Why Dutch bikes are better…

This is a great video about Dutch bikes (Omafiets) from a Canadian point of view, he lists many of the advantages that I cite to folks as the advantages of ebikes for transportation, not just sport.

Here are a few of the fine points that make this style of bike so useful as a day to day mode of transport in northern Europe.

  • Upright riding position-less effecient, but more comfortable
  • Handlebars swept back, less stress to arms/back/neck
  • Easier to look around, don’t have to raise head
  • Normal clothing
  • Step through ease
  • Coat guard
  • Chain guard
  • Frame lock for quick stops
  • Fenders, front/rear rack
  • Sturdy steel frame
  • Internal gears or fixies
  • Coaster brakes/no cables
  • Simple, easy to maintain

Here is the Ecotric Lark, which seems to fit the bill for most of the points mentioned above, it can be ordered from Ecotric, and I have one in the workshop.

Ecotric Lark
Ecotric Lark 36V/500W

We also have an Ectotric Peace Dove, which meets most of the list, with front basket, rear rack, comfort seating, step through frame throttle and power assist, while it lacks the fender and coat guards. but is a great value at $700.

Ecotric Peace Dove

VanMoof Proof

VanMoof E-Bike
VanMoof E-Bike

This Dutch e-bike came in for repairs this week, and so I had to do some research to familiarize myself with its unique points. It works in power assit mode (no throttle), with a 36V/250W motor, a typical Euro e-bike. It has a fully protected chain, electronic shifting, and a hidden battery and controller. The built-in electronics include bike tracking and recovery, and a built in lock that is activated by the app only. In short a really cool Euro-commuter bike.

I knew little about the VanMoof brand, so I looked it up, and came across this video ad they ran in Europe, only to be banned by the French (who apparently needs to protect their stellar auto brands…).

VanMoof is now behind in RadPower in venture capitalization, but still an ebike leader, especially in the Euro market.

Later: Unfortunately, this was an early model, and the controller and battery were just not accessible without cutting wires, and no guarantee we could get it back together, it is all proprietary design, and they don’t share their manuals. I am recommending it to go back to the factory for service, but the client does not want to do it…


Senate E-Bike Act?

Ecotric Lark
Ecotric Lark 36V/500W

Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have introduced the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (Senate E-BIKE Act), and yeah, I support it, as does the House, where there are 21 co-sponsors of the bill. It offers a tax credit worth 30 percent of a new e-bike’s purchase price, and the credit would also be fully refundable, which would allow lower-income individuals to claim it. E-bikes are definately more expensive from the get-go, so this would be a big help.

“The bill makes a clean alternative more accessible to more people,” Schatz said. “E-bikes make lots of sense for working people, young people, and others who either cannot afford or don’t want a car.”

A recent study found that if 15 percent of car trips were made by e-bike, carbon emissions would drop by 12 percent. I have found my e-bike riding has eliminated at least 80% of my car trips, and made them more pleasant to do in the process!

The E-Bike Potential: Estimating regional e-bike impacts on greenhouse gas emissions

E-bikes are not an entirely new mode of transportation, but they are one of the fastest growing, most practical, and carbon reducing ways of getting around in the city. (Did I mention they are fun too?!)

Ecotric Dolphin
Ecotric Dolphin

Domino Effect?

Check out this RadCity Step-Thru at Domino’s in Eastland Plaza!

I agree with whoever makes decisions at Domino’s, this RadPower e-bike is a great value. With a 48V/750W rear hub motor, this bike is maxed out power wise (to be legal on our multi-use paths), and can handle a 275 pound load. The step-thru feature is essential for carrying large loads, and front hydraulic forks takes out the bumps. The high handle bars make for a comfort ride, and the rear rack is welded on the body, quite sturdy. I am thinking it would be great for pulling a trailer as well. It is $1600, and not available till this November (unless you are a giant corporation like Dominos!)

RadCity Step-Thru


Zephyr & Charlie Bird

Charlie Bird of Bloomington came by the Workshop to help build a few new bikes last week, and of course he and Lalo (dog prince of the manor) got along just fine…

BTW, Charlie’s new book is available at Zephyr E-Bike Workshop, or on his website at!

Charlie Bird Loves Bloomington


Ebikes & Slate

Jamelle Bouie’s Tern cargo e-bike

So I noticed that both Jamelle Bouie and David Plotz seemed to advocate for e-bikes on the latest Slate Political Gabfest! Well known for his writing/commentary for the NYT/CBS News, Jamelle Bouie also spends time riding his Tern GSD , a well outfitted cargo e-bike, which he uses to transport his kids and run errands around town.

Great minds cruise down the same roads…my RadWagon has done the same for several years now! His Tern has bunch of upgrades from mine: mid-drive Bosch motor, suspension fork, hydraulic brakes, and 20″ wheels, and it is somewhat foldable. But to my surprise, no throttle, power assist only! I am not sure that it is worth +$3000 over the Radwagon, at least for me. But he is a young man, I am not, and I rely on the throttle to get me going in tight situations (stop signs and traffic lights are but one example.)

Jamelle gives a good rationale for buying even this well made e-bike: it is cheaper and easier to use than a car for most trips in town!

(I was tempted to edit the grammar, but he writes for the NYT, I figure he wants his tweets informal):

“the reason for this particular bike — an e-assist cargo bike — is that we need a second vehicle but i absolutely do not want to own another car. so for far less than a car (to say nothing of insurance and fees and taxes and such) i get something that i can do 95% of trips with”

IMHO e-bikes are a new catagory of transportation (and recreation): they take the sting (and sweat) out of bike travel, yet massively reduce the carbon footprint of gas powered vehicles like mopeds, scooters, motorcycles and cars. (A charge cycle on an e-bike battery costs less than a dime at today’s electricity rates.)

They are fun to use, so people use them more to do day to day tasks, and thus use their cars/trucks less. Each e-bike in use is one less car on our already overcrowded streets and parking lots, which I see as win/win.

Rad Wagon Venus
Rad Wagon Venus

Ebike Grants?

E-bikes are an innovative and efficient mode of transportation in cities….well, yeah! California for the win!

CalBike Works with CA Air Resources Board to Develop E-Bike Grant Program

Rad Wagon Venus
Rad Wagon Venus

Cargo Ebikes for the win!

Mitch’s RadWagon 2018

Wow, I guess I intuited this info from being a cargo bike rider for the past 5 years, but I never verified it. Well the Guardian has: Cargo bikes deliver faster and cleaner than vans in a study done in London.

I’ve measured my commute times from Park Ridge to Kirkwood while working at IU, and I always matched or reduced the time required on the few days I had to drive.

I was able to ride my e-cargo bike year round, ~95% of the days: I ride when there is water in the air, but not when it was pouring. With the right attitude, riding while it snows is really exhilarating and calming at the same time!

Add the time and expense to find a spot and park a car, and bikes are definately faster door to door, and cheaper to use than any gas powered vehicle.

Some interesting points from the study:

  • E-Cargo bikes have a higher average speed and dropped off 10 parcels an hour, compared with six for vans
  • E-Cargo bikes also cut carbon emissions by 90% compared with diesel vans
  • Air pollution was significantly reduced
  • E-Cargo bikes bypass traffic jams, take shortcuts through streets closed to through traffic and ride to the customers door.


Another Happy Customer at Zephyr Ebikes!

Today Mike Leonard stopped by to pick up his newly assembled Aventon Level Commuter Ebike. As you might suspect, Mike is a great researcher, and there are a lot of brands out there, so he sifted through them all, and came up with the Aventon Level as the best value proposition for him.

It is really solid, well designed, with plenty of power and pickup, perfect for navigating Bloomington in style. It has a 48V/500W motor, and a big 14 Ah battery, meaning it can go up to 40 miles on a charge. It sports a hydraulic front fork for off-road fun, and the luxury of hydaulic disk brakes. It came installed with a rear rack, and panniers will make it perfect for shopping, work or picnics.

Good luck and have fun out there!

Btown Biking Ebikes

Scenic Valleys Loop

After a couple of years mostly town riding, Jojo (& Charlie) and I went out for one of the finest loop rides in Monroe county. This route tours our three large valleys on the eastside, Kerr Creek, Getty’s Creek, and Brummett’s Creek Roads. Our map is below, 90% of the ride was through quiet countryside, with several miles on ridgetop, but mostly through the valleys. Our total distance was over 23 miles, as we took a 2 mile out and back to the Campbell preserve on Upper Birdie Galyon.

Gettys-Brummetts loop
Gettys-Brummetts loop

Over the past 15 years, Jojo, Charlie, and I have ridden on nearly every road in Monroe and Lawrence counties, but lately (due to health and age issues), we have not been riding as in the past. Instead we have been enjoying the city’s growing bike infrastructure and trails. But we missed those long treks through the county…

So now with the use of our Zephyr E-bikes, we are back on track with longer rides! I rode my purple Rans recumbent (which we outfitted a 500Watt front wheel motor), while Jojo/Charlie rode my RadWagon cargo bike that I have been using the past few years.

Brummett's Creek Flood Ride
Purple Rans Stratus

About 90% of the ride was on the nearly empty country roads that crisscross eastern Monroe county. Here is the list of roads in order:

  • Kerr Creek – 3 miles of country homes along the limestone creek
  • Getty’s Creek – a quick climb over to SR 46, and a quick dash to:
  • Birdie Gaylon/Fleenor/Hash – The hill up Lower Birdie Galyon is really steep, but our electric assist made it easy. Right on Fleenor, best to have a hand on the brakes descending to Hash Road, then right to Brummett’s Creek Rd.
  • Brummett’s Creek – 3.5 miles of beautiful valley riding – farm fields surrounded by green ridges of state forest
  • Mt. Giliad-Upper Birdie Gaylon-Mt. Giliad. Several miles of ridge riding. Upper Birdie Galyon goes well into the forest, ending at Sycamore Land Trust’s Campbell preserve, well worth the extra 2 miles
  • Getty’s Creek – Just beautifull as Brummett’s, Getty’s Creek Rd runs for a mile less along Stephens Creek (and meets Mt. Gilead Rd at the confluence of Getty’s Creek and Stephens Creek.)
  • Kerr Creek – Back up Kerr Creek, usually the hill at the end is a killer when coming home, but this time we were exhilarated rather than exhausted.
Charlie Bird visits Campbell preserve
Charlie Bird visits Campbell Preserve

We met a local biker riding the same Getty’s/Brummett’s loop we were on who was riding this Magnum Metro. The owner was very pleased with the bike, so I looked up the brand back at the shop, they are priced mid-range ($1600-$2800), so a pretty decent value…except they are out of stock of all models! They do have $1000 scooters in stock…

Magnum City E-Bike
Magnum City E-Bike

Charlie Bird loves nothing better than stretching his wings will riding up Brummett’s Creek Rd.

Charlie enjoying the breeze.

CORN! Well over knee high well before Fourth of July! I am thinking it has been growing in these valleys for thousands of years.

Corn fields
Corn along Getty’s Creek