E-bikes: depressing or what?

Electrically assisted bikes, trikes, etc.
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Cunobelin
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby Cunobelin » 20 Aug 2018, 9:27am

horizon wrote:By the looks of it it's a good scheme though it's a bit early to say how it's going. It certainly won't do Derby any harm. But I would have liked to have known more about the rationale - for example the organisers just might have discarded the idea that 18 year old students can be persuaded to ride a bicycle for a three mile journey to college. The fact that they are tempting students out of cars is already telling me that I'm out of touch. Mind you, if they are intelligent enough to go to university, you would think they are intelligent enough to think about cycling there.


Slightly OT, but some years ago, Southampton University had a brilliant system.

1. Ban students from bring cars onto campus or residential areas. Students do not have cars
2. Subsidised 24/7 bus pass so that all your transport is cheap. These were automatic for all students
3. Organise a regular bus service that meets the Students needs.... including Night Busses that bring them home at closiungtime
4. Build and enforce secure cycle parking at appropriate sites.

It worked very well indeed"

PH
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby PH » 20 Aug 2018, 10:41am

I gave my opinion on the Derby scheme at the beginning of this thread, now it's up and running it hasn't changed.
No one is prepared to give a straight answer as to why the scheme is electric only and not a mix, I haven't stopped asking. The routes between the major usage points are all under 5 miles and all relatively flat. In the first month the average journey distance was 3.5 miles. Whenever I ask the question I'm treated like a killjoy, even the prominent cycle campaigners are falling over themselves with praise and local pride. To me, the promotion of the scheme propagates the myth that cycling is hard. I'm told it will lead to more people using non assist bikes but no one is offering any evidence for it, nor are there any plans to monitor such.
As I highlighted when this was proposed, availability is key and on that level it's failing*. Often there are no bikes available in the location you need them and there's no on street charging so bikes are often out of service due to flat batteries, others with so little charge I wouldn't want to risk it. Having said that - they are a lot of fun to ride, I've used four times and it's like a consistent tailwind. If ever I find myself with a lengthy commute, this will be my vehicle of choice, I'm certainly not anti.

* Availability - I've just looked at the map, 10.30 Monday 20th Aug
Of the four hubs within a mile of me, none have bikes
of the sixteen hubs in Derby centre three have bikes
The hub at the hospital has no bikes
There are at least five bikes showing as available but not in a hub, that look to be in private (Works) car parks

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horizon
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby horizon » 20 Aug 2018, 11:21am

PH wrote:No one is prepared to give a straight answer as to why the scheme is electric only and not a mix, I haven't stopped asking. The routes between the major usage points are all under 5 miles and all relatively flat. In the first month the average journey distance was 3.5 miles. Whenever I ask the question I'm treated like a killjoy, even the prominent cycle campaigners are falling over themselves with praise and local pride. To me, the promotion of the scheme propagates the myth that cycling is hard. I'm told it will lead to more people using non assist bikes but no one is offering any evidence for it, nor are there any plans to monitor such.


PH: thanks for that. This is the reason I jumped on news of this scheme and for my rather emotive thread title: something just seemed to be missing from the equation. If you really think you need electric bikes for 18 year olds on flat city streets, then, yes, that is depressing. I often come across this idea that electric bikes are a panacea because they take the effort out of cycling, as though that is a deal breaker and physical effort the real downside of riding a bike.

The scheme in Exeter has been going for longer and appears to be quite successful (it is due to be expanded). But reading between the lines, the number of bikes is tiny and usage is very low (2000 trips in 18 months). The cost of the scheme is IMV very high. Having said that, the scheme seems to be more ambitious than Derby's in terms of area and will take in quite a few hills.

More here:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-ne ... ke-1779233
https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-ne ... re-1564827
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brynpoeth
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby brynpoeth » 20 Aug 2018, 11:51am

PH wrote:I gave my opinion on the Derby scheme at the beginning of this thread, now it's up and running it hasn't changed.
No one is prepared to give a straight answer as to why the scheme is electric only and not a mix, I haven't stopped asking. The routes between the major usage points are all under 5 miles and all relatively flat. In the first month the average journey distance was 3.5 miles. Whenever I ask the question I'm treated like a killjoy, even the prominent cycle campaigners are falling over themselves with praise and local pride. To me, the promotion of the scheme propagates the myth that cycling is hard. I'm told it will lead to more people using non assist bikes but no one is offering any evidence for it, nor are there any plans to monitor such.
As I highlighted when this was proposed, availability is key and on that level it's failing*. Often there are no bikes available in the location you need them and there's no on street charging so bikes are often out of service due to flat batteries, others with so little charge I wouldn't want to risk it. Having said that - they are a lot of fun to ride, I've used four times and it's like a consistent tailwind. If ever I find myself with a lengthy commute, this will be my vehicle of choice, I'm certainly not anti.

* Availability - I've just looked at the map, 10.30 Monday 20th Aug
Of the four hubs within a mile of me, none have bikes
of the sixteen hubs in Derby centre three have bikes
The hub at the hospital has no bikes
There are at least five bikes showing as available but not in a hub, that look to be in private (Works) car parks

Maybe so few are available cos they are so popular and most are being ridden
..
Its the economy stupid :( e-bikes create more work, use more resources
Fortunately one may pedal one without a motor (right?) and Derby is not too hilly (?)

Stuttgart, an extensive city with hills, has 800 hire bikes
Every morning three vans go out early to redistribute bikes, many people ride downhill only, if the weather changes they get the tram back to the station
The same in Kassel, the main station is high above the town, few people cycle back up so dozens of bikes have to be shifted
Could be an argument for e-bikes or free hire uphill :wink:
Last edited by brynpoeth on 20 Aug 2018, 11:56am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby PH » 20 Aug 2018, 11:56am

brynpoeth wrote:Fortunately one may pedal one without a motor and Derby is not too hilly (?)

If the battery is flat it is out of service and can't be hired. If the battery runs out while you have it hired, then yes I guess you can carry on riding (I haven't tried it) there are reports of people abandoning them when they run out.

PaulOD
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby PaulOD » 7 Sep 2018, 9:32pm

Me and a friend took two ebikes out on Wednesday. Took them to Nottingham on NCN Route 6 and had doubts about the battery lasting.
Fortunately we found 2 bikes with around 90% charge and thought the solar panel would charge them whilst we parked up, put them on hold and had lunch.
They ran out way before Long Eaton on the way back so must have got around 25 miles before it cut out.
Could still cycle fine although a bit heavier and you definitely had to use the gears on hills and tight corners.

I also had a phone call from the chap at the ebike scheme saying he noticed we ventured out to Nottingham and the battery would cut out around 15-20%. He was worried we would dump them and not return within the city operating boundary.

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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby NickWi » 12 Sep 2018, 11:06am

PaulOD wrote:They ran out way before Long Eaton on the way back so must have got around 25 miles before it cut out.
Could still cycle fine although a bit heavier and you definitely had to use the gears on hills and tight corners.


And therein is one of the biggest problems with e-bikes at the current level of battery technology. What happens when the power runs out? Fortunately, it sounds likes Paul’s bikes were ridable, but the bottom line is that to increase your range, go faster, or carry more weight you currently need a bigger battery (or accept that one of those three is going to suffer with your existing battery). And it’s a viscous circle. Fit a bigger battery and it will weight more. Because of that you might need a stronger frame or heavier duty components, which will also weigh more, and so on. All of which make the dead weight of an unpowered e-bike not a pleasant prospect to pedal on the flat, let alone up hill. How many e-bike equivalents of the BSO are there gathering dust at the back of someone’s garage having been ridden once or twice, found not to be an enjoyable experience and waiting for the next car boot sale.

However it will come. In ten years time we’ll have a featherweight battery the size of a 500ml bottle of pop that not only has ten times the power of current batteries, you also simply unscrew it and in exchange for a couple of quid at your local garage/corner shop you get a fully charged one. A similar but larger version will power fully electric cars and we'll look back at forums like this and wonder why the hell we put up with such rubbish!

Incidentally, how did the solar panel charging work? I take it from the comments you made about having to pedal back it didn’t, but did it put anything back into the battery?

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Cunobelin
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby Cunobelin » 12 Sep 2018, 11:17am

NickWi wrote:
PaulOD wrote:They ran out way before Long Eaton on the way back so must have got around 25 miles before it cut out.
Could still cycle fine although a bit heavier and you definitely had to use the gears on hills and tight corners.


And therein is one of the biggest problems with e-bikes at the current level of battery technology. What happens when the power runs out? Fortunately, it sounds likes Paul’s bikes were ridable, but the bottom line is that to increase your range, go faster, or carry more weight you currently need a bigger battery (or accept that one of those three is going to suffer with your existing battery). And it’s a viscous circle. Fit a bigger battery and it will weight more. Because of that you might need a stronger frame or heavier duty components, which will also weigh more, and so on. All of which make the dead weight of an unpowered e-bike not a pleasant prospect to pedal on the flat, let alone up hill. How many e-bike equivalents of the BSO are there gathering dust at the back of someone’s garage having been ridden once or twice, found not to be an enjoyable experience and waiting for the next car boot sale.

However it will come. In ten years time we’ll have a featherweight battery the size of a 500ml bottle of pop that not only has ten times the power of current batteries, you also simply unscrew it and in exchange for a couple of quid at your local garage/corner shop you get a fully charged one. A similar but larger version will power fully electric cars and we'll look back at forums like this and wonder why the hell we put up with such rubbish!

Incidentally, how did the solar panel charging work? I take it from the comments you made about having to pedal back it didn’t, but did it put anything back into the battery?



Really a point for development.

In Kent there was a company who liaised with local companies, the idea being that you cycled out to one of the many local villages, parked your bike, plugged in ant topped up whilst you visited the local shops, cafe's, pubs etc.

A win for the bike users and a win for the local economy

All we need is an appropriate infrastructure

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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby PH » 12 Sep 2018, 11:23am

NickWi wrote:
PaulOD wrote:They ran out way before Long Eaton on the way back so must have got around 25 miles before it cut out.
Could still cycle fine although a bit heavier and you definitely had to use the gears on hills and tight corners.


And therein is one of the biggest problems with e-bikes at the current level of battery technology. What happens when the power runs out? Fortunately, it sounds likes Paul’s bikes were ridable, but the bottom line is that to increase your range, go faster, or carry more weight you currently need a bigger battery (or accept that one of those three is going to suffer with your existing battery). And it’s a viscous circle. Fit a bigger battery and it will weight more. Because of that you might need a stronger frame or heavier duty components, which will also weigh more, and so on.

What you need is the appropriate set up for the intended use. Good on Paul for taking a bike designed for short city trips on a 25 mile jaunt. I'm tempted to go in the hillier other direction to see how far I can take one.
But the technology exists for the right e-bikes to be used on longer trips, of course there are limits and the level of assistance is dependent on the rider, but don't overestimate how restrictive they are. Our CTC group regularly has e-bike riders out on hilly 50+ rides, how much assistance each of them are getting I don't know, but they wouldn't be there at all without it.

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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby mjr » 12 Sep 2018, 12:48pm

horizon wrote:What I'm saying is that cycling involves a lot of the time a sweaty, unpleasant physical challenge, at least at first.

Maybe for some people, but it ain't necessarily so. If the going's too hard, non-masochists go slower and/or change down a gear. If we run out of gears, we walk. This insistence by some experienced cyclists who like to make themselves sweat puts people off IMO.

horizon wrote:On a short ride on a level road it won't, so people hopefully don't use e-bikes for such a trip.

Why not? It lets them go further for the same effort. That seems like it could be useful and hopefully switch some from driving to cycling for such journeys.

horizon wrote:It is the physical difficulty that people object to (not the members of this forum I hasten to add). So they believe that using an e-bike will iron out the hills, shorten the distance and reduce the sweat - which it does. But the very physical experience that a bike demands if you are to ride up hills, down dales and longer distances is what gives us the positive health effects.

Again, this isn't true in my experience. As readers may recall, I'm chronically ill (which means I'm not keen on deliberately straining my heart or lungs, or sweating for that matter but that's for less serious reasons) and periodically tested in various ways. I still get measurable positive health effects from when I'm cycling in my usual relaxed manner, based on comparing to tests taken when I stopped most cycling for an icy month or so in a winter between me getting bored of sliding down roads and fitting ice tyres. During that month, I was walking to get places and it just didn't seem to do as much... sadly, I wasn't tracking my walking, so I don't know how the time spent walking compares to the time spend cycling. I suspect it was less because I find walking rather tedious after decades spent travelling at cycling speeds.

horizon wrote:Of course people then say that an e-bike is in fact hard work, that you have to pedal as much, that it gets you out and onto ordinary bikes and that at the end of the day you've had more exercise than you would have had than sitting on the sofa or driving a car. Well, that may be true. But if the idea of the e-bike is to neutralise the hard physical effort then either it does or people will be back in their cars if their hopes are disappointed.

I think the idea is to get and keep people cycling when an unassisted cycle would be beyond them for their journey, whether because it's too far, the routes they want to use are too hard for them at that time, possibly because they have some health problem making it so. I know people who were told to cut back their cycling for medical reasons but got e-bikes so they could keep making day trips (which their doctors were OK with).

horizon wrote:I reckon a lot of the support for e-bikes on this forum is from people who have really experienced the hard work of cycling and who therefore realise what a breeze it is to have the motor. For lots of other people, that won't be the case and the chance they have of getting really fit (while still young) is diminished.

I support them but I don't think I've ridden an e-bike yet. I should ask a friend if I can try theirs, or go some place where they hire them out... maybe Derby?
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby brynpoeth » 12 Sep 2018, 1:08pm

Yes you should so you know what you are talking about, so should I, but I can cycle well enough and far enough without a motor and I do not want to go faster

Maybe later?
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby mjr » 12 Sep 2018, 1:41pm

brynpoeth wrote:Yes you should so you know what you are talking about, so should I, but I can cycle well enough and far enough without a motor and I do not want to go faster

Maybe later?

Yeah, that's it, so far I don't feel that I need it, so I've not tried it. I've ridden alongside e-bikes for hundreds of miles and they don't seem as different as some other friends' bikes, such as recumbents and trikes - I have tried those to see what they're like, to make it easier to decide whether I want one at some point.

The main difference of e-bikes seems to be a faint whirring as the assistance kicks in, usually as soon as the road tilts up or the headwind blows hard. I can usually keep up unless conditions are seriously adverse, but maybe the people I ride with don't use them on maximum assist, as we're often doing fair distances and what's the point of riding away from the group and waiting at the top of the hill instead of chatting?

Oh and there's occasional bloopers like the rider switching the electric off by mistake.
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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby wjhall » 12 Dec 2018, 6:14pm

horizon wrote:
PH wrote:.... If you really think you need electric bikes for 18 year olds on flat city streets, then, yes, that is depressing. I often come across this idea that electric bikes are a panacea because they take the effort out of cycling, as though that is a deal breaker and physical effort the real downside of riding a bike. ....


There is an obvious argument that some people will find an e-bike the key to being able to get any benefits out of cycling, but here, in a leafy suburb with a population including retirees, e-bike use, fortunately rare, includes a surprising number of young people with no obvious need for assistance. Older people tend to ride bikes, probably because they always have, or returned to cycling on retirement for exercise. Perhaps younger people have the excuse that working is consuming the energy needed to cycle to work.

WJH

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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby kwackers » 12 Dec 2018, 9:22pm

wjhall wrote:There is an obvious argument that some people will find an e-bike the key to being able to get any benefits out of cycling, but here, in a leafy suburb with a population including retirees, e-bike use, fortunately rare, includes a surprising number of young people with no obvious need for assistance. Older people tend to ride bikes, probably because they always have, or returned to cycling on retirement for exercise. Perhaps younger people have the excuse that working is consuming the energy needed to cycle to work.

WJH

They may not like riding bikes - some people don't.
Quite possible that they're just using them for transport.

I find it an odd concept that bicycles should be preferred over e-bikes based on ones fitness.

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Re: E-bikes: depressing or what?

Postby PH » 12 Dec 2018, 9:48pm

wjhall wrote:
PH wrote:.... If you really think

I didn't write that!