Flaunt Vicko Electric Bike—Making the Grade

Flaunt Vicko Electric Bike—Making the Grade.

Just a solid, good riding everyday bike. That’s what most want I would think.

Today’s title on the Vicko from Flaunt has two meanings. Of course part of the reason you ride an E-bike is to make it up the rises (grades) in the road easily. The Vicko has this covered just fine. I guess too that I am in the grading business (if you want to call it that). On most every level of judging I give this new electric bike a “A”. Also, in the category of not being radially over-priced or having a bunch of stuff and features nobody needs, it gets an “A” there too.

The crowd-funding world is on a big spike nowadays. Right now that is where you can find the Vicko (and their other model the Atticus). They won’t be there forever, but if you follow them there you can get on the Flaunt bandwagon at a reduced price. I try not to let the cost rule my opinions of the bikes, yet it is important to figure that into the equation a bit as I ride and report on cool E-bikes. All cost matters aside, I had a great time riding this Vicko and found it to be a quality and solid mount.

7 speeds, 500 watts, disc brakes.

It isn’t lacking power and features, as that 500 watt geared motor and extra range lithium battery make a good team for the long rides. The saddle and cockpit position are on the same page, keeping me comfortable and smiling as the miles rolled by at maybe 18 mph. It does top out at close to 22, yet I cruise a little slower, keeping me happy and letting the bike battery max out the distances between recharges. I like saving some extra juice for the steeper hills and the last couple miles of a ride.

So we are talking 36 volts and 15.6 Ah of power swirling inside the rack mounted battery. That is a bit more that what might be considered the standard, and who doesn’t like that? The dual-control system that runs the motor also has some features that most E-bikes can’t boast about. One is the fully overriding throttle and the other is the adjustable soft-start circuitry. They call it power control, but what it really does is smooth out the jolt as the power comes on, while letting the battery save some power. You can chose one of three settings very easily. Watch my climbing video for a better description of both of these pluses.

An ok front fork and disc brakes lead the way.

When it comes to the total feel of what this E-bike does, I was impressed. Nothing really special so to speak, just a solid feel with most everything you are going to need from your E-bike. Each component does its job, seems quality enough, and gets you down the road with confidence. You can get E-bikes with every best piece imaginable, yet having an everyday decent bike that most can afford is my goal, and I would think the goal of most every bike rider you will meet.

So, Flaunt has this bike and their diamond framed bike, the Atticus. This one comes in 3 different colors. The other has a 4 color choice. Each can come with cool street tires or some rugged off-road meats. Both bikes are outfitted very much the same, including factory bright lights, kickstand, bell, rear rack, and what might be considered a chain guard. I am seeing the only real option not included but needed (for me at least) is a pair of plastic fenders. They don’t come with the bike, yet are inexpensive and easy to install.

This is the way the Flaunt Vicko arrived. It was up and riding in no time at all.

On the subject of installing, this bike will come to you in a box and need to be assembled. The day may come where you can go to the local E-bike shop and get it ready to ride, but that day isn’t today. Luckily, it is a breeze to put together. Just 2 bolts for the handle bars, 1 quick-release skewer for the front wheel and 2 pedals are the whole story. I did need to make one adjustment, yet I found everything else to be fully tightened and adjusted. Most bikes that come to me in a box need so much more. I actually enjoy the assembly, doing the adjustments and the long term maintenance. If you don’t or can’t, make sure to find a person you trust to build it and maintain it.

Bright lighting is part of the package.

There is much to love with this Vicko. I try not to go on and on about each bit and piece. I suggest you watch the three videos I posted to get some more details and insights. Their sales site has plenty of the specifications if you want to dive in deeper. Stuff like 7 speeds, aluminum frame, how the tail light works as a brake light (when the lights are off), and stuff like that. During the campaign (a few more days) they have specials, if you want a second battery or even a pair of bikes. Even when that is over, it seems they will be at a decent buy-in rate.

I sometimes mention it during review (not always though), that one of my criteria on any bike is my own personal interest level. Sure, all the bikes are usually fun and all that, but how much do they really catch my eye? Is a given bike something I would ride past the test period? Would I actually consider buying one for myself? You know—would I really want one? This basic question burns with each mile on any bike, I am sure you feel it when riding a friend’s bike or a shop’s floor model.

Your information center.

The answer to this question on today’s test bike is a solid yes. It has all I am looking for, rides great, all the power and speed I need, and in general is a decent E-bike. I do like the fact they didn’t go overboard with weird body work or extra stuff nobody needs. It looks like a regular bike and that is the way I like them. The people behind the bike seem sincere in their desire for a great product, and they aren’t some big heartless mega firm either.

I just want to ride, and the Vicko lets me do that, Turbo Bob.

“You’re only one bike ride away from a good mood.”—Basic bike quote.

Check them out on their site or Facebook.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flaunt-electric-bicycle-bike#/

Here are the 3 videos I added to my You-Tube site about the Vicko.

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Electric Bike World Record Ride—Ravi on his Stromer

Electric Bike World Record Ride—Ravi on his Stromer.

Something different today. I normally write a full post of my activities, or a review on a bike or product. Here I want to tell you of a unique individual you can follow as he makes a cross-country journey on a Stromer E-bike. There will be some fun here in San Diego when he completes his ride. Ravi is about half way through this adventure, so it isn’t too late to get on the bandwagon to root him on.

So you know, this isn’t the first time he has worked on making history. If my memory is correct, he did something like 300 miles in 24 hours last year.

His name is Ravindra Kempaiah and he is being sponsored by Crazy Lenny’s E-bikes (among others). Crazy Lenny’s Facebook page is the place to get all the info and updates. Look for the link below.
You may know I led a world record E-bike ride in So Cal recently. It was over 300 people on E-bikes listed as a E-bike parade. We did 12 miles. Ravi is doing over 5000. This is a big deal and worth checking out.

Good luck Ravi—see you at the finish line, Turbo.

http://www.channel3000.com/madison-magazine/opinions/cyclist-on-quest-to-log-5000-miles-on-electric-bike/40771612

https://www.facebook.com/LensElectricBikes/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf&qsefr=1

 

Posted in E-bike general interest | 1 Comment

Chatham E-bike by Fifield—American Gem

Chatham E-bike by Fifield—American Gem.

As you read my review, you will see that good looks are just a part of what the Chatham delivers.

When I first reviewed the Jetty by Fifield, I was taken by the online images of their flagship electric bike, the Chatham. With an in-house created chrome moly frame, a belt-drive matched to a mid-drive motor, and some sweet looks, its style and technical advancements had me dreaming of a long fun ride with all it offers. That time has come (and is still happening). There is so much to gush about on this E-bike, but I will try to get it all in this one post.

I guess I’ll start with the looks and the feel. I am all about upright roadster type bikes (I call them college bikes). They match my needs more than any low-bar road bike, cruiser or mountain bike. When it comes to classy bikes through the decades, this is the style that pops in most everyone’s mind. I am so over E-bikes that look clunky and those with lots of extra clumsy body work. I like those that look like bikes, just like this Chatham. Even though it does have an English theme going, this baby is all American.

Not your dream color?—Then just chose one that is.

Sure you will find some pieces from other countries, like the 11 speed rear geared hub, but the heart and soul comes from American minds and hands. Many of the pieces are local too, like those fantastic hammered French style aluminum fenders and the leather saddle from Velo Orange. So many of the individual parts on this bike speak quality and ooze a fit and finish that is hard to find in the E-bike world (regular bike world too). Fifield has some cool colors on the books, yet this one is in a custom painted green. From what I hear, yours can be any fantastic color you can dream up.

Riding the bike is a special treat. Smooth and sleek, you can feel the combination of great components with each push on the pedals. Knowing it looks incredible can make your ride more fun, yet with eyes forward you can still absorb the stand-out appearance of the Chatham. Even though it might have the look of 40’s Europe, all the modern tech brings you into today’s era. Strong (yet not too strong) hydraulic disc brakes slow you with nary a care, while the CenterTrack belt drive calmly gets you back up to speed.

Have hills to climb? Then you want one of these.

The mid-drive motor adds electric assist when you are ready, but this lightweight gem glides so easily, you don’t have to lean on it much. Although the specs show it as a 400 watt unit, I think (judging by the power and max watt readout on the display) it is really more like a 250 or 300 watt power plant. Not to worry though, as most commercial mid-drives are rated the same and unless you are a speed demon, this beauty will get you all the climbing and motive power you desire.

You probably know that the mid-drive runs its power through the drivetrain, allowing the bikes gearing to give flexibility to the motor’s torque and horsepower. So for a given amount of power, it is increased in pull or speed depending on the gear ratio used at any given time. It does require more attention to being in the correct gear at the correct time (as opposed to a hub-motored E-bike). Also, it is important not to shift under power, although the geared hub won’t change gears until the power of the motor is reduced or stopped.

Belts are the future of bikes. Or the present, if you ride a Fifield Chatham.

I have to admit I found that 11 gears is more than this E-bike needs. Most every time I changed 2 gears at a time (whether shifting up or down). When not using the assist, the extra gears were helpful, yet under power not really needed. The thumb shifter works great and has an indicator to tell you which gear is selected. The belt-drive is sleek, clean, maintenance-free, and quiet as can be. I do expect as the years flow, we will be seeing belts on more and more bikes. For now, enjoy what it has to offer on this high-end E-bike from Fifield.

What a sweet sight.

This is a dual control E-bike, meaning you can get the electric-assist (in 5 levels) automatically when you pedal, or by use of the thumb throttle (mounted on the left side of the bars). I did suggest to them a minor programming change (that should be on their bikes by now, I hope), that allows the throttle to give full power regardless of the assist level chosen. This bike limits that power to the level the display is set to, when you add full throttle. I like it to be able to get full juice from the throttle no matter what, in intersections and when the need for some extra scoot arises. Sometimes you don’t have time to toggle the switches, so I think this change will be a good one.

You may have seen my recent article on how much I like the saddle they have chosen to spec on the Chatham. Comfort goes a long way to increasing the enjoyment of a bike ride, so with a bike this nice, having the right saddle is important. I think Fifield used this thinking as they picked out all the pieces that make up the Chatham, as nowhere is to be seen a junky or sour looking part of the bike. Just check out that wonderful chain guard if you are wondering what I mean.

I figure this front hub dynamo is to power the optional lighting package listed on the Fifield website.

I can pretty much guarantee you won’t see any basic penny-counters riding a Chatham. When you compile such nice pieces and wrap them up in a custom in-house frame, you are bound to jump to a higher price point. This is a special E-bike for discerning riders. With all its high-tech features and smooth riding qualities, I do think many who wanted to lowball their way into E-biking, will reconsider and move up the ladder to this sleek and fancy machine. There is so much here to love, even as you look past the glowing beauty, you will find a ride that is hard to equal.

I should have written this review much sooner, but I have been enjoying riding the Chatham so much, time seemed to fly. It was kind of their mistake though, as since they are on the opposite side of the country from me, they shipped me the bike for this extended test. Many times my reviews come from as little as 4 hours with a E-bike, some from a couple days to a week. When I can have a bike this long (well over a month by now), I really get the whole effect, and my reviews mirror that (good or bad). It has been my go-to bike for all that time, and giving it up will be tough. It will happen soon, yet for now I am still turning the pedals.

What a great ride its been.

There just isn’t one angle to view this bike from that doesn’t please, no matter if you are in the saddle or on the sidelines. It might push your plastic a little harder than some to get one in your driveway, yet remember that saying about the cake. This baby is as sweet as can be, and is worth every indulgence you might need to sacrifice to hop on board. Oh my, sweet Chatham, you will want a second helping of this American goodness at every opportunity.

Why wait? Get what makes you happy, Turbo Bob.

“Have fun, be active. Ride a bike instead of driving a car, for example”.—Dan Buettner.

You can find Fifield on their website—and of course they have a Facebook page.

http://www.fifieldebikes.com/

Here is a walkaround video of the Chatham. I might soon add a riding one.

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 3 Comments

My Bicycle Trailer—Reworked for Smart Traveling

My Bicycle Trailer—Reworked for Smart Traveling.

My trailer is no beauty, yet it is in top shape for the long rides.

Even as cargo bikes gain massive popularity, bike trailers have been around for years. Many use them to haul the kids or pets, yet just about anything can be moved with them. There are many styles, long or short, narrow or wide, covered or open, 2 or 1 wheeled. Mine is older and a very low-end one, in fact I actually got it for free. It was a Craigslist find from many years ago. The owner threw in the bike that was hooked to it, which in turn I sold for the asked price of the trailer.

I have used it now and then through the years with some of our bikes, yet realized a long time ago that pulling it with an E-bike was the best way to go. When I did my ULTIMATE project I finally got to start using it on a steady basis. I did some basic reworking then, but this month I finished it up to what I had envisioned. It is short on looks (in the daytime at least), but way long on usefulness. Last year I nicknamed it “My Rig”, and that name that goes even further now.

I had to do some minor mods to get the hitch to fit my new E-bike.

I have been tempted many times to hook it to the parade of E-bikes that seem to come and go, yet I was resistant to enlarging the axle mounting hole on the hitch to fit them. That is a reason it matched well with the ULTIMATE, that was a regular bike converted to E-power, with a (more or less) standard sized axle diameter. After winning my new Pedego E-bike last month, I knew the time had come to grind the hole bigger with my Dremel tool and fit it to this cool E-bike. What a perfect combo.

This is one of those big-box store trailers that is of OK quality. The newer ones of this brand have plastic (?) rims and I am sure have more modern features. It was in kind of sorry shape, but the tires held air and all the pieces were included. After returning the eRAD kit from the ULTIMATE to Lectric Cycles I thought maybe my trailer convenience was done, so I hung it back in the garage rafters. I had used it for group rides and Costco shopping (my biggest thrill to date, as we live on the mesa and the store is closer to sea level). I was so glad to get it back down and once again in service.

Having the tall flag is just part of the visibility changes I made to my trailer.

Although I can’t do much for the looks and faded fabric, I took care of the mechanical issues and spruced it up some. Cleaning and regreasing the wheel bearings was combined with truing and tensioning the spokes. The rims and spokes are kind of rusty, but no problem I guess. A pair of thorn-resistant tubes and 2 HD (E-bike specific) tires got levered on. I added some Velcro on the top panel to replace the damaged and rusted snap grommets, and replaced a couple nylon straps for the seats (yes I can sew, in fact I was a sewing machine technician for 20 years). I purchased an antenna pole and flag to add some extra safety on the road. And of course I gave it a one-over to make sure all the fasters were tight and it is ready for the long rides.

Nighttime safety took a major jump with the addition of LightMeUp Safety Lights in each corner, on the sides and on the wheels. Not only do they make sure you are seen, they garner tons of hoots and hollers from most anyone that see us ride by. They are mostly red, white and blue so when we rode the busy coastline this 4th before the fireworks started, hundreds of people took photos and cheered us on. You kind of need to check the photos and video to really see how much these inexpensive LED lights add to the trailer.

When the sun goes down this trailer really shines.

I did some custom work with these. I soldered a couple strings together on the wheels to allow them all to run from one battery pack. I did the same with the strip lights I put on the heavy steel frame. I sewed the light strings on the side panels as I saw no other alternative there. I wrapped a set on the antenna pole too. I added some bright front and rear lights from Serfas to round out visibility at night (I use those in the daytime too). All-in-all, this is the most lit up trailer I have seen to date.

In the trailer I have a canvas bag that holds some basics. It has a spare tube, tire changing tools, and a tube repair kit. Some bike tools are in there. A few maps and a roll of t/p make sense to have along during a ride. I keep a few bucks and spare change in there too. There is a spare hitch clip that I doubt I’ll need, but it came with the trailer so why not? A flashlight and tire pump could come in handy, so I keep those in the bag with the other stuff.

You can spend hundreds on a new bike trailer. Some mount like mine to the wheel’s axle, some to the rear bike frame, and others to the seat post. Each type of trailer has its own special features and uses, yet with a little imagination they can really be versatile. Just to add to this, the couple RideKick trailers I have tested have a full electric motor conversion built-in, so they convert your regular bike to E-assist with no modifications (and carry your gear). You can spend a lot or a little (like I did) as you explore your bike trailer needs.

Here is my whole rig with the lights ablaze.

Another goal I have with this, is to take my electric R/C model planes to the local flying field (at sea level) for a great morning. It is about a 15 mile round-trip (down and then up the mesa) so I normally just drive. Now with all the mods and my new E-bike pulling the trailer, I expect to add this use on a steady basis. There are so many plans I have for my new rig. A couple times this last month we packed cold drinks, snacks, and our two folding chairs to a outdoor movie and couple free outdoor concerts. Such biking excitement, I can barely contain myself.

I know many that use their bike trailers quite a bit on their regular (non E-bike) bikes and they love them. Our local bike coalition recently moved to a new office spot, and used bikes to move everything. Online I see so much more. If your bike won’t haul what you need on its own, then a bike trailer could be perfect for you. Mate your bicycle with a trailer, it makes so much sense.

Haul that load, Turbo Bob.

“I’m lazy. But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn’t like walking or carrying things.”—Lech Walesa.

Here are a few related videos I have posted on my You-Tube site.

Here is a link to the LightMeUp Safety Lights.

http://www.lightmeupsafetylights.com/

You can find the Serfas lights here.

https://www.serfas.com/

And while we are at it, check out the RideKick E-trailer.

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Posted in Bike accessories, Bike maintenance, General bike stories, My Bikes, Opinion | 3 Comments

Velo Orange Model 8 Saddle—My New Favorite

Velo Orange Model 8 Saddle—My New Favorite.

Feeling and looking good, this saddle from Velo Orange might be just what the doctor ordered.

Facing the facts, with each new bicycle purchase, the seat is the first upgrade. So many bikes come with rear-end wrenching saddles that just need to go away. If you already know which ones you like, the choice is easy, most people aren’t so lucky. When I got the Chatham E-bike (for testing and a review) from Fifield, I was quite impressed with much about it (and still am). When I took it for its first run, it was the saddle that stood out with gold stars and major comfort. I am hooked.

As I looked deeper on the Velo Orange website to find out more, I was surprised to see a great selection of elegant and quality bike accessories anyone could love. This includes some cool French inspired fenders that are also speced on the Chatham. You will see so much there, even some fancy frames and parts available nowhere else. What else I spied was these Model 8 saddles are listed at a price that will make you want to get one for each bike in your stable.

The contours seem to make for the best fit.

So why does this saddle feel so good? First off, I think it is just the slightly wider stance for a good fit. They recommend this one for the more upright bike and riding position (although they have the narrow racy ones too). Being made out of the best leather, you should expect it to contour to you even better as the miles roll on. Three colors grace this beauty, the one I am riding now is in the matte look black that compliments the Fifield very nicely.

The well chromed springs at the back of this seat do more than bring out your sunglasses. They help smooth out the ruts and bumps that can’t easily be avoided. Of course ones without springs can be had if the minor weight penalty gets you uptight, yet I will gladly choose comfort over a few ounces anyway. Nestled along those springs are some bag loops with an equal shine. That’s pretty much the story here, if it isn’t well finished leather, then it is bright beyond belief chrome from stem to stern.

Lots of chrome and a set of rails that will fit most bikes are just a couple of the cool features.

One day I was talking excitedly to a neighbor about how much I was enjoying this saddle I hadn’t heard of before. He smiled, climbed off his bike, and low and behold, his bike had a well worn version of the same one. I hadn’t noticed it before, and his talk went to the tons of miles of love he had with his Velo Orange Model 8. Just one more testimonial of how having the right gear can make such a difference.

Midway on the saddle is a leather tie to prevent it from widening, and adding a bit of a classic look too. There is also a adjustment mech at the front to allow the Model 8 to keep its fit for a long time. Although it is such a simple part of the bike, great lengths have been taken to make sure you are smiling and your smile lasts for years to come. On top of all the tech and comfort, this saddle from Velo Orange looks fantastic, that is when you are off the bike, which may not happen often when riding is so comfortable.

Put a little spring in your bike ride.

Feeling good on your bike has so many factors, yet I think we can all agree if your saddle and you are not at odds with each other, the rides will be longer and more enjoyable. That is the way I feel each time mount the Chatham. It is a sweet E-bike with a ton of cool features, yet a major pain here would ruin the whole effect. In a return thought, even a sub-standard bike can be brought to a new level, with just the right seat. That is the reason a new saddle is most often the first upgrade on any new or used bike you acquire. They usually come with one that is too wide, too narrow, or cheap as can be (to keep the overall bike price lower). You owe it to yourself to find and install a dream platform of contentment.

I ride a lot of different bikes, some coming with saddles that make me cringe. I always wonder why some nice bikes come with rock-hard narrow racing saddles. Even though the real wide ones on cruisers seem comfy at first, after maybe 3-5 miles you realize too wide and soft doesn’t make for a good ride either. This Velo Orange Model 8 is pretty hard, it is the contour that is really what makes it such a good fit.

It is hard to say just how much I like this saddle from Velo Orange.

Most good bike shops will allow you to try a few of their saddles to see how you like them. Problem here is a short ride doesn’t always tell the tale of your contentment. Plus, as much as they want you to get the right one, they don’t really have the time and selection to follow through sometimes. A few might even allow you to do a return swap if the one you buy isn’t right for you. Same story here, they aren’t going to do it with every saddle on the shelf.

Thanks to Fifield for allowing me to review their Chatham (coming very soon) and to get a chance to try out this wonderful bike saddle.

A little investigation will sure help you narrow down the choices (that’s why you are reading my review I would guess). Ordering one through the mail or online can be a touch risky, yet I am pretty convinced this saddle will make you happy. Every body is different, every saddle is different, and a person’s needs have those differences too. No matter what, make sure your bike seat makes you happy or riding won’t be fun. It is up to you to find the dream mount. Don’t give up until you do.

Well anyway, get a saddle that fits you. This one would be a great place to start, Turbo Bob.

“It would not be at all strange if history came to the conclusion that the perfection of the bicycle was the greatest incident of the nineteenth century”.—Author Unknown.

Look for Velo Orange on their website and their easy to find Facebook page.

http://www.velo-orange.com/

Check out Fifield while you are at it.

http://www.fifieldebikes.com/

I just posted this video showing the Model 8 just a bit better.

Posted in Bike accessories | Leave a comment

Be Part of a Guinness World Record E-bike Group Ride Attempt

Be Part of a Guinness World Record E-bike Group Ride Attempt.

13221584_10154098970869360_3916445426489847985_nThis June 18th (2016), you have the opportunity to help set the world record for the largest electric bike parade. And just as important, to join in on the fun and the party for the grand opening of the new Pedego headquarters in Fountain Valley, CA. It will be a E-bike super event, with all invited to be part of the excitement. The pre-registered number of riders is already close to the 250+ needed to set a new world record, so consider making the scene with family and friends. Any type or brand of electric bicycle is eligible, so borrow or rent an E-bike, or bring your everyday rider. The more the merrier.

With E-bikes becoming increasing popular in this country (and many), I have seen several electric bike companies moving into bigger facilities as sales boom. Pedego is no different, and their already large headquarters in nearby Irvine just wasn’t giving them the room they needed for expansion. And in typical Pedego fashion, they want you to be part of their success by sharing the day in many ways. This is a day to be part of.

The highlights will be many, with the day ending in two people winning brand-new Pedego electric bikes in an exciting drawing (don’t forget, you must be present to win!). Things will start at 11 am as they do a ribbon cutting with local dignitaries in attendance. From there the riders for the record attempt will make sure they are signed in and counted. The Guinness World Record attempt ride will start at 1:30 pm or 2 pm. (more about the ride in a minute).

There is a link below for pre-registration (and waiver signing) to make things go quicker, as so many will be chomping at the bit to help make E-bike history. Food and cold drinks will be flowing, and a tour or the new facility can be on your list of reasons to come. After the ride, it seems celebratory drinks and a karaoke party are on the agenda. I am no singer, yet I have a special song or two for that part of the event, don’t miss experiencing that. Get your video cameras ready, as I embarrass myself to help Pedego christen their new headquarters.

The planned ride will be down the large bike trail (along the river) to Huntington Beach and back. An easy 12 mile cruise with 250+ people will be quite a site, and aerial videos will help to document the record. The ride will start at around 1:30 or 2 pm, taking maybe an hour to complete. Once done and the record is in the books, we can all do a group back-patting and party some more—then the give-away will happen—who wouldn’t want to win one of the two new Pedego E-bikes on the chopping block?

Also of note is, as the plans for the day came together, the gathering of the Pedego board members decided that none other than Turbo Bob (that’s me) should lead the record ride. Who was I to deny them? I have agreed to be at the head of this Guinness World Record E-bike parade ride, with a smile and a borrowed Pedego. My wife will be at my side on her City Commuter to help me lead this large group of potential record setters. We are both looking forward to making history together (on Pedego electric bikes no less).

So, polish your bikes, charge your batteries, prime your record making skills, and come to the E-bike event of the year (one that will be talked about for years to come). I expect to see E-bike riders coming from out-of-state and out-of-country to join with the Orange County locals for this incredible chance to set a record and win a bike—and just have a blast. Make your travel plans now. See you there for the fun.

Let’s make some history, Turbo Bob.

Follow this link to register

http://www.pedegoparty.com/event/Pedego-HQ-Grand-Opening

The location is—Pedego Headquarters—11310 Slater Ave—Fountain Valley, CA 92807

The day is June 18, 2016.

The time is from 11 am to 5 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in E-bike general interest, Out-of-town bike rides | 1 Comment

Spira Electric Enclosed Motorcycle—Spira4U

Spira Electric Enclosed Motorcycle—Spira4U.

Electric car or motorcycle? The Spira.

We can all see this is not an electric-assist bicycle. And, it isn’t an electric car either, yet when driving it, that is the feeling you get. My take is that it is an electric enclosed motorcycle. It is classified as a motorcycle, yet there is no helmet or motorcycle specific driver’s license needed (in California at least). The Spira could be called many things, but I think I will just call it an EV (Electric Vehicle). What it is, is smart, fun, and economical. This is the Spira4U, a brand-new EV that is getting ready to take you on the ride of a lifetime.

Two local brothers came together to design, develop and produce this modern take on transportation. With a chassis made of a special honeycomb core board and surrounded by foam, it cradles you in a soft and stylish body that has proven to add a level of safety not offered by other EVs. Using lithium batteries and electric motors for its motive power (there is a 150cc gas version too, yet that is pretty much off my radar), it scoots you down the road with a zip you have to experience to believe.

Room for two—as long as you are special friends.

It is primarily designed for a single rider (driver?), yet two cozy people can easily sit side-by-side for each run, something my wife and I did many times. Things were a tad tight this way, although the extra weight didn’t seem to affect the drive or performance in a noticeable way. There are a pair of seat belts and that way we got to share the fun of electric motoring together. Spira is even experimenting with a four seater version, something I got to see the prototype of. A futuristic EV like this has so many possibilities.

The powertrain is basically made up of already existing electric motorcycle components. Each back wheel has a brushless hub motor, and all three wheels (two in back, one in front) have hydraulic disc brakes (which BTW, worked strong and smoothly). It uses a tiller steering that only takes just a block or two to become comfortable with. Some of the controls are on the two motorcycle like grips you use for steering. You have your choice of using the floor throttle pedal or the twist one on the grips, me finding the motorcycle like one more natural to use.

Two of these powerful electric motorcycle motors power the Spira down the road.

From the spec chart we see these numbers. 620 lbs total weight. 440 lbs carrying capacity. 70 or 140 mile battery range (depending on which lithium battery is installed). 70 mph top speed. Two 10Kw 72 volt motors. Installed 15 amp battery charger that will work on 110-220 AC household current. 9 ft tall, 5 ft wide, 4 ft tall overall dimensions. 14” motorcycle tires. 4 ft of foam in front and 4 inches of foam on each side. It has full lighting, windshield wipers, defroster, and plenty of instrumentation.

Acceleration is brisk and the fastest I went (two up) was about 62 mph, going up a small grade on a local highway (and a quick twist of the throttle showed more speed was definitely available). The Spira I had didn’t have the production battery, but one said to get about a 100 mile range under optimum conditions on the cruise. My best was close to 80 miles on one charge, yet much of that was with both of us aboard and many signals to deal with. I drove it a total of 175 miles in that week and used 228 Ah to make the distance. That relates to less than 2 dollars (rough estimate here) of electricity added to my monthly power bill.

One of out jaunts was downtown to watch the kids race their Soapbox Derby cars. Everyone there loved the Spira—which lead to this cool image.

On top of the fun and excitement, dealing with the interested onlookers was a constant task. I can’t even guess how many cell phone photos were snapped as we drove and when we were parked. At each stop, up to a dozen people at a time surrounded the Spira and pounded us with questions. There was ½ a box of business cards under the seat and I managed to hand them all out to people that realized this EV has some serious potential. Right after picking up the Spira, we stopped at a relative’s house so he could give it a try, and within a minute he showed us a photo on his phone of this EV that a friend had sent him just 3 hours earlier (he spotted it in a parking lot near the designer’s house).

I did let many take some time behind the tiller to feel it out and get their impressions. Each loved it, yet a few criticisms did get mentioned. They were the same I had, and many have already been dealt with on the next shipment of these EVs from China. Yes, they were dreamt up and designed here, but the assembly line is overseas, not all that uncommon in today’s world. I spent a lot of time with the maker of this EV, getting a chance to learn more, and discuss the upgrades already in progress.

All the controls are close at hand—and the view out the windows was fantastic.

Some creature comforts will be improved, the very firm ride will be softened somewhat, the steering geometry has been changed for a better feel, and other changes are in the works. I think the feedback I gave will help, and it is always nice to see a company strive for modifications of an early product to give a better end-user experience. If any product will survive, it needs a strong and smart team behind it, and this is the impression I got with my sit-down time with one of the brothers behind this cool new 3-wheeled EV.

Due to the construction materials and the electric power, one problem I had was that it didn’t always trigger the sensors that change the traffic signals. In normal traffic this was never an issue, yet a few times it was. Also, I do want to mention that even though the battery charger is onboard, it needs a HD extension cord and a household outlet that can easily handle the 15 amps the charger draws. Charging took place in just 4-7 hours, yet the cord I used (a weed eater outdoor type) did get a bit warm. Get a good one if you decide to start driving your own Spira.

It was great to be able to haul the E-Brompton to a local ride. The Spira does have a pretty large trunk.

Riding the Spira is a blast. You sit low and using the controls and instrumentation is a unique experience. The firm ride has you avoiding the rough spots, not the easiest thing to do with all three wheels. It is small compared to the vehicles around you, yet I never felt unsafe or un-noticed. Part of the theme with this EV is that the foam cradles you if an incident does happen, and the maker’s tests have be proven with high marks and low rider G forces in impacts. Although it is a 3-wheeler, it seemed as solid on the road as could be, with no tendency to lift a wheel or become unstable. I did notice some buffeting from cross-winds, yet it was all easily controlled with the steering tiller. Forward and side visibility is great, with the side mirrors and a full-time reverse camera filling in the gaps to the rear.

I was promised a chance to re-visit the Spira in the near future, so watch for that. Follow the link below to the Spira website for some videos that show that it floats, impact testing and other cool stuff. I posted three videos myself that you can see with the push of a button. If the norm doesn’t always fit your needs when it comes to fun and transportation, then this Spira EV could be what you are looking for. They are here and you are ready. Spira4U? Give it a test ride and some consideration. Just maybe this will be your new norm.

Looking for something different? Try looking at the Spira, Turbo Bob.

“Yes, my grandfather worked with Thomas Edison on the electric car, and he sold electric cars at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris.”—Al Jardine.

You can get all the info on the Spira4U website and Facebook page.

http://www.spira4u.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Spira4u-107519002609432/?fref=ts

Check these videos of my fun with the Spira.

 

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