Mode Madness—Bike, Love, Art

Mode Madness—Bike, Love, Art, by Turbo Bob.

—–Writer’s note—I wanted you to know before you move into reading this article, its origin. When I received the IF Mode from NYCeWheels, it was planned for a complete set of articles to be published on their pages, titled “Mode Madness”. That series never came to be (so don’t bother looking for it—although I do have dozens of other articles you can find on their blog pages). This post was so much fun to do, I thought I would share it with you anyway. Look for the links at the bottom for my full review of this folding bike (with videos) and the one I did on the Pacific IF Move too.—–

The Pacific IF Mode.

These are three things that everyone needs in their life’s. I am finding in my own way that all three can come through one device. And that one item is the Pacific IF Mode folding bike. Yes, I know that sounds kind of crazy, but as this series of articles rolls on maybe it will all make more sense. I’m doing my best to understand it all and possibly writing about it will help me come to terms with my feelings.

Oh boy, I’m already getting all gushy, but a bike like this can bring out the lover in anyone (and make you come across as a real sensitive person too). The long list of reasons a Mode can bring a tough guy to his knees is the backbone of this post and of those to come. I’ll do my best to keep it technical, but I do hope you can excuse me with as each bout of inner feelings tug at my words.

Even for non-bike folks (if there is such a distinction), just a glimpse of the IF Mode draws your attention. I know this from the first time I laid eyes on its image here on the NYCeWheels website. The 2D view was enough to start the longing. Now that I have the 3D vision, I can touch, feel and ride this dream come true. And a dream it is, as I have been spending many hours wishing this day would come. Anytime night or day now, I can throw a leg over and ride this piece of art on two wheels. I can see close-up the carved lines and cool modern features it displays for the world to appreciate.

It is hard to say which part is the best. Those 3 spoke rims are something to behold. The thought that brought its unique folding ability bends my mind. The enclosed chain and drivetrain are a supporting leg for the bike and one that also gets my vote for artistic excellence. The hidden 2-speed Schlumpf transmission is a technical wonder to be sure. The shade of paint and the contrasts add to the art that is Mode. Disc brakes too, cool feature and function that rounds out this package of sci-fi future riding.
Well, I think by now you have fully realized the love factor, maybe the art factor and for sure the fact this is a bicycle.

As I ride the local streets on the IF Mode I see no other bike like it. People on other bikes, walking and driving stop me often to find out more and get a closer look. Not that I need it, but I am never lonely riding this bike. The Mode might as well be a neon sign that says “Check me out’. I never expected that part, as all I really wanted to do was to get some one-on-one time with this awesome machine. If you want to ride the future and be part of the noticed few, then this bike is the way to go. If you want to pass un-noticed, then I suggest this isn’t the folding bike for you.

We all know that bikes are basically simple machines that have been around for over 150 years. In all that time they have been designed for form and function in so many ways. Yet to my knowledge this bike is un-like any before it. From an appearance and action stand-point, it seems so new and different, something that is hard to fathom. What brought this bike into the minds of the makers is a question to ponder. Are they just that cool and smart? Maybe a little green man from outer space inserted this bike into their minds. Whoa, did I just say that?

As I try to come back down to earth, I will mention that the Pacific IF Mode and I have fully bonded. No, not as lovers (that would be too weird), but as close riding pals. It is happy to carry me to and fro at my pace with no complaints. It doesn’t mind if I caress its body with my eyes for extended periods of time. And the contortionist factor is fun too, I just grab a hold and my will becomes its compactness. Then I wheel it around to tuck it away for the next adventure.

If you dare, follow this whole series on why I love the bike art that is Mode. Turbo Bob.

“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.”—John Howard.

My review of the IF Mode

My review of the IF Move

Posted in Folding Bike test reviews, Opinion | Leave a comment

Faraday Porteur E-bike—Welcomed Refinement

Faraday Porteur E-bike—Welcomed Refinement.

The mid-sized Faraday Porteur in green.

Here is a report from the newest Faraday convert. I’ll be the first to admit as I followed the birth of this E-bike, I was concerned they spent too much time on its style and not enough on its rideability. As it hit the Kickstarter phase I remember seeing a suggested price that seemed once again all about aiming for the Rolex crowd. As I waited past the first production run (started in January 2104) for a bike to test, my doubts continued to fester.

Nice appointments and attention to detail surround the Faraday.

Little by little, independent and customer reports filtered through the net with levels of satisfaction that raised my personal expectations. News of large and small refinements confirmed that maybe the folks behind the Faraday were serious about bikes, not just eye candy. Turns out that this E-bike has every feature of a Rolex (looks, performance, reliability and user friendliness) except a buy-in price straight from the pages of the Neiman Marcus catalog.

Occasional contacts with the friendly folks at Faraday showed their interest in getting a bike to San Diego for me. With no local dealer, the months seemed to roll. A brief sighting of a Faraday and its rider during one of our E-bike club rides reminded me to keep up the pressure. Then, just recently I met an owner who allowed me a fast blast and video opportunity. Days later, just before my last E-bike seminar, I received word that Adams Avenue Bikes was taking on a strong local retail stance. After a great showing at my event, Steven from the shop offered me a several day one-on-one with a fresh floor model demo bike.

Belt drive, 8-speeds and disc brakes help to make this bike ride great.

It didn’t take long to see the attention to detail on every square inch from stem to stern. As my admiration peaked, it was time to ride. So as it turns out, that same commitment to its appearance was offered to the bike part in a way seldom seen in a mass production E-bike. If my words don’t relay my positive experience well, just be assured it was one of total wonderment of design success. This is just not in the ride, feel and control system, but the way the bike and rider melt into one entity.

A little about the bike’s pieces are due at this point. I keep wanting to see the Gates CenterTrack belt drive on more bikes, and we see it here. Being tired of neighborhood only lighting systems speced as an up-grade, the Porteur’s included pair (front and rear) are better than most aftermarket units on bike shop shelves. My old-school need for steel bikes is rewarded with both the fork and frame. As I prefer an upright regular bike for my E-bike ride, the Faraday delivers that too.

350 watts of power make for a great balance of power and over-all weight.

As much as the E-bike world is embracing hydraulic operated brakes nowadays, I think Faraday has found the same as me, they are too touchy and too risky for E-bike riders. You will find these disc brakes to work just as well or better, yet taking the right amount of hand power to prevent a panic stop tumble. The thumb and finger shifted 8-speed rear-geared hub matches the bike’s electric-assist speed range to a tee, one more thing I am disappointed with so often.

All these things add up to a great E-bike, but it is the control system for the motor that really proves the E-bike knowledge of the designers. Torque-sensed systems (something I call intelligent control) make for the best rider experience. It is especially appreciated by people who ride a lot, yet most all riders will love it. The bike also knows the fact that you are pedaling (cadence control), and mixes those two inputs to decide how much the motor should assist you. A seamless and never jumpy motor assist are the result here, a great feel.

The three position assist control is right at hand. The black and white rectangle just above the lever is your power remaining indicator.

Practically touching your left thumb is a 3 position lever to allow you to choose your assist sensitivity. As each ride continues, that switch gets a workout. Being such a light bike, you will find that lever in the ‘no assist’ notch quite often. As your mind senses the need, a quick click brings into the ’mid?’ stetting and the boost hits without a loss in momentum. When the hill looms, bump it into ’high’ and the power maxes out to match your feet’s pressure on the pedals. You need to ride this bike to see just how smooth and smart the power assist comes to your ride.

To turn the tables for a minute, the fact is that the Faraday doesn’t fit the same mold as most E-bikes on the market today. With no hand throttle, you must pedal to initiate the motor-assist, something I call a ‘true pedelec‘. Many buyers will balk at this feature (or lack of one). I fully understand that. I have found that a 350 watt motor is all the juice an E-bike needs for all but the most serious climbs, yet 500 is the norm almost across the board. This bike also has a smaller capacity battery then those same bikes.

Whenever the bike is powered up, so are the front and rear lights. No up-grades are needed in this department.

With the lithium battery enclosed in the frame’s down tube, it maximizes the stealth factor and lowers the bike‘s center of gravity (the front to rear balance is near optimal too). Because of the designed-in power efficiency, the smaller capacity battery still offers some decent range and power. It is also a factor in the 39 lbs total weight that gives the Faraday a decided edge in agility, once again not found often in the E-bike world. Lots of aluminum on-board works well with the steel frame, another combo rarely seen with E-bikes.

Riding this bike is a joy, the kind of joy that will be savored by most, but not fully embraced by others. Upon returning the bike to Stephen at Adams Avenue Bikes, we had a long discussion on why he chose it as the only E-bike on his sales roster. He understands bikes, and understands his customers. The shop welcomes the recreational rider, yet caters to the bike savvy folks who have helped to keep the doors open for many years. This is a bike rider’s bike, something we both agreed on. The quality and factory support helped seal the deal.

This was one fun day with a cool bike.

Some great accessories for the Porteur include a front, frame mounted, color matched rack (BTW, the bike comes in two color choices and three frame sizes). That rack includes the gear to mount the headlamp onto the front of it, once again the nicest looking pieces. Too, a rear rack is on the books. Want leather goodies? Just ask. The bamboo fenders are factory, same as is the inverted V kickstand. New to the roster is the S model (coming in August) with a little downgrading in specs and price. I say, get it all, you deserve it.

At the risk of sounding corny, the Faraday Porteur proves that you can have your Rolex and eat it too, Turbo Bob.

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

Learn more about Faraday Bikes on their website and Facebook pages

Adams Avenue Bikes is my local Faraday dealer

Here are a couple videos I posted on the Faraday Porteur

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 2 Comments

Pedego Boomerang Plus—Easy Stepping E-bike

Pedego Boomerang Plus—Easy Stepping E-bike.

Comfort and fun ready to ride.

I am often heard to say “If it doesn’t have fenders, a chain guard and a kickstand, it can’t be much of a bike.” The term ’comfort, step-through bike’ comes to my lips to counter claims that I sometimes ride a ‘girl’s’ bike. With all the low-framed bikes I have ridden (and own), this one really pushes those word to the limit. When I first saw the Pedego Boomerang in its secret prototype stage, I knew it was an E-bike that would appeal to many. Seems I was right, as it has been selling like crazy since the first production model hit our shores.

I have offered up a couple of my favorite quotes, yet when I tell you I believe that Pedego worked with Biria Bicycles to produce the Boomerang, best not to quote me on that. I am sure that is what I heard way back though. I would think you can imagine on your own why this new E-bike is being received so well. Pedego has always worked hard to welcome baby boomers and senior citizens to the world of E-bikes, and this bike is more proof of that. Be sure that this bike is for folks of all ages and genders, as comfort is a universal language.

The business end? More like the beginning of fun.

As far as the mechanical and electrics go, this bike uses many of the tried and trued pieces that have brought Pedego big success. The rear hub motor is powerful and quiet, utilizing internal gears of a unique material that gives them long life and smooth operation. They are now using these motors on most their bikes, bringing the rear disc brake to them too. Only the best lithium ion Samsung cells fill the battery case, with several options in voltage and capacity.

Your color options are limited (red and black) with the Pedego Boomerang, which seems surprising when you consider their Comfort Cruiser color range is a virtual rainbow. Let’s get the option thing covered, as there are several. They have the Boomerang and the Boomerang Plus. The standard model is a throttle only bike, including a rear light (built into the battery), but no front. The 4 battery choices are—36 volt in either 10 Ah or 15 Ah, and 48 volt in those same 2 capacities. Some ok white wall tires are on the base model, or you can upgrade to the awesome Schwalbe Fat Franks in one of 4 colors.

Plenty of info here, control too. The USB port is on the bottom just out of sight.

The Plus is even better equipped. It has the 48 volt system, yet once again you get the option of the 15 Ah extended range battery over the stock 10 Ah one. Fat Franks are on-board, with those same 4 colors to be picked by you. The real plus here is the pedelec feature that includes the USB equipped control / display panel. The pedelec part means that the power-assist can come on automatically each time you pedal (and turn off when you stop). It has 5 levels of power selectable, and the hand throttle will work anytime without re-toggling the control panel’s push buttons. Add the decent front headlamp (that runs off the motor’s battery) to round out the package.

So, all that and no fenders? Well fear not, they too are available in any color you want. The chain guard is a full encirclement unit and the kickstand is the strongest one you will see on any bike. I was pleased to find this bike so fully equipped, all I added were the front and rear Pedego bags I got my hands on at the beginning of the year. Also a extra rear light that blinks, and a very bright headlamp when riding at night. The factory light is fine for low-speed neighborhood rides, but not for the open road.

Low, sleek and strong—the Boomerang’s frame.

The aluminum frame appears to be ultra beefy with plenty of re-enforcement spanning the curved sections. The bars are a good fit for this bike, a bit more swept back and narrow than the ones Pedego uses on their cruisers. The saddle is plenty comfy, yet if you crave the long rides, you will crave a sleeker perch. I noticed the suspension seat post is a much nicer piece than used on past Pedego E-bikes, and it works much better. Enough of all the numbers and such, let’s ride.

It has taken some time to get used to enjoying the advantage of the easy mounting of the bike, and every now and then I still sling my leg from around, over the back. The seating position is very upright and much to my personal liking. The soft handgrips sometimes seem too slippery when hitting the rough stuff at speed, and I might consider some different ones if this bike were mine. Those top-end balloon tires and the sprung seat tend to take the edge off any bumpiness, and are much preferred to maintenance needy front or rear suspensions. If you seek a smoother ride the tires can be set as low as 35 lbs, with the max of 70 really firming things up. I found about 60 to fit my riding style the best.

Twist, shift, and go.

I could spend several paragraphs on the power system’s control and how I utilize it. Pedego’s first foray into pedelec controlled bikes were programmed pretty good, but with the minor changes they’ve made, now I am really happy with the way they work. The controls are right at hand without reaching or pulling a hand from the bars. Choosing between assist levels can easily happen without even taking your eyes from the road. A full burst (or less) of power can had any time for starting out, or easing through tight traffic situations, without changing your set assist level on the control panel.

With just the right amount of braking power, these same brakes are on the back wheel too.

You will find 7 gears, yet in almost all my riding, I normally use just a couple. A mid-gear is fine for starting and lower riding speeds (because the motor takes up the slack), and gearing up when riding faster is easy and preferred. I only used the lower gears (1-3) when pushing up some of the steeper grades. Not having to depend on all the gears is one of the big benefits of having a hub motored E-bike. When riding with no power it is much like a standard heavy 7-speed beach cruiser. Fully doable, but a little tough. Another great E-bike feature is that you are able to choose the amount of exercise you get, most of the time it is the motor doing 50% of the work and you doing the rest.

If you are concerned about running out of battery power, then opt for the extended range battery. Chances are you won’t need it, but the net is full of stories of people doing 50 mile + rides and still having half a battery charge left. If you are the type who expects not to pedal too much, having the larger capacity battery can be a plus. It seems since this battery has become available, most Pedegos sold are asked to be equipped with it. It isn’t that much more, so why not splurge on that option?

With the Pedego front and rear bags on-board, I am ready to roll.

I tried hard to find fault with the Pedego Boomerang Plus. I have fully failed in this respect. The one thought I have in this direction is that if you plan on doing stunts and curb jumping, them maybe one of their Interceptor models might be better suited for you. I wouldn’t expect to see any issues with this E-bike in even some pretty severe riding conditions, yet all out mania on the Boomerang would be good to avoid.

You can’t go wrong with a Pedego—and you can quote me on that, Turbo Bob.

“After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable.”—H.G. Wells.

On the web and Facebook you will find Pedego and a slew of their dealers

Here are a couple walkaround videos of the Boomerang Plus I posted.



Posted in E-bike test reviews | 3 Comments

Electron Wheel E-bike Conversion—It Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This

Electron Wheel E-bike Conversion—It Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This.

Many want some electric assist for their bicycle. This may be the best way to get it.

Here is a product with a chance to capture the hearts and love of millions, it did mine. As the knowledge of electric-assist bicycles showers over the masses, they start their search for just the right way to live the fun and thrill. The cost, complexity and specific designs of a production E-bikes can be daunting, yet the Electron Wheel shines alone like a beacon of light through the darkness. If that light catches your eye, you might be the one with a new found bicycle experience that is almost impossible to explain.

Last year I spent maybe 6 weeks with a pre-production unit of the Electron Wheel. Before I opened the box, the info I had received had already peaked my interest and made me see a new era of riding for people the world over. After the minutes it took to install it on my beach cruiser, I was won over from the first turn of the pedals. I posted some videos of that first foray, but was asked not to do the full review as it was already slated for more refinement. Some of my suggestions are incorporated into this version, just as the final production model will feature my last two.

This small box sends a wireless signal to the wheel. It is a true pedelec as far as E-bike systems are concerned.

What makes this different is that all your electric conversion items are inside the wheel itself. To be 100% truthful, there are a few other pieces in the mix too, There is a small box that Velcros onto your pedal arm to send a signal to the wheel as they turn. A matching plastic cover for the rear wheel can balance out the look of your newly converted E-bike if you choose to install it, and will be part of the package. The final item is your own smart phone, whose app interacts with the Electron Wheel.

The wheel houses the 250 watt brushed and geared motor. The light-weight and powerful lithium battery is tucked inside too, and is speced at 24 volts and 10.7 Ah (256 Wh). The electronic control unit not only runs the motor, but receives wireless signals from the pedal sensor and your phone. All this adds up to a E-bike conversion with no wiring to connect or see, and no bolts and nuts to deal with. Another big plus here (which I will explain more about) is the ability to switch between a regular bike and a converted bike in the (near) blink of an eye. Since the Electron Wheel comes with a mounted tire and tube, nothing will slow you down in that direction.

No tools are needed for the most part. The quick-release skewer holds the Electron Wheel firmly to your bike.

I had it on a couple of my bikes and did get a wrench involved. On my beach cruiser the original front wheel has 15mm nuts on the axle that needed to be loosened for removal. Also, I used a handlebar mounted holder for the cell phone that had one screw. My hybrid uses a quick-release axle mounting (no tools required) like the Electron Wheel does, yet a small adjustment of the brake system was needed. So a bit of the nut and bolt thing did happen, but just the smallest bit.

Compared with other E-bike conversion kits, this is so simple and easy. Although some might wince when viewing the wattage and voltage specs, let me tell you not to concern yourself there. It has great power, smoothness and a range between recharges that matches the others well. It hits the max E-bike speed of 20 mph, climbs as good as most, and the control system is programmed smartly. Because of the all-in-one feature, the efficiency is great with no electrical power losses, and minimal chances for breakdowns. The Electron Wheel is smarter than your smart phone that helps control it.

You can mount the smart phone to the bars, or keep it in your pocket or purse.

With the app empowered, your phone works it in a few ways. First up is the initial calibration needed. It all happens with the push of a button, a easy and consistent speed ride of 200 yards (with a return to your starting spot) , then confirmation it (calibration) was completed successfully. This is after you tell the phone of your pedal sensor location (on the inner or outer part of the pedal arm). From there you just choose between 3 levels of assist modes as you ride. And don’t forget, you can map your rides and use many other features your phone has in that respect.

The torque arm adjusts to most any bike.

The reasons I love this are many, some might be better taken advantage of by you. Some pre-made E-bikes come in 1 or 2 sizes fit all. The bike you have now could be the perfect bike (size and type wise), yet adding an electric-assist could make it that much more to your liking. Many might not have the room or $ for 2 bikes, one electric and one not (sometimes you may not want or need an E-bike for any given ride). Lots of bike repair shops refuse to work on E-bikes, so swapping the original wheel back on opens up repair and tune-up options you may not have with an electric bike in your town. The list of why the Electron Wheel could be just right for you is a long one, use your own imagination to fill in more reasons.

I got some long, fun rides on this bike that they brought me with the Electron Wheel. I put it on some of my own bikes too.

There are a few drawbacks though, some I didn’t feel the first time I tested the prototype. Each one has a way around it, but I feel it is my duty to list them. With a close to 20 lbs heft (a little less than most conversions), all the weight is in the front wheel. On the whole, it doesn’t adversely affect the steering much, but does require a beefy and solid kickstand when parked. I rode it in some pretty stiff winds and that too can buffet the steering some (because the wind doesn‘t flow through normally wide-open wheel spokes). It wasn’t enough to cause problems, but is one reason you may decide not to use the supplied rear wheel cover.

When I took the bike for a couple group rides and some at the beach cruises, I realized one other issue that didn‘t crop up in my mind before. The bike rack fit it fine, yet the wheel did block off the view of my car’s lights to the people behind me. If we do end up with a couple Electron Wheels (and I really hope we do), I think I would add some trailer style lights to my bike rack for safety’s sake. You may never transport your bike in this manner, but if you do, extra lights would be wise.

Beach cruising the easy way with the Electron Wheel.

All in all, this E-bike conversion is one awesome way to go. The benefits are giant and the fun is rampant. Even though there are other products coming to the market place with a similar approach, several mount on the rear of the bike, requiring much fuss making the spacing and the gear adoption a expert’s job. Who needs that when it works better replacing the front wheel? Not me for one, even though such mechanical stuff is a breeze for me.

Last up, you may see the Electron Wheel marketed under different model names. The maker has found to diversify will work best to get it out there and to keep the price-point where you will be happiest. No matter what they call it, I am convinced this is a great way to add an electric-assist to your bike, and like I said above, I can easily see my family sporting a pair of these in the very near future. I love, love, love the Electron Wheel.

Power-up your bike smoothly and quietly, Turbo Bob.

“Love is a bicycle with two pancakes for wheels. You may see love as more of an exercise in hard work, but I see it as more of a breakfast on the go.”—Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE.

Look for the Electron Wheel on the web and Facebook.

I posted several videos on the first version on the Electron Wheel, those can be found on my site.   Here are the ones on this revised model.

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

Blix Vika+ Folding E-bike—Fancy Folder

Blix Vika+ Folding E-bike —Fancy Folder.

The Blix Vika+ has a sharp appearance and a fun ride.

When it comes to bicycles, there is nothing quite like mixing an electric-assist system with a folding bike. That is just what Blix has done with the Vika+. It sports a powerful 350 watt brushless rear hub motor with a classic folding chassis, to make for a fun ride that will lift your spirits and make each hill flat as a pancake. When you’re not in the saddle you can marvel at its looks and revel in its convenience.

Many times my test bikes are pre-production prototypes or freshly minted production models. This time the out going years’ model was what I got to report on. So that meant I was informed of what to expect, but didn’t fully experience it. Easy to imagine are the fenders, rear rack and the rear light that is powered by the motor battery the newer bikes will come with (out by the time you read this?). A little harder is the reprogrammed control system. Plus as always (well, almost always), the factory rep listened hard (and made notes) of my suggestions on some small details to really sweeten this ride.

Plenty of power and gears await you with each ride.

When I mentioned above the powerful feel the Vika+ has, you may wonder how a motor at this rating can make that happen. Although for many 500 watts is the norm they expect, I have found many times that a few less watts can do most all you need. The acceleration and top speed (the legal 20 mph) are right on the money compared to those bikes. The efficient power system and the low weight of the bike both contribute to this. I saw on the Blix site a spec of less, yet my low-end scale showed 40 lbs for the bike, 7 for the battery for a total of 47, still quite light for an E-bike.

The seat tube mounted lithium battery rates out with 36 volts and 10 Ah, plenty for some long and fruitful rides. It locks in place on the bike, but a quick turn of the key and a tug at the pivoting seat latch allows it to come clear for remote charging or security stowage. It helps the bike have a fairly low and centered weight balance that gives it an handling edge during your ride. Even with some noticeable flex in the all aluminum frame, forks and handlebar arrangement, the Vika+ is a joy to ride.

A sweet saddle and some matching grips are just part of the package.

The overall gearing in its chain run 7 speed gear train is close to perfect, yet at the higher speeds you might want for an extra top gear when riding hard and fast. Most would never notice, and they will find two-levered thumb shifter works the gears so well that there is no reason for splitting hairs as they pound the roads and bike trails. One nice thing about hub motored E-bikes is that gearing and shifting needs are lessened anyway, so why sweat it?

I rode the Blix Vika+ all over in many road conditions and grade extremes. Like most all 20 inch wheeled folding bikes, it has steering that can be a tad quick, but always controllable even at the higher end of the speed range. I don’t recommend bombing the hills at 35 and above, yet did it anyway a couple times. Bombing the hills back up is where the thrills really came from, as this bike is a solid climber that didn’t disappoint when the power was turned to full.

The control center is next to the left side thumb throttle.

You might have noticed the term active-drive while surfing the Blix website. All their bikes have this and it makes for a unique experience. I have tested a few E-bikes with something similar, yet not quite the same. You can choose to use it or not, and basically what it does is allows the bike to auto-select from its 3 levels of assist as you ride. It does this by sensing the speed (cadence) of the pedals. Most just tell the controller that the pedals are turning, the Blix also tells it how fast.

In a nutshell, in the active drive mode, if you are turning the pedals at a moderate pace, the bike’s pedelec feature acts like you are the lowest assist level (1). Spin them a bit faster for the next power level, and faster still for the max (3). You can also choose your assist levels manually between the 3 with a push of the right button. The website mentions a throttle only mode, yet I couldn’t find it—and having that is important. Plus, even when you use the throttle with the auto-pedelec mode activated, it isn’t a true over-ride, more on this next.

The folding stem and other creature comforts are visible from this angle.

The thumb throttle is on the left handlebar which is good on E-bikes like this with your gear shifter on the right. I did find that it is a right side thumb throttle though, meaning it pushes up and forward to make the motor go, as opposed to down and forward. This I liked too as it did feel natural enough, even if backwards compared to other left side thumb throttle E-bikes. By not being a true over-ride, that means the throttle works normally when you are not pedaling and will increase your power when used in the low assist level during pedaling. But in the higher levels it won’t over-ride the pedelec and award you with a lower assist when used.

When the rep came by with the Vika+, he also let me ride the Komfort+ and the Stockholm. This is 75% of the Blix E-bikes they offer here in the US. I will test next year’s model of the Komfort+ soon.

This might be way too much info and when I test the reprogrammed new model soon (actually the Komfort+ upright Blix E-bike that shares this power system), I can report on if it all works that much better and a little more to my liking. The other thing promised with the new years’ model is a revamp of the power curve as you start out. I found the Vika+ to be just a bit jumpy with more power and acceleration than you need for most riding conditions.

Being able to fold your E-bike adds a great dimension. Transport, storage and security at your destination becomes so much easier and desirable. A quick fold on the frame and handlebar stem matches the fold over pedals to make for a small package. If you find the lift weight to be too much you can remove the battery first to help. The battery does have a carry handle built-in making for a plus. If you are used to a modern non-powered folding bike, you will find it bulkier and heavier, yet some concessions in this are to be expected in an electric-assist bike.

Folded for transport of stowage, the Blix Vika+ gets pretty small.

On the whole, I found it quite ridable, fun to maneuver, pleasant to look at, and exhibiting a quality level I could appreciate. If that striking racing green finish doesn’t grab you, then knowing it also comes in black will be a relief. When you see one on your dealer’s showroom floor, expect it to be fully fendered and sporting a rear rack. When you push the light button on the control panel, that will not only fire up the nice working headlamp up front, but a nice bright rear light too.
Fancy folder? That’s exactly what I felt with each fun ride, Turbo Bob.

“Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers – those people ride a bike.”—Wolfgang Sachs.

Blix on the web and Facebook

Here is a video showing the Blix Vika+ I posted.


Posted in E-bike test reviews, Folding Bike test reviews | 2 Comments

Last Chance to Register for “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”

Last Chance to Register for “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”.
9911_flyerThis event is sure to satisfy the growing number of people interested in how electric-assist bikes can change their life’s.   I am now starting my 4th year of hosting it every spring and fall.   It continues to gain traction, as the number of attendees has filled the available room for them, meaning some have been turned away in past events.   Registrations will be closed as of tomorrow (May 27th) at 8 pm pst.   Walk-ins may or may not be able to gain entry, so if you are interested in being part of this San Diego E-bike seminar, don’t wait.
I try to get people in other cities, states and countries to organize such an event in their own community.   It might be tough finding the perfect venue, yet fully possible I believe.   Getting the local shops in on the fun would be easy, but the larger companies might have difficulty sending their reps with the bikes to some of the more remote locations.    Part of what makes this all work is the strict policy I have of allowing no sales during or at the event.   That is part of what makes this one-of-a-kind E-bike world-wide excitement.
It is 100% free to the people coming to see and ride the E-bikes—-and to the companies bringing them for your scrutiny. Here is the list of shops, companies and E-bikes you will be able to view and test.   Meeting and greeting with them is also part of the fun.   All this happens on the evening of May 28th, 2015.
Hope to see you there.
Adams Avenue Bike Shop
Bicycle Business Journal   (Bicycle trade magazine)
Blix Bike   (Factory reps on hand)
Cycle Quest
e-Joe   (Factory reps on hand)
eRad   (mid-drive E-bike conversion kits)
El Camino Bike Shop
Electric Bike Central
GreenWorld Bike Inc.   (Factory reps on hand)
How to Buy the Best Electric Bike (E-bike book)
Kayman    (Factory reps on hand)
Lectric Cycles
LightMeUp Safety Lights
Living Instead of Existing    (Facebook page—Rhonda Martin)
Marrs Cycles    (Factory reps on hand)
Motiv Electric Bikes
Myron’s Extreme Machines
OHM Cycles
Pedego Electric Bikes    (Factory reps on hand)
Pedego Carlsbad
San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
San Diego Electric Bikes
Surf Monkey
Stromer    (Factory reps on hand)
UC Cyclery
Ultimate DIY Electric Bike Guide  (E-bike book)
Virtue Bikes    (Factory reps on hand)
Here are some posts on previous E-bike seminars I have hosted so you can get a feel for what to expect.
Posted in E-bike general interest | 3 Comments

e-Joe Koda—From My Bike Path to Yours

e-Joe Koda—From My Bike Path to Yours.

Ready to whisk you on some dream rides—the e-Joe Koda.

Don’t get the wrong idea from the title, this new E-bike isn’t restricted just to bike paths. With its sporty style and ride, you will be seeing this bike all over the place. The 29er thing will be taking you off-road and the laid-over riding position might bring on some other rides of fancy. With all the features you might need (fenders, lights and rack), this E-bike is ready to roll when you are.

Actually, this bike has 28” tires (700 X 45C) and isn’t really a mountain bike. The tires are semi-aggressive street types and they tout the bike as a sport class commuter, but once it is yours you can call it anything you like. Chances are you will be calling on it quite a bit for some fun and spirited rides. The large capacity lithium battery (15 AH) and the powerful 500 watt rear mounted brushless motor will take you far and fast.


Outfitted with fenders, rack, lights and the such, all you need is a smile.

This is a large bike but has a fairly low (relatively) step over height. I measured the frame as a 18 incher and the top frame tube at about 30. E-Joe has other bikes for those with smaller personal frames. If you are one of those I would make sure to test ride the Koda to see how it fits for the long run. Me, I’m over 6’ and felt right at home with every ride. The larger tires roll smooth and take on the rough stuff with style.

Being big on E-bike control systems and their use, I found this one to my liking. It is a dual control with a left side thumb throttle and 3 levels of automatic pedelec. With some fancy button pushing I found a fourth power level, but it seemed to give the same power and speed as the #3. When you engage it there is an icon of a rider on the display that changes from sitting upright to bent over in racing mode, so it made me feel faster at least. Each of the 3 levels are spaced well and match the bike’s gearing well.

The shifters, display, and thumb throttle are visible from this angle.

The thumb throttle is on the left so using it won’t interfere with shifting the gears with your right hand. It is different from most thumb throttles you see on other E-bikes yet is easy to use. Of course being dual control, it bypasses the pedelec function allowing full power when needed regardless of the pedelec power level setting. The display is well thought out and gives the info you need. On the whole, the control system made me feel in control, had everything I needed and nothing I didn‘t.


Big and strong, the lithium battery tucks into the frame.

As you check out the e-Joe Koda you’ll notice the battery tucks neatly in the frame tube. It is easily removable with the key lock for charging and storage. The charge plug is a little hard to access while it is on the bike, yet tucked next to it is a USB port for your phone and audio needs (with a rubber cover to keep them dry and clean). 36 volts is plenty and the capacity is more than sufficient for some really long rides.

On top of the battery is a master switch that needs to be turned on before turning on the power at the display. It (the master switch) also shuts down the bike, but not the power flowing to the front and rear lights. I wouldn’t mind seeing e-Joe make a small change here, as I always ride with the lights on (who wouldn’t?). What I am saying here is to get going I had to turn on 4 things (battery, display, front light and rear light)—and when done, turn off 3 (battery, front light and rear light). This is the only thing about the e-Joe Koda I didn’t like.


All the power, gears and braking power you will need are mounted out back.

In all reality, this is being picky, as on all other bikes that don’t come with nice factory lights like this one, I need to turn my add-on lights on and off separately anyway. I always add my blinking f + r lights to any bike I ride even if they have on-board ones already. Did I mention how nice these lights are? They work well and even have rubber covers for the switches. If you are hitting the open road, an add-on really bright headlight is a good idea, yet for around town and neighborhood rides they did the job with gusto.

Other than the light thing, I enjoyed my time on it immensely. Whether I was in a gentle cruise mode or pounding the pedals with a passion, the Koda was there for me at all times. The thumb shift levers worked the gears quickly and smoothly. The motor’s power was under full control in the way I like The ride and steering was right on. Having the rack was handy for mounting my panniers and any puddle I found didn’t slow me at all.


A smooth riding front suspension, nice tires and strong brakes are leading your way.

My next comment might catch you off guard, yet I recently almost became a victim to overly powerful hydraulic disc brakes (on a different test E-bike). So many think they want them, yet they work too good with minimal pull at the levers. As the rear wheel came about a foot off the ground in a panic stop, I was able to regain control in time to both keep the bike upright and miss the slowly moving obstacle. My tune on them has changed for all but the most experienced riders (and maybe not even them).


If you like satin black bikes, then this one might be for you.

The Koda’s brakes are plenty strong for any stop, yet the right amount of pull at the levers is what it takes. I am a bigger fan then ever on cable pull disc brakes. The ones on the Koda are safer and better than the so called “best”. I tried many quick stops and loved the feel and stopping distance. Don’t be fooled by the hype of hydraulic actuated brakes, this type is better and all you need.

As I round up this post, I just want you to know that e-Joe has a great line-up of E-bikes at price points that make sense. I have ridden each and every model they have with a smile and enjoyment. This Koda was no different, as it shows their continued commitment to make an E-bike that works well and rides nicely. I would never tell you what to buy, but I do suggest you add them to your list of possible candidates as you look for the perfect E-bike for your needs.

Let’s hit the bike path, Turbo Bob.

“I relax by taking my bicycle apart and putting it back together again.”—Michelle Pfeiffer.

Look for e-Joe on the web and Facebook

Here is a walk around video of the e-Joe Koda


Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment