Waiting for the Bus

Waiting for the Bus.

This is a opinion piece I wrote for the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition (SDCBC) Newsletter last year. Unlike some other articles I’ve written for that publication, this one never saw print. A new Facebook page concerning the rideability of University Avenue (a main thoroughfare here in San Diego) brought it back to mind, and here to my blog page. The page administrator made a statement there that we need to be seen riding this piece of roadway to let the public and the local government know people on bikes are here and need improvements to make it safer and smoother.

 
This is a short piece and I hope you get my point. The road in question has heavy car travel, has no bike lanes, and is in terrible shape where your bike wheels turn. It travels many miles though many communities. I used to ride it often, and still do on some group bike rides in this those areas. I rode it yesterday and it is worse than ever before. Many people on bikes take longer routes to avoid this road, and the powers that be suggest to do the same. Instead of making it safe for all forms of transportation, they have chosen to do close to nothing up to this point.

 
With our new San Diego Bike Share program set to launch this year, it is obvious to me (and most) that without serious infrastructure changes, the program could fail. And with so many on bikes and foot, a safe east / west corridor in this part of town needs to be established (not just for bikes, but for everyone). Changes need to be made now and one way to point that out is to be seen riding this road and not avoid it.

 
Timur, a friend and bike advocate, has since moved to Portland to continue his law education. This post I wrote refers to a article of his that was published in the Union Tribune Newspaper last year. It was a strong message to the local and state decision makers that people on bikes want to feel safe when they ride and it’s everyone’s responsibility to make it happen. And to make it happen today—not tomorrow—not next week—not next year. Here is my article.

As I read Timur Endur’s excellent cycling advocacy article (Healthy Cities Equal Healthy People) in this Sunday’s newspaper, it brought a few things to mind. Like Timur and the SDCBC’s desire to bring better bike infrastructure to our local area, I am fully on-board. Bringing about changes to make riding easier and safer is a important cause and worth backing. That is one of the reasons my wife and I are members.

Still, I couldn’t help comparing this to waiting for a bus. The bus will come and eventually you will get where you’re going. The problem I see is, if you are waiting for the changes to be made before you climb on your bike, you will be stuck in one spot. In order to show the need for improvements, more bikes on the road will help highlight our push for a healthier and safer city.

As I ride I don’t dream about the way things could be, I deal with the way things are. It will be nice to see the changes come to us, but in the meantime, enjoying your ride for fun or transportation is the key. Work the roads and bike paths the way they are now, be as safe as you can and promote cycling with a good attitude. This will keep us on our bikes, draw more people onto theirs and show our community we are responsible and worthy of the changes we seek.

While I refuse to join in on the driver enraging Critical Mass, I have participated in all the recent memorial rides / protests. Showing our strength in numbers and legal ways can only help in getting our word out. Backing the many groups and individuals who stand for cycling infrastructure improvement with words, volunteering and donations are paramount. Still, the number one way of cycle advocacy is to actually mount and ride your bike.

So thanks to Timur and everyone like him. I applaud their efforts and plans for the future of safe cycling here and world-wide. More and more people will come to understand and embrace what cycling can do for their community. Today though, one more bike on the road can make a bigger difference than all the newspaper articles, so let’s go riding. Don’t wait for a bus that might not come. Turbo Bob.

 

Posted in General bike stories, Opinion | Leave a comment

Introduction to Electric Bicycles—May 15th, 2014—San Diego

E-Bike seminar flyer jpeg

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

IZIP E3 Path+—Like It? I Love It!

IZIP E3 Path+—Like It? I Love It!

What a beauty. Riding better than it looks is fully possible.

As the years go by I have been looking for the perfect E-bike. My needs and wants may different from the norm (if there is such a thing), yet in all the time I’ve been riding and testing them, I have a pretty good feel for what most want from their E-bike. What that boils down to is—a normal bike feel, a quality and dependable bike, an agile and light bike, and a motor control system that is easy to use that never abruptly goes when you don’t want it to.

 

 
The IZIP E3 Path+ meets all those requirements and more. Looking like a everyday commuter or college bike, the only things visible that tip off the E-bike thing are the larger rear hub (the motor) and the battery in the oversize rack. The upright seating is comfortable, giving you a good look at the road without neck strain. The controls are at hand, never requiring you to take your eyes from the road to use them (after some time on the bike). The way the controls work and make the motor respond is a top feature.

500 watts of the smoothest power in the E-bike work is tucked inside the back wheel.

I really liked last year’s Path, but more power and better control was it’s lacking mark. The factory knew this too so they upped their game with all the right refinements. The direct-drive motor (silent, by the way), has twice the wattage, the battery has twice the volts. 500 watts and 48 volts are the numbers. Yet this increase in available juice has not made the bike jumpy or unstable. Some expert programming has tamed the beast and you are the winner.

 

Let’s talk about the programming for a minute. Using what I believe to be a soft-start system, the acceleration is not as pronounced as other high-power E-bikes. That lends to your riding confidence in many ways. A surge of power at the wrong time (say turning or near an obstacle) can be a eye-opening experience on an E-bike. More than that it can even be dangerous or painful. Even though the speed might not ramp-up as quickly as others, the climbing grunt matches other direct-drive 48 volt E-bikes just fine.

Make sure to watch the video on how the control system works. See below for the link.

The dual-control (pedelec and half-twist hand throttle) can work together. That means you don’t have to toggle buttons to use one or the other. To use the throttle for more speed when in pedelec mode, all that is required is that you are pedaling. Many good E-bikes that have dual-control do not allow them to work together, something I rally against with many E-bike manufacturers. If you are in pedelec mode to cruise and you need to add more power in a hurry, you don’t have time to search for and press buttons.

 

To top of the sweet control system on the IZIP E3 Path+, you will find one more button. That is the cruise control. I love this, something rarely seen even on modern E-bikes. It can make the simplest ride more fun and locks into the speed you’ve chosen until you give a slight pull on one of the brake levers or work the throttle again. It can only be activated in throttle only mode, as it should. I posted a video on the use of the control system (see the link below). This bike has a large, versatile display unit too, something I think you will appreciate.

Chasing down the hills is more fun than ever when you ride a nice E-bike.

Now to the bike, more sweet stuff to talk about for sure. The aluminum frame comes in two sizes for the diamond model and one in the low-frame model (still very strong and diamond like). The geometry is mild, giving great steering and control. The lack of suspension adds to the agile and lightweight feel, but can be the slightest bit harsh at times. The 700c tires have a fairly large cross section to help with grooves and bumps in the road and smooth them out somewhat. Sealant goop in the tubes is always nice to see.

 

Fenders, kickstand, chain guard and rack are sometimes upgrades you need to purchase and install yourself, but not here. The large rack will hold much, and most of my rides found a great pair of BikeSmart saddle bags on-board. More modern pieces are found at each end of the Path+, stuff like an Ahead steering system and a cassette (as opposed to an old-school freewheel) at the rear wheel gear cluster. The grips are very ergo like and feel good. The saddle is another piece that normally gets up-graded right away, yet this one will satisfy almost every rider.

Big, powerful and ready to ride. 48 volts is yours for the taking.

Riding the Path+ is very natural. It screams everyday bicycle with each turn of the pedals. To me that means comfort, confidence and fun. The smooth ride is more than the control system, it is the whole package. The look is more than skin deep. This bike is bred and built to make your riding great. With the power system shut-down it rides like any other bike (something I always test for). Many E-bikes don’t ride very bike-like this way, between the components and the weight. On those you would be hard pressed to continue on without the power-assist in action.

 

 
If there is one thing holding it back (and there is just the one), that would be the lack of a lighting system. Currie Technologies has one that can be added as an option. The wires and switch are pre-installed already, so the up-grade is easy. I would fully recommend you go this route, yet I still add extra lighting to all of our bikes. The light switch does activate the display unit backlight, but having some built-in lighting would be king.

Smooth power and big brakes. Great combination.

To round out this post I want to mention the strong and smooth disc brakes at each end. Also the nice dual-button gear shifter on the bars. These both add to the riding high you will get each time at the controls. Each rim is held on with quick-release skewers, another nice touch. The handlebars have a great moustache type flow and give your hand position full ease to all the controls. Once again this adds to the natural feel you get every time you mount-up, whether for an epic ride, or a quick jump to the corner market.

 

Yes, I love the new IZIP E3 Path+. I think almost anyone would.

The world has been waiting for a great, powerful, safe and quality E-bike like this since the electric-assist bike came to being. I do feel this has been accomplished and you owe it to yourself to see if you feel the same as me.
Make mine smooth, Turbo Bob.

 

“The advantages? Exercise, no parking problems, gas prices, it’s fun. An automobile is expensive. You have to find a place to park and it’s not fun. So why not ride a bicycle? I recommend it.”—Stephen G. Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice when asked why he rides a bike.

Currie Technologies on the web and Facebook.

http://www.currietech.com/

https://www.facebook.com/currietech

Videos I’ve posted on this bike. The second one is all about using the control system.

 

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Electric Bikes in Santa Barbara—A Look at this Town’s Options

Electric Bikes in Santa Barbara—A Look at this Town’s Options.

 

 

Every year we get a shot of us on the pier with our bikes. The daytime ones come out better, yet this one with the LightMeUp Safety Lights helps to show just how much fun it is to ride at night in Santa Barbara

For many years now we make the trek to this sea-side wonder for our Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour. Normally it is us, two bikes and our gear on the Amtrak. On occasion we have had friends join us. This time we took the folding bikes in the car to enjoy our four day vacation of fun and sun. We also brought along a friend’s folding E-bike to have it fixed and up-dated by the factory personal in their new shop there.

 
There are so many great sights, places and riding opportunities for people on bikes to soak-in. We have our favorites and with each trip we find new ones. This long weekend was no different. I had decided ahead of time to add to our fun by checking out the local E-bike scene and all the shops there. With some on-line investigation I got our shop visits planned and organized. Here is how it all worked out.

 

 

We always stop at the Santa Barbara court house to get a 360 degree view overlooking the entire area.

Leaving home at a decent morning hour, we did a great job of missing the Orange County and Los Angeles rush hour traffic, so our drive was easy and fairly quick. In the trunk was our friend’s Busettii Mini to get dropped off at our first stop. In the back seat was the E-Brompton and Tern Link P9 we brought to tour the town on. Plus we expected on riding many of the shops bikes too, which we did. In among the bikes were our bags, cooler and the such. It wasn’t that tight of a fit for our little car.

 
First stop was the new Busettii shop on Olive St. Larry and his wife Victoria opened “We Bike Electric” (WBE) just recently and their main line are Busettii E-bikes. Alan, the man behind Busettii, was to be there to greet us and do the work on Steve’s bike, but was flu stricken. Even still we enjoyed seeing the shop and meeting the shop owners. We found out they were having a grand opening the next evening, so as we left we promised to be a part of it.

 
On to our motel, where we checked in and then broke out the folding bikes for a ride into town. The bike and walking path along the beach is wide and very comfortable. We enjoyed a great evening meal and wowed the locals with our bikes adorned with red, white and blue lights from LightMeUp Safety Lights. The area is well suited for bikes and we always enjoy our time in Santa Barbara.

 

 

Segway of Santa Barbara was one of our first stops. They offer the Prodecotech line of E-bikes.

In the morning our investigative tour shifted into high gear. Just across the highway from the beach is Segway of Santa Barbara. Jerry’s shop specializes in Segway tours, rentals and sales, yet they are a Prodecotech E-bike dealer. They had several on the floor, in addition to a A2B and a converted E-bike that belong to the owners. They only had one bike that was available for test riding, and seeing that I have ridden and done videos on may Prodecotech E-bikes, that was fine.

 
We hung out, met a couple of the tour guides, and got a general feel for Segway of Santa Barbara. Across the street is a cool surf shop and museum, so a quick peek was needed. We rode by the main bicycle rental places (there are two of this company‘s shops in town), and even though their website says they offer E-bikes to rent, they really don’t. That and we were treated poorly and got a rental bike from them years ago that had major problems, so we didn’t bother to stop and say hi.

 

 

Karen at E-bike Santa Barbara is set to give you and all your friends the best E-bike tour you may ever experience.

We rode much of the length of the water line and then turned to go into the far end of town. We went to the horse and buggy museum, but they we closed for renovations. So on to visit Karen at E-bike Santa Barbara. It is here where we had our biggest surprise and saw the future of E-bikes in this town. Karen has assembled an impressive fleet of nice E-bikes for group tours and rentals. She has two large trailers for getting the bikes to the tour locations and is quite organized.

 
We spent much time talking to her. She (personally) has reworked each bike with modern motors and batteries, and outfitted them with comfy saddles and everything they need for the best E-bike tours. Right now she has two tour choices (Ojai and the Santa Barbara Mission) with more to come. She can accommodate very large groups and we could tell that she makes sure each person has the best of experiences. We are going to take one soon and I will do a full report on just how great it is.

 

 

We were impressed with everything going on at the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. Check the video link for the whole look at their facility.

From there we rode around town, shot some videos of regular bike shops and went to the top of the court house for the 360 degree view of the whole area. Then we stopped by the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. They have a great location and a great mission. Check out their website, FB page and the video I shot there. Fantastic job from this group, we love it.

 

Just down the street is Ooty’s Scooters. They are mostly a scooter shop but offer Prodecotech E-bikes. The crew there was interesting and we got much info on the local scene for E-bikes and scooters. Once again, check the video for a look at the shop.

 

 

This is just one of Bill Atkins great pieces. He and his wife have hundreds (maybe thousands), but I thought this was of the most interest to you.

We did some other stuff as our Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour continued, including stopping at Bill Atkins studio. He is our favorite local artist and it is a mush see location for any visitors to this town. Bill calls his work “junk art”, but don’t believe it, it is just awesome. He and his wife are incredibly creative and you could spend a whole day enjoying their pieces. Their studio isn’t necessarily open to the public, yet they welcome you in if the time is right.

 
From there we went back over to WBE to check on the grand opening preparations. Barbara was happy to help Victoria with the sandwiches and other food for the party. A guy with a local winery was setting up for the wine tasting too. While that was going on I mounted-up a few bikes from their sales floor for rides and videos. Then we headed back to the motel to freshen up and get dressed for the cooler evening air.

 

 

We were lucky to come to town to be part of the grand opening evening at WBE (We Bike Electric).

We rode back to WBE (We Bike Electric) and met many locals, and talked food, wine and E-bikes. I still have yet to meet Alan. He said he would do the work to Steve’s Busetti and bring it back to San Diego during some work errands here. It is almost two weeks later and he has yet to bring it, but has messaged me to say it will happen soon. I should be able to post a video of Steve’s Busettii Mini in its fully repaired and up-dated form soon.

 
The grand opening party wound down and a tired couple pedaled back to their motel, only to watch old Indiana Jones movies till the late hours. A slightly cloudy morning dawned, finding us with big plans to share a POG (Pedego Owner’s Group) ride with Pedego Santa Barbara. Before that we managed to do a couple other fun things. One was a stop at the new Art Foundry to get a tour and see their artwork on display.

 
The foundry tour was eye opening, seeing us get the full rundown on how each piece is created and made. It was hard to break away, yet a schedule was set. Next stop was at REI to see the Currie Technologies E-bikes there. They only had a few and the sales people knew little about them. Still, they are available for test rides. They had last year’s models on the floor. REI doesn’t push them much and it would have been nice to see more IZIP and eFlow E-bikes in the local shops.

 

 

Another great Pedego shop is in Santa Barbara. This is maybe one of the nicest. Right near the water and ready to serve you.

Finally we arrived to hang with Bob and his son Reed at Pedego Santa Barbara. They had a big day going with the BBQ fired up, cold drinks and other activities. You may know that we go to many Pedego shops, so when I say this is one of the nicest we’ve visited, I think you can believe me. During our several hours there, it was amazing how many stopped in to learn more about E-bikes. And many of those climbed aboard to get their first E-bike thrill.

 
The selection of bikes and colors is great. The accessories sections were over-filled with the coolest items. The shop is a perfectly restored auto repair shop, right in the middle of town, very close to the beach. They really do well with rentals, as Santa Barbara is a fantastic place for E-bikes. The town grades-up slightly as you pedal away from the beach, but as you get near and past the mission it gets a lot steeper. We love going to the Botanical Center, and when we’ve done it on non E-bikes it is a real chore. The town is really bike friendly too.

 

 

Karey, Bob, Barbara and I were the whole POG ride. Still it was one of the best ever.

Bob planned a POG ride for the day. I found out something I already knew this day, Howard at Pedego Dana Point is Bob’s brother. We had a great day and POG ride at the Pedego Dana Point grand opening last year. The POG ride this day was not as big in numbers, but was just as big in the fun we had. We met two new friends during the ride. Bob and Karey, newly transplanted locals were our tour guides for the ride. Yes it was just the four of us, but in some ways it made it so much better.

 
Barbara was set-up with a yellow low-framed Pedego Comfort Cruiser from their rental fleet. They had so many rentals out that day I ended up on a brand-new Interceptor (last year’s model) that was custom converted into a Urban Commuter, a dealer custom. Karey was on her white City Commuter while Bob rode his non E-powered road bike. As we headed out, Pedego Santa Barbara shot a interview video with me as the star.

 

 

Cruising the beauty of Santa Barbara is what we did for four days. On this day we were on a couple E-bikes from Pedego Santa Barbara.

We rode up the coast route and then into Hope Ranch. I especially liked this because with all our trips there we had never done this area. Beautiful scenery was ours as the swooping roads rose to give us some great views of the beaches and hills. Interesting conversation melted into the ride and we really bonded with our new riding friends. We will see them here in San Diego soon. Such is the way with bikes, E-bikes even more so.

 
It seemed the ride and day ended too quickly. We did hit a couple more bike shops for videos during the ride and had an awesome dinner with our red, white and blue lit folding bikes parked on the sidewalk just on the other side of the window from our table. Leaving the lights on while we dined, it was fun to see just how many people stopped to have a look. The LightMeUp Safety Lights helped make our tour more comfortable and fun.

 
Before we left town the next day, we rode down to the beach to see the weekly art sale along the water. Many locals set-up there on Sunday with a wide variety of home-brewed art to drool over. The line-up of people and booths must be at least a mile long. Soon the car was packed and off we went. It was a long, fun trip.

 
On the way home we talked about all that we did. We visited many E-bike shops, yet there were three that had just closed recently that helped make way for these new ones (I guess). One belonged to a Facebook friend who has been having health problems. That makes me sad, but it was good to see that Santa Barbara has a strong E-bike culture going on.

 

 

This part of what we went to Santa Barbara to see—people on E-bikes and the shops that sell, rent and service them.

One other thing that bothered me was how few E-bikes we actually saw out during our riding. Sure we saw many, just not as many as I expected. What we did see (like every trip we take there with our bikes) was a lot of people on bikes. This town is very bike friendly and filled with people who love to get out on two wheels. Whether used as transportation or fun, Santa Barbara is a true bike destination. We didn’t get to do our ride to and from Goleta either, one of my favorite parts of our annual tour, too busy I guess.

 
Until next year (or sooner, as we want to do an E-bike tour with E-bike Santa Barbara), our Annual Santa Barbara Bicycle Tour is in the books (and cameras). Check it out for yourself, Turbo Bob.

 
“ Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.”—Eddy Merckz.

Links to the places we visited and the videos I took—In the order they appear in this article.   There are many more videos of our trip on my You-Tube page.

Segway of Santa Barbara

http://www.segwayofsb.com/

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

E-bike Santa Barbara

http://ebikesantabarbara.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/E-Bike-Santa-Barbara/280923008725098

Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition

http://bicicentro.org/

https://www.facebook.com/sbbikes

Ooty’s Scooters

http://www.ootyscooters.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ootys-Scooters/170338076339477

WBE (We Bike Electric)

http://webikeelectric.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/We-Bike-Electric/734074749937796

REI—-Currie Technologies E-bikes

http://www.rei.com/stores/santa-barbara.html

http://www.currietech.com/

https://www.facebook.com/currietech

Pedego Santa Barbara

http://pedegosb.com/

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

LightMeUp Safety Lights

http://www.lightmeupsafetylights.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LightmeupSafetyLights

Posted in Bike Shops, E-bike general interest, General bike stories, Out-of-town bike rides | 2 Comments

Virtue Encore 5M & 5F—Touring with a Time Machine

Virtue Encore 5M & 5F—Touring with a Time Machine.

Riding a bike is not all about looks, yet it never hurts to be on one that looks great.

Looking very much turn-of-the-century, but riding with all the modern touches seem to be what Virtue is all about. We got this pair of Virtue Encore 5-speeds to ride and felt very old-fashioned with every turn of the pedals. It’s a shame our yearly Tweed Ride is only in December because these two bikes would fit in perfectly. Still, some fun rides were in order, so away we went.

 
These bikes are light as a feather and ride great. The 5-speed hubs are shifted with a decidedly dated looking lever, yet are fully indexed. The drum brakes are activated with alloys levers that buck the modern trends. The saddles and grips look and feel comfy, but round out the style these bikes convey. What a fun and cool package Virtue has put together for your riding pleasure.

 

 

The low-frame model is just as classy.

The looks of the Encore speak to me in a serious way. I love my old college and vintage bikes, but they aren’t new, shiny and filled with today’s goodies. Each of these two bikes are identical, except for the frame style and size. If your family is like mine, then having a matching pair of bikes that fit each of us is king. That is just one more big plus we got during this test cycle on the Virtue Encore 5M & 5F. Riding together is important, and doing it in a classy way makes it better.

 

The Chromoly frame and forks seem strong and light, providing a good feel and low overall weight. They are both stickered with “California, USA“, making me think they are American made. Most every other component is alloy or rubber, adding to the sporty ride they offer. Outfitted with fenders, a chain guard, bell and kickstand, the only thing missing is a rack. You can find those, and baskets too on the Virtue website store.

5 easy speeds are all you really need.

Sturmey Archer was the go to company for the front and rear hubs. The appearance of these pieces is clean, yet it is the way they work that make them desirable. Geared rear hubs have been around for years, working well without extra stuff hanging and sticking out from your bike. I found the gearing fit my riding needs and the shifting easy. A quality geared hub is hard to fault, and that’s the way I feel about this one on the Encore.

 
Integrated with the hubs are cool looking drum brakes. All shiny in alloy, the brakes and their fittings match the look Virtue is putting forth on the 5M and 5F. They appear easy to adjust and maintain, but I think the brake pads will last many times longer than any modern V-brake or disc brake pad. Don’t expect them to have the braking power of a downhill hydraulic disc brake set-up, but I can tell you from experience they are easily at least twice as strong as any of the brakes on my 50’s and 60’s vintage bikes.

Eye candy that works for you.

Stainless steel spokes and brass nipples connect the hubs to a pair of alloy rims. Wrapped on those are some cream colored Kenda tires, once again looking very much the part for the 1800 and 1900’s. You keep the tires inflated through Presta valve stems, not my favorite. Yet they are well proven and most any decent bike pump can handle them with no issues. Filling adaptors are cheap if you need one.

 

Getting a grip on the steering will continue to move you back in time. The flow and curve of the handlebars is sweet. Of course they too are alloy in a awesome silver finish. The view from the saddle is quite satisfying as you work the bike paths and side streets. I liked the feel of the brake levers. The bell and shifter are at hand, while you steer with a sharp looking pair of brown leatherette grips. The matching saddle won’t be needing a replacement, something that is usually the first thing to get up-graded on most every new bike.

Virtue bikes have caught my eye.

Riding a steel bike is my kind of thrill. All these new frame materials just don’t cut it for me. Some are just too stiff, some are just too breakable. Steel is real, a saying you hear from people in the know, is not just a saying. Even though Chromoly isn’t the same stuff they made bikes with in the old days, it’s about as close as it gets nowadays. That and it is a whole bunch lighter and stronger. It aids the ride quality, just like the gentle frame geometry on the Virtue Encore does. If you want to race, shop elsewhere—if you want to ride, you are looking at a nice steed.

 

Speaking of shopping and looking, check out the selection of bikes that Virtue offers on their website. If you think this bike is filled with the looks you like, you might find some of their other bikes catch your eye that much more. Virtue has something going and it just might be the bike company for you. They are a local San Diego company with many retail locations here, and nation-wide.

The command center is ready for your next ride.

We sure had fun riding back into the past on these Encores. I know if I was in the market for something like this, they would be high on my want list. With 5-speeds and classic looks, they are hard to beat. Try one out to see if it matches your idea of riding style.

 
Thanks to Virtue for a pair of two-wheeled time machines, we loved it. Turbo Bob.

 
“You know, bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance,” I said. “it’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life.” Susan Vreeland, Clara and Mr. Tiffany.

Look for Virtue on the web and Facebook

http://www.virtuebike.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VirtueBike

Check out these two videos for a closer look

http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?index=1&title=3—Bike+Reviews&more_url=&feature=c4-overview&video_ids=LXbev49y_Dc%2C40LQy62nHwc%2CcY6t5dyhj6A%2C0TjssJifX64%2C_ljVjFkii8w%2C6tjBssuTmVw%2C39UAspSELBc%2ChcROJjaHZIE%2Cs8RfFSZYmd0%2Ckk1hB4PPI9c%2C-mIfTKAKnVo%2CB6Q0j6acy3E&type=0

http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?video_ids=LXbev49y_Dc%2C40LQy62nHwc%2CcY6t5dyhj6A%2C0TjssJifX64%2C_ljVjFkii8w%2C6tjBssuTmVw%2C39UAspSELBc%2ChcROJjaHZIE%2Cs8RfFSZYmd0%2Ckk1hB4PPI9c%2C-mIfTKAKnVo%2CB6Q0j6acy3E&more_url=&title=3—Bike+Reviews&type=0&feature=c4-overview

Posted in Bike test reviews | 1 Comment

e-Joe EPIK SE and EPIK Lite—Paired Convenience

e-Joe EPIK SE and EPIK Lite—Paired Convenience.

With both bikes in the frame you can get a feel for the basic differences they have.

You’ve seen the e-Joe EPIK Lite on my pages before.   This single speed lightweight folding electric bike was included in a post on how folding E-bikes can help your lifestyle.   That bike was a pre-production machine that I got to spend a couple weeks with.   At the time it was just called the EPIK, but the promise of a multi-speed version was already on the books.   With the introduction of the 7-speed SE, that bike (the single-speed) was renamed the Lite.

Nothing like a front suspension to smooth out the rough stuff.

From a glance you might think these two bikes are identical with the exception of the drivetrain.   With a closer look and some time in the saddles, you will see and feel much more.   First up are the different frames.   The SE model has a higher capacity battery that requires more internal space to house it.   Both bikes share a 36 volt system and controls for the motor, yet the Lite has a 7Ah battery and the SE sports 9Ah.

 
Also on board of both bikes is a 350 watt rear hub geared motor.   As you might know I think this size motor is ideal for most riders.   The motor is smooth, quiet and has all the power you should need for everything but the steepest of hills.    I am fully pleased with the new programming of the control system.   It gives you the easy option of using the three stage pedal-assist, the thumb throttle, or both.   You will find the thumb throttle on different sides on each bike, but other than that they work the same—very good.

The SE is decked out with a strong and smooth front suspension fork.   It comes with a 7-speed rear derailleur drivetrain that changes gears from the twist shifter on the handlebars.   I suggested to e-Joe that a slightly higher gear ratio would be optimum, and was told that it is already in the works.   I too mentioned that having disc brakes on both ends (right now there is just one on the rear) would round out the balanced looks people want.   Not a performance, issue as I found the braking on both bikes to be just fine.   That too will be seen on future models of the EPIK SE.

In this view of the EPIK SE folded, you can see how small the package becomes.
You can also see the in-frame electrical connections.

Part of the draw of both these bikes, beyond the folding factor, is the low numbers when put on a scale.   Advertised at 37 lbs for the Lite and 42 for the SE, you can feel it in the agile ride.   Loading and moving the bikes brings these numbers to the forefront even better.   Add to that the cool carry handle built into the frames, then you find the convenience these folding E-bikes offer even more enticing.   Those handles were really appreciated on one ride we did where we had to carry the bikes up and down a bunch of steps on a canyon bridge approach.

 
The battery and electronics are fully enclosed in the aluminum frame work.   The electric connections are automatic when you unfold the bike.   This makes for a cleaner look and maximum battery security.   The bikes both fold easy, and down to a fairly small size.   Fold-over pedals help this and I had no problem getting both bikes into our econo-car for some fun rides by the water.   The handlebar height is adjustable, as well as the saddle height.

Can’t get that with satellite—What!!!!
I know it’s a phrase from a silly TV commercial, but it seems to fit this photo of a first time E-bike rider. Look at that smile.

Breaking away from what seems the norm of narrow and hard, are a pair of saddles that hug your buns.   None of that numbing race pain was found while riding either of these folding E-bikes.   You get a nice seating position for most any size body, something that was appreciated by each person who tried them out.   The semi-ergo grips are comfy, as are all aspects of these EPIKs.   The controls are close at hand too, making all the cockpit features come together for some fun riding and big smiles.

Flat-resistant quality Kenda tires are mounted to some double-walled alloy rims.   Big spokes and a solid feel give you the confidence to keep riding mile after mile.   Said to give a 30 mile range on each battery charge, both of these E-bikes got plenty of road miles during my couple weeks with them.   At some group rides I was able to let many take the reins to see what folding E-bikes are all about.   Plenty of questions and smiles reinforced what I’ve heard about the brisk sales e-Joe is having with these two models.

We really enjoyed our time with the e-Joe EPIK, both of them.

Both bikes come with fenders and rear racks.   My test EPIK SE didn’t come with them mounted, and the fenders I see on the e-Joe website are a little different from the ones on the Lite.   The EPIK Lite also comes with a front and rear battery powered LED light set.   The rear doesn’t blink (as many countries don’t allow that), and for our  more ambitious night rides we added our own lights to supplement the included lighting.

The e-Joe EPIK SE has some great lines and features.

It is nice to see these models with the extra powerful brushless motors.   To expand on the control system use, I want to point out how they work.   With three buttons on the control head, one is for powering up and down the system.   One chooses your level of three for the automatic pedelec power.   The third gives you the choice of using just the hand throttle, or just the pedelec, or both together.   This allows you great control and ease of riding.   The buttons are close at hand and using them without taking your eyes of the road or hands off the grips became second nature.   Great to see e-Joe doing it the way I like.

We had some fun with the two EPIKs. Riding with the LightMeUp Safety Lights doubled our already doubled fun.
I posted this photo in last weeks article too.
Make sure to check it out.

So as the EPIK line up continues to evolve in the best of ways, I am sure that most anybody would embrace the fun and utility they offer.   Although the color palate has dimmed just slightly since they were first introduced, the SE I rode looks great in frosty white (with a metallic touch) and the Lite was in titanium grey.   Both can be had in matte black, while the Lite is still available in that awesome British racing green.   All stand-outs in any pack of E-bikes.

 
Get on the train to the future with a folding E-bike, Turbo Bob.

“…he put his foot on one pedal, scooted a few yards and swung his other leg over the saddle. He soared left into the vertiginously sloping hillside road and sped, without touching his brakes …
The hedgerows and sky blurred; he imagined himself in a velodrome as the wind whipped his hair clean.”—J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy.

e-Joe on the web and Facebook

http://ejoebike.com/

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

Videos of the two bikes and one with the LightMeUp Safety Lights on board.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6ii3kG69Ys&list=TL8V9UH2_S1VqbRWUbAazdZuJ1d_MwW_r1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ9VzLu8wvg&list=TL8V9UH2_S1VqbRWUbAazdZuJ1d_MwW_r1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9KOSl8kBSk&list=TL8V9UH2_S1VqbRWUbAazdZuJ1d_MwW_r1

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

LightMeUp Safety Lights—Low-Buck Fun with Benefits

LightMeUp Safety Lights—Low-Buck Fun with Benefits.

On this e-Joe EPIK SE the LightMeUp Safety Lights really bring out the cool lines of the bike. E-bikes and bright lights go hand-in-hand.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how does that relate to a video?   Still with these photos and a couple video links at the bottom of this post, I think I’ll still punch out a thousand words to tell you all about these great safety lights.   I also used another overdone saying for the title, some days are just like that.   If you want, just gaze at the pics and check out the videos.   Or you can read along, your choice.

The first video gives a comprehensive run-down on the LightMeUp Safety Lights and how to install them.   Even though that pretty much tells the whole story, I do have some additional insights to offer.   Yes these LightMeUp lights are inexpensive and easy to install, this much I know is true.   More than that, the benefits are large and more than worth the price of admission.

You can get a look at the install here. They tuck out of the way and are ready for use when the sun goes down.

I had seen these lights around town on occasion, but until recently I didn’t know much about them.   As you know, bicycle lighting is getting cooler and better all the time.   There are other wheel lights on the market, yet these are the simplest, lowest cost and really do the job well.   The heart of the system is a battery pack holding three AA batteries (included) and the soul is the ultra bright LEDs.

 
I met Marisa at a bike event here in town.   She was busy adding a set of these lights to a nice Electra bike that a friend of ours owns.   I had heard these LightMeUp Safety Lights were going to be available at our Coalition’s Holiday Joy Ride a month earlier, and had considered getting some then.   But Barbara and I were so busy having a great ride and enjoying the festivities that we forgot all about checking out the lights that night.   So I was so glad to see Marisa at the event this evening.

We rode these Dahons on several night group rides. Great fun and peace of mind was ours.

Part of the cool factor with these, is if you get them direct from Marisa, she (or one of her crew) will do the install for no additional fee (and do it quick too).   She likes to do bike parties and light up a bunch of bikes at one time.   I’ve seen the video of one (on her website) and it looked like a blast.   What a fun way to spend a evening with friends and bikes.   Check it out and see if you agree.

What makes these lights different from others is easy to see as you do the install.   The very small, but bright, LEDs are kind of molded onto a very fine pair of insulated wires.   The wire is tough and its firmness holds the lights to your bike spokes nicely.   The battery pack zip ties to the spokes and has a on / off switch built-in.   They come with enough wire and lights to encircle a wheel up to 29 inches.   If you have smaller wheels, you might be able to go around twice for even a brighter appearance.

 

Tucked in the MJ’s Cyclery shop for the grand opening, the Dahon Mu SL and Formula S18 stood out in a crowd.

They can also go on your frame, handlebars or just about anywhere.   In fact they would be great for tons of non-bike reasons and things.   They come in a wide variety of colors, some that blink too.   The last two sets I got are even cooler, one having ‘dancing’ lights (those you have got to see) and the others change colors.   With any luck I will upload a video of those before I post this article.   If not you can find it on my You-Tube channel soon.

If you follow me here then you probably know that most all our bike stuff comes in pairs at my household.   So far I have the blue lights wheel lights on our two 6 year-old commuting E-bikes.   I put the dancing and light changing color ones on our beach cruisers.   I also got two sets of red, white and blue lights that have been on two different pairs of test folding bikes so far.   Those ones will see many bikes in the coming months.   The white lights fit on the frame to really highlight the entire bike.

Now our two beach cruisers have the ‘dancing’ lights and ones that change colors. Check out the video for the full effect.

On the folding bikes I left a small extra bit of the wire hanging at the frame folding point so as to not interfere with the folding mechanism.   I also used some extra zip ties to keep the wire secure at those places.   It really works nicely and gave the bikes an extra flair having the frames lit too.   The battery box tucked in easily on the frame under the seat and the power switch is fully accessible.   The smaller wheels needed a little extra TLC to get the battery box mounted firmly, but the lights were able to go around the wheels an extra time for plenty of effect.

 
On my own bikes I did add some small zip ties on every other spoke to make sure the wire and lights wouldn’t move about or slide towards the hub.   That probably wasn’t necessary, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.   I just wanted to make a solid and long lasting installation as our bikes get ridden a lot.   I mentioned above the light set comes with the batteries (good for about 40 hours of light), but didn’t note that they also come with the zip ties to mount the battery box.

With a spin of the wheel and a slow shutter speed, you can get a feel of the action these lights emit.

Enough of that, lets talk about the effects.   Not only are they neat to look at (by you when riding and by any one watching you go by), but they really make sure you are seen by any and all in the near-by vicinity.   Every time we ride at night people are yelling out stuff like, ’cool’—‘where did you get them’—and just hooting and hollering in general.   I know the drivers can see them well from all angles, and this is really what we are going for anyway.

If you are here in San Diego you can get in touch with Marisa for a set and install.   You can also order them from her website.   She has a couple other lighting products you can see there.   These LightMeUp Safety Lights don’t cost much so you can put as many sets on your bike as you want.   You can add spiral patterns and other effects to your hearts’ desire.   They are just plain fun, with the important benefit of increased safely.   What more could you want?

Thanks for LightingMeUp Marisa, Turbo Bob.

“You’ll feel me coming
A new vibration
From afar you’ll see me
I’m a sensation, I’m a sensation.”—Lyrics from ‘Sensation‘, from the Rock Opera Tommy, by the Who.

LightMeUp Safety Lights on the web and Facebook

http://www.lightmeupsafetylights.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LightmeupSafetyLights

This first video I took shows Marisa doing an install with tips you can use and info about the lights

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05REMDcBRrw&list=TLpDHjkBRrpCXbMABBjJQej1jPQfCW93Ux

I took too many videos of the lights in action, possibly because they are just so cool. Here are all the ones I have so far, with more to come I’m sure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmTprQJ_kO8&list=TLQbk1VTTYqsbyJ1jA63Kk9hLrnVm9Hkf5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3TfFCOQmiw&list=TLkRyV47dSI5t4g4zdLvehrwgSIL7t2_M3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWcw10iv5-I&list=TLHu6d7OZi9lS8S-TRQEXSp1SRQCNsi0e-

Posted in Bike accessories, General bike stories, My Bikes, Our eZip E-bikes | Leave a comment