Considering a pedelec - shock horror

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Chris the Sheep
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Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Chris the Sheep » 18 Apr 2013, 1:46pm

So, I'm already a cyclist, got two bikes, and I do a 10-mile-each-way commute on average three days a week. I'm in overall good health (apart from having shingles at the moment :( ), no knee or back problems, healthy heart etc. I am, however, a stone or two overweight.

All in all, for a 49-year-old who's not lived a healthy lifestyle I'm not in too bad a shape.

So why, then, am I considering getting a pedelec?

For me it's that "average three days a week". There's a reason why I don't cycle every day, and it's usually the wind. I live in Blackpool you see, where it can get a bit draughty at times. In those weeks where I do manage to commute every day I'm also shattered by Friday night.

The correct answer is of course for me to MTFU, grit my teeth, and get on with it. But I don't do that, I use the motorbike instead.

So I was thinking that a basic pedelec might do the trick; ideally one where I could provide the power myself most of the time (I ride my other bikes on the flat around the 16-17mph mark, on those rare calm days). The Giant Twist Lite 2 looks a good bet; looks like a bike, should ride OK with the power off, but would give me a boost when I'm starting to flag. I'd still have one other bike for the less windy days.

Am I making sense?

Apart from the ridiculous cost of the batteries and their short life I'm seeing signs of maturity in the electric bike market; it's moved on from the ponderous Chinese shopping bikes. I wonder if the time is right to make the jump.

Has anyone else had these thoughts recently? Do I need treatment?
Do I need an excuse, be it a dodgy heart or creaking knees?

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meic
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby meic » 18 Apr 2013, 1:56pm

Are you going to sell the motorcycle?

If not then I can not see that there is enough to gain by using a pedelec when you have a motorcycle depreciating and you are paying VED and insurance.
Yma o Hyd

Chris the Sheep
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Chris the Sheep » 18 Apr 2013, 2:03pm

Sorry, didn't make clear - this is a whim, nothing to do with cold hard reasoning!
If I just followed reason then I'd just have a couple of bikes, no motorbike, and use the tram when the weather's bad.........

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horizon
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby horizon » 18 Apr 2013, 2:06pm

Chris: I don't see the problem. Pedelecs are just very environmentally-friendly motor cycles. If you need motive power to get to work (and many people do), then pedelecs are better than cars for all the obvious reasons (they may have technical downsides but that's another matter). Ten miles is an awkward distance - almost doable, great if you can do it but a little on the high side for every day. I would say just don't think of the pedelec as a bicycle - think of it as a much better motorcycle.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

Chris the Sheep
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Chris the Sheep » 18 Apr 2013, 2:41pm

I think that's where I'm coming from; the motorbike's great, but overkill for a 10-mile urban commute. Then there's the need for helmet, boots etc, and the fact that I'm getting no exercise whatsoever, and cold in the winter. I could get a 125 for the commute, but that would just be miserable.

Funny how nobody questions someone using a car for a four-mile commute, but as a cyclist already I feel guilty (and expect to be ridiculed) for considering a modicum of powered assistance!

I'm also looking for anyone's practical experience of pedelecs in headwinds; most discussion is about hills. We've got hills in Blackpool, but not many and you can go round them. Seriously, you can.

I've been on the pedelecs forum and asked a similar question, but there's a different vibe on there. Too many retailers pushing their wares, also a fondness for throttles.

pstallwood
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby pstallwood » 18 Apr 2013, 3:49pm

I started out getting back to cycling last year and bought a pedelecs. I had had a very major op and thought that a "push" bike would be too much to manage. After 800+ miles I have just bought a Croix de Fer but have not ridden it in anger yet - hopefully this weekend.

I joined the pedelecs forum and yes you do get a lot of suppliers on there but they are often useful in sorting out problems and giving advice as to their particular product - you just have to realise where they are coming from sometimes.

My bike - a Whisper - has a throttle but after the first few days I stopped using it and often do not have the motor turned on when on the flat but it can be hard work sometimes and impossible, for me at least, to get a 24kg bike up my favourite hill! I can't say that I noticed any preference for throttles but one might be of advantage for those with limited ability to pedal - otherwise I think that they are a waste of time.

I don't think Giant pedelecs have throttles and you will find that is generally so for most continental brands (I think that a throttle might even be illegal in Germany for an electrically propelled bike - a throttle making it a motor cycle - I may be wrong in my understanding though).

As with normal bikes you just need to ride a few to see what suits you.

Peter S

Phil Fouracre
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Phil Fouracre » 18 Apr 2013, 3:51pm

Chris - go for it! Never thought I would ever be plugging them, but, I've had a BH Emotion since end of last year, and got to say it, a nice bit of kit. Just approaching the 2000k mark and very pleased with it. Like you, we've already got a selection of bikes, but bought one purely for physio/recuperation. Not crocked through wear and tear, but, spectacularly serious paragliding accident. Not riding to commute, but, would have thought it would be ideal, mine has five power settings so you can adjust to suit conditions. Max range is obviously on eco which comes out at about 65-70k per charge. Anyone of even moderate fitness could happily leave it on that for reasonably hilly ground. Only used higher power settings when I couldn't put any pressure on broken leg/ankle all to start with.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

ChrisButch
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby ChrisButch » 18 Apr 2013, 4:15pm

Had a bit of an epiphany with these on Exmoor last year. Not knowing much about them, until then I'd always mentally lumped them as roughly in the same category as mobility buggies. There I was slogging up a long 1 in 6 at what I thought was a pretty decent pace. Suddenly startled by a cheery 'hello', and almost fell off my bike when a lady of a certain age, dressed as if for shopping, zipped past me on what at first glance looked like a hefty mountain bike. It was only when I heard the gentle whirr as she disappeared dound the next bend that I realised what it was. I dug in deeper, sure I would catch her on the flat on the top or if not there, on the (steep and fast) descent. Never saw her again. Respect.

Geriatrix
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Geriatrix » 18 Apr 2013, 5:35pm

Chris the Sheep wrote:Has anyone else had these thoughts recently? Do I need treatment?
Do I need an excuse, be it a dodgy heart or creaking knees?

You cycle for yourself, no one else so you should do what you think you would enjoy most.

One of my bikes is a BionX conversion on a hybrid. As an ebike it works great, although for various reasons I wouldn't recommend BionX.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

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horizon
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby horizon » 18 Apr 2013, 6:27pm

ChrisButch wrote:It was only when I heard the gentle whirr as she disappeared dound the next bend that I realised what it was. I dug in deeper, sure I would catch her on the flat on the top or if not there, on the (steep and fast) descent. Never saw her again. Respect.


Chris: was the respect for the motor?
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

Elizabethsdad
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Elizabethsdad » 18 Apr 2013, 9:28pm

I was doing a 10 mile each way commute five days a week in all weathers. I was doing this fine but starting to find that I was getting a bit fatigued towards the end of the week and then I had a couple of pedal car races at the end of last year where my performance was definitely off the boil. I tried out a few pedelecs at the NEC cycle show, and decided I liked the crank drive option. I did look at a retrofit to one my existing bikes but it didn't quite work out so then I looked at bikes built around the Bosch crank drive system and ended up getting a Rose Xtra Watt 500. As it is road legal the assistance cuts out at 15.5mph so if you go faster than that it's all your own effort. When yo get to a slope and start slowing down the assist kicks back in and you breezeyour way to the top without getting hot, breathless and aching legs. It is a heavy bike at 25kg but I tried riding up the steepest hill on my commute without the assist working and didn't have a problem so wasn't going to be stuck if the battery ran out. It's a great bike, I love it. Get one you won't regret it. My only problem right now is that I am off work with stress so not getting out on the bike as much right now.

Chris the Sheep
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Chris the Sheep » 18 Apr 2013, 9:34pm

Some interesting replies; I think my hesitation is mainly because the market's been flooded with suppliers and I'm waiting for it to settle down - a bit like motorbikes in decades past, there are lots of interesting products, some very good, but it's difficult to know which ones will still be around in two or three years' time (I've seen the posts about Bionx for example, which has put me off a Trek I saw on ebay).

(EDIT: the Bosch system is out of my price range at the moment, but I can wait - at least I know that'll be properly supported and is a quality product)

I'm tempted to buy a basic bike for now (the Giant is a good example) which in the worst case can be converted back to a standard bike a few years later; the worry is not so much the price of batteries for example, as being able to get hold of them. I'd be reassured if the market converged on a selection of standard batteries (it hasn't happened with laptops, but they have volume on their side).

Anyway, no hurry, we've got another glorious British summer ahead of us....

andrewk
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby andrewk » 19 Apr 2013, 1:30am

I recently added a pedelec to my stable of bikes, a Kalkhoff Agattu which has an impulse drive crank motor and a range of approx. 60 miles on Eco. I've only had it for 2 weeks so can't comment on reliability. It's a typically fully equipped German machine and appears to be well made using good components apart from the wheels which are 32 hole without eyelets.
It has got me up a long hill against a head wind whilst loaded with the weekly grocery shopping, normally I would have dismounted and pushed part way up in these circumstances. The real benefit is that you end up cycling more frequently and driving less. Sometimes I use a normal bike sometimes (on those occasions when I feel lazy and would have previously driven) I use the pedelec. Overall I'm very glad I bought one.
I'd recommend that you choose a European made one with a crank drive system (Bosch, Panasonic, Impulse) as they're better at hill climbing as the motor assistance goes through the gears. Avoid all Chinese ones (including most supposedly British brands that are merely cheap and nasty Chinese bikes with brand stickers) and avoid most folders (except for the Velosolex which is well made). One doesn't require the same gear range as on a normal bike because the assistance helps you out (the Nexus 8 gear hub on mine is more than adequate). Pedelecs are generally quite heavy, so good brakes are an important feature, IMO they require more effective brakes than cable operated V brakes. There are lots of good German, Dutch, French and Austrian brands imported to choose from.

Geriatrix
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Geriatrix » 19 Apr 2013, 6:59am

Chris the Sheep wrote:(EDIT: the Bosch system is out of my price range at the moment, but I can wait - at least I know that'll be properly supported and is a quality product)

If I were to buy now bottom bracket would be top of my list. Bosch and Panasonic are high cost but both high quality and you will have the assurance that they will conform to regulations. They also have the advantage that no special wheel builds are needed should you need to replace these in the future.

Sunstar S03 is a bottom bracket system that allows you to convert an existing bike with little effort. Also expensive but it is a good quality Japanese/Swiss product with a few battery options.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

Elizabethsdad
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Re: Considering a pedelec - shock horror

Postby Elizabethsdad » 19 Apr 2013, 7:30am

I got the Sunstar to go on one of my bikes but I couldn't quite get it to fit on the eccentric BB and if I had I would have lost the ability to adjust chain tension - hence the reason for buying the Rose Xtra Watt. Whilst £2300 is not a trivial sum of money I thought it was very good value for a fully equipped German made pedelec. Other models that I had my on were the Ave TH-9 and the reise and muller bluelabel range. On the pedelec forums the Kharlkoff Agatu is highly rated as well. I still plan to use the Sunstar on a recumbent quad when I get around to putting it together.