Omni Wheel E-bike Conversion—Easy Wheeling

Omni Wheel E-bike Conversion—Easy Wheeling.

Ready to power up your bike, the Omni Wheel from EVELO is quick and easy to install.

This new all-in-one electric conversion wheel from EVELO might be “just what the doctor ordered” for your bicycle. EVELO is known for their great riding mid-drive E-bikes already, and now they have entered the E-bike conversion market. It installs quickly in place of your original front wheel and tire, with no wires to make it difficult. It is a fast and inexpensive way to flatten the hills and calm the headwinds with every bike ride you take.

The Omni Wheel can be controlled by the hand throttle or with the included automatic pedelec sensors. It has a display unit that mounts on your handlebars to let you be in charge of its actions and feed you your riding information. There are so many reasons a conversion like this can be a great way to get the electric-assist you might want and need. Let’s have a look, you can even see my videos of it and its use by following the links at the bottom of this article.

Complete with all you need, it goes on almost as quickly as it takes to un-pack it.

I had the prototype Omni Wheel last year. It was exciting to be sure, yet they have made some updates and modifications to ease the mounting and increase the performance. Some of this was due to my input, and some just made sense for all of the riders they hope will become E-bike converts. I have been told they will continue to track its use and do everything it takes to keep the Omni Wheel fresh and fit in with the modern trends.

The Omni Wheel has the battery, controller and motor all hidden inside its covering. The display on the bars hooks to either the throttle or bottom bracket sensor to allow it to run when you want for the ease of riding you desire. There are some interconnecting wires with those units, yet the wheel itself get all its directions wirelessly. On the whole, it is easy to install (and remove, more on why in a minute). You can get your bike electrically boosted very quickly.

The Omni Wheel brought new life to my wife’s beach cruiser.

 

Because it mounts on your front fork there is no fussing with the chain and gears. I like this part of it as opposed to a couple of the few other conversion wheels out there. Other reasons I think this is good have to do with ones you might agree with me on. Some people don’t have space or the money for a second bike that has an electric-assist. With the Omni Wheel you can use your existing bike with or without it as the need arises. It might be your bike fits you perfectly, so getting a ready-to-ride E-bike isn’t in your future anyway.

There are many bike shops across the country that won’t service electric bikes. With the Omni Wheel you can easily convert it back to regular for that purpose if needed. You can get the benefits of an E-bike without many of the inconveniences, hard to beat that. It isn’t as powerful or fast as some of those pricey electric bikes out there though, yet for most rides it will get you up the hill and back with a smile. Everyone that I let ride it seemed to be fine with the smoothness and performance.

The hand throttle is the easiest way to use the Omni Wheel.

Before I talk more about the pluses, let’s hit the couple things that I noticed you should consider. It does weigh down the front of the bike some, nothing you will notice while riding it, but maybe when lifting or moving it. Do make sure you have a solid kickstand, as when parked that weight can make the bike a bit less stable. In crosswinds you can feel the steering get buffeted some (because of the solid side covers), but once again not too bad. That solid covering of the wheel has one more issue that I noticed. When the bike is on my bike rack it hides the rear lights of the car. You might want to add extra trailer type lights on your rack if you transport it that way often.

These are the pieces to choose from when you use the pedelec system.

EVELO set it up so it can be controlled one of two ways. The normal way is with the hand (thumb) throttle. This allows a full range of the power available easily, yet you need to hold that whenever using the power. This can cause some hand fatigue for long rides. They offer 3 different mounts (and two sensor discs) for the pedelec sensor system that mounts on the BB (bottom bracket—pedals) of your bike. With that installed, the motor powers up whenever you pedal (and stops when you stop) and the display allows you to choose one of three different assist power levels.

If you use the throttle for your bike, the install is easier, only needing to remove one handgrip to get it on. The BB sensor set-up can be a bit tougher (not too bad on most bikes). They include a pair of brake levers with safety motor cut-off switches that are optional to install, and if you use the pedelec control system I would recommend using them (unless you have a beach cruiser with a coaster brake that has no brake handles). EVELO will check out your bike (through photos and the model) to give you the thumbs up (or down) how the Omni Wheel will work for you.

I had the Omni Wheel on several of my bikes. I tested the 26’ wheel (which fits many mountain bikes, beach cruisers and townies). It also comes in a 700c model that fits hybrids and road bikes. I got the one with the standard battery (24 volt—8.7 Ah), yet an optional extra range battery can be had for a bit more of a buy in (24 volt—14.5 Ah). It comes with the tire and tube already on, yet you can swap that out with your original tire if you like. More specs—350 watt motor—19 lbs. with the standard battery—21 lbs. with the extended range battery—16 mph—you can get one that will fit your disc brake equipped bike.

The display mounts on the bars and has just enough info for each ride.

I just think the Omni Wheel has so many great things going for it. I tried to list them all above, and more can be found in the videos linked below. If you want an assist for your bike with the least amount of hassles and expense, then definitely consider trying one for yourself.

Get boosted, Turbo Bob.

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling”—James E. Starrs.

Look for EVELO on the web and Facebook.

http://www.evelo.com/

https://www.facebook.com/iloveevelo/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Here are some of the videos I posted with the Omni Wheel from EVELO.

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

Pedego Ridge Rider E-bike—Fun Just Got Dirty

Pedego Ridge Rider E-bike—Fun Just Got Dirty.

Ready for anything you can dish out.

Boy, things have sure steamrolled in the Pedego camp with a wide variety of models and types of E-bikes on the sales room floors. Back when they first started (and when I first started covering them) they had just the Custom Cruiser E-beach cruiser model. Before long that widened a bit as they added a 48 volt system to that bike to make the Interceptor model. Now with the Ride Rider E-mountain bike on the hilltop, their fans even have more reasons to climb to the clouds.

This bike was 3 years in the making, as Pedego strives to produce only E-bikes that thrill and excite each rider. I got a chance to test out a couple of the early prototypes, and as nice as they were, they still can’t hold a belay line to this powerful and strong contender. Just as a mountain climber trusts their tough and lightweight carabiner as they teeter on the edge, the Ridge Rider can take you to the market or to the peak of the highest range with confidence and style.

At hand and full of info.

This is the first bike in the lineup to utilize their new Pedal Sense control system. This model uses a combination of pedal torque sensing, pedal cadence sensing and the throttle to activate the motor. Not all Pedal Sense systems for Pedego E-bikes will work as this one, as that name more lends to the fact that picking your level and type of motor control just makes “sense” when you use the controls. In a nutshell (for this bike at least), 0 (on the display) is no assist, 1-4 is varied levels of torque-sensed assist, 5 is full power whenever you are pedaling, and 6 is throttle control only. And to that, the throttle will override all that in levels 1-5

The nice drivetrain partially hides that powerful motor.

That control links to a powerful 500 watt geared rear hub brushless motor with 48 volts pulsing at your command. It is smooth when you want, and kind of brutal when you need. It has the power to take on some grizzly trails with all the undulations that might keep you home without a electric motor-assist. This E-bike is much more about a solid quality ride than just the assist system though.

They have speced the bike well to make sure the rough stuff won’t put you or your bike in a tailspin. The drivetrain is better than all that you will see on most mountain bikes without breaking the bank. That equates to quick shifts and all the gears you will need (20) to take on the urban jungle or the muddiest of single track. The thumb shifters are some of my favorites, allowing you to work the gears as you need them, not the other way around.

This also the first Pedego to centrally mount the battery, in the frame much less, to help balance out the bike. This makes climbing and jumping more controllable as the speeds rise. And those speeds will rise when you want, as it has some of the best power and torque in its class. In some ways it is in a class of its own, yet electric-assist mountain bikes are sprouting from more E-bike makers every month.

This shot from one of the shows I took it to, shows the typical reaction riders get.

I was able to take the bike to several events to allow people their first E-bike ride. With no exceptions, each person was totally impressed with its rideability and smoothness (power too). Even though this E-bike will work the city streets well, it can pretty much handle any situation. I took it off-road many times, yet never quite rode it as hard as seen in Pedego’s own PR videos. This is not to say I didn’t run it hard and take some chances, but I am not as comfortable on the single track as others I ride with. I do like jumping and wheelies, so I made sure the Ridge Rider could handle those tasks just fine.

It is a hardtail, so the rough stuff pushes you around some. The fork is adjustable (and lock-outable when desired), so it soaks up the bumps the front end takes on. Like any bike I ride with hydraulic disc brakes, they are really too strong, but easy to modulate if you are quick at the levers. I do like to see the shorty single (or double) finger brake levers to keep the brake power better under control. This is really the only stab I can take at the Ridge Rider, and would like to see Pedego switch to those shorter levers in the near future.

Strong brakes are yours with the Ridge Rider.

As you check out the bike you can spot the details that help give this bike a solid and safe ride. Stuff like the through hub with axle skewers in the front—to the 27.5 wheels and tires that are beefy and grippy. The display unit is pretty much standard issue with many Pedego E-bikes, and with so much info coming through there, you can see why. You can even run your phone and audio devices from the USB power port included.

This is Pedego’s most sophisticated and quality E-bike they have offered to date. They keep upping the ante, and you, the rider are the one who benefits. Their after-the-sale service is second to none in the industry, and by making it right in the first place you may never have to concern yourself with that aspect of your bike. Like any E-bike (or bike), it will need scheduled maintenance, so it is nice to know they train their dealers to understand their product inside and out.

This is my typical riding garb—you might want just a bit more for your rides.

The last year has seen them expand their catalog with new bikes and improve on the existing ones. From what I’ve seen lately, and in the past, you can expect even more of that this year (and next?). I give this Ridge Rider the highest of marks, and if they change out those brake levers I can go even one step higher with that approval. Electric mountain bikes are gaining more acceptance, something I would like to see continue. Remember to stay safe, and respect the trail and those who you share it with.

And, let’s go get dirty, Turbo Bob.

“Wind is just a hill in gaseous form.”—Barry McCarty.

Look for them on the web and Facebook.

http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/PedegoElectricBikes/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Here are four videos I posted that show the bike and some of the fun it offered me.

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #6—The Serfas Touch

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #6—The Serfas Touch.

These Serfas tires work as good as they look—as do the brake pads.

I’ve been riding this project E-bike for a many weeks now. It came together nicely and much of what I like about it are the small details. A bunch of those details have the name Serfas on them. This isn’t the first time Serfas have been involved in one of my projects, yet this time they have outdone themselves. Although the pieces may not stand out to the casual observer, they all work together to make the biggest of differences.

The product line at Serfas is wide ranged, and I think you will see a little of this as I outline each of the parts that help make this ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD so comfortable and reliable. If you decide to build your own version of what you consider the ULTIMATE, using any or all of the Serfas items I have been able to incorporate in my project would be quite smart indeed. Let’s see what we have, starting at the front

#262   Serfas   Headlight

The headlamp is in white and the battery in gold.

One of the reasons I got the base bike for so little were the cracked sidewalls on the tires, so replacing them was a given. A shiny new pair of Serfas Vida Survivor tires stood out in their catalog, yet now really shine once mounted up on the rims. I wanted a good ride and a near zero chance of flats, and that is exactly what I got. In the 700 X C size, they have a little bigger cross section to help get away from the super skinny rough riders. These Vida tires claim a low rolling resistance and a long tread life, one I look forward to and the other I can feel already.

 

Serfas has a wide variety of tires (of all types and sizes) and offer tubes to match. They too have thorn-resistant tubes, yet not in this size so I had to source my own. I backed those up with Slime sealant, figuring this narrows my chance of flats to near zero, barring some massive nails and screws. Another byproduct I enjoy with this combo is that the pressure in the tires stays up way longer than the thin standard tubes. The Serfas brake pads I installed are strong and smooth. On a bike like this you want to be able to stop when needed, so Serfas tires and brake pads are making a big difference.

Other than the LightMeUp Safety Lights that adorn the rims, Serfas has covered all my lighting needs beyond belief. My wife won the Limited Edition TSL-2500 Serfas light through a Facebook contest. It turns out it is incredibly bright, has a massive battery (with a USB port) and a remote switch for the handlebar. I got them (Serfas) to add the wired taillight (TL-80), so my full lighting is supported by the one battery. It is very easy to see and sets its modes to match which of the 4 power levels the headlamp is set to.

On board the bike I carry a Serfas TSl-500 headlamp and USL-TL80 taillight for back-up lighting if needed. The both recharge with a USB cable, work great, and are lightweight to have in my panniers for emergencies. Also in my panniers are a pair of Serfas bike locks. I actually have 3 to cover different situations. The Double Espresso is used to secure my Serfas RX saddle and Body Float seat post. For all out security the 12 lbs. Big City Chain & U-lock are more secure than most any thief can bypass. For less weight and more secure parking settings, I use the Serfas CL-15 (15 mm cable) Combo lock that is plenty strong too.

This RX is one of the best saddles I have ridden. In this shot you can see the big Serfas saddlebag and the wired (to the headlamp battery) rear taillight.

 

In the comfort department my cotton shorts hit the Lyrca on one of their new RX-921L saddles. I have a couple of the Serfas Tailbones saddles on some of our other bikes and I think they are dreamy. It turns out the RX is total heaven. With some cool flexing and just the right amount of cush (and width), this platform is perfect. Finding the right saddle can be tough and that is why Serfas offers a big selection (like most all their products), yet take it from me, this bike seat is my idea of perfection.

Like saddles, I have some of their ergo grips on other bikes. For this project I needed some narrow ones to make room for plenty of other things on the bars so I chose the (GS-SWGBG) Twist-Shift Connector ergo grips, a choice I am fully happy with. I needed a frame and saddle bag too, and Serfas was happy to comply. The frame (stem) bag has magnetic clasps and holds my headlamp and lamp battery perfectly. Velco straps hold it to the frame and make it easy to remove when parked and locked.

With so much on the handlebars (including the left side twist throttle) these grips fit and work just right.

My saddle bag is pumped full of items needed for the open road (more on that in future posts in this series). It is their BS-1D model that comes with a tire pump, mini-tool, and a patch kit with tire levers. A few of those items reside in my panniers, yet so much more is packed into this spacious bag. I asked for their much more useful ST-SL mini-tool to make sure I can cover minor repairs for my friends and I when out riding.

Maybe this all reads like an advertisement, and in some ways it is. Serfas was generous to supply all these products to help make my “ULTIMATE” project E-bike just that. Yet if you follow along at all with my writings and reviews you know I wouldn’t spout so strongly without total satisfaction with the the pieces I review. Not just one Serfas accessory made this work, it was the sum of them all that lifted this bike to new heights.

Extra lights and other items tuck into my panniers. Many misc items fit into the saddle bag.

If I were asked to choose my favorite part it would be hard. Where my body touches the bike at the RX saddle and ergo grips would be easy to pick. Still, where the rubber (of those Vida Tires) hits the road I am constantly amazed at the performance levels at each twist in the road. In many ways I didn’t need all these things, but I am so glad the ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD has each and every one of them.

An upcoming article in this series will outline how I met each of the goals I originally set for this project and myself. Even though this pursuit is about an E-bike and commuting on it, it is also about making it just right in many ways. Serfas has fulfilled it though the bits and pieces from the most important tothe least significant. Each is a champion doing exactly what it is intended to do.

#262   Serfas   big lock

Although heavy to transport, the Big City lock seems massive.

Make your bike your way, Turbo Bob.

 

“She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”—Susan B. Anthony.

Check out Serfas on the web and Facebook.

https://www.serfas.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Serfas-253715736950/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Here is a video of most of the Serfas pieces I used.

There are 9 videos of this project bike on my U-Tube so far—check my site for them.

Here are links to all the articles in this series.

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #1—The Goals

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #2—The Bike

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #3—Prepping the Bike

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #4—The E-conversion

ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #5—The eRAD Drive System

Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike general interest, General bike stories, My Bikes | Leave a comment

NiteRider Sentinel 40 & Sabre 35—Rear Bike Lights with Benefits

NiteRider Sentinel 40 & Sabre 35—Rear Bike Lights with Benefits.

Laser safety zone lights are gaining some popularity.

I am big on using bike lights whether the sun is shining or not. These super bright new taillights from NiteRider stand out no matter what your riding conditions are at any given moment. In addition to the normal high-quality and great lighting units you get from NiteRider, these have some nice features, and the Sentinel 40 has one extra benefit that many are embracing lately. That would be the laser safety zone lights in that straddle you during each nighttime ride.

Each light is different, yet they do share some features, so we will cover those first. Both are lithium powered with batteries that recharge through a USB port from your electronic devices. They have long run times and also have a light to tell you when the charge is running low. Small rubber plugs (with pigtails so they don’t get lost) cover the cord hole when not re-charging.

They come with multi language instructions and a charging cable.

They have similar mounting straps and clips that work well on seat posts, yet have some limitations. The stretchable straps clamp on tight, but only to tubes that are not small like the seat stays on my bikes, although many rear lights aren’t too good in this respect either. Sometimes the seat post mounting won’t work because the saddle is set low or there is cargo on the rack. They did work well on my bike trailer too, although because of the mounting brackets, I wasn’t able to use them in all the situations I wanted.

The numbers refer to the lumen output at full tilt. Of course there are lower settings, and at those you can dramatically increase the amount of time they run. Both are quite bright and especially in the flashing mode I am sure they can be seen from a long way away. The Sentinel 40 charges in 4 hours and will stay lit for 4 ½ to 36 hours. The Sabre 35 charges in 1 ½ hours with a run time of 1 ½ to 12 hours. I usually use the least bright flashing setting, which is very visible and increases the run time. I did not test these times, they are copied from the packaging.

The Sabre 35 is much smaller and lighter

The Sabre 35 is a compact unit and I am sure the less expensive of these two. At first I wasn’t able to enact the flashing modes, but I soon found that holding the button down for a bit it transfers to those. It has a total of 6 modes, 3 solid and 3 flashing. I like the electronics as I can easily turn it off by holding the button, as opposed to the Sentinel with requires toggling the switch to find the off setting. In some ways the Sabre was my favorite, although the smaller battery just couldn’t match the long run times of the Sentinel.

The Sentinel has two separate systems—the rear light and the safety zone light—each with its own power switch. The rear light has 2 solid modes and 2 flashing modes. The flashing modes are kind of cool, with a pulsating look. With an incredibly long run time and an almost too bright feel, this light is one super unit . My wife asked me at one point to ride behind her because the light was so strong.

With this type of mounting I just wasn’t convinced it would stay put and out of the spokes. I do have other ones that work well in this situation.

On to the laser safety zone lights in the Sentinel 40. This is the 4th rear light I own with this feature and I have a few things to say about it. It can be more of a gimmick than a safety item. Without a doubt this light has the brightest look on the ground of any I have up until now (and has 3 modes, solid, and slow and fast flash). I have found the lights really can’t be seen by approaching motorists, just by you and your riding mates. So it is kind of an ego blast, a cool thing to have, and a stand out with your friends.

It is a class 2 laser so the anti-safety effects might be more important than the positive safety effects. Although both the Sabre and the Sentinel can be used in a horizontal or vertical mounting position, the laser safety zone feature on the Sentinel 40 can only be used in the vertical position. Plus it must be mounted on the seat post so the lights hit the ground in the correct operation. Whatever you do, don’t let the lights cast into the eyes of people and pets. In the maybe 3 years I’ve been using laser safety zone lights I have these 2 highs and lows.

When using the safety zone lights the run time should be considerably less than without.

When we are near the bikes I will leave them on when parked (talking or eating). I did have one occasion where a young boy let his curiosity rise and he kept bending lower and lower to look right into it. Luckily I was wasn’t too far away and I was able to stop him from doing it. I had been concerned up until this point, yet at that moment I realized just how vigilant I needed to be when using them.

The funny thing is how many ask where the light is actually coming from. Many, many more have approached the bikes and then started looking to the sky, as if some alien spacecraft was beaming them to earth. I try not to laugh out loud every time this happens. During group rides they are quite noticeable, and most people seem to think they are pretty cool.

So there you go, the full skinny as I see it on these two new lights from NiteRider. No matter how you do it, make sure to stay lit, so you can stay safe on your bike. And remember, NiteRider has a monster selection of all kinds of headlamps and tail lamps for your bike, our main headlamps come out of their camp.

Day or night, use your lights, Turbo Bob.

“The bicycle is a former child’s toy that has now been elevated to icon status because, presumably, it can move the human form from pillar to post without damage to the environment.”—Brock Yates.

Look for NiteRider on the web and Facebook.

https://www.niterider.com/

https://www.facebook.com/NiteRiderTechnicalLighting/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Here are a couple videos I shot showing the lights.

Posted in Bike accessories, General bike stories | Leave a comment

Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield—Book Review

Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield—Book Review.

Good reading for your mind and planet.

Rob Greenfield’s message with this book is about sustainability, yet it runs much deeper than that. It is about his off-the-grid bicycle journey across the United States, but so much more is covered. It is about his goal to teach and spread the word of how to be good to yourself, your community and the planet, still once again it surpasses that heavily. This is a book with an important and immediate message that Rob and I both think is so very vital.

I believe his new book is required reading for the masses and the individual. He has additional information on-line to back-up all the this book conveys, so look to the web for that. The stories of his journey are only lightly covered, as it would take a giant manuscript to detail his every experience in this 104 day cross-country bamboo bicycle trek. Like seemingly everything I do that doesn’t follow the norm, this book review will be one that doesn’t tell the story, but gives my own take on it.

As I read his book (journal?), I couldn’t help comparing his life goals and actions to my own. His activism came to be at a much younger age than mine. We are on the same mission now, even if it is in somewhat different directions. If you were to split light with a prism to show all the levels (colors) of ways to make a difference, then he appears to shine in every spectrum generated. Mine are close, yet the beam is not as strong and maybe missing a couple of the brighter hues.

I got this off his page of a day in San Diego showing wasted food—and making sure each piece was eaten after all by the many who attended that day.

As he mentions in this book, his everyday life does not match the extremes of sustainability he maintained on his journey. It would close to impossible for most anyone to hit the levels he held for an entire lifetime. He is the first to admit that total off-the grid living isn’t his message. What he wants to do is light a fire in the human race for minimal waste and maximum use of every natural resources this world offers us. I follow the 3 R’s, yet now I know there are actually 5 of them.

I am glad to say that my household uses 1/50 to 1/20 of the amount of water than it did by the previous owners. Part of that stems from it just being the two of us compared to a family of 4. Much has to do with several other factors. Turning off the automatic sprinkler system (and then eventually removing it and the lawn) was one of the first things I did on moving-in day. We are still working on landscaping our property with water-wise and native plants. The colors flourish and we are doing 95% of the work ourselves.

We save all the shower water as it warms up for the washer or yard. We use a non-soap ball to clean our clothes and save all the water the washer kicks out for the yard. A method Rob outlines is how we maintain our toilet flushing. On the whole we do our best to only use the faucets when needed and reuse all we can that flows from them.

Rob at home in San Diego after his 4700 mile ride for sustainability.

On Rob Greenfield’s ride he went to massive extremes with water use and conservation. He used filtered natural water sources—caught rain water—found discarded water—saved wasted water dripping from plumbed water sources and used as little as possible on every turn. His bathroom methods were ones I wouldn’t and couldn’t really use at home. He did it to prove to himself and the world it could be done, yet doesn’t expect you (or even himself) to recreate his methods used during his ride all the time.

His nearly 4 month trip found him using solar power for most every electrical need he had. That included writing his book text (to be edited later) and to keep his followers (including me) updated on his progress and activities. His cell phone allowed him to set up some overnight stays and many media interviews (and using that good old GPS too). The lack of enough power was an issue, yet he stuck to his plan almost completely.

I am proud to say my power bill is just a small fraction of most everyone I know. Someday if the local power company will get on-board, we will get a solar system, but for now we just do our best to use as little as possible. Here on the west coast most of our power is fairly cleanly made, some of it with solar and wind turbines, yet using a minimal amount is working well for us.

Rob was adamant about eating locally sourced food with no-to-minimal packaging. He is also a big defender of a no waste life style, so getting discarded food was big on his eating habits list (and is to this day). He hauled every bit of trash and recycling generated during his whole ride, so you can be sure worked hard to keep it to close to nothing. While you read his book you will be amazed at how he accomplished his eating and waste goals.

Years back I took on what my wife has been doing for close to 40 years. That is eating no meat or poultry. Rob mostly followed this lead, yet did seem to eat well most of the time. Honey was an important staple, along with massive amounts of fruit and vegetables. Although Rob ate dairy like we do, he made sure it was local or package free. We try for that, but can’t match it as well as he does. I must say that our trash is normally about a third of a bag (standard 30 gallon item) per week and even our recycle bin rarely fills between the twice a month pickup.

At his book signing. This is the women he mentions in his book, even though he had yet to meet her at that point.

I often dream of hopping on my bike and just riding. Although I do that a lot, unless we are out of town I am always home by bedtime. I would love to copy what Rob has done, but am pretty sure I won’t. If I did I could never match his off-the-grid desire he kept strong. Of course some soul searching was part of his journey, how could it not be? Much of that insight is included in his book, yet I suspect only a small fraction. As you read, you easily put yourself onto his saddle and realize what a tough transformation that would be.

We were lucky to be at a party to see Rob off as he left for San Francisco to get started. We are friends, yet calling us acquaintances would probably be more accurate. I do what I can to get people on bikes, and Rob does what he can to go way further than that. I applaud him and give thanks for all he does, whether it is just his daily life, or this massive undertaking. The one thing I knew bothered him as I read “Dude Making a Difference”, is that it is a printed version made from trees we need. It was so nice to find on the back page that this book is made with 100% post consumer waste.

I suggest (in addition to reading this book) that you follow Rob Greenfield on his websites and Facebook. He will be featured in a six episode TV show very soon. He has many suggestions and ways you can make your own difference. All Rob wants you to do is to be good to the earth, your fellow man and yourself—at the level you can personally maintain. I am sure after you read his book you will step it up considerably. In Rob’s words—DO GOOD!

http://robgreenfield.tv/

http://robgreenfield.tv/blog/

https://www.facebook.com/RobGreenfield/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

I shot this video at his book signing, fun day.

 

Posted in General bike stories, Opinion | 1 Comment

E-LUX Fat Tire Electric Cruiser—Cloud Surfer

E-LUX Fat Tire Electric Cruiser—Cloud Surfer.

Comfort and style—is that what you are looking for in an E-bike?

This title lends to what this new E-bike is, a easy, smooth riding electric-assist bike. The one I tested is as pure white as the puffiest clouds in the sky, yet other colors are on the roster. It would make the perfect bike for the surf crowd, and most anyone else I imagine. Plus it rides like its wheels are skimming the silver lining that surrounds those misty vapors that billow above. They just call it the E-LUX Fat Tire Electric Cruiser.

Fat tires are all the rage nowadays, yet most bikes that sport them are rough, tough terrain eaters. This one could do that, although some easy going street riding is really its main appetite. Sand and snow are on the menu if you want, so rough riding isn’t out of the question by any means. Still, E-LUX set its goal with this bike to add maximum comfort for the person in the saddle. If bike riding ease is your idea of fun, then this could be the bike for you.

These big tires are part of what this E-bike is all about.

Unlike most fat tire bikes I have ridden (both powered and unpowered) that have radical knobbys that sing on the road and kind of add their own pounding feel as you ride, these have a raised center ridge for quiet and smooth street use, yet some aggressive side tread that will power through the soft stuff when needed. They tell me the tubes they use are very thick to help thwart off thorns and other nasty stuff you might roll through. I like that, you?

As you gaze over the frame you can see the heft built-in for strength and a solid ride. Most everything about this E-bike is beefy, as it should be. The brakes are big and tough, and a hydraulic front disc is an option, even though I personally would go with this standard cable operated one. The fenders and rack speak massive and the kickstand is right there along with that trend. Yes, this is one big bike where you sit tall and proud.

Where do you want to ride?

That big factor did affect the way it sets on my Thule T2 bike rack though. I was able to make it fit, yet it took extra straps on the wheels and frame to make me feel confident. I took it on several rides at the beach and harbor (local trails too) so having the ability to transport it was important. Those rides were great fun and made me enjoy the E-LUX even more. Getting a pair of them on the rack might be a little tough, so keep that in mind if E-bikes come in pairs at your house like the do at mine.

Those great ergo grips feel soooo good.

This fat tire electric bike has a well designed power control system with a quality and useful display unit (that includes a USB power outlet). The right hand thumb throttle is active in all modes. It has five levels of automatic pedelec assist including an off for regular riding. I also think the extra mode for setting overall power available is smart. You can easily change it for reduced power levels if—you want some extra range from your battery—you lend the bike out and want it to be a bit slower—or if it is used in rental activities.

They rate the brushless rear hub motor at 750 watts (which it will easily peak at) but it probably is a 500 watt unit. 48 volts pulse from the mid-mounted battery that gives 13 Ah. A 17 Ah battery is an option and one I would normally recommend. The standard battery is 624 watt hours and the optional one is 816. With that powerful motor sucking the juice, opting for more battery capacity is wise. I would guess this bike is at least 70 lbs. (maybe more), so running out of power on a long ride should be avoided. With 7 speed gearing out back you can pedal it ok, but not with the same ease of lighter E-bikes.

A top name-brand motor will get you up those really steep hills.

That powerful motor makes climbing a breeze. It is no slouch in the speed department either. Any extra weight this bike might have disappears while you are riding it with the assist. I also found the steering light and not overly sensitive which made every ride quite enjoyable. The cruiser bars helped with that and allow for a very upright and comfortable cockpit. It sports a quality suspension seatpost, yet mine was a bit sticky in the up and down movement (something I am sure E-LUX would swap out with no questions).

That mid-mount lithium battery is stuffed with only quality cells.

Up front is a LED headlamp that gets its power from the motor battery. It does have its own separate switch, that I would like to see run from the display control instead. The display backlights nicely and that switch could run the headlamp too. They include a rear tail light that uses its own internal batteries. A wired one like the headlamp and switched from the display would be better. Like most E-bikes I ride, the factory lighting is ok for neighborhood jaunts, but stronger lights are wise when you hit the open road.

On the book of options is a front suspension fork. It might be worth considering yet I would bypass it. I did notice the slightest amount of flex in the standard steel fork, yet that isn’t too uncommon. It is one oversized piece and steel flexes naturally to smooth out your ride. That is one reason I prefer steel framed bikes, that and their ability to last a long time with no issues. E-LUX offers this same bike in a low-framed step-through version too.

This fat tire electric bike was a joy to test and ride. It sits high and keeps you comfortable all day. It has that big cruiser saddle that matches its theme. It is well outfitted allowing you to splash through the biggest puddles with a smile. The thrill continues each time you

I grabbed this from the E-LUX website so you could see the low-frame version of this fat tire E-bike

feel the motor kick in when the road climbs or the wind blows. If you are looking for an E-bike with style, ease of riding, and one like no other (that will catch glances everyday), this E-LUX has all that covered. Come down from the clouds and let’s ride.

Make mine fat, 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 Keoghan.

Look on Facebook and the web for more information.

http://www.eluxbikes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/eluxbikes/timeline?ref=page_internal

Videos? Of course I shot videos.

 

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 1 Comment

Pedego Latch Folding Electric Bike—Early Insight

Pedego Latch Folding Electric Bike—Early Insight.

With all you can need, I do think these new folding electric bikes from Pedego will be on roads all over the place.

I’ve known this folding E-bike was was coming, now you do too. As with all the electric bikes Pedego builds, they put in a lot of thought and testing beforehand to make sure the end user (you) gets maximum enjoyment and satisfaction with each ride. I finally got a chance to see it in person this month at their 4th Annual Dealer Meeting, and then went last weekend for an afternoon of riding at Pedego Corona Del Mar. Good news is they are taking pre-orders and by January 15th (2016) this new bike will be hitting the streets all over the world.

I’ve ridden and tested a bunch of folding bikes with electric-assist, and found a new one to covet. It really covers every need a person might have if this genre of bike is part of your interest zone. Power, comfort and convenience is just a small list of what the Latch offers. The popularity of both electric bikes and folding bikes rises on a daily basis, so when they are as one, the numbers go off the charts.  Add in the known company and dealer support to make sure a wide smile matches every mile.

Here is the color line-up of the new Latch.

Like many E-bikes nowadays the frame is strong aluminum. Unlike many, that frame folds small for transport and storage. This means intermodal travel with your E-bike is so much easier. It means your bike security level can rise to close to 100% when at home, work and even while eating or shopping. The Latch does weigh 50 lbs., yet the battery can be removed so you have a 43 & 7 lbs. combined lifting weight. That is unless you opt for the 15 Ah extended range battery (and so many are for their Pedego bikes), so add a couple more pounds for that.

I was mega impressed with the riding comfort and smoothness. The cockpit position, saddle, and controls are optimized for all sizes, plus the tire selection gives a near no-flat confidence and great feel on any surface. You don’t see those big meats on many folding bikes, most are more geared for speed and lightweight. I am glad to give up a bit of that for the way these float and roll like a dream.

The number and location of the 250 watt geared hub motor up front might bring you a bit of apprehension, but dismiss that thought right away. Its climbing ability proved to be awesome as my wife and I hit some steep ones during our ride. At that point I was on one of their 48 volt (500 watt) Interceptors and while my bike strained some, the Latch scooted her on up with ease. From where I was sitting it appeared I was even pedalling harder than she was. So we swapped back and I tried that hill again, yup, that Pedego latch has some major grunt.

I wish I had better photos—check out the videos below for a closer look.

Yes, you might get a little tire slip from that front drive, but never once did the momentum slow. Having this arrangement is sometimes called all-wheel drive on E-bikes. You are driving the rear while the motor drives the front. Having the motor pull the bike from the front is a totally natural feeling and didn’t have any adverse affect on the ride or handling. It also helps neutralize the front to rear balance, while riding or lifting. I just found the Pedego Latch to be a delightful bike to ride.

Slowing was just as solid with disc brakes front and rear. Fenders, rack, chainguard and kickstand, mate up with the full factory lighting and bell. The only thing I would change would be a swap to some ergo grips that have a better texture for a less slippery feel. How often do you ride a bike that only has one item that could use an upgrade? Almost never I would think. Three colors are on the roster—lime green, black and space blue. With the 2 battery options and 3 color choices, this might be the easiest Pedego to decide exactly which one you want. I know already I want one (2 actually), yet have to think the last thing I need is another bike.

Have your previous experiences with folding bikes left you with greasy clothes, legs and back car seats? Throw away that problem with the Latch’s belt-drive. This Center-Track Gates rubber belt is quiet, clean and maintenance-free. It should outlast the bike, while all the time making your biking so much better. It matches up to an easy to shift 3-speed rear geared hub that is also pretty much maintenance-free. The 3 gear ratios are nicely timed to the bike’s motor for a easy ride no matter what the grade of the road ahead.

Ready to take you most anywhere.

Pedego’s new Pedal Sense is paired with a great display and button unit that has a powered USB port for your audio and phone needs. The buttons are close at hand for safe use and the display plys you with all the info you want and more. One quick push and the bike lights power up on both ends for more fun when the sun goes down. You get 4 levels of automatic pedelec (1-4), 0 allows you to ride unpowered, 5 is for full power every time you pedal, and 6 is the throttle only mode. It makes ‘Sense’.

Folding the bike is a short game of correct sequencing. It isn’t hard but might take a bit of practice. If you are accustomed to folding bikes you will take to it on the first try. I included a video that covers it, plus your dealer will make sure it comes easy for you, so with each time you need to transport or stow it, your smile will not falter. That smile will broadcast itself even more as you pump the pedals and coax the electric motor to help you with the hills, winds and any other obstacle bike riding can present.

The electric-assist is set to max out at 15 mph. Once again that may not seem like much, but I found to be plenty fast for any journey. As I continued to test ride the bike along the So Cal beaches and roads I could not find but one thing about the Pedego Latch I didn’t like (those grips—ok, but there are better). This folding electric bike will be the right answer for so many. It takes the two best kinds of bikes (electric and folding), melts them together in the nicest way, and comes from the most popular E-bike company. That is a hard act to follow.

Latch me up Scotty, Turbo Bob.

“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.”—Christopher Morley.

You can find Pedego on the web, Facebook and in your neighborhood

http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/PedegoElectricBikes?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

This post is light on photos yet heavy on videos—check them out

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