Stromer ST2—High-tech Thoroughbred

Stromer ST2—High-tech Thoroughbred.

 

Finally ready for you to ride—the Stromer ST2.

I relayed my first impressions on this bike last month after attending a dealer introduction and training session. Then I was in the house at the west coast launch event. Now that I have put some solid riding miles on-board this Stromer ST2, I am ready to offer more about what it’s like to be on one of the most electronically and mechanically advanced E-bikes on the market. If you haven’t read that March 2nd article, you might consider doing that first (link below). That will fill you in on some details not covered here.

Sleekly mounted, smooth power—here is your ST2 go system.

To start off, I envision that Stromer put the think tank method into play designing this E-bike. With the ST1 they had a great playing field to start with. Many riders, engineers and visionaries must have worked to put together a long laundry list of needed and wanted features. From there the engineers took over to bring each item into being. So many details are evident that you just don’t see anywhere else, come to life on this modern machine. This goes just not for the bike itself, but the whole network of on-line support and possible changes to the bike‘s programming.

 
I can’t go into every detail to prove this to you, so let’s dive into just one aspect that stands out. The rear wheel / motor attachment is space age stuff to be sure. It has one through bolt that secures it all. The motor has no external wires to deal with, all the connections are made in a hidden and nearly sealed place that lines up automatically as the motor is slid into place. As you look at this one thing, you see smooth flowing lines, but none of the mechanics that make it work.

 

The touch screen display is also the wireless connection for the Stromer ST2.

And that motor, wow. With 20% more power and torque than before, what you don’t feel is any roughness or surging. The flow and rush is there for your ride anytime you feel the need, and when you want it, you feel it. Of course the braking matches the speed dash with large hydraulics front and rear. The power and modulation you get is up there with the best the bike world has to offer. Add to that the brake hoses are almost fully concealed in the frame and fork. Even the front one is hidden inside the head tube area. The wiring too is nearly invisible.

 
If there is one downside of the bike (other than the price point), for some that might be the riding position. Stromer makes sport bikes and you just feel sporty riding them. Adding a wider saddle and slightly higher handlebars (or stem) is an option (like most any E-bike), yet you can’t go too high on the bars due to the cable and wiring lengths. Most who are Stromer fans and owners love this lean into the wind stance, and Stromer seems content to stay with it. Me, I didn’t mind, but a couple people I let ride it didn’t care for the bent over cockpit at all.

Sure, why not have an USB port too?

Stromer has been known for their torque-sensed control system since the beginning. It gives the most natural assist, and for seasoned riders it out performs them all. The bike’s motor responds to your needs and makes no compromises. Light pedaling garners no or minimal assist from the motor, yet step up your game and the power is there in a pounding wave. Being a true pedelec, there is no throttle to allow assisted riding without pedaling. Unless you are headed downhill, the only way to move out is to spin the pedals.

 
Being such a complicated E-bike, the controls for a basic ride are anything but. The simple to use settings are a breeze. You turn on the bike from a push switch below the display (under the upper frame). Turning it back off requires a re-push of that button to bring up a screen that gives you your shut down icon, settings menus, locking and anti-theft options (also controlled from your cell phone if you want). On the right bar is a 3 button switch that allows your choice between 3 power-assist sensitivities and your lighting power. I went into the menu to make it so whenever the bike is on, the 2 front lights and the one rear light are always lit.

 

So much to see here. The at-hand buttons for the assist modes—the strong headlight—the shifters—the hydraulic brake levers—the frame mounted display—the in frame wiring and brake hoses—and on and on.

What I’m saying here is, you turn the bike on, select a assist level, and ride. That is as simple as it gets. Of the three levels, 1 & 3 are pre-set to minimum and maximum, while # 2 is customizable from your cell phone. On this subject (and what a large subject it is), when you receive your bike, Stromer taps your email and apps your cell phone (with your permission of course). With these connections to your Stromer ST2, it allows you, your dealer and the Stromer company to customize your settings, evaluate your bike, access your maintenance records and pin-point its location (and so, so much more).

 

An aluminum frame and carbon fiber forks mount some great components. See how the front brake hose disappears into the fork?

This may be big brother warmed over for the bike world, yet we all know how all this is wanted by the throngs of tech hungry people of this planet. Do you want it? That is your choice and the ST2 delivers if you do. If you want to know all that it does electronically, then head over to the Stromer website, pull up an easy chair, and dig in for the duration. I personally don’t have the space here, or the time to cover every aspect that Stromer has programmed into the ST2

The riding is easy on a Stromer. Shifting, braking, and powering up all come as natural as any high-end bike you might try (only better because this is an E-bike). All the bike components work as a team and come from some of the best suppliers. The electrics back it up and off you go. It is as smooth as it gets and with every ride you will know you are living the E-bike dream. The power is awesome for every road the bike and you might encounter. The feel and handling match every other part from top to bottom.

 

Yup, I loved riding the Stromer ST2.

Is this the bike for me? Not really, but what a ride it’s been. Thanks for showing us all what time, smarts and money can do for an E-bike Stromer, great job. Turbo Bob.

“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.”—Heinz Stucke, German long-distance touring cyclist.

You can find Stromer on the web and Facebook.

http://www.stromerbike.com/en/us

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

My article to present the Stromer ST2—consider reading this first.

https://turbobobbicycleblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/stromer-st2-first-impressions/

I posted many videos of the Stromer and the 2 events. This is the most recent one.

 

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Pedego E-bike Up-grade to 2015 Electrical Specifications

Pedego E-bike Up-grade to 2015 Electrical Specifications.

This is the bike I up-dated, a 2014 Pedego Interceptor.

When the Pedego City Commuter came out in August of 2012 (2013 model), I was pleased to be one of the first to report on it. There was so much to like, yet I felt there was one thing about the control system that needed just a minor tweak.

Then with the 2014 year, they added the new display and pedelec features to their Interceptor model too. Yet, they didn’t take my advice and add the needed throttle override I knew was necessary for a better E-bike experience. Then with the 2015, voila, success. Now I feel they have covered all the bases for E-bike safety, control and convenience.

From the underside of the display you can see the USB port and the rubber plug that keeps it clean when not in use.

One other cool thing to make the grade with the electrical controls for 2015 is the USB power port on the back of the display unit. Although it is a dumb USB port, meaning it allows power output for charging and supplying power to devices, it doesn’t allow interaction electrically with the bike. So now you can power your phone or audio devices (bike light charging too) right from the large on-board motor battery. Even though it is a dumb USB port, I think Pedego was pretty smart to include it.

If you have a 2013, 2014 City Commuter or a 2014 Interceptor you too can have these features included on your E-bike. Your local friendly neighborhood Pedego dealer can do the swap in a jiff. It is also something that most any knowledgeable E-bike shop can do for you. It is really just a matter of getting the correct ECU (electronic control unit) and display from Pedego, then having them installed and set by the right person. Let’s look into the how’s and whys.

Why a throttle override? With dual control the motor will activate from the hand throttle or the automatic pedelec circuit. Although each E-bike maker may set their system differently, here is the basics. The hand throttle will allow you to chose your motor power level and vary it as you ride. A application of the throttle should net up to full power when you need it (in tight traffic situations as one example). Plus that throttle should be active for starting out to help achieve your initial balance.

You probably know that the pedelec part allows the motor to come on automatically while you are pedaling, and turn it off when you stop pedaling. The display lets you chose one of 5 power levels it will go to when you pedal. This is a great thing letting the power flow without having to hold the throttle all the time to get electric-assist. As you ride you can toggle through the power levels to match each situation and speed need you encounter.

The new display is much like the original, but just a bit bigger.

The 2013 and 2014 Pedego system had both, yet the issue was (and still is if you haven’t up-graded), that the motor is set to work from one or the other, but not both at the same time. So, if you were in one of the 5 pedelec power levels (not 0), than the hand throttle was de-activated. To use the throttle you need to toggle to the 0 level on the display to allow the throttle to work, but then the pedelec was de-activated. This meant if you were in a pedelec mode (other then the max, #5) and felt you needed full power for any reason, you couldn’t get it without some quick toggling.

So with the new throttle override, both are fully active whenever the bike is switched on. This makes so much sense, I feel every E-bike with dual control must work in this manner. The way control systems work is important to me, and I feel this throttle override is very necessary. If you feel the same, then go for the up-grade on your Pedego. Remember this only works with Pedegos that came with the display and the pedelec feature.

In this view you can see the Allen screw that holds the display—and the connector that hooks it to the wiring harness.

Pedego would rather you didn’t do it yourself, but I do believe that option is open to you. They let me upgrade the 2104 Interceptor that I have on loan from them. Installing the display is the easy part, with just one Allen screw and one connector to deal with. They do use different connectors on some models so that part needs to be a match (specify the name on the connector when ordering). In fact when ordering, they need to know the model, year and voltage too. The screw holds the unit to the handlebars with a circular clamp. The connector is just 6 inches from the display unit under the easy to deal with plastic wrap.

The ECU is a bit more complicated. Once again, the maker wants a E-bike tech to do the whole swap for you. The ECU is mounted in front of the battery behind a cover plate with 4 screws. The battery should be removed at this point (minimum turned off), so no jolt of unexpected power ruins the new parts or the bike. Each connector is either color coded or uses a different style connector. Do one at a time carefully and use a rag on the painted frame to prevent scratches.

This is the part Pedego would rather you not get involved with (the ECU installation). Get a pro to do it for you. Those extra wires on the lower right should not be hooked to anything or each other for U.S. specs.

The ECU has 2 pairs of extra wires that could (but shouldn’t be) connected together. They set internal parameters that aren’t needed (or wanted) in the U.S. Make sure the heat sink of the ECU is towards the front of the bike and gently stuff the wiring behind the ECU as you reinstall the cover and screws. If any of those 4 screws were missing make sure to order them with the other parts (and maybe a spare just in case). They do tend to loosen up over time, so some Loctite or occasional checking of their tightness is recommended. The lower ones are best dealt with a offset screwdriver, yet a small bladed regular screwdriver held at an angle can do the trick.

The last part is to make sure the new display is set correctly and test out the bike and the new functions. The 2015 owner’s manual outlines the procedure on page 15. Here is the skinny. With the bike on, hold the set button until the display goes into that mode (a couple seconds). The first one will allow you to reset the trip odometer. You can do that by pressing the – button. Remember that, as you might want to use this before each long ride.

Next up is the max speed. You get to that by pressing the set again. Make sure to set that to 20 (more on this in a minute). Hit the set again and you can chose the wheel size of your bike (this calibrates the speedometer). One last set hit and you can choose MPH or KPH, your preference. Hold the set at any time during this, and all is remembered by the display and it will go to the normal readout.

To get the USB port to the ready to use mode, you hold the + and set buttons at the same time for a couple seconds. Doing the same again will turn it off. When it is on, an icon will light up on the display. Every time the bike is turned off, this is reset to off, so you need to go through this procedure every time you turn on your bike and want to use the USB port. And also, the bike will go to sleep in 5 minutes if not used, that will also require you reactivate the USB power when you power the bike back up. So the USB port really only works while you are riding.

Here I am with the (then) brand new 2013 City Commuter. It too can now ride with the 2105 electrical up-date.

Now that 20 MPH thing. Your bike and display are set to that by default when you receive it. That is the legal maximum, so please don’t increase it. It will only net a couple more digits of speed, but will take your bike out of compliance and drain your battery fast if you take advantage of those extra digits. You do have the option of setting it lower if you lend your E-bike to a friend or relative. Keep in mind that it will still do about 18-19 MPH max in the pedelec mode #5 no matter how that setting is chosen. For everyone’s sake, chose 20 and stick with it, please.

There you go, 2015 specs for small money. I have friends that have spent more than this just to get that USB port generically installed on their E-bikes. Modern USB power, safer cycling and peace of mind are the benefits of this up-grade.

Ride that Pedego, Turbo Bob.

“If constellations had been named in the 20th century, I suppose we would see bicycles.”—Carl Sagan.

Here is a video I took right after the up-grade

Posted in Bike maintenance, E-bike general interest | 4 Comments

Pacific IF Move—Folding the Future

Pacific IF Move—Folding the Future.

Function and style—the Pacific IF Move.

Are you always looking for the newest and coolest things in your life? There are lots of folding bikes out there, but none as different and modern as this Pacific IF Move. What really stands out about this artistic bike, is that it does the job it is intended for really well, all the while looking like no other bike in its class. In fact, there may not be another bike in its class.

It has some unique features, some that may not be as apparent as the ones you see. What you do see are the wheels that are attached on only one side. The asymmetrical front end is sculptured to match the fold and front wheel mounting, yet works to make the ride solid. That solidness is continued in a frame that speaks one-of-a-kind flow, but offers not a millimeter of flex. A big pair of disc brakes provide the stop factor, and add to the futuristic appearance.

Notice the “kickstand” in the seat post. Plus you can see how the wheels come completely together in the fold.

It would be impossible to talk about the IF Move and all it is, without making comparisons to its big brother, the Pacific IF Mode. Since I had both at the same time, the similarities and differences will be easy for me to relate. So as this review hits the paper, expect some discussion in this respect. As much as the seem very much the same and they share much, they are two different animals.

The Mode is a 26” wheeled bike with 2 speeds (in the BB), while the Move has 20” wheels and sports 9 gears at the back wheel. It is 7 ½ lbs, lighter than the Mode, carved down to a manageable 25 lbs. Some of this is its smaller size to be sure, but I would expect the more-or-less conventional spoked wheels give a big weight advantage over the Mode’s aluminum mag wheels. They use basically the same folding angles and procedure, but the way the bars collapse on this Move is a better design (in my opinion). They are not the same year model (I do believe) so the newer Mode might be more like this Move in that feature.

The bars sit low, something you may or may not like.

This IF Move is a much more ridable machine due to the extra gears and the lighter weight. I think this bike is a better choice for most people, yet the even more awesome look of the 26” Mode might make it more desirable. One thing about this bike that may sway you more toward the Mode is the low handlebar height. Neither is adjustable, and taller folk might feel like they are riding a drop bar road bike. Then again, you might just prefer it that way. I am 6’2” and would rather sit just a tad more upright.

I did find on both bikes that the pivots on the frame (where it folds) are kind of stiff. This is probably good, yet I have to use more effort than I expected to fold and unfold it. If you have seen the NYCeWheels video on this bike (and the IF Mode), then you’ll see Peter fling the bike open with an ease I can‘t seem to repeat. I plan on doing a fold / unfold video of both bikes (maybe before—maybe after I post this article), so keep an eye out for that (I’ll add that link at the bottom of this post later if necessary). BTW, it is NYCeWheels that supplied me both of these Pacific folding bikes for review. I would think they are the main dealer for Pacific, as I have not seen them anywhere else.

Move ready for riding fun and pleasure.

Riding the Move is about what you would expect from any decent folding bike. It rolls smooth on the large cross-section Maxxis tires. They do a great job on rough pavement and the beefy rims seem to take it all in stride. The stiff frame lets you give all your leg power to the road and the multi-gear, easy shifting drive train has good spacing for every condition I rode it in. You can make time on this fancy folder without any real concerns.

The look of the offset steering might lend you to thoughts of issues. It does have a touch of noticeable movement (one wobble?) when starting out (maybe the first 6 inches), but is better than perfect at all speeds. The straight bars and frame geometry allow it a great feel, good or better than other folding bikes I have tried in modern times. Whether on the cruise or carving turns, I was always in full control, with a smile, on the Move. The brakes are more than you need, and the control at the levers is exceptional.

Have you seen any of this on other bikes? I think not.

As far as the brakes go, I did need to make one small adjustment when I received the bike (other than this it came in perfect shape). I had to back off the adjustment of the rear brake a scoosh so it would roll freely when folded (in the folded mode it pulls on the cables just a bit). One cool thing about this Move (and the Mode), is the handle on the top of the stem that allows you to wheel it like a cart when folded. Although, if you roll it in the wrong direction the pedals will move while you roll it and catch on the frame.

Straight out of the box and ready to ride. NYCeWheels pre-tunes all their bikes to make sure you get a great experience.

More on the fold. Because the frame pivots are tight, I use my knee to get the proper pressure to overcome it during the fold (this you will see in the video). Also, the handlebars on this Move have a better mechanism to secure them when in riding position, and an internal cable they dangle from when in the folded mode. On both the Move and the Mode, the way the bar ends fold is a little weird, yet the ones on the this Move are my preference. One last thing here, there is a spring-loaded, retractable V shaped “kickstand” in the bottom of the seat post, something the Mode could use too. This holds the bike upright in the folded or unfolded position.

We rode the IF Move and Mode in a recent Christmas parade. Yes, we got a lot of looks and questions.

Well, check out the photos and videos. Both these bikes from Pacific are eye catchers and ride fantastic. They have broken the mold for folding bikes and they perform as good as they look. If you do like people to notice your ride, it is hard to beat either one of these futuristic bikes. NYCeWheels knows what works and doesn’t, that’s why you will find them on their website and on their sales floor.

Different can be better, Turbo Bob.

“Sometimes I just ride my bike to nowhere, to see nothing, just so I can ride my bike”.—Unknown.

Check NYCeWheels for more info on the Pacific IF Move

http://www.nycewheels.com/

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

The IF Move made it into to many of my videos.

Posted in Folding Bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Index of Articles—September 2104 to March 2015

Index of Articles—September 2014 to March 2015.

September 2014

1.   Introduction to Electric Bicycles—Fall 2014

2.   Electric Bikes in Portland and Bend, Oregon

3.   Interbike 2014 in Videos

October 2104

1.   Buying a New E-bike—A Personal Experience

2.   Introduction To Electric Bicycles, Fall 2014—A Full House Soaks Up the E-bike Spirit

November 2014

1.   Serfas Thunderbolt Bike Lights—Bringing Safety and Smiles into the Darkness

2.   GenZe Electric Bikes—Simple Sophistication

3.   A2B Ferber—Silent Comfort

4.   Index of Articles—March 2014 to September 2104

5.   Raleigh E-bike Demo Day at the Bike Warehouse in Chula Vista

December 2014

1.   Tern Perch—Bike Storage Made Easy

2.   EcoReco M5—Smooth Sailing

3.   Tern / BionX Link D8—A Prototype Becomes a Reality

January 2015

1.   Pacific IF Mode—Art on Two Wheels

2.   Serfas TSL-2500 Bike Headlight—Top-of-the-Line Power

3.   Nori Lights Revisited—Ver 2.0

4.   Stout Fat-tire E-bike from Motiv Electric Bikes—Carving with Confidence

February 2015

1.   The Custom Cruiser Craze

2.   Tern Cargo Rack—A Great Up-grade for Our Folding Bikes

3.   Virtue Gondoliere +—A Cargo Bike with a Difference

March 2015

1.   Stromer ST2—First Impressions

2.   How to Buy the Best Electric Bike, by Average Joe Cyclist—A Book Review

3.   EcoReco Pneumatic Front Tire Prototype and a Year Worth of EcoReco Insights

4.   Sherpa—A Utility Cargo E-bike from Motiv Electric Bikes

Posted in Indexes of articles | Leave a comment

Sherpa—A Utility Cargo E-bike from Motiv Electric Bikes

Sherpa—A Utility Cargo E-bike from Motiv Electric Bikes.

 

I had the coax the Sherpa to stop just a minute for this photo, it is always raring to go.

Motiv Electric Bikes has earned a respected place in the electric bike world by following a smart business plan. They started with a pair of quality boosted beach cruisers (in standard and low-frame). The time needed to perfect those bikes was invested before moving onto other models. Once that was accomplished they did the same with the Shadow. With many established retail locations keeping things rolling, they were able to introduce two new models this year. I have already reviewed the fat-tired Stout.

 
I first rode one of the prototype Sherpa E-bikes last year at a E-bike demo day at Myron’s Extreme Machines in Fullerton. The design was solid, yet they worked the final details hard before putting it into production. As this year began, their new Sherpa cargo E-bikes hit the showroom floors ready to perform and please. It handles both these tasks well, and so much more.

 

There is a lot to see in this image. Take the time to soak in in.

Component and power-system wise, this cargo E-bike is very similar to their other E-bikes. This makes sense in so many ways, allowing them to fine tune the different bikes to a high level. It also makes for a great customer experience in the short and long run. The 500 watt geared rear hub motor is of the modern brushless design. You can choose between the 36 volt or 48 volt model. The one I rode for two weeks was the 48 volt machine.

 
Of course I’ve ridden the Motiv Electric Bikes in both voltage levels. The extra voltage gives you a bit better acceleration and hill climbing ability. Both ride fine and will handle most any riding situation you can throw at them. Still, for the little more it takes to get the 48 volt Sherpa, you will benefit well when you start loading the rack and basket with all your heavy gear. Need more carry capacity? Add a bike trailer, the Sherpa can handle that too.

 

Information central is front and center on the Sherpa from Motiv Electric Bikes.

On the bars is the display that feeds you the info, and it works in conjunction with the button panel near your left hand. Being a dual control E-bike, you can chose between 5 levels of automatic assist, and use the throttle anytime for a larger and instantaneous boost. Each of those five levels are nicely spaced in the speed ranges. 1 goes about 8 mph, and 5 about 20. The other 3 fill in the gaps between those, allowing you to do most of your riding without having to hold the throttle continuously.

 
Because the motor is geared, it will climb well, have minimal drag when not being used, and make just the slightest amount of noise when powered up. The battery is mid-mounted in the chassis, helping to balance out the handling. Another plus here is that the front basket is frame mounted so it won’t affect your steering when loaded to capacity. I found the Sherpa fun to ride and even enjoyed some basic hot-rodding, using all that power it offers.

 

The Sherpa also comes in a nice blue color if that is your preference.

The tires have a fairly aggressive tread, but gripped well, and rolled smoothly on the pavement. Like most decent E-bikes nowadays, disc brakes are mounted front and rear. Don’t be drawn in by all those with hydraulic offerings, as quality mechanical disc brakes like these work great, are simple to maintain and keep the bottom line more affordable. When this bike is loaded with all you carry, these brakes will still punch your speed to zero quick.

 
The weight is kept in check with aluminum pieces from front to rear, including the rigid frame work. The frame has nice lines, adding looks to the convenience you expect from a electric-assist bike. The first Sherpa I rode was in a sharp shade of blue, this one in black. If I had my choice I’d go with the blue, yet matte black bikes are selling in record numbers I’m told. Also popular in today’s world are custom paint jobs for that one-of-a-kind look. Maybe that is your desire.

 

6 speeds—plenty of power—and stopping anchors are all there for the taking with the Sherpa.

Just like the brakes, you could have more, but 6 speeds work fine on E-bikes. The Sherpa has the extra low first gear for the steep climbs, and all the variety of ratios you will ever need. How do I know this? Because I’ve ridden tons of E-bikes with everywhere from 1 gear to 30. 30 gears is about 24 more than most any E-bike rider will ever need. That makes for less shifting, less cost, and less maintenance and complexity. The gears are spaced fine and handled the speed ranges of every ride I took.

 
So here you are, sitting tall on your new Sherpa. The upright position matches well with the close to cruiser style handlebars. The slightly wider (than so many E-bikes) saddle is cushioned with both reasonable padding and a suspension seat post. The comfort level is matched with the power the motor adds as you push off for your next journey. All your gear is along for the ride—all is well with the world. Are you feeling it?

 

Load in on and strap it down—front and rear.

The big front basket is removable with the twist of some allen bolts, if you want a sleeker look and feel. That was good because when it was on my bike rack with another bike, I did have to pull it off for clearance when hauling the Sherpa to rides on the other side of town. During the time I had it, it got ridden by me, my wife, and several others. It was hard to hide the smiles generated with each turn of the pedals. The smooth ride, the good looks and the easy power rush make for an E-bike that is difficult not to like.

 

You could Photoshop me out—and you in. Or you could just get one of your own.

As E-bikes continue to gain in popularity and sales, the good ones are the ones you will spot around town. I know in my town I see plenty of Motiv Electric Bikes riding the streets and bike paths. We rode them in Denver on an E-bike tour, and I’ve seen them in other cities during our travels. They get around, just like the people that ride them. I am convinced they have a good thing going.

 
Load down your Sherpa and the mountain will come to you, Turbo Bob.

 
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”—Ernest Hemingway.

Motiv Electric Bikes can be found on the web and Facebook.

http://www.motivelectricbikes.com/

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

Check out my video of the Sherpa

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

EcoReco Pneumatic Front Tire Prototype and a Year Worth of EcoReco Insights

EcoReco Pneumatic Front Tire Prototype and a Year Worth of EcoReco Insights.

 

Fresh and ready to install, this pneumatic prototype front wheel makes a noticeable difference.

EcoReco sent me this prototype pneumatic front tire to try out. I did, and this post will spend some time on its pluses and minus. I also thought this would be a good time to give you the (over a ) year rundown on the EcoReco electric scooters. I got the M3 17 months ago, and the M5 (full suspension model) 6 months ago. To say I have a lot of info on them would be easy. As soon as this post goes live, the 2 scooters are going back in the box to be returned to the company. You can be sure they will have me test any new products they introduce.

 
These are very useful as last mile transportation. They are also a lot of fun. My first post on the M3 asked the question—”Tool or Toy?” The answer is both. I have used them both as transportation, carefree fun machines and as a quick alternative to walking. Neither one has ever let me down and well over a couple hundred people have been able to try them out. These are rock solid ways to get around and the proof was there with each ride. I am now truly an EcoReco fan.

 

The M5 was made better with the smoother front tire.

When I was first approached to test review this electric scooter I was hovering on my interest levels. Bikes are my go to machine here on my bike blog. Yet, offering much of what an electric bike does, I dove in with a smile. It has been a fun journey and reporting on them has brought a lot of attention for both E-bikes and E-scooters. That is my passion and EcoReco has helped fuel it. I will add links at the bottom of this post to my original M3 and M5 articles, reading those will fill in the blanks I don’t cover here.

 
The kind of rough ride of the M3 has been mentioned by many. On a smooth surface you can really experience the quiet and flow of this electric two-wheeler. Yet as things get grated, the vibes transmitted to the rider and machine are quite noticeable. The front suspension is mostly just the springs with a minor friction damping from the sliding wheel mount blocks. The solid flat-free tires do little to soak-up the bumps and ruts.

 

These scoots got ridden all over and by hundreds of people. This shows my wife and I enjoying them at our last CicloSDias (car free streets).

Enter the M5, much the same but with the addition of a elastomer (?) supported lever action rear suspension. The extra movement at the rear does much for the rider in terms of comfort on rutted surfaces. I posted a video with both scooters to try and show the difference, and I did the same with this new pneumatic front wheel (once again, links to them are listed below). Like the M5 made things nicer, the pneumatic front tire does too.

 
This beefy little front tire goes on the scooter (M3 or M5) (I tried it on both) quickly with one axle bolt removal and re-installation. I had to add my own washer / spacer on each side of the ball bearings, yet when it becomes available I am sure they will be included. It was evident from the first ride the way having some air in the front tire made a difference worth talking about. Pumped up to the listed spec of 36 lbs., it was firm yet just spongy enough to roll easy and smooth out the ride. With the solid tires not getting great grip on wet surfaces, I would expect the pneumatic one to be much better in that respect.

 

This is the new tire on the M3 and ready to ride. Keep an eye on EcoReco to see when these new wheels and tires will be available.

I would imagine EcoReco has the mindset of producing a scooter with these tires front and rear. The rear will be a little tougher (especially as a retrofit like this) because the rear has the motor and brake built into the wheel hub. I can’t say if this front tire, or the complete pneumatic supported scooter will make it into production, so keep an eye on the company to see. They have told me they have several new products on their drawing boards.

 
The main drawbacks I see here is the chance of a flat and forgetting to add air every month or so (which can cause flats and poor performance). Part of what I like about both scooters is the lack of needed maintenance and worries (about things like flats). Everybody has different needs and desires, so you might be on one side of this or the other. It is nice to have a choice.

 

In this shot you can see the front strut bolts slightly bent back. It was easy to fix. Keep a look out on your scooter for this problem.

OK, on to my experiences with these EcoReco scooters. I do lots of earth fairs and electric vehicle events (including my own twice-a-year E-bike seminar) so tons of people have ridden these 2 scooters. Not once have they failed to run and perform. Of course I have ridden them both many, many times too. I especially like the safe throttle that only activates the motor when some forward speed is attained (just a little push off is all it takes).

 
I first turned a wrench on the M3 when they sent me the anti-rattle front suspension up-grade (all EcoRecos have this factory for a while now, but if you don‘t they will make sure you can get it). It was fairly easy to install. This basically consists of 2 plastic sleeve inserts for the front axle carrier blocks. They allow a tighter fit where they slide on the strut bolts, but still allow for free movement. It tightened up the front end and quieted the scooter down considerably.

 

Changing out the strut bolts was easy. It was a little harder to install the anti-rattle up-date.

Then not an issue to mention until they told me of this front pneumatic wheel. I had the 2 scoots at a friend’s birthday party (they all loved them by the way, everyone seems to) and I noticed the M5 had 2 front strut bolts that were slightly bent back. It was still safe and steered fine, but I had them send some replacements along with the pneumatic front wheel. They were easy to install and solved that problem.

 
I attributed this to the maybe 1 inch curb rises I have hit countless times. I would slow (some) and shift my weight back, but still hit them pretty hard. I noticed the new pneumatic wheel is much gentler when hitting these rises, so this prototype tire should help in that respect too. With all the extra abuse the M3 has had (time ridden too) it never had this happen.

 
They early on sent me some buttons for the handlebar adjustor they said a few people had broken on their scooters. Mine never did. I have also asked them to up-date their charger. It works great, but when you plug it into the scooter (and always plug the scooter first and then into the wall socket) ( and the reverse sequence when the charge is complete) you hear a spark. This means the charger isn’t diode protected. It isn’t really a big deal, but that spark could cause issues on an unlucky day, it never has for me though. To my knowledge the charger hasn’t been changed. The M5 I got 6 months ago works the same way.

 

The M5 with the pneumatic front tire was the smoothest ride of them all.

So, months of riding fun and convenience has been the result of this extended test. I need to thank EcoReco for the ability to do this test and report, and can’t wait to see what they roll out next. The 2 electric scoots are headed back to the factory and I am moving onto the next bike review. Still the memory of the good times with the EcoReco scooters won’t fade soon. To cap it up, the M5 full-suspension model with the pneumatic tire is the quietest and smoothest ride of all the combinations I tried.

 
You too can scoot, Turbo Bob.

 
“I left my youth behind me. It peddled the bicycle while I rode on the handlebars.”—Jarod Kintz.

You can find EcoReco on the web and Facebook

http://ecorecoscooter.com/

https://www.facebook.com/EcoRecoScooter

Here are links to my M3 article and the one about the M5

https://turbobobbicycleblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/ecoreco-m3-electric-scooter-tool-or-toy/

https://turbobobbicycleblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/ecoreco-m5-smooth-sailing/

I posted many videos with these electric scooters.   These are the two ride comparison ones.    You can find all the others on my You-Tube channel too.

Posted in E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

How to Buy the Best Electric Bike, by Average Joe Cyclist—A Book Review

How to Buy the Best Electric Bike, by Average Joe Cyclist—A Book Review.

 
10994473_10152741933987339_568043398015610005_nFor several years it has been a passion for me to educate people about electric bikes. Just getting out the word that they exist is big, yet there is so much more. Average Joe Cyclist (Joe Goodwill) and I seem to be on similar paths and it couldn’t be more evident as his new book now becomes available. For anyone with the desire for these bikes, or just becoming aware of them, they will soak-up every page. If that is you, then putting this book on your reading list would be wise.

 
Like any informational book, he starts out by explaining the basics of his subject, in this case, electric-assist bicycles. As the book continues, the simple information becomes more detailed, but never beyond the easy grasp of the reader. Keep in mind Joe’s words are not meant to un-leash every nut and bolt (volt and amp too), yet to be a very comprehensive guide to E-bikes, their reasons for being, and your possible interaction with one.

 
Joe’s experience with the bikes is a personal one, that is easy to see. He also has done his research with many bikes and riders to back up each claim and fact. His writing style is fun and easy going, yet you will be convinced from each paragraph that his knowledge on E-bikes qualifies him to author this guide. Writing about bikes is no new experience for Joe (and his wife), this you will already know if you follow him on the web and Facebook.

 
As the chapters morph away from the bike themselves, he dives into the many reasons they are a great asset to most every person on earth. The reasons are nearly endless, yet he manages to expand on 14 of them. If he had attended one of my particular E-bike seminars last year (that because of rain kept it inside only), the interactive discussion we had could have given him enough more reasons to fill another whole book.

 
Health, environment, attitude, money, weight loss and so many other reasons to ride an E-bike are covered in his book with great examples. Physical and mental recovery help is also much of what an electric bike offers for those who desire to follow his lead. I could go on (and I often do), but it isn’t my goal here to copy and paste his book, just convince you to read it for yourself. I also fully believe you should get a copy for each person in your life that you care for. When you read the book you will know why.

 
Moving back to the riding of E-bikes, Average Joe Cyclist explains about how you and your bike can stay running smooth, have what you need to be comfortable, and the rules of the road for E-bikes. Riding safety and the accessories that will help, get a full billing too. This includes lighting systems and other things that should be part of your E-bike package.
Then he digs deep to talk more about the bikes and their features. The book is named “How to Buy the Best Electric Bike”, so you have to figure this subject will get many pages.

 

Even though an E-bike is just a regular bicycle (more or less), there is so much to understand before you make your first shopping trip at the local E-bike dealer. Average Joe covers the bases here well and you will thank him later by avoiding some of the buying mistakes he has made. Knowledge is power, and he can help you exercise yours.

 
From here the book contains some blah-blah moments (totally kidding). What I mean is he educates you further with important E-bikes issues you may not of considered. Several riveting chapters on E-bike insight are followed with some book ending E-bike reviews. His personal up-close relations with E-bikes are also evident in this part of the book. I did get a kick out of the fact that not all the bikes reviewed are electric. I assume he did it because these are bikes he likes and can easily be converted to electric-assist like his own beloved Devinci.

 
I know Joe is a wise man because he saw fit to see if I would mind him including some of my electric bike reviews as part of his labor of love. Of course I was ecstatic to learn he thought they were worth adding, and I gave him full permission to do so. He even went as far as to say “Turbo Bob, one of the greatest online bike reviewers. I highly recommend his blog”, and adds a link to my site in several places. Is this guy wise or what?

 
After that fantastic ego blast, I guess it is time for the critique part. It took a bit to realize that because he and I live in such different places (Joe in Canada and me in Sunny San Diego), some of the info seemed kind of dated. It turns out that isn’t the case, just that the bikes and accessories that are popular there are different from my area. Bike are bikes (E-bikes are E-bikes?) and no matter where you live that part is a given common.

 
And of course as you read any article or book you think that you could have used a better word or description. This happened a few times, but I was glad to get his feelings that I could add to my own. After all, isn’t that what life is all about? If you live in your own little bubble 24/7, you will never reach your full potential. I fully applaud Average Joe Cyclist for reaching out to my mind for expansion purposes. Even though this book will not tell you every single E-bike fact, it is sure to get you in the saddle of one to see if it is the right choice for you.

 
One thing I am lucky to have when it comes to E-bike reviews is a great variety of brands and models in my area. I also do my best to visit other cities and states to be able to broaden the scope of my reviews. Joe didn’t get that variety as well covered in his book, yet reviewed some bikes that I am unfamiliar with. Once again the fact that his world and mine aren’t on the same plain comes though in a good way.

 
My wife has prodded me many times to write a book such as Joe’s. It is a large undertaking that Joe has completed well. As I turned the last page I wanted more, a sign of a good writer and a good subject. I have to thank Joe for doing it, including me in his book, and taking off the pressure on me of having to take on the monumental task of writing a E-bike buyers guide.

 
Way to go Joe Goodwill, I hope you sell a million copies, Turbo Bob.

 
“Bikes have wheels.”—Noam Chomsky.

You can order your book(s) here, or follow Joe’s bike exploits by using these links

https://averagejoecyclist.com/

https://www.facebook.com/averagejoe.cyclist

These are direct links to the Amazon ordering site. One for the color version and the other for black and white.

Posted in E-bike general interest, My blogs on other sites, Opinion | 1 Comment