Hi, Mitch here at Zephyr Ebike Workshop. We service and repair all makes and models of ebikes here in Bloomington Indiana, and I can travel to you for on-site work in many cases. I consult/advise folks who want to purchase online (which I full support). I can also receive, setup and tune your new ebikes to your specification.
My blog posts below are thoughts about the wide variety of ebikes that come and go through the workshop, as well as repair and maintenance tips, and miscellaneous ebike news.
Check out my Twitter Feed for even more chatter about the micromobility revolution, safe streets and bike infrastructure. I’ve linked my older blogs posts (Btown Biking) about riding around Monroe county (and our many hills), as well as the music I’ve recordedover the years. Please peruse the site, and enjoy!
I never expected this from Bloomberg, but here it is, How to Make Cities Safer for E-Bikes by Ira Boudway really makes the case for the use of ebikes (my preferred spelling) in the city:
“With battery-powered motors that assist riders as they pedal, e-bikes enable a broader range of people to make more and longer trips than traditional bikes. And they are cheaper, more efficient, and less resource-intensive to manufacture than electric cars.”
So there are real economic and environmental benefits to ebike travel, as cited in the article, like ~60% of car rides in US are less than 6 miles/round trip (2017), meaning that a majority of our trips could be done easily by ebike.
But most importantly, Boudway emphasizes that safety is the main concern blocking wider adoption, and that this is best addressed through infrastructure choices that allow mixed use of our public spaces.
A 2018 poll from People for Bikes found that people “said that roads are not safe enough for families to bike and, of those, 63% said they would ride if they felt safer. The best way to make riders safer is to protect them from cars.”
So count me in, paint is not enough to stop aggressive drivers from making the streets feel unsafe!
Lots of folks want to take their ebikes with them when traveling, and there are a number of racks out there. I can’t recommend any of them from experience, but here are a few racks I see mentioned frequently online. The ones built specifically for ebikes can be a bit pricey, but are elegant. The ones built for dirt bikes are sturdier, but maybe a bit clunkier, but definately cheaper.
This beast is one of this year’s new design with maxed out specs, yet is still within legal limits on bike paths and trails. (750W motor, 22A controller and, massive 48V/20 Ah battery, hydraulic disk brakes). This one has a 100mm stem riser, and with the front suspension, it rides very high and wide. This is great for the owner, who is well over 6 feet, and needs big bike. It is extremely sturdy, and has no problem handling the extra weight of the power train and 4″ fat tires. At the same time, it has a 21″ low step-thru height, making it much easier to handle its 80 pounds of power. At $1800, it is a great value for all these specs, and built for rough riding!
At the other end of the spectrum is this heybike Cityscape, an inexpensive ($900) Euro style commuter bike, it has a most of the extras that make it great for around the town errands, commuting, and just cruising. It has front and back fenders and integrated lights, as well as a chain guard and rear rack. It has moderate 36V/350W/10Ah power train, which will be good for 20-25 miles, more than enough for most city uses. I think it competes well with the Ecotric Peace Dove, which has similar specs, and sells for only $770. The Peace Dove includes a front basket, but has no built in lights. But the Cityscape has a damper seat post and front suspension, making it a cushier ride, and thus worth the extra $130 over the Peace Dove. All in all, I think it is a good value for entering the ebike world.
So I mentioned a new design this year, like the Bee Cool above, and suprisingly heybike has one called the Explore. It has very similar specs (48V/750W/20Ah), but seems to have mechanical disk brakes rather than the hydraulic disk brakes on the Bee Cool Pathfinder. So the Heybike costs $1900, while the Bee Cool is $1800 (down from the original price of $2000), and slightly better specs, and that makes it the winner in this catagory (for this month anyhow!)
A recent study from researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico, found that protected bike lanes bring down fatalities for both bikers and motorists (at least in the large cities they studied.) So thanks City of Bloomington for the new protected bike lanes on the 7-Line downtown! And I say that as both a biker and a motorist!
BTW, have you noticed it is quicker and more fuel efficient driving from Walnut St to Dunn St on Seventh St? Narrower lanes thus slower speed, but no stop signs make it quicker for sure, so no brakes needed time and again, and you can keep your momentum and conserve fuel. Win/win).
Not to bury the lede, but another interesting poin: “Researchers found that painted bike lanes provided no improvement on road safety” and about sharrows (bike symbols painted in the middle of a lane) it was “revealed that it was actually safer to have no bike markings at all.”
We’ve had a lot of different ebikes come in for assembly, tune-up, and repair, and that is great news us, things are going according to plan. Our pivot to service and support from ebike sales has meant changes here with our workspace growing and sales space shrinking. Here is a sampling of ebikes that have come through the door this month. RadPower is quite popular now that the order time has reduced from months to weeks!
I ride a RadPower cargo bike, but I particulary like the new Blix Packa pictured above, as it has the second battery built in, plus it runs on standard 24″ tires (while the new RadWagons have propietary 22″ tires).
The RadCity below is particularly suited for commuting and shopping with a built in rack, sturdy front basket and easy to mount step through design. It felt very sturdy, a great utility vehicle. They all had some little quirk that needed special attention, but over all they were all interesting ebikes. (The Pedigo is in for a paint job…)
This bike came into the workshop because the torque sensor was working intermittently. It is a Juiced Rip Current, a monster of a fat tire mountain bike. The torque sensor is bolted between frame and gear cassette, and integrates the derailleur hanger, and was damaged in a fall. This ebike has a powerful 750W motor, hydraulic disk brakes, suspension front fork, and built in lights, with a massive 52V 19.2 Ah battery. This is a full sized “SUV” of an ebike, and is being used accordingly. Now back on the road, the new torque/cadence sensor makes this bike easy to start up and ride anywhere. It takes two hand to handle this whopper!
One of the main trade-offs in owning an ebike is that changing tires and tubes is harder, and with most rear wheel motors, it best to adjust the deraileur and disk brakes at that time. So what to do if riding in the city, with metal and glass everywhere? I looked around at the various products sold to help prevent flats, got a bit confused, but then found this great video from Bolton Ebike where they put the top products to the test: Mr. Tuffy Tire Liners, Slime, Tannus Armour, and Flat Out, the clear winner.
So we have been adding Flat Out to all the bikes that come through the shop, if the client approves. It just makes sense (though I make more money if you bring me a flat tire, I am not that anxious to work on preventable problems!)
I just found this new (Jan 11, 2022) feature by Street Films on cargo bikes in NYC, it gave me all the feelies about how we can change our future for the better. After 4 years riding my RadWagon cargo ebike with the grandkids, groceries and dog, I totally understand and agree with the sentiments expressed by the cargo bike users featured in this video. It makes life in the city easier and more fun, cheaper and less carbon intensive, all positives in my book. I’ve had a few cargo ebikes in the shop for tune-ups/repairs, and they are wonderful machines for families as well as delivery drivers!
I had not heard of Street Films before, but I like them. Here is an added link to the shorter Cycling Copenhagen…