Scoozy 250 SS E-bike—Sensible Simplicity

Scoozy 250 SS E-bike—Sensible Simplicity.

Sleek and smooth, yet brightly colored, this Scoozy 250 SS was a great riding friend.

I considered titling this post “Urban Warrior”, as that is really the inspiration for this bike. It is designed to be a lightweight E-bike to take on the city and some of their tight legal regs for E-bikes. At under 40 lbs., and with great agility and strength, it seems to be the perfect bike for that purpose. It is a true pedelec (no throttle), which helps to further its intended goal for riders in those afflicted areas where E-bikes might not be as welcome as others. Plus it is fairly stealthy too. Maybe off track a bit, yet I think messenger bike with benefits could be envisioned as you ride.

Simple is as simple does. If you have looked around, you know most E-bikes are not this easy going in the rear.

You might recall my last experience with Scoozy E-bikes was with a slightly more powerful E-bike with throttle and cruise control as its control system. Today they have moved from the Ride Scoozy name to a simpler one, kind of like their bikes. Personally I like simple, and that is strengthened for me in the E-bike world, with so many companies over-complicating their bikes with fancy new electrics that might be too unreliable (or non-easily understandable). I just want to ride with a smile, not have to know every smart code on earth.

Another plus on the Scoozy list are the quality components from front to rear that help my confidence with every ride. It has a fixie kind of style with a color combo that drew many compliments during my jaunts. Although this type of bike is not my favorite by any means, it did really speak to me so many times. It is possible to enjoy being out of your little box, a fact driven home by the 250 SS (single speed). Yes, one speed, no shifting. That is just a part of the simplicity I am embracing here.

If you want more info, get a cycle computer. I liked the 250 SS just the way it came.

The previous Scoozy I tested was also a single speed, but having the throttle on that bike was my preference. It made starting out just a bit easier, especially on mild to steep grades. On this 250 SS it wasn’t that much more difficult as the PAS (automatic pedal motor assist) comes on pretty quickly as you start pedaling. And once it is on, in one of three power levels, off you go with a smile. To maintain the motor’s power you do have to continue pedaling, but with only as much effort as you desire.

As far as the bike’s gearing is concerned, you have options there. As delivered to me the gearing was a bit low, yet with many rides behind my belt it is the one I would stick too. By having the rear gear a tooth or two different, you can make climbing easier at the sacrifice of less top speed—or go the other way around if you like to make good time on a ride. I got the 18 tooth rear gear, the one I would recommend. And if you some reason it doesn’t work for you, changing it isn’t too hard or expensive. And making good time on a ride, that is easy with the chosen set-up on the bike.

Enough power for most any ride, 250 watts is easy on the bike’s weight and on battery range.

Noticing the geared motor in the front?, me too. On a bike like this, that isn’t radically over-powered, the front placement is almost fully preferable. Many might feel different, yet with even a short ride, you will be hooked on the balance and feel the front motor offers. It too seems a bit stronger than other 250 watt motors I have ridden in the past. I you want some hair-burning power and speed, look elsewhere. But if you want a smooth clean ride that can handle almost any condition, (and at a super reasonable price I might add), then a test ride on the Scoozy 250 SS might be a wise idea.

I took this during the LA Tweed Ride—we love Tweed Rides.

To follow through with the simple theme, the SS has a small power panel on the bars that shows the battery power (range) left, and the power PAS assist level you have chosen. There are three buttons there—power on and off—PAS choice—and a walking button that holds a slow speed when depressed (I am not too big on walking buttons, yet this one was slow enough to be fully safe). If you want more riding info, you can add a small cycle computer to add speed, time, and temperature info. A bell and lights could easily be your idea on useful riding gear.

The brakes fit into the simple theme too. Good, strong, smart and understandable old-fashioned V-brakes are fitted. Today’s’ disc brakes are either junky quality or overbuilt and too touchy to be safe. Having the right brakes is important. I like the choice this bike has on-board. There are some good disc brakes too, yet I vote for simple and strong. Keep in mind this SS has a strong steel frame with dropout reinforcements to keep you on track. It is missing my desired fenders, but does come with a chain guard and kickstand. It seems to have all the needed threading to add racks and fenders easily if you want them.

Easy to assemble (for me and maybe for you). If not, a good buddy or bike shop can help.

The frame mounted battery is a large capacity 36 volt unit. It is really the only E-bike noticeable thing on the bike. It can be disguised some I imagine if you wanted. This battery coupled with the power-sipping motor, the light overall weight, and the general efficiency of the bike, will take you very far between charges. There is no set way to say exactly, yet one ride I took was an easy 40 miles and there was still plenty on LED action to be seen on the battery power level display. Simple adds up to smart in so many ways on the Scoozy 250 SS.

Now, I do want to mention that this bike can be molded some to fit your personal needs. A throttle can be added at the factory if you so feel the need for one. I mentioned the different rear gears that can be fitted. Three cool color combos are on the books, as are two frame sizes. Like many bikes of its type, you can go even wilder with colors and accessories that help bond you to your bike. I loved it the way it came, adding only front and rear lights for my rides (day and night of course).

The more I Ride Scoozy—the more I like Ride Scoozy. I can’t wait to try out their coming all-terrain E-bike—in bright yellow non the less.

Scoozy (still Ride Scoozy on their website) has a awesome looking 500 watt rear drive version of this basic bike if you want more juice. They are also adding a great looking 20“ fat tire all-terrain E-bike any day now, so you can see that on their site too. They are working out some possible mid-drive E-bikes that might be part of their line-up too. They do nice bikes with the good stuff and at a number ($) that anyone can afford. I can’t think of too many other E-bike shops doing that.

I loved riding the 250 SS, you might too,    Turbo Bob.

“Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.”—H.G. Wells.

You can find them on their website and even Facebook.

Of course I added some videos to how you the bike better.

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 1 Comment

Electric Bike Company Model “S” E-bike—Tech, Power and Comfort

Electric Bike Company Model “S” E-bike—Tech, Power and Comfort.

Sleek, stylist and comfortable, the Model “S” is quite a good rider.

You might like all the cool innovations on this brand new E-bike out of the Electric Bike Company camp. Some major brainstorming has been going on behind closed doors—and the result is this new line of bikes, both step-though and classic. In addition to being a quality built, powerful and comfortable E-bike, it has features even you probably didn’t think we needed—-yet we do. I will try to list them all while I give you my impressions on this orange speedster (they do come in other colors).

A very informative display is part of the package.

First off, because they will be offering an extension cargo bike front with a large carry basket and also a custom made trailer (the trailer hitch is integrated to the rear rack), this E-bike has been adorned with more (much more) power than your average E-bike. The bike comes preset (with the display modes) with normal speed and power levels. Although the main reason you might change it is to lower power available when the bike is lent to friends, you can increase it too. I set it to max speed and power setting to find it becomes the rocket ship of E-bikes. Going up my local test grade at 20 mph was a one time event. I reset it before too long, where it should stay, unless you really need that extra power (when hauling a heavy load with the cargo extension or the trailer).

We took it to the LA Tweed Ride. Although not vintage, it got its share of attention.

The control panel is actually two pieces. One is the close at hand pushbuttons. The three buttons easily control every function of the bike, most importantly the ones you use while riding. That is nice so you don’t have to take your hand from the bar, and once used to the bike, eyes from the road either. The display is filled with good info, and even tells you when the onboard head and tail light are lit. Of course when they are on, the display is backlit too. The lights are strong, easily good for basic riding. I personally add an auxiliary front and rear light when hitting the open road. They even spec a cable lock clipped to the rear rack so security is close at hand.

More innovations surround the battery package. The Model “S” is a 48 volt E-bike. You do have options on the battery capacity—from 10 Ah to over 17. The battery charger is onboard and requires only a pull on the spring reeled cord to insert it into a 110 outlet. At that point the green and red LED lights there will signal your charge completion. They offer two front baskets, one with an auxiliary battery to lift your ride range to close to 100 miles between charges. It is a plug and play set-up with a switch to power from one battery to another.

Here is the plug for the built-in charger. The cord reels out and the red/green lights are just inside the housing.

The bike has a USB outlet on the display. The battery has a 12 volt cigarette lighter type outlet for many uses. One is the little transformer they give you to make a second USB power port. Another fun use is the optional powered food and drink cooler (an option they offer) that will ride on the rear rack. The bike is covered in so many places with threaded spots for front and rear racks (options they offer)—side surfboard racks (an option they offer)—front panniers—fenders and who knows what else you will want.

Another option on its way is a very small and light battery that mounts where the front basket normally sits. Some might like this to balance the bike some and reduce the weight if they only plan on shorter rides. During all the rides I found the stock balance to be nice, a tad heavy in the rear, yet you would only notice it if you are doing BMX jumps. Cool thing is those jumps would probably be fun and not hurt the bike. It is built with HD components and the rear frame uses 3mm thick wall tubing, twice the strength than most any bike you will ride.

The good looks hide the extreme power this bike has.

The bike is a blast to ride. The adjustability in the bars, stem and saddle should allow most any size rider a good fit. They have a great saddle design ands it matched me well. Keep in mind on the really long rides a wider saddle like this isn’t as good as one a bit narrower. Their decked bike comes with a suspension seatpost, which I am sure you can get for this version. I was a little surprised that when they dropped off the bike for me, I ended up with the “stripped—basic” version, while in the van was the fully equipped model (minus the awesome option mag wheels). Not a problem as I was able to video of it so you can see the extra pieces, and took it for a short ride.

A strong motor, single speed and big brakes are on this end.

Now as you take to the road you might notice this is a single speed bike. On the whole I liked the simplicity there and no shifting makes for a less complicated ride. They do offer different rear gears depending on you and your ride locales. Because the bike has dual control (5 PAS (automatic pedal assist) power levels and a thumb throttle), getting started from a stop and the need of being in a specific gear is way down on the needs list. If you are a stickler for gears or have very steep grades in your near future, a basic 7 speed derailleur gearing system can be easily installed.

The tire selection is right up my alley. The give a great ride compared to those skinny little tires on some of the E-bikes you will see. What you find too are some beefy rims and oversized stainless steel spokes. In fact everything on the bike that isn’t painted aluminum, plastic or chrome, is stainless steel. This bike is designed to last long and give great service for years. And you can tell much of this just by riding it, it is solid and smooth, two things everyone strives for in their new or old bike.

Every E-bike needs good brakes. I found these hydraulic brakes to work great without being too strong or sensitive.


I guess you can tell I enjoyed my time with the Electric Bike Company’s Model “S”. It not only looks good to make you feel wonderful, yet also gets people’s attention as you ride and stop to shop or relax at a great destination. Not once did I get a bad feedback from the bike. It was like a best friend doing all I wanted and being right there when I needed it.

I first met the crew almost 2 years ago as they were getting the first version out there for the potential customers. They have worked long and hard to get such a cool E-bike that is so unlike many others. I think they have done a wonderful job, but I bet they aren’t finished yet. This bike finally came onto the market the beginning of this year (2017). A few of the neat options are still getting their final detail worked out, but expect them very soon. From what I have seen and experienced, it would be hard to go wrong calling the Electric Bike Company your E-bike maker.

Hit the road with confidence, Turbo Bob.

You can find these bikes at their website.

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

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 7 Comments

SmartMotion Pacer E-bike—Trifecta Champion

SmartMotion Pacer E-bike—Trifecta Champion.


This sweet bike is great to ride.

Motor control systems on electric bikes are a big concern of mine. Having one that is not jumpy or unsafe is key. Having one that custom fits the riders needs is perfect. I maybe coined the term dual control for E-bikes that not only have automatic motor control (PAS), yet also have a throttle so pedaling isn’t always necessary for the assist. Normally the PAS is cadence driven (sensing just the fact the pedals are turning) or torque sensed (smart control that can sense your push power on the pedals and give the assist to match your leg power correctly).


What a great display unit—It does so much for you.

The Smart Motion bike goes to a tri-control with a great new innovation. The three ways to control the motor power are far from all the cool features on this new E-bike from Lectric Cycles, yet it is worth getting excited about. What adds the 3rd control factor is it has the throttle that the majority of E-bike rider need (and fewer and fewer E-bikes have them), (bad move from the manufacturers I would say). Yet is also lets you switch your PAS between cadence and torque modes. This gives you great flexibility in ways I haven’t experienced on any other E-bike.

I think I documented the way the control system works and blends with your ride fairly well on the videos I did (and you can see at the bottom of this post). I have to say I like the variety, the ease of use and the general feel of the Pacer’s control system. It is important on E-bikes to feel comfortable at all times. The bike itself also made for a comfortable feel, so easy riding is the result. It is a big bike though, (not so much for me at 6” 2”) with the large frame they supplied me and the 27.5 inch, not too aggressive Kenda tires.



Nice lighting on this bike in every corner

Not to worry there, as Lectric Cycles offers this bike in a smaller frame size. They also have 6 bike styles including a hot dog mountain bike and several urban bikes, some with low frames, like I would normally ride when possible (comfort step-through frames are just right for the aging E-bike crowd). The even have a SmartMotion folding E-bike called the Vista. When you add the convenience of a folding bike with an electric-assist you really are making the best bike for the masses of people who want to ride easy, use intermodal transportation  and have the ultimate in bike security.


This Pacer comes so well equipped. The motor battery fed front and rear LED lighting are exceptional for a bike in this price range. I always add additional front and rear lights for the bigger rides, yet these will really do for most any run on the local roads. There are also extra frame LED lights for coolness and visibility. The solid and fancy rear rack is a blessing. Chain guard, strong kick stand and lightweight fenders are things I need and don’t want to spend the time and money finding, so having them included is great. The ergo grips and bar ends feel good, although the thumb throttle placement need some work. On even some shorter rides, the fatigue came quick.


Lots of battery power for those long rides.

The massive battery (power, not necessarily the physical size), is semi-integrated into the frame. It has a USB power output port and easy removal of the battery from the bike if needed. The range and power available is so much better than most E-bikes out there. One thing you might find interesting is that with just throttle use, the bike’s motor assist is limited to the Class 1 and 2 speed range of 20 mph. But in the PAS modes, if you have the pedal power yourself, the motor will assist you to the class 3 range of 28 mph. If you are using that extra power, make sure to get your SmartMotion Pacer with the largest capacity battery. The bike comes with 3 battery options, my recommendation with any E-bike, is the get the most powerful option they offer, in this case it is 17.5 Ah (48 volts btw).



Ready to ride, ride hard and ride fast.

Big strong hydraulic disc brakes are being seen on so many E-bikes nowadays (this E-bike has them). I can’t say I am a fan of them. They can be so powerful that a rider can take a dive in an emergency when the brakes are applied too quick and strong (even with much practice this is too easy to do). There are two answers to this very urgent problem. One is make sure you get those brakes with the two-finger shorty down-hill  levers that reduce the risk of over applying them (which the Pacer does not have)—or to avoid them completely and get a E-bike with quality mechanically operated disc brakes or good old fashioned V-brakes that work so well. It is your life and health on the line—so make sure you have brakes that work for you—and practice emergency stops to avoid the fall.


I have told so many makers about using the safe two-finger levers. Many have them, many have agreed I am right and made the shift to them. I do hope SmartMotion hears my plea for you and me, and make the change. Even if your bike comes with the full length levers, they can be changed for a cost that is fully worth it, compared to the pain the full length levers can cause you. I can still count on one hand how many times I almost went down as moving obstacles caught me off guard. Too much pressure caused wheel skidding and almost going over the bars. I am a decent long-time rider, still the danger reared it’s ugly head and I lucked my way through them. OK—rant over. So you know, not many makers are using the two-finger levers, so the Pacer is in the majority there.


There is nothing like a BodyFloat to rise your bike spirits.

Talking comfort on the Pacer is easy. It just naturally feels good. Shifting the 10 gears with the quality gear train is smooth and easy, partly due to the great hand shifter on the right side of the bars. Just the one gear ring up front makes things simple. Also being a BodyFloat isolation seat post dealer—this demo bike has one on-board, and it is like a bike dream that doesn’t stop. Both my wife’s and my E-bike have them. They are the best, better and simpler than full suspension bikes. Well there is so much more to tell about this cool and great performing E-bike from Lectric Cycles. I think you just need to hunt one down for you own test ride and evaluation. I didn’t mention the great display unit—you will love that too.

Go E-bikes—Go Lectric Cycles!     Turbo Bob.

“Cycling is unique. No other sport lets you go like that—where there’s only the bike left to hold you up. If you ran as hard, you’d fall over. Your legs wouldn’t support you.”—Steve Johnson.

You can find Lectric Cycles on their website or Facebook page

Here are the videos of the SmartMotion Pacer I uploaded.



Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

Hidden Power E-bike Conversion—Light-weight Motivation

Hidden Power E-bike Conversion—Light-weight Motivation.

The whole Hidden Power kit comes in a fairly small and light box.

Just over a month before the holidays I got this kit to test, ride and review. The Hidden Power kit has some great benefits and more than a few drawbacks too. I wanted to get this report out sooner, but I have been kind of aggressively following other interests and trying to keep warm and dry at the same time. Plenty of bike riding has been taking place and I will work to get back to my weekly posts on everything bike related. Thanks for staying connected while I was a bit off the grid.

This kit has 5 variations, 4 for different folding bikes, and the one I chose, the standard kit. I expected it to fit on one of my hybrids, yet the distance from the seat tube to the tire was too great for the drive wheel to reach the tire. You may have already noticed two things, one is that this is a friction drive kit where the drive wheel of the kit turns the tire at the tread. Also, to use it, the bike must be rear fenderless or have the fender modified. So some time was used to see if it would fit any of my other or vintage bikes, no luck there.

This is my new bike for doing more E-bike conversion tests. The Hidden Power kit is not all that noticeable.

My new quest was to borrow or buy a suitable candidate bike, with the need considered of fitting the next E-bike conversion I already had in waiting. I was lucky to find a young couple with their first new baby that decided to sell their mostly unused bikes on Craigslist. I always worry about getting a bike this way, not wanting to feed the stolen bike market. So I safely got a great bike at a super deal and the test proceeded. The install was a breeze, yet a few small adjustments were needed. That was the swing of the unit to contact the tire correctly and when needed. I got it close, yet still felt I missed the narrow sweet spot.

One thing that bothered me was on the box is the mention of the fact that the Hidden Power conversion kit won the Eurobike Gold Award in 2010. I am curious if the team has been working on upgrades and just how old the kit they sent me was. It all seemed new and unused in the past, so I am going on that assumption and what I could see and feel. I did have two issues with the way it worked (coming up), yet on the whole it got me where I was going with each ride.

This is the motor and controller mounted and ready to ride.

Two nice things are that it only weights your bike down by about 5 lbs., so if it does have problems, it won’t slow you down much. Plus, the drive wheel retracts from the tire when not in use, so no extra drag either. It pretty much takes very little space on your bike and when idle affects your ride very little. Which was good because several times I turned the throttle I got no assist. It usually would work with the next (or one after that) throttle attempt. If you stop the bike with the assist applied it will sense the overload and turn itself off. I feel like the lack of it coming on sometimes was linked to this safety feature

The other problem I had was being able to charge the battery, which uncovered one more deal too. I got the kit with the battery fully charged so riding quite a bit was no problem. When I went to recharge it, no luck there. It uses the same basic charger set-up as most E-bikes. I tried hooking it up many times, yet the lights on the charger would cycle through the colors and the voltage output fluctuated, but wouldn’t charge the battery. I decided to reach out to the supplier to see what they thought—or to get another battery and charger to complete my testing.

You can see the whole kit (minus the throttle) from this angle.

This was when I realized that customer service was slow or close to non-existence (at least in my part of the big world). Weeks later they contacted me to say that maybe they had supplied the wrong battery and for me to send some pictures. It has been over a month with again no response. I solved my charging problem myself so the test could resume. I used jumpers to charge the battery from the output wires instead of the normal charging inlet jack. That worked, so good deal there. Being a 14 volt, 20 Ah battery, I had no other charger to use, plus a very strong rule with E-bikes is to use only the charger supplied by the bike of conversion kit maker.

Before I talk about the ride, some more on the kit. It came with a  PAS unit for the pedals to activate the motor automatically when pedaling. With a short look I decided it wasn’t going to all line-up on this bike, so I decided to use the handlebar throttle only. This is a small unit that works like an old-school volume knob for a radio. Thing is it didn’t have different speeds, it works as an on-off switch only. This wasn’t really an issue as the motor is not that powerful. It took some time to get to full speed (about 18 mph I found).

Love it or hate it—this is the throttle unit.

Also, the throttle unit tie-strapped to the handgrip where it is a bit of in the way, so it was kind of uncomfortable with the ride and using the throttle. Not the best design, yet I became used to the action very quickly, so I decided it was ok. Like I said before the install was quick, with very few wires and things to deal with. One thing I thought needed an upgrade was the fact that the battery wires need to be disconnected when not in use. Most would add a main power switch for this purpose, not sure why the Hidden Power kit doesn’t have one.

Riding was easy with enough assist for all but the medium and steep hills. I was surprised at the quiet noise level when it was powered up. It did make a bit of a clatter when it swung into engagement with the tire, yet not that bad. The drive wheel is very smooth aluminum, so that is why the motor was not a big noise maker, although when it’s wet outside I think some major slippage could occur. The last one like this I tested the wheel was sandpaper covered, which caused a lot of noise and tire wear. I am not sure which approach is really best. The deal is that friction drive is kind of outdated, yet basically works ok on low power E-bike kits.

Here is the Hidden Power kit viewed from the other side of the bike.

One thing I wasn’t able to check as good as I liked was the heat factor at the motor and drive. The last one I tested with this kind of arrangement made some excessive heat. The Hidden Power conversion uses less voltage and less power so the heat generated is probably acceptable. It is easy to check with the modern heat guns, so if you get one of these kits, keep an eye on that. Over 200 degrees F is not good.

So on the whole it worked ok—not too fast or powerful. Yet with a 5 lbs, conversion that is to be expected. Customer service is questionable. This is something I rarely have problems with, as most the folks that supply me demo units are normally very interested in the progress of the testing. I do hope they reply when I ask them for a pre-paid return shipping label. It came from a USA source, yet is made in Korea. Hard to say if I recommend this conversion, but it was fun, easy and light. It is always your choice on what works best for you.

Power your ride, Turbo Bob.

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

Check out the videos I did for a better look and more info.


Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike test reviews | 6 Comments

Lumos Lighted Bicycle Helmet—A New Step to Bike Happiness

Lumos Lighted Bicycle Helmet—A New Step to Bike Happiness.

As I unpacked the Lumos Helmet, this is what I found.

Another cool bike safety accessory has come to us through the crowdfunding world. This time it is the Lumos Helmet, adorned with bright LED lights and more. It meets all the modern requirements for helmets, but has some interesting features you may be looking for. It has the sleek road bike look that talks speed and even comes in 3 different colors. More sizes are in the works, yet for now just one adult size is in the catalog.

So beyond the fact that it is a bicycle helmet there is much more to see. It has 50 super bright LED lights that can blink or stay on steady. They are nicely molded into the helmet for a smooth contour and even though you can’t submerge it in water (although you probably could) it is weatherproof enough for most any conditions you will find during your ride. The lithium battery and LED lights should last for many years, so this is one bike product that will stand the test of time.

You can use the main handlebar unit, or the one with buttons near each handgrip.

Other than just blinking lights (actually 3 modes—solid on—slow blink—fast blink), it has turn signals and a braking light you can actuate. The turn signals are run with a small handlebar mounted remote switch device. Two different choices are included with the helmet, one is a dual button that has both left and right buttons together. The other has short wires so you can have one button by each handgrip. The individual buttons setup still uses the all in one unit, and that is the one that blinks when the turn signal are on. This may seem confusing so check the video I shared below.

When the turn signals are on, half of the front lights (normally white) start blinking in yellow. And the side rear lights (normally off) blink in yellow too. In addition to that, there is a light just above your eyes that blinks too, so maybe you will notice they are on, prompting you to turn them back off when your turn is completed. There is a beep when the signals are turned on or off, yet it is quiet while the turn lights are blinking. That same beep can be heard when the main lights are turned on and off.

Turn lights a blinking—easy to see by everyone near by.

In the back of the helmet is the main power switch. Next to it is an Apple like charge receptacle. The remote turn switch for the bars has the same port. The helmet even comes with two charge cords (USB) so charging each is quick and easy. Lumos claims about 2 hours to charge (less if the battery isn’t fully flat) and run times of about 3 hours on solid and 6 on blinking mode. This is pretty much what I found in use, so their numbers match well with the real life experience. For most commuters, this relates to charging it once or twice a week.

The Lumos has a brake light mode, yet this skid lid comes with that feature disabled. They are still working the details, and when perfected if can be uploaded to the unit in the field. It is easy to enable the mode, should work fairly well, but will affect the run times heavily. As for now, I have left mine in the off mode until a time it works with nary a hitch.

Inside it has the basic foam inserts and band tightening knob.

Being a one-size fits all helmet for now, you may be a bit too big or small for it. It has the foam inserts that can be changed for thicker ones, yet no extras were in the box. It also has the big knob in the back strapping to help adjust it to your head. For me, the fit is just fine and comfortable. They do claim on their site that soon they will be offering different sizes, so if you are concerned that a standard adult size isn’t for you, just hold on and your wishes should be filled soon. I found it just a tad on the heavy side (pretty close to one pound). For most this will be fine, yet the extreme roadies and people who ride with their backs parallel to the ground, it might add some neck strain.

All in all, I like the Lumos helmet. Truth for me is I rarely wear one, so the testing put me a bit out of my normal box. And as long as I am putting my personal thoughts forward, the turn signal thing doesn’t get me all that excited. The chance of folks around you seeing and interpreting the blinking turn signal light seem on the basically slim side to me. When I was a kid they had gimmicky t/s lights for the back of bikes (in fact they still sell them). Cool I guess, yet not my thing. My arms, body and eyes seem to do what I need to get the people around me attention’s for turns and the such.

With a sleek look, the Lumos Helmet has much to offer in comfort and safety.

What I do really like are the super bright blinking lights in general. Anything you can do to catch the attention of the people that can do you harm is very important. I am all for lots of blinking lights, day or night on everyone’s bikes, so more bright ones on your brain bucket are gold. These lights are very bright. They might not be too noticeable on the sunniest of days, yet in most conditions they will be standing out strong.

Now remember, Jose Jimenez (Bill Dana) hopes you won’t call this a crash helmet, something I hope too. Yet it is nice to know that your bike protection gear serves more than one purpose. It should do a lot to keep you on two wheels, yet if the worse happens, it will be there to back you up you too. 80 lumens of light high above the traffic should make you easy to see anytime you mount up on your bike. And that should make riding much more pleasurable.

Go Lumos and go safe, Turbo Bob.

“A few years ago, I bought a old red bicycle with the words Free Spirit written across the side—which is exactly what I felt when I rode it down the street in a tie-dyed dress.”—Drew Barrymore.

You can find Lumos on their website or Facebook page.

Here are a couple videos I shot with the Lumos Helmet.

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Buffalo Electric Bike by Freway—Singletrack Sweetheart

Buffalo Electric Bike by Freway—Singletrack Sweetheart.

Looking sharp and riding good—the Freway Buffalo.

It’s been close to a year since I reviewed the Freway VR-01, and even at that time there was talk of this upgraded offering. It was a long wait, yet well worth the months that passed. Electric mountain bikes aren’t number one on my list of favorites (maybe yours though), but I did have some big fun on this Buffalo. With a distance glance they might seem much the same, yet let’s see what makes this bike better and nicer than the VR-01.

I guess the biggest factor here is more power. With a 36 volt 350 watt motor, it climbs and rides with much better authority. This is a great feature as more grunt and speed was one of the things I desired in their other model. It also has more battery capacity so longer rides are in the works at any given time. Sliding the lithium battery into the curvature of the frame makes for a sleeker look too. They also added a USB output that many will just love to have.

The battery is tucked nicely onto the aluminum frame.

Although the control system stays much the same, the control buttons and display are completely different. With no hand throttle to add power, all your assist comes when your pedaling triggers the motor into action. Three levels of power assist (and an off setting) allow you enough choices for most any kind of ride. I am a big fan of having a throttle, yet the lack of one makes this a class 1 E-bike with less restrictions on riding locations (in California at least). Plus, many like a true pedelec as they give a more authentic bike riding experience for the people that expect it that way.

The display is a mini unit on the left side of the bars with two buttons that control all the features. This might seem like a downgrade, yet for the bike’s purpose I think it works well. With the rough and tumble life of a mountain bike, the display is well protected. Plus not having that big display front and center, it leaves more room on the bars for lights and other accessories. The bike comes with a nice lighting system (front and rear) that runs off the motor battery, but when you are really pushing it, you will need some serious accessory lighting at night.

350 watts, disc brakes, and a 1 X 8 drivetrain are part of the Buffalo’s features,

The Buffalo moves to a 1 X 8 drivetrain as opposed to the VR-01’s 3 X 7. I like this change (8 gears instead of 27) and having a single front chainring makes big sense to me. For the serious climbers the missing extra low gears might be an issue, but the motor has more pull, so it felt like a even trade off to me. The shifting is quick and simple with a well placed thumb shifter. There is very little delay with the application of motor power, so all the dirt banging around I did felt great.

Before we talk more about this bike, I want to cover the company some. They have been around a couple years and seem to have two bikes in their line-up at the moment. I saw a catalog of future bikes and they have some beauties coming out soon. I understand their main US facility is in the Los Angeles area, although they might have more than one. This Buffalo should be shipping any day now (30 days and it seems it will be a Kickstarter?). They have a couple retail locations, but for the time being most all transactions with them will be online. I do hope to see more places where Freway E-bikes can be test ridden and purchased, as choosing a bike in person is a desirable way to move forward.

Headed for Kickstarter very soon. I enjoyed my time on the Buffalo.

I am lucky to be fairly close to their offices, so getting a chance to ride and test the Buffalo was a breeze. I made sure to put it through it’s paces quite a bit during this week so I can relay the results here for you. I enjoyed the VR-01, yet this bike just has so much more to get you down the road. It is still a generally inexpensive E-bike in the scheme of things, so expecting too much wouldn’t be wise, yet it did everything I asked of it every time I mounted up for a brisk and fun experience. The fit and finish is impressive too.

Hydraulic disc brakes are becoming the norm nowadays and this Buffalo is no different. They work strong and were easy to modulate on the low traction surfaces I rode. I continually am pushing towards 2 finger levers for these types of brakes, the Buffalo has the smaller ones, yet more like 3 finger. If you pull too hard on the levers of hydraulic brakes you risk an incident, so the shorter levers are key to bike safety. The ones on this bike are on my approval list. Up front is a ok working front suspension fork, yet like the ones on most E-bikes, it doesn’t stand out as exceptional in the real rough stuff.

Built-in front and rear lighting are always nice to see on an E-bike.

Even though the Freway Buffalo is a mountain E-bike, that doesn’t mean you can’t ride it anywhere and anytime. The Kenda tires are just a touch or two more aggressive than street tires, yet not the all out backwoods type on the real racers. The rims, gears, frame and brakes all seem beefy enough to do dual duty, so when I had it on the trails I felt confidence that I was going to have some solid riding with no twisted body or bike parts. I didn’t ride the battery to the end of the charge even once, yet I could tell it has a long range you would expect from a 11 Ah battery on a 350 watt bike.

Freway has put together a nice package here. Looks wise I have no complaints, and once in the saddle I got the same feeling. Unlike most mountain E-bikes, it has a big kickstand that will help it keep looking good for a long time, and help it from getting all beat up when you are parked (I see people fling their bikes to the ground all the time—not good for any part of the bike). The lights work nice and the rear one even blinks (my preference, although most I’ve tested don’t). The power was more than enough for all but those giant San Francisco type hills. For street riding I would swap out the saddle (normal 1st up-grade), yet for the most part this Buffalo has what you need to ride.

Singletrack or street, I kept smiling as long as the wheels kept turning, Turbo Bob.

“Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds.”—Louis J. Helle.

You can find Freway on Facebook and their website.

I shot these two videos during my time with the Buffalo.

Here is a link to the review I did on the Freway VR-01



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Maker Batteries: Build Your Own Lithium-ion Battery Packs—A Kickstarter

Maker Batteries: Build Your Own Lithium-ion Battery Packs—A Kickstarter.

This shows you what is included in a make it yourself battery pack.

These are exciting times for lithium batteries. They are light, powerful and efficient. They too can be pricey, so finding a way to have the packs meet you exact needs and saving some money doing it sounds good to me. You might know Micah through his fantastic book I reviewed (and wrote the forward too). Titled “The Ultimate Do It Yourself E-Bike Guide”, it is the go to book for people building their own electric bicycle (see the link below). I would think it is already in you personal library.

These packs featured in his Kickstarter are designed for E-bikes, R/C hobbies, home energy systems, yet you can build and use them for so many purposes. The do require DIY skill and knowledge (tools too), but they include full instructions to help with your success as you move forward to the future of energy storage. His Kickstarter page is well written and illustrated, to make sure you can understand your commitment and finished product.

These are just some of the highlights of the kits.

In fact, the page is so informative I won’t spend too much time here trying to explain it all. Through the years I have built many battery packs for my hobby and work interests. They were all with simpler batteries that have a better safety record. Just soldering was the way to go for them, but modern lithium batteries require a specialty welder for the actual connections to the cells. This is the key feature of these packs. The larger part (packs) can be configured in so many ways, yet the individual cell packs are pre-welded.

Just like kits through the years (Heathkit—Dyno—model airplane and cars—Ikea?), the satisfaction and thrill of having just what you want is big. Knowing you did yourself is bigger. Saving money is that much cooler too. They might not work for all, but work great for so many. Some want ready made (often not exactly what you want or the price you want to pay) goods. Even still, there are hoards of people that want so much more. That is what Micah is offering in the name of lithium batteries.

You will need some tools.

Last up is the price savings. The numbers push to about a 50% saving on average, even more in some situations. Many E-bikes use batteries that are enclosed in plastic or aluminum housings. In most cases these Kickstarter packs can be put inside those housings without too much extra work. Most DIY E-bike conversions use all types of packs and all those can be replicated with the Maker Batteries.

You might notice this Kickstarter is winding down quickly. I personally would be unhappy to see this great product slip away if it doesn’t get fully funded. Just in the E-bike world there are thousands who could use this product—right now and in the near future. Don’t let it slip away. Remember, These batteries don’t build themselves or come fully assembled, but if you have the need and the skills, it could be the perfect way to go.

Power up your future, Turbo Bob.

“Riding a bicycle is about getting back to basics. It’s good for the waistline and it’s good for the wallet, is what I’m saying”.   Phil Keogham.

Here is the link to this great Kickstarter. This seems to be just the video, yet on the Kickstarter page the info is very complete. You can find that on the Kickstarter page if this link isn’t enough.

Here is a link to my review on Micah Toll’s book.


Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike general interest, Opinion | 2 Comments

NiteRider Lumina OLED 950 Boost (and Swift 350)—Morphed to Perfection

NiteRider Lumina OLED 950 Boost (and Swift 350)—Morphed to Perfection.

This new light from NiteRider has it all.

When my wife and I first started bike commuting 10 years ago, we decided to let NiteRider guide our way during the dark hours. Sure, I had owned bike headlamps before that, yet they were all pretty much a joke as far as actually seeing the road. That pair of MiNewt Mini lights were incredible and really made our riding safe. They were smart, convenient and at the time, I thought played at the pinnacle of their game.

Four years ago we upgraded to a pair of the NiteRider Lumina lights (a 500 and a 650). Wow, they were so much better, in so many ways. We really didn’t take advantage of the extra brightness as much, but reveled at the better design and working features. They incorporate many of the same changes that make the Boost and Swift better, yet not all of them. Once again I figured these were the best and there wasn’t anyway to top their design and usefulness. Wrong again.

Now with this Lumina OLED 950 Boost, I am seeing that NiteRider has upped their game to a point I am most impressed with. I will do my best to point out the changes, why I like them, and how they affect my riding. I also got the Swift 350 (which for some might be a way better choice), and the Lumina 950 Boost too. When it comes to riding at night, these lights are great—and as we use blinking front lights in the daytime, they really do the job there too.

Our original MiNewt Mini is on the left–and the modern new Lumina Boost 950 is on the right.

By far, the most obvious change from those MiNewt Minis is the all-in-one housing and light. Those old lights had a separate light and battery unit. That wasn’t a big deal, yet I think we can all appreciate the ease of dealing with just one piece, not two. As we only used those at night (they didn’t blink), they came off the bike most of the time and we kept them in a nice carry bag that my wife made out of some scrap material. So, two items to install, not too hard as the battery was held by a Velcro strap, and the light used a big special O-ring.

As far as mounting goes, the newer Lumina lights were better, with just one unit to mount, but they way they hooked to the bars was different. They used a knurly knobby, (a knurled knob), to tighten the unit to the bars. It works well and fits all sizes of bars, yet the many turns the knob takes to do the job took a bit of time. The new OLED and Boost use a single pull stretchy strap that gets it all done in a jiff. It too should fit all sizes of bars. At first glance I thought it may not hold the light to the bars well, but have since found they work great in that regard, The Swift is similar, yet just a bit different.

With such a strong and smart light, bike riding at night is made much easier.

One of the better changes I like with the newer Lumina, and now the OLED, Boost and Swift is the way they charge and how you can tell when they are charged. The MiNewt Mini had no indicator. You charged for 4 ½ hours and then had light for 3 hours. The only indicator was when the charge was running low the light would get dimmer. They came with their own plug-in (to the wall) charger, yet no real way to determine when it was done charging. The newer Luminas upped that with a illuminated power button that changed colors when it was fully charged (and a USB cable instead of a transformer for charging).

So that added peace of mind for battery charging. Plus that same light would let you know when there was 20% power left during use. The new OLED, Boost and Swift go one step further with intellicharge. It can determine the output of the charge source and charge twice as quickly when that charge source can deliver. On last thing about the OLED (and there is a bunch more there), the OLED has a display that tells you all you need to know about your charging and power left at all times.

The compact and bright Swift 350 is also totally affordable.

Of course all three of these new lights are way bright with long run times. In the attached videos I covered the lumens and run times, and you can also look on the NiteRider site for that same info. I think our original MiNewt Minis were 350 lumens, which really is bright enough for most riding. When we moved on to the Luminas, we normally would just use the lowest (or one up) setting, as high was always more than we need. The OLED and Boost will punch out 950, really bright. They will only do it for less than an hour and you don’t need that much light, yet they will do it.

I do like a front light that will blink. In the daytime I think that is a big key to getting the attention of oncoming vehicles and ones that might turn your way (opening doors too) . The Lumina, the OLED, the Boost and the Swift all do it. In fact the OLED has different blink modes, including one that pumps out an SOS signal, cool. Another thing they do is offer a lock-out mode. These lights get pretty hot in the higher settings, so NiteRider is very big on the lights not coming on when they are stowed. So please, take advantage of that mode whenever the lights are not mounted to your bike.

The display on the NiteRider Lumina OLED Boost 950 is filled with great information.

What makes the OLED stand out even more is the LCD readout screen that is filled with important information. As far as I can tell, both the Lumina 950 Boost lights are the same, with the exception that the OLED has the display. The info on the screen is very helpful to understanding charge and run times. It also shows you the mode you are using. The OLED is controlled with more than just the one button, something I think helped.

Like many things nowadays, the NiteRider uses instructions that are illustration oriented for every language there is. This can be a bit confusing, yet a quick call to them will clear up any of that and get you full access to all the modes and ways the lights can make your rides better. And those instructions are needed to be able to make these lights work with all the modern changes they have been through. Our original NiteRider MiNewt Minis were simple. One button on—one button off. These do that, yet do so much more.

So my point here is (I guess), that with changes come good things. Those original lights did so much for us. They worked well (and are still working after all this time). They were easy to use. They lit the road nicely for a safe and smart ride. They took away the potential stress of night riding and equipment that might fail when needed. As the years went by NiteRider has worked hard to offer the same quality, yet with much better results. I for one (and my wife for two), have been on the receiving end of their persistent push for the best.

The Swift 350 has turned out to be the perfect light for my wife’s commuter bike

One last thing. The Swift 350 has been perfect for my wife’s commuter bike. It blinks for the day rides, and is a very bright light if she has to ride when it’s dark. My favorite part (and maybe hers) is that because it is so inexpensive, she can just leave it on the bike when parked. Its black housing blends in well with her black handlebar bag so it is pretty stealthy. It gets charged once a week. It is compact and does exactly what we want it for. That is the definition of perfection.

I love the peaceful feeling I get riding at night. Let NiteRider help, Turbo Bob.

“Be at one with the universe. If you can’t do that, at least be at one with your bike.”—Lennard Zinn.

You can find NiteRider at their website or Facebook page.

Here are some videos I posted on the 3 lights I just tested.



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Index of Articles—March 2016 to September 2016

Index of Articles—March 2016 to September 2016.

March 2016


2.   Moto Reflex Pedals—Comfort King.

3.   Ride Scoozy 350—An E-bike That Makes Sense.

4.  San Diego Electric Bike Expo—The Experience & the Trends.

April 2016

1.   Electric Bikes in Northern California—What I Found.

2.   Index of Articles—September 2015 to March 2016.

3.   Flux Trail E-bike—Living the Dream.

May 2016

1.   Add-e Electric Bike Conversion Kit—Lightweight Power.

2.   Ariel Rider N-Class Premium 500—Old Meets New.

3.   Introduction to Electric Bicycles—Spring 2016 Edition—May 24, 2016.

4.   LighTake—Bike Goodies for a Song.

5.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part # 8—Wrap-up and Costs.

June 2016

1.   Velo Orange Model 8 Saddle—My New Favorite.

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

3.   Spira Electric Enclosed Motorcycle—Spira4U.

4.   Surface 604 Boar E350—Fat-Tire Filly.

July 2016

1.   Chatham E-bike by Fifield—American Gem.

2.   My Bicycle Trailer—Reworked for Smart Traveling.

August 2016

1.    Flaunt Vicko Electric Bike—Making the Grade.

2.   Electric Bike World Record Ride—Ravi on his Stromer.

September 2016

1.   KTM Macina Cross 10 CX4 E-bike—Souped-up Scrambler.





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KTM Macina Cross 10 CX4 E-bike—Souped-up Scrambler

KTM Macina Cross 10 CX4 E-bike—Souped-up Scrambler.

This baby has what you need to ride—and nothing you don’t need to slow you down.

As I threw my leg over this sleek E-bike for the first time, it seemed to be just another electric-assist mountain bike. Although there is nothing wrong with that, I am more of a street and bike trail rider, so big time climbing isn’t a need for me. Before I made it to the first stop sign, I  was already finding this KTM (with a deep heritage in gas-powered motocross racing bikes) was more than a one-purpose only machine. This brought on a wider smile with memories of days past.

As a kid, some of my favorite motorcycles were the scramblers. Not really road bikes, not really dirt bikes, they were a great compromise that could take on the trails and the highways with equal ease. They weren’t the best for either, yet they were great fun, and let you own one bike that could take you most anywhere. That is how I feel about the Macina Cross 10 CX4 (doesn’t really roll off the tongue eh?) from KTM. I loved the scramblers I had, and I am getting that kind of closeness to this KTM too.

400 watts of smooth Bosch power. It even has a great skid guard to keep you going in the rough stuff.

Being a true pedelec, if is the kind of E-bike that brings you and the bike closer together. With no throttle, all of your assist comes during pedaling. It has 5 levels of assist (including off), so finding the right amount of motor help is easy for any riding condition. The levels are not just how much power the motor will make when pedaling, but also how sensitive the torque-sensed controls are. Torque-sensing means the bike can tell how hard you are working the pedals, and let the motor help to match. For years I’ve been calling this intelligent control, and this Bosch power plant system has it figured out well.

More on that. The Bosch mid-drive motor sends its power through the chain and drive gears. There are benefits and drawbacks to a mid-drive, yet one of the biggest pluses for a bike like this is having the extra weight of the battery and motor mid-mounted and low in the frame for better bike handling, something that is easy to feel when you start pushing the Macina Cross 10. Also, because the electric power is sent through the 10 gears, it allows for better use of the torque and power the motor makes (which is plenty BTW).

The 1 X 10 drivetrain is plenty strong.

The KTM is limited to 20 mph (some of the Bosch aren’t) and has no throttle, so it is a class 1 E-bike here in California. That means no limit on where and how you can ride this lightweight E-bike (here at least). It builds speed fast as you work the gears, and cruises easy using a minimal amount of power from the 36 volt frame mounted battery. It has aa assist interrupt feature during shifting, yet there were times the gears still mashed, not sure why that was.

Like I said earlier, this bike is way comfortable on the street. The 700c Schwalbe tires have a great dual-purpose tread pattern. It is light and agile, so some commuting or fun riding is definitely in its repertoire. The KTM is pretty stripped down though. Looking for a bell, fenders, rack or a  kickstand? You won’t find them, but they could easily be added. There is kind of a chain guard on the tiny front sprocket, but none of that other good stuff you look for on a street bicycle. That small front sprocket turns faster than you would think due to internal gearing, so the gear range on the Cross 10 CX4 makes sense and feels good at any speed.

With the motor and battery mounted low and in the center of the bike, you are assured some great handling.

The lack of a kickstand bugged me a lot, so I was always looking for a curb to prop the pedals on with every stop. And, the bike comes with no pedals either. Like many high-end bikes, instead of just popping something on there, they leave up to you to get the right ones that fit your riding style. Even though there are really no extras, what this bike is about is fully covered, something you get with every ride. It is like an expensive pair of skis, ready to go where you want with no questions asked.

There are a few things about the KTM that might slow you down. One is the lack of retailers. There are 3 shops close to me that carry KTM bikes. None of them have any in stock, they are special order only. That means no test ride, just a sight unseen wish for the bike you want. And then again, none of those shops will sell you a KTM E-bike, just the non-electric ones. If you go on the KTM website, it is pretty sparse. It is a Austria made bike and their site doesn’t translate to English well. I think from my research, there are 3 E-bikes available in the US—and maybe 40 in Europe. Like I said, it is hard to tell from the sites I checked out. Judging by the talks I had with the KTM rep, they are bound to get all their stuff and retailers sorted out better so you can have a great KTM experience.

2 finger levers on the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes let you stop with confidence.

Even though getting one could be tough, I do feel once you have it, all will be fine. This bike is very high quality, the 3 dealers I spoke to seemed to be very well versed on the KTM bikes, and the Bosch power system is heavily supported here in the states. Name brand parts and pieces make up the KTM Macina, so plenty of issue-free riding sees to be a given. Strong disc brakes, solid shifting, an ok front fork and firm chassis are all part of the equation. This is a complete package.

This is a bike with a strong racing background in its rooster tail. When you ride it you can feel the race-bread features, not because it is uncomfortable and abrupt, but just the opposite. Because it is smooth and responsive. Each control and movement brings you closer to the bike. Everything about it feels natural and fun happens without pre-thought. I sure enjoyed my time on it, even if it isn’t the street bike that I crave. I do crave a scrambler though, and that is what we have here.

Bosch has done a great job with the controls and display.

Even though getting a test ride might be tough, I managed to get this one, so don’t give up. With any luck your local KTM bicycle dealer can hook you up. If this type of E-bikes peaks your interest, then it will be worth the effort to find one to try.

Go KTM, Turbo Bob.

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments’”—Elizabeth West.

KTM website

They are on Facebook too.

Check out the videos I posted on this E-bike.

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 2 Comments