Just Another Form of Transportation…

Ryan Van Duzer loves his ebike, and can tell you why in this well crafted video (well, he is a tv star). Of course, he has an extra fancy mid drive model ($3000), but he hits all the major points to be made for riding an ebike. He explains why ebikes are great for exercise as well as for day to day errands.


Rad Mini comes and goes…

This RadMini had a electrical problem, a bad connection led to a fire, no one hurt. But that spark that ignited the problem fried not only the wiriong harness, but the alao controller. Once those were replaced, it was possible to ride, but rode intermittantly wacky. So I replaced the LCD, and voila, it worked! All three parts were damaged by the voltage surge caused by the faulty connection.

But wait, there is more! For some strange reason, the wired-in headlight stays on unless the battery is turned off, not just the display! This seems to be a well known glitch with the upgraded RadRunner/Mini controllers. Fortunately, my well informed client understands the conundrum (she pointed it out), and is happy that her flaming RadMini is back on the road!

RadPower Mini Repair

This is a great ebike, unfortunately, it was discontinued by RadPower in favor of the RadExpand, and/or the RadRunner, (which is not foldable), but I think this one at least will live on for a number of years.


Cargo (E)bikes

So some folks wonder about the cargo ebike catagory, like, why would you need such a big bike? Well, besides the ability to haul two kids and a dog anywhere in town, yesterday my RadWagon carted a pair of 40 pound bags of compost, a Bee Balm plant, and some tools from Bloomington Hardware, no problem!

Mitch’s Workhorse

The carg0-ebike catagory is surging across the country as more and more folks are realizing the utility of an inexpensive, almost carbon-neutral transportation mode that is both more fun and faster for most of our day to day trips.

I can easily haul $150 worth of groceries (including milk and juice) plus a kid to the grocery store and back and not break a sweat, or have to look for parking! I rode this bike to my job at IU year round for several years, and even used it to move retired computers to IU Surplus. No special clothes, shoes or accessories needed, and you arrive cool and collected at your destination.

So I have seen a quite a few cargo bikes come through the shop, and I am hoping to see more. All the links below lead to cargo ebikes that I think are reasonable choices.

RadWagon 4 $2000
They certainly have a good build, but for the proprietary 22″ tires.
Blix Packa $2000
Slick Design, 24″ wheel, hydraulic brakes 12 Ah x 2 option
Himiway Big Dog $2000
Fat tire workhorse, 20″x4″ tires, 2nd level componants, 400# 20 Ah
KBO $1800
Wadda Deal! 15 Ah, 20″ wheel, 750W motor, 400#,
Yuba Boda Boda $3800
Expensive, but worth it? No, as it is out of stock and under powered
Tern GSD S00 LX $6800
Truly Expensive, all top line componants and design

Other options?


Why the Dutch don’t wear helmets…(because cycling is not inherently dangerous?)

Our way of life (where cars have primacy in city planning) makes biking dangerous. As pointed out in the video, biking is not dangerous, being hit by cars is dangerous. Separated biking infrastructure makes cities better for everyone, motorists included.

Here in Bloomington we have the new 7-Line separated bike lane along Seventh St, and certainly there have been complaints from some motorists, but I don’t get it!

I’ve traveled Seventh Street between Walnut and Dunn Sts. several times in my truck, and it is now a faster trip, as there are no stop signs. The lanes are narrow, so you don’t speed even going downhill, but with an even pace, it is quicker than stopping at every cross street as in the past. By prioritizing bike traffic, traffic flow was improved!

Helmets verbotten? No, just funny

We need to reclaim our streets from the car/oil industrial complex that has almost taken over our public spaces. Our streets need people, bikes, buses, skateboards, scooters, onewheels, or any appropriately sized method of transportion. Two tons of steel, glass, plastic, gas, and oil is not needed to pick up groceries!

So while I am on this Holland theme, here is another great video from Holland. I’ve found that many of the ebike curious who come into the shop want most of the features mentioned in the video. Why? Because so many folks want to use ebikes for more than recreation, they want it as main form of transporation, to work, to school, to the store, to church, to the park…it is amazing how many activities require short trips that can be done on a bike/ebike.

Omafiets for everyone!


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.


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.

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!



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!


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:

1Up is a brand many folks seem to like it at $700
Super Duty Double

The Hollywood rack is often most recommended on many of the ebike groups on FB, at $500
Hollywood Racks Sport Rider 2 bike

Here is a typical dirt bike rack that will easily carry two ebikes for $400.
Rage Powersports Black Widow AMC-600-2

Forest Road
Forest Road

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 in Bloomington Indiana, and I can travel in town for on-site work. I enjoy advising folks who want to purchase online (first 15 minutes free), and then can help order/assemble/tune your new ebike.

The blog posts below reflect the wide variety of ebikes that come and go through our workshop, as well as some repair/maintenance tips, and miscellaneous ebike/infrastructure 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!

Zephyr & RadRunner
Zephyr & RadRunner