In part 1 of this article, I told how we got the bikes and stopped at that point. There were two problems that we needed to overcome. One, the bike was too big for my wife. She would not be comfortable and safe on such a large-sized bike. Something for you to consider. I am 6’2″ and she is not. Two, one of the bikes had a problem with the alignment of the chain, and it would come off the sprocket when shifted into low gear. This problem might have been easy to fix, or near impossible. After some checking and decision-making, the answer was clear. We would keep the extra bike for spare parts and purchase another, woman’s sized bike.
Even at this point, three years after purchasing our bikes, the least expensive way to get them is on the Walmart website. They are not in stock on the floor. I ordered a Woman’s Trailz, and it was shipped, in the box, to my nearest store at no additional cost. It has a smaller frame, with a lower, step-through frame, and street style tires. It was $350, but now costs $400 plus tax. After a short wait, it was ours. So at this point, we had my Mountain Trailz, her Woman Trailz, and a complete extra bike for spare parts. The extra parts would pay for itself immediately.
That meant we had an extra battery ($150), charger ($30), and other parts we needed to fix problems that we encountered. I will go into those as the saga unfolds.
The batteries that came with the first two bikes took a long time to charge. They had sat on the floor unattended for quite a long time. My initial testing made me think that they might be bad. It turns out in the long run that they are the two best batteries of the four we now have. One of the reasons I felt they weren’t up to snuff was the way they read on the battery condition indicator lights that are built into the throttle mechanism on the bike. There are three lights, green for fully charged, yellow for power diminishing, and red for out of juice. The lights don’t really tell the story and change colors depending on the load the motor and the amount of throttle you are using. The light never really stays on green while you are riding. After a discussion with the Currie techs, they sent us two new batteries under warranty. They have been so good about the problems we have had, and I truly recommend their company for their products and customer service.
In addition to the two warranty batteries they supplied for free, we bought an additional battery and charger. Two of the batteries they sent were obviously not as powerful as the first two we got, and when it came time to return the bad batteries, I sent back those two and kept the first two. I was hoping they would just let us keep them all, but when they warrantee a battery, they need the old one back. So now we have four good batteries that have worked well, except for a leakage problem that comes up later in this story. From all the riding we have done, we have found that riding with two batteries is necessary if you go more than eight miles and have hills or wind to contend with. The bike comes with one, and the second one (and charger) is an additional expense.
With a bike for each of us, it was time to start outfitting them with the needed upgrades and accessories. Several trips to local bike shops, big box stores, and the Nashbar mail order firm allowed us to get the items we felt would do the job. My bike would not do with the supplied mountain bike knobby tires. And the street tires on the Woman’s Trailz were not molded well , making them not turn true. We found a great tire that was reasonably priced to take their place. Made by Cheng Shin Tire, these 26×1.90 near slick tread tires have been just right. Along with new thorn-resistant tubes and green goop tire sealant, the results have perfect. No flats, good performance, and minimal loss of air pressure was the goal I achieved. This upgrade added about $40-50 to the price of each bike, but well worth it. During this step, I noticed that two of the rims were not true, and I dealt with that with a couple different means. More on that as we go.
My wife was adamant about having fenders on her bike, and I figured a couple of pairs of those would be the next step. These we bought from two different places, the second set being made by Planet Bike. Those had these neat add-on mud flaps, so I purchased an extra set of flaps for the other fenders to give maximum protection from puddles and the such. These fenders are light-weight and easy to install. A little reforming of the strut rods around the motor area was needed. I also trimmed the excess length of the rods and glued the rubber end caps in place.
We found some nice headlamps that have a blink mode. The blinking rear tail lights we first got were ok, but we supplemented them with some extra bright ones from Nashbar. With a pair of rear lights and the front lights, we have upped our safety day or night. These lights have LEDs and use the batteries very slowly. I always use Duracell batteries, as they are strong, and rarely leak. In addition to those, we got a great deal on a pair of bright headlamps from Niterider. These are powered by a lithium battery and are very bright for night-time riding. The other headlamps we got are ok to alert the drivers of our presence, day or night, but do not light up the road. The Niterider lights are lightweight and are easily removed, and kept in our carry bags for security when not in use. My wife doesn’t like to commute at night, but I love the feeling of riding after the sun goes down.
I rounded out the add-ons with locks, bells, and bike computers. We started out with junky computers, but ended up with some nice ones from Planet Bike. They even have a built-in thermometer. And they work great. They are kind of necessary with an E-bike. They help to evaluate your battery use and if the batteries are starting to get to the end of their useful life cycle. And it is fun to know your speed, distance traveled, and other things they tell you.
Next up will be the problems I encountered with the bikes, and how Currie was very helpful in supplying the parts to solve them. Thanks for reading, Turbo Bob.
“When I’m on my bike I forget about things like age. I just have fun.”—Kathy Sessler.
For some great deals on E-bikes, E-bike conversion kits, and folding bikes, see my friend Bert at http://www.nycewheels.com
Want to rent an E-bike in the San Diego area? Talk to Gary at http://www.iselectricbikecenter.com
Looking for a good bike shop in the San Diego area? Q-bikes is the way to go.