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

E-bike Flyer 5-2016It is time again for my popular E-bike event here in San Diego, this will be the 8th edition. Happening the evening of May 24th, 2016, it all starts at 5 pm, yet arriving a bit early is a good idea. You’ll get a chance to meet all the local electric bike dealers and ride any or all of the 60+ E-bikes they will bring. Plus door prizes and a full dinner are part of the fun. I’ve been hosting this special happening every spring and fall for the last 5 years.
Thanks to our local power company and their awesome Energy Innovation Center, it is a free event for everyone involved. This makes it unlike any E-bike event in the entire world, even the Electric Bike Expo that is crisscrossing the country right now. Because the shops and companies can come at no cost, you will get to try out a wide cross-section of bikes, not just the big money ones. I don’t allow any sales at the event, so there is no pressure, just learning and fun.
Expect talks from Rhonda Martin on how E-bikes completely changed her life for the better. Marc Johnson will tell how electric bikes helped him recover from some serious health issues and regain a happy lifestyle once again. Some big news will be the announcement of how you can become part of a Guinness World Record attempt in the E-bike world. Don’t miss that.
Don’t forget to preregister at the link in the text below. I have restructured the evening some so there will be more time to try all the E-bikes, and the test course is bigger than ever. May 24, 2016 from 5 pm to 8 pm, yet if you come a bit before hand, you can extend the fun.
Check out this list of exhibitors and E-bikes that will be there. And, the list is still growing.
ABUS Security Systems——Company reps on hand.
Add-e E-bike Conversion.
Ariel Rider E-bikes.
Bulls E-Bikes—————Company reps on hand.
Dynamite Electric Bike———–Shop reps on hand.
EcoReco——————-Company reps on hand.
El Camino Bike Shop————Shop reps on hand.
E-Lux———————Company reps on hand.
Electra———————Company reps on hand.
Electric Bike Central————-Shop reps on hand.
Electric Car Insider.
Electron Wheel————–Company reps on hand.
ELV Motors———————Shop reps on hand.
Faraday———————Company reps on hand.
Fifield E-Bikes
Freway E-bikes—————Company reps on hand.
HPC. (Hi Power Cycles).
Juiced Bikes——————Company reps on hand.
Kayman Bikes—————-Company reps on hand.
Lectric Cycles———–=—–Company reps on hand.
LightMeUp Safety Lights———Company reps on hand.
Metro Cyclery———————Shop reps on hand.
Nori Lights——————–Company reps on hand.
North County Family Bicycles———Shop reps on hand.
Pedego Electric Bikes————Company reps on hand.
Phantom Bikes—————–Company reps on hand.
rEcycles Electric Bikes—————Shop reps on hand.
San Diego Electric Bike—————Shop reps on hand.
San Diego Fly Rides——————Shop reps on hand.
Street Fair Electric Bikes————–Shop reps on hand.
Stromer————————Company reps on hand.
Surface 604.
Surf Monkey————————Shop reps on hand.
Tern—————————Company reps on hand.
Here is the text I have added to many media sources that offers most the information you will need. See you there, Turbo Bob.
Please consider coming to this free public service event, “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”.
It will take place in the evening on Tuesday May 24th, 2016, here in San Diego, from 5 pm to 8 pm.
It is held at the SDG&E Energy Innovation Center in Clairemont, CA. (4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA–92117).
You will learn about E-bikes, and get a chance to try any of the 60+ E-bikes on hand.
This is a no-sales, no pressure event, with free door prizes and a full catered hot meal (make sure to pre-register so there is enough dinner for everyone) (even with 170 spots, the event was filled the last two times, with some not able to attend, so registration is important).
Electric bikes can be a great way for people to have fun, improve their health, save money, help the environment and relieve road congestion (among many other reasons).
Check the flyer—-hope to see you, family and friends there.
Please share this on your own pages and with email blasts if you can.
This is a direct link for registration
Thanks, Turbo Bob.
There are several videos on my site of previous events, Here are two from the last one.
Posted in Bike Shops, E-bike general interest, General bike stories | 2 Comments

LighTake—Bike Goodies for a Song

LighTake—Bike Goodies for a Song.

When I was a kid I rode my bike and surfed (other things too). Nowadays I still ride my bikes, yet my surfing is limited to the web. Not that long ago I dropped-in and came across the LighTake site. I found tons of stuff there, but it was the bike accessories that caught my eye. Unlike a bike shop, the selection is kind of limited, but the buy-in is low. I got in touch with them to see what they were all about.

I started out getting a cool multi-purpose headlamp that worked surprisingly well, with some neat features. From there I scouted their site for some pieces to fill in some empty spots on a few of my bikes. I noticed the scope of their products is pretty wide, but stayed focused on my bike. Although I am not much into bike clothes, they seemed to have a wide variety of those too. Last time I was there I noticed the available products seem to change, so keep that in mind. Let’s have a look at the items I did get and how they work.

LighTake Multi-functional Q8 LED Headlamp

Bright, and the beam is adjustable.

This lightweight headlamp has an unusual shape compared to most bike lights I use. Still, it mounted easily and was way brighter than I expected, bright enough in fact for it to be a main headlamp for all but the fastest of rides. I particularly like the ability to focus the beam to let it match the type of riding you are doing (like a Maglite). It seems the battery drain is very low (LED), as even though I have used it many times, the initial batteries I installed in it are still running strong.

It came with 4 colored clip on filters for different uses (use the red for a tail light). This light isn’t just for bikes, but a handlebar mount is part of the package. That mount is good, but the headband part not so much. The plastic clip that holds the light in place on the headband broke the first time I tried it. Not to worry as I never intended to use it that way, and the all the other plastic seems to be strong.

LighTake Rack Bag

My bike and I are both liking this new bag.

This nice bag is my favorite item I got from them. It is name-branded as being made by Roswheel. The quality level is high and the price was low. The zippers work well and appear to be able to last a long time. I needed a rack bag on one of our two matching Schwinn 5-speeds (to match the other bike of course), and this one did it just right. The color isn’t a perfect match, but no matter.

It has 3 large side pockets and an even larger main compartment. There is a place for your water bottle in the back with a spot to clip a rear light on that extension . It has reflective striping too. The Velcro straps underneath hold it to the rack very solidly. I was glad to add this accessory to that bike, and it keeps me smiling every time I load my gear into it. I keep the essentials in the side pockets (tube, pump, and tools). Great score on a needed item.

LighTake Lock-on Ergo Grips

These offer a modern feel for any bike.

I didn’t really need these, yet the red color on the aluminum clamps convinced to to move on them. The red bike they landed on had some decent grips already, yet I couldn’t help myself. This style of grips that go on the bike easily are getting more popular. Using just a small Allen wrench for the install is great. The grip material is pretty firm, but just soft enough for comfort.

Some don’t like ergo grips and I have had mixed feelings for different ones I have used. These have a decent contour and I couldn’t fault them on even one ride. They matched the bike, made the ride pleasant, and didn’t set me back much. Can’t ask for more than that.

LighTake Cycle Computer

Want to how fast and how far? You need a cycle computer.

Way back when they first came out I had no need for a cycle computer. Then one day someone mentioned they have a clock built-in. That sold me big time and just about every bike we have has a computer on it  This one even tells the temperature, very handy. Like all computers it tells you present speed, miles traveled, trip distance and time, and total miles traveled. This is a wired computer, the only kind I have used. I heard way back that wireless ones can be troublesome, yet I guess not as much anymore.

The instructions are designed for every language, more with a chart and illustrations. They claim it is very intuitive to use, and after pushing the buttons for a while it was all set-up. I admit to some initial frustration in the process, but before long I was over it and riding. It works fine and does everything they claim it will.

LighTake Chain Pliers

These will make chain installs much easier.

I got these as an afterthought. I used to have a small tool that holds the two chain ends together while you use the breaking tool for reassembly, but haven’t seen it for years. It is designed to be used with master links, yet one you buy a tool you can use it anyway you want. None of my bikes use master links, yet I feel this new tool will come in handy.


I am sure all this pieces are made in China, yet they all shipped from a U.S. address. They showed up quickly after the order and all arrived in good shape. I got what I needed and kept the costs down. Ordering online is kind of hard on the local bikes shops, but I hadn’t seen these exact items at any of them, so what the heck? Shop local first, and if you come up empty, hit the internet. That’s how I do it and I hope you will too.

Just ride, Turbo Bob.

You can find them here, and it seems they even have a Facebook page.

Here are short videos I posted on each item.

Posted in Bike accessories | Leave a comment


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

I do hope you have followed along with this project. If you are just getting started, links to the first 7 articles are at the bottom of this post. I suggest you read (or re-read) them all to get up to speed on all the info I have offered. I won’t go over it all again now, yet I do want to re-establish that I found it a great bike to ride, it met all my goals, and you can create your own perfect bike like this for your commuting or everyday rides. This post will show every part used, your personal options and the costs involved.

Of course there are unlimited options, from what bike you use, to what E-conversion kit you take advantage of, to all the accessories that you think are important. I used the word “ULTIMATE” to lend towards having the best, yet better could have been accomplished. And even more important, having the best isn’t necessary, yet having ‘good enough’ isn’t necessarily the best idea. It is up to you to decide what it will take to make your “ULTIMATE”.

Prices and Options—-What I spent—what was donated—what you might spend

The Bike

I used a second hand bike. You might make yours from a bike you already have, or a brand new quality machine. I fully reworked mine, something that could be needed for yours, yet with a newer or new bike you can most likely bypass this step. Some of these items you might need (or want). Pay particular attention to the ‘items carried’ list for things you should take with you on every bike ride, not just for commuting.

$25—-my initial outlay for the bike———————$0 to 1500 might be your price here.

$0–new donated pair of Serfas tires—list price $85—$0 to 100 depending on your needs.

$20-new purchased thorn-resistant tubes————$0 to 20 depending on your needs.

$5–new purchased bottle of Slime tube sealant———-$0 to 5 depending on your needs.

$10—-grease, polish, cleaners, misc—————————————$0 to 10 if needed.

$12—-purchased brake & shifter inner cables————————–$0 to 12 if needed.

$0—–brake cable noodles donated by North Park Bikes————-$0 to 5 if needed.

$18—purchased Serfas brake pads—————————————$0 to 18 if needed.

$12—purchased Greenfield kickstand———————————–$0 to 25 if needed.

$12—-bell, Crane, already had——————————————–$0 to 12 if needed.

$3—–shifter, NOS, already had——————————————$0 to 20 if needed.

$0—–donated Serfas grips—list price $24—————————–$0 to 30 if needed.

$0—–donated Serfas RX saddle—list price $56———————$0 to 150 if needed.

Electric Conversion Kit

Here is another area of many options. I used the eRAD mid-drive from Lectric Cycles. For many I would recommend a hub motor conversion, yet all in one E-conversion wheels and electric (push) trailers are also good ways to go. No matter what you decide, get a kit from a reputable maker (supplier). And without a doubt, get with a quality lithium battery for it. The capacity of the battery will help decide its range, so make sure to get one that will handle your needs.

I used the 500 watt, 36 volt kit that included the shift detector (throttle interrupt). They now only offer 48 volt kits, that list for about $995 for a comparable unit to the one I used. Your battery options from them range from $695 to $1095. Figure on spending from $800 to $2200 for a decent electric conversion kit no matter which one you choose.

$0—eRAD mid-drive motor (on loan from Lectric Cycles) (500 watt)—–list $895

$0—Lectric Cycles Slimline 36 v-13.8 Ah battery (on loan)—————–list $1095

Bike Accessories

$0—–donated BikeSmart saddle bag—list $50————–$0 to 100 if wanted.

$0—–donated BodyFloat seatpost——-list $300————$0 to 300 if wanted.

$0—donated Moto Reflex Pedals———-list $60————-$0 to 60 if wanted.

$0—donated Torch T2 lighted helmet—–list $140———–$0 to 140 if wanted.

$0—donated Serfas super HD chain lock—list price $90—$0 to 150–recommended.

$0—donated Serfas cable lock—for secured areas————list $26—needed.

$0—donated Serfas light duty cable lock for saddle———–list $22—optional.


$0—-Serfas 2500 lumen headlamp—won in Facebook contest—–list price $425

$0—-donated Serfas taillight————————————————–list price $50

$0—-donated Serfas frame bag to hold battery & store headlamp–list price $33

$0—-donated LightMeUp Safety Lights—LED Wheel Lights———list price $30

$0—-donated ORP Smart Horn & Light w/remote switch————–list price $70

$19—Minoura handlebar accessory mount————————————————

Items Carried

$0—donated Serfas backup headlamp– charges from USB———–list $100

$0—donated Serfas backup taillight——-charges from USB———-list $75

$0—½ roll toilet paper in baggie——————————————————–

$0—local bike paths map—————————————————————–

$0—local road maps———————————————————————–

$0—donated Serfas tire pump—part of combo pack———————list $40

$0—tube repair kit——————–part of Serfas combo pack——————-

$0—multi-tool—pretty nice———part of Serfas combo pack——————-

$0—pair of tire levers—————-part of Serfas combo pack——————-

$0—donated Serfas high-end multi-tool————————————–list $ 23

$4—first-aid kit—————————————————————————-

$3—2 bungee cords—-already had—————————————————-

$3—Park Tool glueless tube patches————————————————–

$1—poncho—light-duty, disposable—————————————————

$20–paper money and pocket change for emergencies——————————

$0—spare tube in baggie——came with bike—————————————

$8—2 ID dog tags w/medical info—1 to wear & 1 attached to seat rails———

$0—15mm combo wrench for wheel nuts—-already had————————–

$0—donated Serfas saddle bag to carry much of above——————-list $24


Once I started using my trailer it was hard to quit. Having it was so convenient, it just made continual sense. I have had it for years, yet without the E-assist, I didn’t use it that often. I got it for free, yet for this project I gave it a full one-over and face-lift. That included greasing the bearings, fresh tires, tubes and Slime, plus a new antenna and lighting. I nicknamed this whole project my “rig” once the riding started.

$0—-bike trailer—-already had———————————list $ 90 to 300?

$0—-tires———— already had———————————–list $40 to 80

$18–thorn-resistant tubes———————————————————–

$5—-Slime tube sealant————————————————————–

$?—-grease and cleaners———————————————————–

$10—antenna w/flag——————————————————————

$0—-donated LightMeUp Safety Lights for wheels and antenna–list $45

$10—basic flashing taillight———————————————————-

$0—–bag to carry misc extras—-already had————————————–

$0—-spare tube—-came with trailer————————————————-

$0—-tire pump——-already had—————————————————–

$0—-½ roll toilet paper—————————————————————-

$10—paper money and spare change————————————————

$0—–misc tools and maps———————————————————–


I think you can see from the above figures your basic minimum here for an E-converted bike is around $800, if you already have the bike to convert and get an OK conversion kit. This figures into not getting any of the extras (some I strongly recommend and others are just cool to have). Spending more to have a better E-conversion kit makes big sense when you are counting on this bike to get you to work on time with no hiccups, one reason I went with the eRAD from Lectric Cycles.

If I had purchased all of the items I used, the grand total would be a whopping $3900, really not that much if you consider the gas-powered 4 wheel alternative (and all that goes with that undesirable way to commute). That doesn’t include the trailer, something I loved, yet not needed for many. I think you can see that several of the items I didn’t fully need, yet they were great to have, and really helped make this project bike the “ULTIMATE” for me. And, as you look at that $3900, how does that compare with many high-end ready-to-ride E-bikes? And when you buy one of those, all you get is the bike, none of the extras or carried items I had with me all the time.

The total would have been higher if I had started with a more expensive bike, yet many of the repair items wouldn’t have been needed. If you go into a project like this and all you have in mind is the bottom line, you may not end up with the bike you want and need. It is fully up to you to decide your directions and desires when it comes to your ultimate commuting E-bike.

I personally spent $172 for this project, yet in the end, after returning the E-conversion kit that Lectric Cycles loaned me, I just had a great non-powered hybrid bike, something I am still using for other E-bike conversion kit tests (I have another cool one on it right now). I had my regrets about returning the eRAD motor kit and battery, yet I was over it pretty quickly. I have other bikes to ride and the nice E-bikes for test reviews are coming and going all the time. Still, I really loved the way this whole project E-bike came together.

The last thing I didn’t cover is the time and labor put into this project. For me it was fun and exciting. For some it could be a pain and a headache. Many will have to lay over a pile of cash to their mechanic for all this. I can’t say for sure just how many hours I spent building this “ULTIMATE”, yet I can assure you it didn’t happen overnight. Most E-bike conversions take 2-4 hours for the basic install. You can see I did way more than that before the riding started.

In reality, I spent more time writing and composing these 8 posts, and preparing the photos and videos, than I did building the bike. And I spent even more time riding it, to get the full feel for everything it has to offer. It has been great getting to do this project, and the end result has been so satisfying.

And I can’t wrap this up without giving big thanks to all the companies and shops that helped out with the pieces I needed to make it all happen. I put in the thought and sweat on my end, yet support is important. Below are links to each of their websites and Facebook pages. Once again, thank you.

Convert your bike and ride it,   Turbo Bob.

“Every time you miss your childhood, ride on a bicycle.”—Mehmet Murat ildan.#273   Ultimate   teardown#248   eRAD   Kit laid out#252   ULTIMATE   motor#254   BodyFloat   side#273   Ultimate   side#272   Moto Reflex   cover#273   Ultimate   T2#273   Ultimate   lights

Articles 1 though 7 links

Some of the many videos I posted on this project bike.

Lectric Cycles—E-bike conversion kits & complete E-bikes

Serfas—Bike accessories of all kinds

Cirrus Cycles—BodyFloat isolation seat post

LightMeUp Safety Lights—Bike lights of all kinds

Moto Cycles—Moto Reflex Pedals

Torch Apparel—T2 lighted helmet





Posted in E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews, My Bikes, Opinion | 1 Comment

Electric Bikes in Northern California—What I Found

Electric Bikes in Northern California—What I Found.

I have been trying to plan this exploratory trip for a while, and this month it all came together. I had been seeing online and hearing about some of these cool E-bikes shops for some time. I even visited a couple that I found out about while we were on the road. My wife showed a desire to compete in a Dragon Boat race in Oakland, and the excitement started from there. We packed a pair of folding bikes (one E-assist) in our econo car and we were off for a 9 day whirlwind trip that took us almost to the Oregon border.

One thing we both noticed everyday was just how many people we saw riding bikes. California is a bike mecca, with E-bikes figuring in bigger all the time. I posted a bunch of videos on my You-Tube from the trip, yet not all were about the bikes. We visited family and friends, rode the Skunk Train and generally did all the fun vacation stuff we could. This post is about the E-bike shops (folding too) and I will add a couple paragraphs on each one (in the order of our stops). Make sure to watch the videos linked below—and maybe some of the other ones from our trip.

Pedego Danville

Sharp as a tack and colorful as can be, Pedego Danville is set to please.

This well stocked Pedego shop just opened 3 weeks ago. They are already showing the passion and style you will find at Pedego shops across the country (the whole world actually). We stopped in for a quick visit on our second day after spending the night in Santa Cruz, on the way to Fortuna. We wanted to get north before too late, so no riding happened then, yet we stopped in again on our way home to ride a couple of their bikes.

Like many Pedego shops they are in a great area. The Iron Horse Regional Trail is just across the street from them. It goes for 25 miles on a wide paved path that used to be a railway throughway. With safe crossings at each street you come to, we ran across many riders and walkers during our ride. The team treated us well and many rental E-bikes are waiting for you there. Like most good E-bike shops, they excel at sales, service and accessory selections.

Dylan’s Tours

This busy San Francisco shop has a lot going on. The do bus tours, yet with the bikes they do rentals. They have a large fleet of all types of bikes, including a stout one of Pedego E-bikes. They are near Fisherman’s Wharf, yet we ended up riding our own bikes around town and the Wharf instead. During our stay in San Francisco we saw a lot of people riding bikes they rented from Dylan’s Tours.

Electric Bike Super Store

This is just a section of the Electric Bike Super Store in San Francisco.

The name of this store is telling it like it is. Len has E-bikes even I didn’t recognize. He has most of the big hitters too. His shop is a bit deeper in the heart of San Francisco then I expected, yet I was happy to finally get a look for myself. I kept thinking the whole time I was there that I wanted to get on many of the bikes and ride. It would have taken a couple days to try them all so I just concentrated on my camera and let Len give me the details.

I had met Len before so it was fun to see all his hard work and spent some time talking E-bikes. In the back he had an ELF, something I often consider getting myself since I first rode (drove?) a couple last year. If you are in his part of town, you owe it to yourself to stop in and soak up the E-bike vibes they offer.

The New Wheel

With two floors of E-bike excitement, The New Wheel is one impressive E-bike shop.

Another big E-bike shop in San Francisco is The New Wheel. They concentrate on the hill-eating E-bikes the locals need, yet service all makes (regular bikes too). Like every shop I visited, the time went too quickly to see and experience all they have going on. Each member of the crew I spoke with (and there are many of them) knew their stuff and reeked of E-bike passion. I had heard this was a great shop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Make sure to watch the video below to see all the bikes and the shop (in fact watching all the videos will let you know about each shop and the bike brands they carry). This shop has a great and long history of E-bikes in town, something you can feel and see as you check out both floors of inventory. Plus they are opening a sister shop in Marin County very soon. Bigger is better.

Bay Area Bikes

E-bikes, folders and cargo bikes can be found here.

The Bay Area Bikes shop I visited is just one of their 3 shops (the most northward one), all on the same street. I guess each one has a different theme (?) and this one is E-bikes, folding bikes and cargo bikes. Once again I was thrilled to feel just how committed the crew is to their bikes and customers. I think I spent close to the most time at this shop in Oakland, more than most of the others I stopped at. I suspect they were jazzed I rode in on a E-Brompton, because they are the only Brompton shop in town (I could be wrong here).

They have an ok selection of E-bikes, but if you add the folders and cargo bikes it makes for a full house. We talked many things while I was there and I never lost interest in the topics. I came in while my wife was at the lake doing the Dragon Boat Races, so eventually I had to drag myself out the front door and get going back. It wasn’t easy to leave the shop behind. I hope I can visit there again soon.

Pacific E-bike

Nearby in Berkeley we found Pacific E-bike. They are housed in a big shop that also does custom cars, vintage cars, and motorcycles (repairs and the such). This stop was a major hit and run so I may not have gotten all the info in the video correct. They are a Motiv Electric Bike dealer among others (BESV). They also have the eMazing E-bike, a bike I need to find out more about (we saw them at a couple of the shops). Pacific has been doing E=bikes for many years.

Hank & Frank Bicycles

I found this Berkeley bike shop online and decide to stop in before lunch. They really are more of a regular bike shop that carries a few E-bikes. As far as bike shops go they have it covered very well, yet E-bikes are something they have to stay well-rounded for their customer base. Still it was nice to say hi and check out the local bike shop flavor.

Honor Roll Scooters

Here is a machine I should have ridden, but at the time I was glad to get a video of Erik at the bars of his creation. Not really an E-bike, he claims it might as well be, as it fits into the category fine. His Meerkat is now in its 3rd version as he makes it better and stronger. The locals seem to be embracing it and it’s available online as well.

I ran into Erik by coincidence as he works sometimes with Tyson of Vessel Custom E-bike. I had contacted Tyson that morning about checking out his shop, and he made sure that Erik came by to get in on the action. And it seems there is lots of E-bike action in this part of the state. This was a fun afternoon.

Vessel Custom Electric Bike

Looking for a fast custom E-bike? Check out Vessel Custom Electric Bike.

Out of all the E-bikers I met on this trip, Tyson was my favorite. In fact I would love to have him as a neighbor. He works his magic out of his home shop. His yard and shop speak the languages that my wife and I like. He is big into sustainability along with E-bikes. Like me he spent most of his youth with petrol powered machines (motorcycles for Tyson) but one day found that electric-powered transportation and fun is much better. Three cheers for that.

Vessel offers a custom framed E-bike of Tyson’s own making. It has plenty of excess power and range, looks and rides cool, and gets lots of attention wherever he rides it. He is doing well with it locally, yet I envision his E-bike as an online sensation. I know of a few other people making custom E-bikes that are vaguely like Tyson’s and they seem to sell briskly world-wide. I think he has a great thing going.

Ken’s Bike-Ski-Board

When we stopped into Davis (the bike capital of the state?—-the country?), I found Ken’s online as a BionX shop. It is a long time regular bike shop and even though they have their own crew doing the BionX stuff now, it was John Swann that helped them get it started. Right as we walked in they gave John a call for me, so I could meet him and see what he’s up to. I liked the shop and posted a video of it, yet it was Swann Electric Bicycles that was the gem of this stop.

Swann Electric Bicycles

John and his wife really rack up the miles on their BionX converted E-bikes.

With over 100 BionX E-conversions under his belt, John Swann keeps Davis on E-bikes. He and his wife do the long rides and seemed to be tuned into the Davis bike culture well. When I first contacted him he had just minutes before returned from a bike tour, yet a quick shower later and he was riding up on his personal BionX-equipped bike for the meet. The three of us rode to a nice lunch spot and we sat, ate, and talked E-bikes. During the lunch his wife arrived to say hi on her BionX road bike.

As a long time BionX dealer, John informed me into much of this high-end E-bike conversion kit. A lot of it I was familiar with and I think I added some insight that was new to him. It was an well conversed lunch and I was glad to meet him. Afterwards we found a place where I could film their bikes, and then it was time for all of us to keep moving—busy times.

B & L Bike Shop

John suggested we stop by this Davis bike shop as he thought they did mid-drive conversions. Turns out they don’t, yet they did have E-bikes and Tern folding bikes. Davis is bike shop heavy for a small town, and that is what you get when so many there ride bikes. Part of that is the fact it is a college town, yet much is just the way the people there live. B & L is an ok bike shop with lots of cool bike stuff.

Practical Cycle

All you need and more can be found at this premier E-bike shop in Old Town Sacramento.

As we hit Sacramento, Practical Cycle was first on my list. I have met Tim before and his son (still a partner in the shop) now works at Pedego corporate in Orange County. This E-bike shop is one of Pedego’s most active, and they also have Brompton folding bikes and cargo bikes. The shop is right in Old Town where the State train museum is located (another important stop for my trip). When I use the word also for this shop, that is a big also. They really have it together there.

Part of the lure of Pedego Electric Bike shops is the rental option. Most are in wonderfully scenic and fun areas, so a E-bike rental from them can be the best part of a vacation. And to set it solidly for us, that is just what my wife and I did. Tim set us up on a pair of his Pedego E-bikes and we toured the town and some beautiful bike trails for over 5 hours. When we got back we talked for better than an hour. Tim made sure to rub it in that my battery was lower than my wife’s, as she is much more of a pedaller than I.

My wife and I are on a slow speed search for a new area to retire to. She worked up a deal with Tim that if we did move there, Tim would hire me on at the shop. I do know a thing or two about E-bikes to be sure. Who knows, maybe someday I will be the newest staff member there. In the meantime, if you come by Practical Cycle, Tim and his crew will treat you right.

City Bicycle Works

I’m not sure that Tim knew part of the things we were going to do on his bikes was to check out a couple more shops, yet that was on my agenda. This shop had one E-bike (the new Bosch-powered Electra Townie GO) and one folding bike, yet the personnel were friendly and they had a well stocked bike shop. Nothing too special in my eyes, yet I included a video for good measure.

The Electric Bike Shop

Our final shop to check out was in Sacramento too. Mike had just moved into a new location and was apologetic about the shop’s appearance. I could see just how nice it will be once he finishes the renovations and gets things organized, so I told him not to worry. He is an E-bike repair specialist (all kinds of electric powered vehicles too). His new place is right at the entrance of the trail system and on one of the biggest bike traveled intersections.

Like all the stops it all went too quickly, yet we did talk about the bikes and the town quite a bit. Mike knows his stuff and has a great following, so I see many more years of success in the future for The Electric Bike Shop. I hope I get to see it all once he is back up and running at full speed like before the move.

The overall findings

We went to every E-bike shop I could find online that was in the towns we had planned to visit. Each one seems to be doing well and getting enough locals at the doors to keep moving smoothly. I am sure there were shops we missed, yet as you can see we found plenty. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we saw so many riding bikes during our entire trip. Most weren’t on E-bikes, but we did see our share of those too. Northern California proved to be beautiful and bike active at every turn.

I have visited well over 70 E-bike shops. That doesn’t count the regular bike shops that have an E-bike or two. Most all of them can be seen on my video site, yet many more were before I started doing the videos. It is always great fun to meet the people and see the selection of bikes they offer. Many set us up for a ride in their town and that always makes for a more exciting visit. I guess there are dozens (hundreds?) more to visit, so I will my best to make it all happen.

Below I will link all the shop videos, yet if you look at my video site closer you can see some of the rides we did, some of the train museums and depots we visited, and my wife racing the Dragon Boats in Oakland. I have done this type of investigative trip in other areas, and I hope to do many more. People have told me I should get a grant so I can do this full time and in every corner of the country (globe?). Wouldn’t that be fun?

Thanks for following along,   Turbo Bob.

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”—Peter Golkin.

You can find all these shop’s websites and FB pages with a simple Google search.

Here are videos of all the shops we visited. There are more of the other fun we had on this trip if you search my video site for a bit.

Posted in E-bike general interest, General bike stories, Opinion | Leave a comment

Index of Articles—September 2015 to March 2016

Index of Articles—September 2015 to March 2016.

September 2015

  1.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #3—Prepping the Bike.
  2.   Invite to “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”—Fall 2015

October 2015

  1.   Interbike 2015—A Video Diary
  2.   Bafang BBSHD (1000 Watt Mid-drive Electric Bike Conversion)—First Impressions
  3.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #4—The E-conversion
  4.   EcoSpeed Mid-drive Conversion by Nomad—Power You Want (Need?)
  5.   SportRX—A Fresh Perspective

November 2015

  1.   Torch T2 Lighted Bicycle Helmet—Safety X 2
  2.   Index of Articles—March 2015 to September 2015
  3.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #5—The eRAD Drive System
  4.   Kalkhoff Agattu E-bike—European Flair

December 2015

  1.   BodyFloat by Cirrus Cycles—Pleasure On Two Wheels
  2.   ELF Bikes E-velomobile—Mixing it Up
  3.   Tannus Tire Test Session—What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been
  4.   Momas E-scooter by e-Joe—Smooth and Sassy
  5.   Pedego Latch Folding Electric Bike—Early Insight
  6.   E-LUX Fat Tire Electric Cruiser—Cloud Surfer

January 2016

  1.   Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield—Book Review
  2.   NiteRider Sentinel 40 & Sabre 35—Rear Bike Lights with Benefits
  3.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #6—The Serfas Touch
  4.   Pedego Ridge Rider E-bike—Fun Just Got Dirty

February 2016

  1.   Omni Wheel E-bike Conversion—Easy Wheeling
  2.   Freway VR-01 E-bike—A Lot For a Little
  3.   Stash E-folding Bike from Motiv Electric Bikes—Where Will You Take Your Stash?
  4.   San Diego Electric Bike Expo—Next Weekend
  5.   A2B Entz E-bike—Mid-drive Magic
  6.   Electron Wheel vs Omni Wheel—The Full Inside Scoop

March 2016

  1.   San Diego Electric Bike Expo—The Experience & the Trends
  2.   Ride Scoozy 350—An E-bike That Makes Sense
  3.   Moto Reflex Pedals—Comfort King
  4.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #7—How I Met My Goals




Posted in Indexes of articles | 3 Comments

Flux Trail E-bike—Living the Dream

Flux Trail E-bike—Living the Dream.

I surely enjoyed my time riding the Flux Trail.

I am always so excited to meet electric bike makers that are bike riders. So many E-bikes come out of the world of business, not from the world of people that actually ride bikes. Not only does their enthusiasm rub off on others, it really rubs off in the best way to the E-bikes they produce. Such is the case with the crew at Flux, Pete and Rob ride the bikes they have designed and make, so when you ride them you will be as pumped as they are.

I had a great sit down with Pete this week when he allowed me to ride one of the three E-bikes they are presently offering on a Indiegogo crowdfunding site. The twenty four hours of time I had the Flux Trail, netted me close to 6 hours of riding, plenty of time to get a feel for everything it could do for me (and you).  This particular bike is a hard-tail mountain bike, yet they also have a full suspension one (the Attack), and what I am sure would be my favorite, their road / commuter E-bike (the Roadster).

Small yet powerful, the Bofeili gen 3 mid-drive motor did the job nicely.

All three pretty much share the same electrics and motor, so let’s dive into that first. Note that the bike I tested is a pre-production model. Pete has been trashing it heavily (and several others they have on hand), and letting prospective customers ride it too. That has allowed him to make sure the delivered bikes can stand the test of time, and have just the right pieces and features that will make for an awesome riding experience. I will point out as we go what you can expect that is different from this bike, including one suggestion I offered.

The Bofeili 250 watt mid-drive motor is one sweet unit. This bike had their gen 2 on-board, yet the production model will have the gen 3 that pumps out some extra oomph (climbing torque). It is as smooth and quiet as they come in the mid-drive category. Driving the power though the chain and rear gears, it is a real stump puller, with a decent top-end too. Of course having it mounted in the middle of the frame (complementing the frame mounted battery), allows the balance of the bike to be right-on. This isn’t quite as important on a street bike, yet for their 2 mountain E-bikes, this is a game changer.

The display has all the info you might need.

I found the control system to my liking, having a cadence-sensed 5 level automatic pedelec controlled from the button array next to the left side hand grip. A right side thumb throttle will be part of the package, even though my test bike didn’t have one. The motor comes on with just maybe a ¼ rotation of the pedals, so getting assist on a steep surface will be immediate. The power rolls on smooth and strong, yet with no jerkiness or overpowering blast. 250 is the wattage listed on the motor, yet the full feature display unit showed it pegging at close to 550 when I needed full power.

Pulsing out of the battery is 36 volts at 13 Ah (468 watt-hours). I expect most that order their bike from Flux will opt for the extended range battery, a 17 Ah unit (612 watt-hours). On those long rides it is always nice to have some reserve, and the larger batteries are gaining huge popularity in E-bike circles. The battery slides right in the frame, locks in place, and can be charged on or off the bike. The handy USB port might be helpful, so they included one that is easy to access. The smart charger will help you keep the battery in peak form for many years.

Expect to see 9 speeds with some nice components back here.

The Bofeili motor drives the power through 9 rear gears with a single front chain ring. Expect to see some nice drivetrain parts speced back there. The thumb shifter grabs the gears easily, and allows you to tailor your pedal cadence and motor power to your speed and terrain just as you would expect. With no built-in throttle interrupt during shifting, you may want to tap a brake handle or stop pedaling for an instant during shifting (to interrupt the motor’s power), yet if you don’t, the gears still change with minimal banging under power. Although a throttle interrupt can be nice, they drive up the complexity and price, so just one less thing to worry about it seems.

I found the Flux Trail to ride very well. I did some simple trail riding, yet didn’t get a chance to take it for any serious off-roading. Pete assured me it is awesome, and mentioned the full suspension Attack is even better. The minor jumps and curb-hopping I did showed me the balance is well thought out and made me yearn for more time on the bike to really hit some rough stuff. They designed it for major abuse, something I will try to deal out my next time aboard the Flux.

Plenty to see up front.

All three bikes share much, like a pleasing looking aluminum frame with a fairly low top bar. As I mentioned before, each will have the same electric assist system. They all ride on 27.5 tires and rims, yet with street tires speced on the Roadster. All share hydraulic disc brakes, the Attack having larger brake rotors than the other two. I am pretty sure I convinced Pete to use the two-finger brake levers on all the bikes when they hit production. He is a major mountain bike rider and agreed they are the best way to go with such strong bicycle brakes.

The Roadster is, without a doubt, the bike from them that would be more to my liking. The style, the more upright cockpit, and the street geometry are what I crave more than the mountain E-bikes. Everyone has different needs, yet I like to sit up a bit straighter. I can’t wait to straddle the Roaster to see if it is just as exciting as the Trail I was just riding. I get a feeling it won’t be too long as these bikes are headed to full production in a short time.

This E-bike has some very pleasant lines.

As I write this (4/4/16), the funding program on Indiegogo is still active. They were fully funded in just 14 hours. 3 months from now the bikes will hit the street. You probably know I am not too big on buying E-bikes online, yet this is a major part of the direction the industry is going. I could tell from my time with Pete, that if any issues do arise, they will deal with them quickly and fairly. In the big scheme of things, Flux E-bikes are straightforward and not overly-complicated, so I think all will be fine. Two facts I can see are—you can spend a whole lot more—and you could do a whole lot worse. These E-bikes look and ride very nice.

Congrats to Pete and Rob. They are seeing their dreams of a cool E-bike company coming to reality.   Turbo Bob.

The battery tucks into the frame right above the motor.

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

Here they are on the web, Facebook and their Indiegogo page.–2#/

Here are the two videos I took of the Flux Trail

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment



This baby rode great and looks fine.

This successful build made for a fun and interesting project bike. I truly felt I met all the goals I set for it, and this post will help explain it all. Commuting by E-bike makes so much sense in this modern world, and for so many reasons. Reducing personal stress, cutting costs, helping the world’s consumption issues, and just plain showing up refreshed and ready to go, are just the tip of the iceberg. I do hope you now bike commute or are giving it some serious thought.

We all know each one of us has our own idea of what the ultimate commuter bike might be, so my plan was not to have you follow my footsteps to a T. It was to give you some ideas of your own path to that goal. Whether you rebuild and convert a bike like I did, convert a new bike, or buy a ready-to-ride E-bike, many of my outlined thoughts here could help you. This project bike is back to normal now, having returned the eRAD kit back to Lectric Cycles. Keep in mind that a mid-drive or hub motor conversion kit from one of many suppliers could net very similar results.

There is one more post coming in this series. It will state each piece I used, the origin, and the price. It will give you options on each. Also included will be a listing of all the extras I carried along to make my commute easier and safer. I will add some info on my “rig” (an old bike trailer I’ve had for years, yet revamped for this project bike) that gave the bike increased carry capabilities that you may need for your fun and business rides.


Serfas and Cirrus Cycles teamed up to match my comfort goals.

I made sure to start out with a fairly upright comfort bike that fit me well. A well tuned, smooth riding bike is a given for this part of the equation. The Serfas tires I chose worked well on all the road surfaces I tried, yet there are many options out there. A big part here was the BodyFloat isolation seatpost from Cirrus Cycles, without it, this category would have been sorely lacking in success. My body contacted the bike on a RX saddle from Serfas, some great ergo grips from them, and near the end of the test, a couple Reflex pedals from Moto that made a big difference too.

Really, comfort on your bike (or E-bike) comes down to some simple factors. Having the right bike for your height and body contours is the most important. Having all the controls set right and close at hand play a big part. Getting your bars and saddle at the correct heights and angles takes some time, yet is another key to making your ride easy and pain-free. Work on all these factors for a bike that is pleasant to ride, and when you do, you will ride it more often and with a smile.


Never missing a beat, the eRAD from Lectric Cycles kept this project bike moving smoothly.

Having a quality bike and add-on pieces are as needed as good building and maintenance in this department. If any of this is beyond your ability, then enlist the best bike mechanic you can and relay all your goals to them. As you ride, let the feel and noises of the bike tell you its needs. Timely adjustments and tightening of all the fasteners are needed on any vehicle, so whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it, it is still your responsibility to make sure it happens.

The eRAD conversion kit I chose has a great track record, as do the makers I chose the other pieces from. Of course there are many other companies that can match this, so work with your favorites as you get your ride to match your personal needs. Like I just said above, as the miles rack up, keep on top of all your bike’s needs to never get stuck. Don’t forget a great pair of puncture-resistant tires, thorn-resistant tubes and some Slime—keep those wheel turning.

Ease of build

Most won’t go this far, yet I felt a full rework worked best for me.

My build was quite a project, due to the used bike I started with. It will be much easier if you start with a new E-bike, or new bike to convert. Keep in mind that low-quality E-bikes and bikes will not be a good choice. Same with cheapo low-end E-bike conversion kits. The market is filled with some junky stuff, so count on spending some extra for the good pieces that will keep you rolling. A hub motor conversion can be a bit easier to install, yet the mid-drive eRAD wasn’t too complicated. All the extras I added increased the complexity some, yet fully added to completion of my other goals. You will need racks, lights and the such. Add what you need and nothing you don’t.


Ultimate brightness and convenience came from this 2500 lumen Serfas light package.

With the whole bike, I tried to keep things simple. Like having my lighting system working off one rechargeable battery. Bikes are generally simple, yet adding the electric conversion sure changes things some. Having a hub motor conversion would have been simpler, yet the mid-drive wasn’t too much more to deal with. I felt for this test it was worth it, and it added some versatility, with increased climbing ability and more efficiency (when ridden and shifted correctly). I did enjoy the simple dual-control of the eRAD system. Things can only be so simple when it comes to E-bikes, and some investigation on your part will help (that’s why you’re reading this right?).


What can I say here? I have never been a big fan of E-bikes that have a bunch of fancy body work or the scooter look-alikes. A clean bike-like look is my favorite. I think this project came out that way. Everyone has a different idea on this subject. On the whole, I was very pleased with the final product. I hope you too can be happy with your results.


Strong brakes and strong tires came from Serfas.

I didn’t cover this topic in my first goals article, yet it is close to maybe #1 when it comes to bike commuting. I made sure this E-bike had strong brakes, yet avoid those hydraulic brakes with anything other than 2 finger brake levers. I had the strongest head and taillight, and some extra bright wheel lights too. Many of you rely on a skid lid for that final bit of safety. The Torch T2 lighted helmet added to this part of it all. It is lightweight, bright as can be, and helped with being seen night and day. Much of this category has to do with your riding habits, I hope they are smart and safe.


The eRAD conversion kit I used had the extra capacity battery. Rides of 25-35 miles between charges were easily accomplished. If your commute is longer, than recharging at work or carrying a second battery are firm options. Lectric Cycles has revamped their systems since I started this project bike last September. All their kits and batteries are now 48 volts. This can increase your power, yet decrease your range when that power is used heavily. Range can vary for so many reasons. Do your homework in this department, yet don’t believe all the claims. There are formulas that factor in motor numbers and battery numbers that are more truthful than range claims sometimes.


I doubt you can find a stronger bike lock than this one.

Having your bike and all the pieces at your ready when the work day ends is a necessity. Parking it inside or in a bike security enclosure would sure help, yet not an option for all. The Serfas Big City Chain and U-lock I used is the best I’ve ever seen. No one is getting past it, yet at 12 lbs. it was kind of a booger to haul around. I had another pair of locks from them that are lighter, one for the bike and one for the saddle and BodyFloat. I figured in where I was parked to decide which locks to use.

I was also concerned about the top-end Serfas lighting system (it is worth more than some bicycles alone). I took care of this by getting one of their frame bags. The battery stayed in it during use, and the lamp unit fit in it too so I could easily carry it with me when the bike was parked. Make sure to get the best lock you can afford and park your bike in the safest spot you can locate.


The lights in the T2 helmet from Torch kept me safe and lit the way ahead too.

The 2500 lumen light from Serfas lit the road so well. It is so bright I normally used it on the lowest setting. I used their wired tail light (also way bright) so I could use just the one rechargeable battery for the whole system. I kept an extra headlamp and tail light in my saddle bag just in case my main light had an issue or the battery went dead unexpectedly. Adding to those lights were the great wheel lights from LightMeUp Safety Lights. We love these. Not only are they cool and get a lot of attention, they make sure people on the road see you from no matter what angle your bike might be at.

Load carrying ability

When commuting you never know what you might need to take along. The eRAD can handle the load, yet maybe the items you need to take are bulky. This where revamping my bike trailer came in quite handy. Stuff that didn’t fit on the rack or in the panniers, easily fit in the trailer. Once I started using it it was hard to stop. I ended up calling the whole thing my rig. There are many bike trailers on the market, so getting one might help your commute well.


Rob from SportRX thought my rig was great.

This is where my next (and final) article on the ULTIMATE will come in handy. Anyway you look at it, an E-bike will pay for itself if you use it. It can be as pricey or inexpensive as you want it to be. There are truly rock-bottom E-bike conversion kits out there. I would suggest avoiding them for many reasons, yet they exist. This last installment will cover things I packed along for the ride, like spare change, maps, a tire pump and even a roll of TP. You never know what a ride to work will bring.

Build and ride your ULTIMATE!   Turbo Bob.

“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”—Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green.

For your reference, here are links to the series parts 1 though 6

I posted many videos of the project on my You-Tube site. Here are a few. You can find them all in the “My Bikes” section.

You can find my project sponsors with these links.


Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews, My Bikes | 2 Comments

Moto Reflex Pedals—Comfort King

Moto Reflex Pedals—Comfort King.

Sleek, smooth and comfortable—sound like good things for your bike?

Riding a bike has many levels, yet if you are like me, comfort is king. I love to smile and enjoy the day with each turn of the pedals. Even if sweat, grit, pain and blood are your idea of a quality bike ride, then these pedals might still be for you. They have some interesting features I hadn’t seen or felt before, some (or all) of them could be just what you are looking for. The two pair I got for this review have found good loving homes on a couple of our bikes.

Through the years bike pedals didn’t seem to me as that big of a deal. When I was young they were either smooth, slippery hard rubber with steel ends or spiky ones with toe clips. My feet were tough and I didn’t really know any better. As long as they turned I was happy. In more recent times I have embraced the smooth plastic ones that come on many of the bikes I test. Metal pedals might be stronger and last longer, yet they beat up my ankles and legs in a way that doesn’t make for good press.

Ready for the install, I was getting excited at this point.

These new pedals from Moto Bicycles (of Germany) have much thought behind them, along with modern technology, from strong European minds. They are adjustable, serviceable and smart. They lend to any kind of footwear, even the barefooters among us. I myself am riding daily in my flip flops, and these reflex pedals are the perfect match. I never knew I wanted something better till I got these, and now I am in no hurry to go back to any old pedals for my bike.

My first like is the smooth, kind contours of these Reflex pedals from Moto Bicycles. My feet, ankles and legs stay dent and blood free, something they appreciate. It is almost impossible to keep your bike pedals from bashing you up when riding and moving your bike around. Even with a good crunch, these just slide past my body with no marks and red left in their wake. I don’t mind a small gash or two, yet if it can be avoided, I vote for that.

The box artwork shows the 6 colors you can get for the reflector stickers.

Next is the slip-free flat pads that help lock your feet on the pedals. Slippage here can be worse than just a small gash. That is why many riders love those aggressively spiked pedals, to keep their feet in place, yet when they do slip, the resulting gash from those pedals is more than a minor bummer. If you can get these pedals to beat you up like that, then you are just plain doing it all wrong somehow.

I mentioned them being adjustable. Inside the pedal, the main shaft has 5 grooves. The ring can be moved allowing the pedals a 5 mm sideways adjustment to set them further away from the pedal arm if needed. This can help if you have large feet or shoes, and for those bigger riders that just need a wider pedal stance. I don’t see anyone else addressing this factor for people on bikes.

The materials they are made of are only the best, from the super strong axle to the fiberglass-reinforced plastic shells. The thin profile is more than noticeable, yet many times good things come in small packages. Serviceable bearings add to the mix, and the lightweight structure can take any abuse you can dish out. Me, I take it easy on my pedals, yet you might not be so kind to them. Having a tough pedal on your fun bike makes sense no matter how you ride.

They were a great match-up for the test E-bike I reported on last week.

Some quick tech here. The Moto Reflex pedals fit crank arms with a 9/16” thread. Vintage bikes and some others use a ½” thread. There are adaptors you can use to mount them up to older bikes. Make sure to put just a tad of grease on the threads before you screw them in. The left and right side are very specific, using reverse threads on one (so one screws in the opposite rotation). Your old pedals will most likely use a 15mm open end wrench (possibly a narrow special one) for removal, yet the Moto Reflex pedals are installed with a 8mm hex wrench (a common size for some crank arm bolts and kickstands).

If you need those adaptors, keep in mind they aren’t as strong, so no curb jumping. If installing your new Reflex pedals is out of your realm, any bike shop can do it quickly and easily. New pedals are a fairly common upgrade, yet your bike shop may have not seen these cool new pedals yet, so they want to give them a try before they send you on your way to try them yourself. Your friends might want to try them too, once your praises hit their eardrums.

Place foot here and start loving your ride all over again.

Your body only contacts your bike in 5 places, and two of them are on your pedals. Riding with a bad saddle doesn’t last long, a new saddle being the most common first upgrade with any bike. If you haven’t already added some comfortable ergo grips, it is most likely because your bike came with them. So, with 3 of the 5 places already feeling good, your pedals are the final frontier of comfortable bike riding—what are you waiting for?

I am loving them, yet I have asked my wife several times how she likes them on her daily E-bike commuter. Things like they feel good, to, I like them, were her responses. Finally she came out with this comment—”They make me feel at one with the bike”—heavy eh? Stuff like a natural feel and all that are what I like about them—and no blood either. It is hard to describe, yet I think you are getting my drift—pedals do make a difference in your bike riding comfort and happiness.

So far, the only US retailer I know of is Pedego Myrtle Beach. Aaron there was singing their praises to me late last year, that is why I decided to find out for myself (and to relay that to you of course). Like Aaron, I am sold on Moto Reflex pedals, they are all they claim to be. That is smart, strong, comfortable and great with any footwear you might have in the closet. I love it when a product’s claims ring true in real life—don’t you?

I Reflex, therefore I am,   Turbo Bob.

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”—William Shakespeare.

Find Moto Bicycles on the web and Facebook.

Pedego Myrtle Beach is your US distributor.

Here are a few videos I posted featuring the Reflex pedals from Moto Bicycles.

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

Ride Scoozy 350—An E-bike That Makes Sense

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

Take a little trip on the Ride Scoozy 350.

Ride Scoozy has turned the tide on affordable E-bikes with this new offering. At first glance last Interbike, I figured by this E-bike was just another big buck player on the block, yet now I know how wrong I was. From the stand-out fit and finish, to the powerful direct-drive rear hub Golden Motor, it appeared by all accounts to have the matching ‘oh no’ price tag. Turns out it is an awesome bike with an equally awesome bottom line.

First off, it rides so nicely. I am a big fan of steel framed bikes—has that. Simple, smart controls get me excited—has that. Silent, strong and smooth motors on E-bikes have to be everyone’s dream—has that. A perfectly geared single speed drivetrain with no hiccups—has that. A clean manicured look with quality components and no frills makes for a desirable ride—has that. Cruise control is one of my favorite features on an E-bike—has that too.

In this shot you can see the BodyFloat and Moto Reflex pedals I tried out on the Ride Scoozy.

Things the Ride Scoozy 350 doesn’t have make me just as happy. Flailing wires everywhere that many E-bikes have—doesn’t have that. Overly sensitive and potentially dangerous hydraulic disc brakes—doesn’t have that. Weird body work and the matching appearance—doesn’t have that. Grinding, whining noise under power—doesn’t have that. Bulky heavy extra extras most don’t need—doesn’t have that. A mind-bending price that makes you think twice—doesn’t have that either.

When you hop on board two things catch your attention, a sleek, good looking bike beneath you, and a lightweight (41lbs.) feel most E-bikes couldn’t offer if they tried. As you gently pedal on your way, you really don’t feel the need for the electric-assist, yet as you roll on some power, it feels so good. The simple right side thumb throttle is comfy to the touch with a larger than normal lever. Once you have chosen the power level of the motor, a quick touch on the green (cruise control) button on the left side locks it in for a carefree ride. If only all E-bikes were this simple and smooth.

You may say old-school—-I say smart and safe.

Having a single speed might seem like a drawback, yet I found it refreshing and fun. By eliminating all the bulk and complexity that goes with a multiple speed geared bike, it lets you concentrate on the ride and the sporty handling. It has a road bike / fixie geometry that draws you into the road, rather than making you feel disconnected from it. Every time I hit the saddle I was won over again by all the Ride Scoozy oozes, and all the stuff it doesn’t. If that is what you are looking for in your next bike, you may not find it anywhere but here.

In these modern times many are finding that less is more. The Ride Scoozy 350 plays that card with gusto. On one of my first videos I did with the 350, I mentioned it really didn’t need anything more to make it shine. Still, as some very nice bike accessories often hit my mailbox, I couldn’t help but see how they would compliment this exciting new E-bike. I slipped the Cirrus Cycles BodyFloat isolation seatpost off my wife’s commuter E-bike onto the Ride Scoozy for a week and also mounted up a pair of Moto Reflex pedals. Both worked well with the 350, yet upon removing them I was still loving the ride.

Simple and smooth. This controls the power of the 350 watt Golden Motor very nicely.

There are a few extras that might round out your ride, like maybe a matching rear rack (Ride Scoozy has them). I think I would vote for that add-on. Everyone adds their favorite bike bell, so have at it. I did strap on a pair of lights for each ride, and I suggest you do too. An inexpensive cycle computer is easy to add if you just have to know how far you have ridden. If you really need more power, this same bike is offered with the 500 watt Golden Motor. The extra weight and power consumption might fit your needs, but I found the 350 motor to be perfect in all riding conditions. The last item I might consider is the black sleeve they offer to really stealth out the frame mounted battery, why not?

The cockpit is on the sporty side with what some might consider the perfect body position for comfort and power transfer from your legs. I embraced it well, but just a tad more upright is my preference. You could easily get that with some different bars or a stem, and still enjoy all the Ride Scoozy has to offer. If you make that switch, be sure to stick with the factory ergo grips, they are some of the best I have ridden. They are just one of the fine appointments that make this E-bike so comfortable.

To work or for fun—the Ride Scoozy can take you anywhere you want to go.

The 700 x 28c skinny hybrid tires are part of what make this bike so efficient. During some serious urban riding I made sure to stay out of the saddle on the roughest parts, yet the tires and bike blasted right over the worst of it. It can handle a 32c tire, but I don’t see the need for a change. Ultra strong road bike rim brakes make sense on this bike and I thought with every use how perfect they are. The balanced weight distribution is a big plus during braking and when putting the wonderful cornering feel to the max.

Do we like bikes made in the US? Thought so, I know I do. You can get the Ride Scoozy in black or white—with the assist or without  More models and options are headed your way too, as this smart bike company continues to flex its muscles. As I grapple to find any negatives, my plate there is empty. It is my self-imposed duty to hit the highs and lows for you, but I can’t make stuff up, so all I can do here is report the highs. That’s all the bike has to offer, and you can feel it for yourself with a test ride.

Getting E-bikes shipped to you is low on my list—yet the Ride Scoozy arrived in perfect condition and the minor assembly it needed was easy.

In my last article I raved against the some of the modern trends in E-bikes I think are in the wrong direction. This E-bike doesn’t follow any of them. So why follow the so-called trends, when you can make your own? You can ride a simple, safe and smart E-bike without financing the next yacht of a big E-bike company. Ride Scoozy made me smile with each mile I made down the road, that is what E-bikes are all about.

Funny name, great bike,   Turbo Bob.

“I love to be outdoors, so I like to hike, bike and go to the beach.”—Jillian Rose Reed.

Look for Ride Scoozy on the web and Facebook.

Of course I have videos—take a look.

Posted in E-bike test reviews | 1 Comment

San Diego Electric Bike Expo—The Experience & the Trends

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

The bikes and people were everywhere.

When I heard the Electric Bike Expo was coming to my town I was quite pleased. When one of the organizers asked me to become involved I was honored. As the days led up to the event, I pondered just how my experience could become yours. My decision was to try my hardest to document every model of E-bike on video (which I did very successfully), and to get a feel for the trends the modern E-bike world is leaning towards. Plus, my leading of two group E-bike rides was something that got shared with many.

My twice-a-year E-bike event here in San Diego is exactly like this one, yet just a touch different (mostly in scope). Their no sales bend gives them both a vibe that doesn’t match your basic demo days at the E-bike shops and eco fairs. The idea here is to sell a lifestyle, yet the actual E-bike sales will come as the attendees realize just how great E-bikes can be as a life changer. The event easily got more people through the front gate than the first one in Tempe, Arizona a few weeks ago (1200 there). I would say this 3 day blast was a great success. BTW, my next E-bike event will be May 24th, 2016.

The test track was one busy place.

So, what did I find to relay to you? Keep in mind this is an opinion piece (mine, no doubt), as well as an informative one. I found many trends in the advancement of E-bikes, not all good. What was good, were all the people learning more about them. A lot of what I do is to get out the word they exist, and this event did that well. So many rides were taken on the 120+ E-bikes on hand, the track was semi-crowded almost all the time. I heard comments that a wider, bigger track would be nice, yet I thought it was good for an expo like this.

One trend that is both good and bad is the increased tech you see (and don’t see, hidden inside) in modern E-bikes. Keep in mind during this whole post that most of the 20 companies that presented their E-bikes here are big and have fairly deep pockets. These makers are really only about ¼ to ⅕ of all the companies that offer E-bikes in the US. Most of the smaller companies could never afford the multi-thousand buy-in for an expo like this. Plus, they don’t normally have E-bikes with these high levels of technology. Don’t get me wrong, high tech can be good, yet results in E-bikes with big price tags and systems that can be hard to diagnose and repair if problems arise (and they well might).

With all you could want in an E-bike (strong smooth hub motor, ultra low step-through frame, cable operated disc brakes and dual-control), this rider is about ready to get the full experience.

One thing caught my attention over and over. This was people having a problem getting the bikes going from a full stop. This is where a hand throttle can make such a big difference. Yet, most all these companies seem to feel people don’t need or want them (these E-bikes are what I call true pedelecs—you must be pedaling to get any assist from the motor). The reasons why they didn’t have them were varied. Some reps said they are trying to keep the riding experience pure (more bike like). Some mentioned liability issues. Some want to be able to offer 28 mph speed pedelecs (that in California can’t legally have a hand throttle). One quote went like this—Our bikes will never have a throttle.

I did see two people have an initial problem with the throttle (took off too fast) on the bike they were testing, yet on the second or third try, they mastered it perfectly. I saw ten times as many that could barely get their balance when starting out (or couldn’t at all) on non-throttle E-bikes. Of the 123 E-bikes there (my count) only 24 had a throttle. A few companies there do offer them as extra cost options. Throttles are much more common on the less tech oriented, lower cost E-bikes. I do have to admit these people (having the issues) were obviously not necessarily recent bike riders, yet the majority of people getting E-bikes are these same people. And this too, a throttle can really help you when you need full power in a tight situation (intersection maybe?).

Getting the full rundown on the bike’s controls is a smart way to go.

As the event was very busy, I would think that some of the control problems people had with the throttles, (and the control systems in general) had to do with lack of proper instructions. The reps did their best to explain all the bike’s controls and features, yet it was just a bit on the hectic side. Make sure any time you get on an E-bike (at a shop, an expo like this or a friend’s), get the full rundown. Every control and lever can be different on every different bike. Be vigilant to get the knowledge you need to be able to evaluate the bike and to be safe. It is up to you.

Of those 123 bikes on hand, 83 use mid-drive motors. Once again, this high tech isn’t necessarily bad, yet totally wrong for most all E-bike buyers. Hub motor E-bikes are the preferred set-up for easy riding and people who aren’t hip to perfect bicycle shifting. Some of the mid-drives use the NuVinci Harmony automatic shifting hub, which does help quite a bit. And many of the mid-drives had a momentary power interrupt feature (still no hand throttle though) to keep the gears from pounding when shifted under motor power (this is a good thing).

With the test track in the background, these E-bikes are waiting for more riders. They generally didn’t have to wait long.

Personally, I don’t mind mid-drives (yet prefer a strong hub motor). I have been riding forever (it seems) and shifting is natural for me. When ridden correctly they can be more efficient (at using the available battery power) and climb the steepest hills well. Some have poorly programmed control systems, so those I dislike with a vengeance. Having the throttle interrupt is a must with any mid-drive. Most all of them at the expo don’t have hand throttles, which is a bad way to go. The only one at the expo that did have a throttle is the same one that is on my latest project bike, ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD. It is a normally a conversion kit though, something that may not work for you.

The last basic trend I had to cringe at is the wave of super prices these high tech E-bikes sport on the tag. The two local newspaper articles I read about the expo used top-end bikes as the example noted. One said they typically cost $5000 (a cargo E-bike). Another showed the correct range ($1500 to $7000), yet highlighted the most expensive ones. Sticker shock was kind of laid out ahead of time, still the prices of these E-bikes on hand was on the high side. My survey of all the makes there, found of the 123, 44 are less than $3000, 75 between $3000 and $6000, with two above that.

Young and old, slow and fast, E-bikes and people are a great match.

A full 111 of these E-bikes on hand use hydraulic actuated brakes (most disc, a few rim). Any good mountain biker can tell you how great they work, yet will also tell you that if you grab the brake lever with more than two fingers you will probably go down. As you watch the 77 videos I posted from the expo (if you watch them), you will see that I am kind of a one-man spokesperson for two finger brake levers. Many had them, most didn’t. On a mountain bike you can move the levers farther away from the hand grip to mimic this, yet on an E-bike the bars are so crowded you usually can’t.

It is my strong feeling that all companies that use hydraulic brakes need to use these two finger levers. I would also strongly recommend you avoid any E-bike (or regular bike) with this brake style that has the full-sized hand brake levers. Those brakes work and modulate fantastic, yet are so powerful that even the best riders can eat it quickly when they are applied heavily. Many E-bike riders are not those people, so my worry is aimed towards them. Learn to use your brakes right and be careful out there (although in an emergency stop all that can go out the window). Once again with high tech stuff, although this style of brake should be close to maintenance free, problems cost more and are more complicated to fix (and raise the base price of the bike).

Talks on E-bikes, tours and safety were under the big top.

To sum it up for the trends—You don’t have to buy the most expensive E-bike just because they were the ones at the expo. In the $1800 to $3000 range there are so many good quality, nice riding and dependable E-bikes available. Less than that you are risking quality and performance. You most likely don’t want a mid-drive E-bike. There is a good chance that a dual-control E-bike is right for you (pedelec and throttle combined). Try to avoid hydraulic brakes, and if you can’t, heed my warnings. Don’t let price be your only guide, yet if you want and need the best one, that’s cool. And of course, buy your bike from a smart and savvy E-bike dealer, never online.

There was almost no one there to show and promote E-bike conversion kits. For many they are the preferred way to get on an E-bike. Don’t discount this possibility. Normally you have to be bike smart to do the conversion yourself, although many shops will take on the job for you. I do my best to review E-bike conversion kits when I can, so check out my index of articles if that interests you. And, many of the E-bikes presented here at the expo I have reviewed, so look for those articles and videos too.

Saturday’s group E-bike ride had 26 riders. Here is part of the group at the Cabrillo Monument National Park.

The event was fantastic. The excitement was obvious. The E-bike world is growing and they are a great way to have fun, save money, get exercise, and be green. Riding an E-bike can lower your stress levels and rise your happiness. My household uses them often and recommends them to all we talk to. They are a big part of our future, I hope you can see they can be a big part of yours.

I led two group E-bike rides at the expo. The first one had 26 riders. We took a fun ride to the local national park. The 5 local E-bike shops were invited so they could bring extra E-bikes for people to join in, although only one of them did actually bring the bikes they promised (kudos to them). If you check my group ride videos you can probably tell which one came through as expected. They were also there to let the attendees find where an E-bike could be purchased, as there were no actual sales at the expo.

E-cargo bikes were not only well represented at the expo, they were well received too.

There will be 4 more Electric Bike Expo events this year. Houston, Texas—March 11-13. Palo Alto, California—April 22-24. Portland, Oregon—May 20-22. Denver, Colorado—date to be announced. They are hoping to plan more locations and dates this year and next, so keep an eye on their website and Facebook page for all those (links below). I had a great time and am doing my best to be able to plan to attend as many as possible. If you are thinking E-bike, you should too. If you can’t, don’t worry, most any E-bike shop will let you test ride their bikes for free.

One more tip, as you test the E-bikes, make some simple notes (likes and dislikes) as you finish each ride. You will find (especially at an event like this) that by the time you get on the 4th E-bike, you will have trouble remembering the 1st. This will help you narrow down the perfect bike as your test rides pile up. Have fun.

E-bikes rock,   Turbo Bob.

“I am a bike enthusiast; there’s a certain amount of romance to bikes. They’re both beautiful and utilitarian.”—Dave Eggers.


You can get more info from the expo on their website and Facebook page.

I posted 77 videos from the expo. You can find them all by following the links from these couple.


Posted in Bike Shops, E-bike general interest, Opinion | 6 Comments