Bike Testing—Tips and Procedures You Can Use

Bike Testing—Tips and Procedures You Can Use.

Be it riding our vintage bikes out-of-town or doing a full review on a new one, I am always paying attention to what the bike is telling me.

Be it riding our vintage bikes out-of-town or doing a full review on a new one, I am always paying attention to what the bike is telling me.

As a lifelong mechanic, I have been testing, evaluating, fixing and modifying electro-mechanical devices for over 45 years.   This includes professionally, bikes, cars, motorcycles, aircraft, R/C models, electronic devices and sewing machines.   With this comes certain mental procedures and checklists that drive my ways.   I thought a little insight to the way I do this for the bikes in my life might help your cycling interests and the way you interpret my writings about bikes.

Before I start a bike test and review I will do a few things that I feel are pretty important.   First is a thorough visual inspection to get a feel for what is to come.   And this visual part continues from beginning to end.   Also, there is just a feel for the movements, noises and vibrations that any item will use to tell you where it stands.  Hard to teach, everyone is a natural at something, I just happen to be the mechanic type.

Many of the bikes I test are at remote locations and just for a short (one or two hours) time.   I can usually get a good impression of the ride, quality and misgivings of a bike or E-bike in that amount of time.   Very often I am presented bikes I can keep in my possession for days, weeks and months.   These bikes get a much more intensive shake-down and are what I am using as an example as I write this post.

Part of my reviews include to thoughts from others as I let them try them out. Here, my friend Mike pushes the IZIP Express to see how he likes it.

Part of my reviews include the thoughts from others as I let them try them out. Here, my friend Mike pushes the IZIP Express to see how he likes it.

Whether it is a new bike for testing, a used bike for possible purchase or repair, or one of my vintage bikes before a ride, I am on the constant vigil for smooth operation and safety.   I keep a simple log of my impressions, changes made or needed and modifications performed.   This log can come in handy down the road and is also used to allow me to give feed-back to the bike’s maker, something I think is very important, maybe even more so than my posted reviews.

Before any major riding I will copy down the serial number and other pertinent information on the bike.   I go over the bike fully checking every fastener and adjustment, some I tailor to my personal needs and fitting to the bike.   I also examine it for cosmetic damage inflicted before the bike arrived at my door-step.   Once these operations are performed, the real testing begins.   Filled with conditions of many kinds, I attempt to put as many miles as needed to fully feel like one with the bike in question.   These impressions are what I use to fill my bike reviews with information I think you can use.

There are several key points that I look and feel for.   Ride quality, smoothness and steering response tell much about the design features of any bike.   Each bike has its own reasons for being, such as for speed demons, beach cruising or commuting.   The geometry and frame material differ on each, and if the manufacture got it right, each one should ride and respond in kind.   Along these lines you should find no steering shake when your hands come off the bars and no slop or flex in the chassis and suspension as you ride.

I try to ride the test bikes as much as possible, even to important meetings.

I try to ride the test bikes as much as possible, even to important meetings.

Shifting and brake operation also come into play during my test rides.   Needless to say I will expect much more from a very expensive bike compared to one from the opposite direction, as anyone would.   I have been called out in the past for not using equal standards on my bike evaluations and critiques.   My answer is this, if a pricey bike touts better features and performance, it should deliver them.

When it comes to E-bikes (electric-assist), I spend much time testing the control system, power and smoothness in operation.   I do feel that my time here is well spent and will tell much about the manufactures’ commitment to their bike and customer.   Once again, a simple E-bike whose power is controlled by a hand throttle only will not get securitized nearly as much as one that claims intelligent control.

One only need look back a couple articles to see that the cyclist’s safety and comfort are my prime concerns.   Any bike or E-bike has things about it that can cause danger, yet the bike and its operation shouldn’t add to them.   Also, the comfort you feel in the operation of an E-bike should not be compromised by bikes whose power systems surge at lower speeds and make you feel as if the bike wants to go when you don’t.   If they do, I report that to you and lobby the maker to initiate changes for the better.

With so many different bikes to choose from, it's up to you to find the one that makes you happy.

With so many different bikes to choose from, it’s up to you to find the one that makes you happy.

Another safety issue I am big on spotting are sharp edges that can cause cuts and scrapes.   The most common one here are poorly cut tie-straps.   These plastic tie-downs are on bikes everywhere and when cut after installation with the wrong tool, leave a sharp, blood bringing edge that I constantly pointing out to individuals, shops and the bike factories themselves.   An inexpensive pair of flush cut pliers or a razor blade will leave them with a smooth, injury free end.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is for you to keep your senses open as you are deciding on your next bike.   Make a list of your likes and dislikes as you ride each bike you are considering.   Read and investigate about them to help guide your own experience with each.   And as you ride the bike of your choosing, listen and feel its needs for attention and service as the miles float by.   The better you treat your bike, the better it will return the favor.

As the sun sets on another ride, do you have the bike you like and is it working the way it should? I sure hope so.

As the sun sets on another ride, do you have the bike you like and is it working the way it should? I sure hope so.

I do my best to be honest and open as my reviews hit the keyboard.   You may have noticed I write more about the experience of the ride and bike than the exact specs and numbered geometry of the frame work.   I also rarely mention price points.   You can usually find all that on the manufactures’ website which is always linked at the bottom of each of my test reviews.

One last thing about my reviews, unlike many, I take no cash or checks from the makers of the bikes and products I write about.   Sure the perks—occasional meals, bike goodies and free E-bike rentals are welcome, yet no cash changes hands.   I do this as a passion, not an occupation.   The ads you might see on this site are put there by Word Press to allow me a free place to communicate with you.   Just like my You-Tube channel and my Facebook page, they place and receive compensation for the ads, I just enjoy a no cost venue to talk bikes.
Ride a bike?   I hope so, Turbo Bob.

“A bike can be an important appurtenance of an important ritual.   Moving the legs evenly and steadily soon brings home to the rider a valuable knowledge of pace and rhythm, and a sensible respect for timing and the meeting of a schedule.   Out of rhythm come many things, perhaps all things.”—William Saroyan, The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills.

I have a couple posts on finding and checking a used bike.   Have you seen them yet?

I have many posts about this subject.   Check the categories section for more.

About Turbo Bob's Bicycle Blog

E-bike Enthusiast Vintage Bike Enthusiast
This entry was posted in Bike maintenance, Bike test reviews, Buying a used bike, E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews, Folding Bike test reviews, General bike stories, Opinion, Vintage Bikes. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Bike Testing—Tips and Procedures You Can Use

  1. JOHN MANIKAS says:

    Are you paid by anybody to comment on ebike models and brands?
    You never replied to my last message.

    • Hi John, Sorry if I missed your question, I do my best to answer any that come my way.
      This is fully covered in the next to last paragraph of this post.
      I do love the perks that come with being so involved in the bike world at this level. Those perks include many things, yet no cash or checks. I do this for the joy and passion I feel for the bikes. Having a place to voice my opinions and words has been, and continues to be great.
      If you have a chance, ‘like’ my Facebook page for much more on my daily activities, things you just won’t see here. Plus I have got to think you are fully tuned into my You-Tube channel.
      Thanks for following along.

  2. Roger Bly says:

    Bob, Thanks for the e-bike ride today. Nice bike!

  3. Roger Bly says:

    What is the manufacturer / model of that bike. I’d like to look it up.

    • Roger, the E-bike you rode is a Pedego Trail Tracker. The Pedego shop on Coronado is the place to go. It just so happens they are having a special event this weekend. If you are on Facebook, you can see the flyer for more info by going on my page. Just punch in ‘Turbo Bob’s Bicycle Blog’ to see a post with the flyer. Or you can go on the ‘Pedego Coronado’ page too. I have also posted some videos with the Trail Tracker on my You-Tube channel of the same name.
      Maybe we will see you there, Turbo.

  4. bofred says:

    Hi, Bob! I’m new to ebikes and I have bought one I’m going to test seriously. One question I have to you is, how do you test efficiency of the drive line? My bike I bought has an efficiency of 40% which is surprisingly low and the way I measure is a bit simplified. I assume the motor has an output of 250W (as told in the manual) and measures the peak W from the battery in the test ride and divides them. I would very much like to see some measurements on ebikes and compare but I cannot find any. I have some experience of brushless three phase motors and the efficiency should at least be around 60-80% in my opinion..
    Thanks in advance. bofred

    • You’re question leaves me just a bit baffled. I say enjoy the ride as you get to know your new E-bike.
      There is a group that has insight to this and has been putting together a plan to do standardized tests on E-bikes to measure range, climbing ability and acceleration. The folks in charge of this might have a better answer to your question.
      That group is LEVA (Light Electric Vehicle Association). You can find them online or follow the ‘like’ section on my Facebook page to locate them there.
      They also have a technician certification program. I am a certified level 1 tech with them.
      They are helping to spearhead training programs too.
      Check them out.
      Enjoy your new E-bike and make sure to let us know how you like it, Turbo.

  5. bofred says:

    Thank you for answering. I enjoy the e-ride. Its like being a kid again and I am able to take my own kid for a long bicycle ride with a big backpack without working out.
    The ordinary geared 250W hub motor (MXUS, 8fun) seems to eat around the double the effect (sorry for my bad english) than it produces. It should be easy to design a drive chain that is at least 20% more efficient. I have seen gear less hub motors. Have anybody tested one?
    Anyway, with a big battery I’m able to get a long ride. I have a 48V 10Ah battery. The distance here in Sweden getting some were is quite big so I like to make it more efficient in the future.
    I once been in California (Visited relatives in Santa Barbara area) and that must be a perfect place for ebiking i think. You’re lucky guys 🙂 bofred

  6. David Kraft says:

    Hi Bob, could you please help me on settling on a bike? I’m 6’1 220 and I just rode the “Juiced Rider” and really liked it but I saw a bike on EBAY it’s a GM750 FOLDING BIKE I’m looking for maximum power and light weight along with quality. Could you please take a peak at this bike and let me know what you think? Also, are there any bikes in this comparison that you’d recommend? I’m looking at smaller, powerful space saving bike, Thanks Bob

  7. Hi David, thanks for reading my blog and chipping in with this question.
    First off I need to say do anything you can to buy your new E-bike from a dealer, someone you can return to if questions or issues pop-up. Saving money is nice, but in the long run you will save much more buying and getting service local. Internet buying can be bad news, especially with E-bikes.
    The Juiced Rider is one nice E-bike. It is pretty heavy, but with the strength, power and battery capacity it offers you need to expect that. I does sound like you have a dearer nearby, so try any other bike offered locally to see what you think. I reviewed the Juiced Rider this year–and last year’s model too, did you see the reviews posted here? The designer and maker is local to me so I have checked it out many times. He works hard to offer a solid bike that should give good service.
    The E-bike world is opening up with many new dealers and bikes. Many, like possibly the one you mentioned, come and go so quickly. That makes it hard to depend on it as the months and years go by. By the looks it seems ok, yet there are a few things that make me wonder.
    Getting maximum power and light weight don’t really come in the same package. Getting quality normally comes from a large name with many bikes under their belt.
    I can’t tell you which bike to buy or not buy. Try as many as you can to help you decide.
    If you are anywhere near San Diego on October 9th you should come to my E-bike seminar. There are usually at least 30 different types and makes of E-bikes to try and you can meet the local dealers and makers. Hope to see you there. More info will be posted here and on my Facebook page.
    Thanks, let us know what you decide and how you like it, Turbo.

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