycle.

 

Easy riding on the beach can be yours with a FlyKly Smart Wheel added to your bike.

Ok, you see the words “regenerative braking” above, what does that mean? Now it is time to talk about how it works and how well. The FlyKly Smart Wheel is fully automatic. It works with no controls or thoughts from the rider. You just ride somewhat normally and it assists your ride as you go. It gets its information from 3 internal sensors, a load sensor, a pressure sensor and a level sensor. The first one knows you are pedaling, the second how hard you are pedaling and the third the grade you are riding on (to increase the assist levels when climbing). Also is has a speed sensor, yet this is not something to be concerned about in this discussion.

 
Turning on the wheel is easy. It goes into sleep mode (off) by itself after two minutes of inactivity. To turn it on you pedal forward and then backwards. You can do this by riding or like Niko showed for the demo purpose, by lifting the rear wheel off the ground and hand pedaling it. Once it is on it does all the rest by itself. So to repeat myself, you just ride and enjoy.

 

Niko and his mom (far right) greeted so many of his KickStarter helpers on this day.

As you ride you can feel the assist come in a very natural way. It is not excessive, but quite noticeable. As you stop moving the pedals the turns off and the bike glides like any other bike (there is very little drag from the motor so it coasts nicely). When you rotate the pedals backward the FlyKly Smart Wheel goes into regen mode. This does two things. It adds a drag brake that slows the bike noticeably but not severely, and it makes electrical power to slightly recharge the battery. This means as you stop or descend hills, power in the battery will be added to extend your riding range. It seemed weird to pedal backwards, but it becomes very normal within a short time of riding this bike.

 
The bike Niko had the wheel on was pretty much a fixie type. It can be added to most any style bike yet lends itself to this bike nicely. The FlyKly Smart Wheel weighs in at 6 lbs. so it makes for a very good feel and a very non E-bike kind of maneuverability. He had it color matched to the bike, but with a wide variety of colors to choose from, you can go stealth or with in you face colors, including a glow in the dark model. You can also get the complete bike (the Wize Bike) that has an even more sophisticated FlyKly motor on-board. On their site too is a cool bike light that also helps to mount your cell phone to the handle bars.

 

Here is the charge port. I do think a little more protection would be wise—see the text.

So what is to like or not like about the FlyKly? I spent the full three hours at the demo day (more like four) and heard most all the feed-back from the maybe 40 or 50 people who were there and rode it. These people are the contributors and they were very interested in getting all the info and a feel for the wheel. Some were already E-bikers and many were not. On the whole the responses were close to 100% positive.

 
In no particular order this is what I heard and my own opinions too. For one, what isn’t there to like about a cool E-bike conversion? It comes with a nice small smart charger that plugs in the wheel at the end of the axle. I did feel like this was in very vulnerable place and could be damaged if the bike fell over or scraped on obstacles. I think I would add a metal safely loop there like you see on bike derailleurs and other items. Hopefully FlyKly makes one up and includes it with each wheel. It comes with a rubber cover plug, but I felt this just wasn’t enough.

 
The motor felt good, but many power-hungry E-bikers will not be pleased with the 250 watt motor. That is ok because this product isn’t really designed for them. It is more of a super lightweight boost to aid your pedaling. If you need to do thirty up the steepest hill, you will be disappointed. Yet if you want a low-cost, lightweight fun boost to your everyday ride then the smiles will be all yours.

 

Bonus photo—just kidding. You didn’t think I would let this cool bike get away without a photo of me and it did you?

The lack of multi-gears will bother some. I mentioned above how some extra gearing can be added. No place for a disc brake mount will bother others. This bike had no rear rim brake but it can easily be incorporated. The lack of a massive battery range is a potential concern, yet about 25 miles (or more) is possible depending on the rider, the terrain and the use of the regen feature.

 
The need for a smart phone turned me off, but many will revel in this part of the FlyKly. The ease of installing the wheel will be great compared to many E-bike conversion kits on the market. The lack of options, power and range could be an issue, but many will like the easy feel and performance you get with this. No wires and all that goes with it makes for a clean looking E-bike that most anyone would be proud to show-off and ride.

 
All in all it worked just as promised. They have really put it though its paces during development so it should be a trouble-free E-wheel that performs like many will like. With the delivery at the Italian factory of a new casting machine for the hub, production will ramp up quickly (till now each hub has been CNC machined, nice, but time consuming). The wheels are assembled and shipped from both a New York facility and one in Italy. Some Asian parts are used, but on the whole they are making and assembling each wheel in house.

 
Orders placed now are on a pre-order basis and the Kickstarter folks are starting to get theirs. I have just touched the surface on this new item, so to get more info link to their website and FB sites.

 
All in all, great job Niko, and thanks for the invite, I had fun, Turbo Bob.

 
“Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”—Grant Peterson.

Check out the FlyKly Smart Wheel on their website and FB page.

http://www.flykly.com/

https://www.facebook.com/flyklybike

These are the 4 videos I shot that day.

 

Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews | 4 Comments