Categories
Btown Biking

Purple Rans (on the way)

Purple Rans Stratus on Lake Monroe
Purple Rans Stratus on Lake Monroe, 2010

I wrote the post below back in 2007, when I first started riding my Rans Stratus, the long wheel base recumbent that you may have seen me riding around the county. I had been riding “Long Green”, an older Rans that I got from Kevin Atkins, (thanks Kevin, you changed my life!). I had been riding my Trek hybrid on long trips for a couple of years, and developed a real pain in the neck from the riding position (in addition to a new computer job where my bifocals caused me to have a chin up position, just like when leaning over a bike). Both contributed, but I had to keep working, so something had to change with my riding, and thus the recumbent.

What a joy it was to ride pain free, and with the easy rider seating, I was free to scan the sky and surrounding scenery rather than the road in front of me. And with no pressure on the prostate and all, I was never going back, and least on the long rides. 

So after my double bypass operation, I was not in shape to resume my normal 4-5000 miles/year schedule, but there was no way I was going to stop biking, and I bought a used Trek cargo ebike, and rode it around town for a year or so before wearing out the battery. I searched the web and 4 years ago bought my RadWagon, which has been a great city bike for me. But it wears on my wrists and butt on longer trips, and so with Emmanuel’s expertise, we retrofitted the old Rans with a front hub motor and a large capacity battery. Now I can again ride all the great ridges and valleys Monroe county has to offer in comfort! 

March 2007- I looked all over web, trying to find the best LWB recumbent I could get for the price. If I were to buy new, I would have considered the Bachetta line, they look really good for the money. But as I cruised the few bike shops and bulletin boards that have recumbents, I found a 97 Rans Stratus that looked good to me. It was through easystreetrecumbents.com in Austin. I told the guy I ride a lot of hills and that my current bike has a 3 speed internal, which the 97 does not have. So I decided have him rebuild the back wheel with the internal gearing, and a Rans rack for the back. This should allow some longer rides, and the ability to move groceries, instruments, etc. around town without my numerous canvas bags. I am hoping it will be here sometime next week, I am still riding the LongGreen, but it is very wobbly at 20 mph, and the rubbing tire is tiresome. I hope I made the right decision, I expect that I will be using this for the next 5-10 years, and I figure I log over 4000 miles/year, counting both commuting and weekend riding. I would like to bring that up this year, with DST I might be able to get an extra 25 miles of an evening!

If you are interested in the recumbent style of bike, I have this Cycle Genius in the shop, 20″ wheels and super comfy seat, $650.

Cycle Genius LWB Recumbent
Cycle Genius LWB Recumbent
Categories
Ebikes

Ecotric Trick

So this is the second Ecotric that came in the shop because the front tire came of on an early ride. In this case, I was able to replace the bent brake rotor and get it running (the rider ended with a broken wrist).

Ecotric Folding fat tire ebike – 48V/500W motor

I consider Ecotric to be a value brand, that is, they are less expensive than more famous brands like RadPower and Aventon. And so it is with parts, in this case the spindle ends on axle appear to be knurled in such a way that you could adequately tighten with your fingers, but no!

On one side there is a 5mm hex hole that must be used to get adequate torque on the wheel. So you can certainly finger tighten the wheel when putting it in the fork, but you must then use your hex and in this case, you should use a wrench at least 6 inches long, and apply pressure at the end of the hex key till it feels good and tight. If you choke up as in the second picture, you may not be able to apply enough torque to keep this wheel on, which seems to me to be a problem with this design.

Categories
Ebikes

Aventon Aventure Story

Aventon Aventure
Aventon Aventure

I was impressed with this Aventon Aventure, a 26″ fat tire mountain bike style that checks all the boxes for sturdy, well designed and good looking. It has an SUV vibe for sure, you feel really secure when riding. Unfortunately, none of that helps if the a fall happens, which was the case for this beast.

After the fall, it just would not shift worth a darn, and it was easy to see on quick inspection that while the derailleur itself was just scratched, the hanger was bent several degrees out of true.

So I removed the derailleur, took a ride to the hardware shop and got a long fine thread bolt of the correct diameter, and screwed it into the bent hanger. I applied some weight and leverage to the bolt, eyeballed it once, applied some more pressure, and voila, as close to perfect as I could get.

I reattached the derailleur, tightened the cable, set the high and low limit screws, and then (to my surprise) indexed the gears so that there was smooth shifting from top to bottom. I felt good that I was able to repair with having to replace anything.

But, if this were to happen again, I would want to replace the hanger, as it is softer metal, and will break with sufficient stress. But getting the right replacement is often a hassle, as each manufacturer has their own design, and with the supply chain issues we have, it can be a long wait for parts. So I think I did the right thing for now!

Aventon bent hanger
On the Aventon, the bent hanger would not allow the gears to get past fourth gear.
Categories
Ebikes

Ebike Curious on Kirkwood

Last week the City hosted the Ebike Curious Event on Kirkwood in front of People’s Park and the Bike Garage, and we had nearly a dozen different brands (and one home-crafted) ebikes on display. There were two recumbents, two folding fat tires, three cargo,  and three commuter style ebikes. Quite a wide range, showing the various uses there are for ebikes in our city!

 

Categories
Ebikes

Bloomberg for E-bikes?

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.”

7-Line Bloomington
7-Line Bloomington

So count me in, paint is not enough to stop aggressive drivers from making the streets feel unsafe!

Categories
Ebikes

Ebike racks for travel

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.

Hollywood Ebike rack
Hollywood Ebike rack

The most expensive is the Thule at $900
Thule EasyFold XT 2: https://www.amazon.com/hule-Easyfold-Hitch-Mount-Carrier/dp/B07954CY49/

1Up is a brand many folks seem to like it at $700
Super Duty Double
https://www.1up-usa.com/product/2in-super-duty-double-bike-rack/

The Hollywood rack is often most recommended on many of the ebike groups on FB, at $500
Hollywood Racks Sport Rider 2 bike https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Racks-Sport-Rider-

Here is a typical dirt bike rack that will easily carry two ebikes for $400.
Rage Powersports Black Widow AMC-600-2 https://www.amazon.com/Black-Widow-AMC-600-2-Aluminum-Motorcycle/dp/B004HL5SF0/

Forest Road
Forest Road
Categories
Ebikes

Zephyr Ebike Workshop

Zephyr-Ebikes Shop
Zephyr E-Bike Workshop

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 also advise folks who want to purchase online (first 15 minutes free), then assemble and tune for those who want that service.

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 recorded over the years. Please peruse the site, and enjoy!

Categories
Ebikes

Big Fat Tires & Eurostyle

We had two new brands (to us) in the workshop this week, Bee Cool and heybike, and both had advantages in their own ways.

Bee Cool Pathfinder – Fat Tire Step Thru

Bee Cool Pathfinder Step-Thru
Bee Cool Pathfinder Step-Thru

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!

Heybike Cityscape Cruiser

heybike Cityscape
heybike Cityscape

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.

heybike Explore – Fat Tire Step-Thru

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!)

Categories
Ebikes

Separated Bikes Lanes make Bloomington safer!

7-Line Bloomington
7-Line Bloomington

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.”

Categories
Ebikes

Workshop Notes

Another happy customer – Benjamin’s Blue Blix Packa

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…)