E-Bikes and Bikes and Biking, OH MY

#8

We carry the Kona Electric Ute. It is amazing to ride, and comes with all the cargo bags which is a plus. Also the color is sweet!

Another bike I was recently shown, that we don’t carry in our shop but is super cool, is the Yuba Boda Boda. It’s a little less expensive and a little less bulky than the Kona.

3 Likes
#9

Thank you! Adding this to my e-bike research…

#10

The ebike episode comes out next week - I got over 70 responses from ebike owners (in less than 12 hours). The most ever. I think it will be helpful!

3 Likes
#11

I get the most grief from 20-year old fixie riders that tell me I’m cheating. Ironically I get the most compliments and legit questions from fully-kitted cyclists from local teams while on training rides along my commute route.

I think ANY bike purchase should revolve around knowing what you want the bike to do for you. My bike replaced my car, so I was looking at bikes designed for transport and cargo. I need to be able to get to work (10ish miles) in 45 minutes year-round when I’m on call, so e-assist is necessary in winter when I’m slower and can’t handle hills without an inhaler, heh.

Having e-assist, for me, also totally takes away the “crap I’m tired I’ll take transit instead” mentality. It’s always easier to ride my bike now. It’s easier to park, easier to navigate traffic, and after 7 months is still really, really fun to ride. Plus it makes my regular bike feel like a rocket after riding my 100-lb beast all week :slight_smile:

4 Likes
#12

I love that! All of the reasons you gave for having your e-bike are why I think they are great now. It makes total sense for commuting, and I am all for anything that means driving less. I wish I lived in a city with more than 1 mile commute, because I really want an e-cargo bike, but can’t really justify it at the moment. I think the “cheating” comments come from people who really just don’t want to understand why people use e-bikes, and they aren’t ever going to be open to alternatives to what they may have decided is “the right way to bike commute.”

When I was 22, and first started working in the bike world I definitely had a “gatekeeping” mentality (very ashamed of this now) and felt that if someone wanted to go fast/see cool things, they needed to train harder, not get a motor. I was (and still am) a bike racer, and that mentality of just work harder/train more definitely followed me for a few years in my early 20s. Now I am approaching 30, and I have been doing this for a while (the bike thing) and I have seen how all types of bikes have changed people’s lives…but especially e-bikes. I live in a very small town with a large retirement community, so most of our e-bike customers are older, retired, and either miss riding long miles, or want something to help get up the hill to their house. The joy that exudes from their faces the first time they hop on a pedal assist bike is incredible…seriously I tear up sometimes watching them, because it’s the same reaction a 5 year old kid has when they get their first real pedal bike. Anyway, I have come a long way from my judgey 22 year old self, and my “why” for working in the bike world has transformed into a desire to share the joy that I have found in bikes with every person who walks through the door.

4 Likes
#13

I don’t think I’ll ever not have an e-assist bike for commuting again. It’s been such a game changer, being able to get out ahead of traffic, and stop fully at signs and lights without losing energy. I drive my bike, really, and am just another vehicle on the road. I don’t feel that way on my “regular” bike. @mountainmustache29 that “gatekeeping” mentality I feel has been just a byproduct of the industry - until very recently anyway. In my city it’s starting to shift especially as casual riders are being taken more seriously as consumers, and the bike world in general is starting to be less focused on racing and more on riding. And really, that’s where the money is now and what will keep the industry vibrant - not with my bikey friends who buy frames off ebay and build the bikes themselves :wink:

The funny thing (that I usually point out) about the cheating comments is that 1. we’re already cheating by not just walking like your body is designed for; and 2. my ebike doesn’t replace my “fun” bike, it replaces my car and I ride my “fun” bike even more now. So heck yeah, bikes are the best cheat code ever.

I don’t know anyone in my personal circles that is still riding only fixed gear year-round in their 50s, and those (young, fit) riders are the ones that tend to be the most critical in my city. I was never that cool to begin with so it doesn’t bother me :slight_smile: My personal opinion is that more people on bikes, no matter how they get there, is good for all of us that bike.


My blah blah aside –

I found this website helpful as a starting point when I was researching motors/battery life/bikes:

I was specifically looking at cargo bikes, with a Bosch middrive, and for my needs narrowed things down to Yuba Spicy Curry (my favorite), Xtracycle Edgerunner (now called eClassic I think- nope still Edgerunner), Bike Friday Haul-a-Day (what I wanted for the past ten years and still love as a brand, there just aren’t many out here and they weren’t Bosch), and Tern’s GSD (but wasn’t in stores yet).

I’m lucky that I live in a city where I can test ride a ton of options - I rode a few Pedego electric bikes with throttles that were REALLY FUN but also I learned that’s not for me and my style of riding, for example. I was 99% sure I was buying a Yuba until I rode the Spicy Curry and Edgerunner back to back. There were no major differences in how they rode, they have the same motor, and the same cargo space, but Xtracycle was hugely discounted through my shop at the time so I went that direction.

Here’s my naked bike. I’m so used to it being loaded up it looks weird when I’m just toodling around!

3 Likes
#14

Your bike is so cool! I’ve never seen an e-xtra cycle, I have several friends with the non motorized versions. I don’t know anything about fixed gear riding…it is pretty much not a thing here because of giant mountains. I’m guessing it is a bigger city commuting thing, but to me it doesn’t make sense for any type of riding haha.

I apologize on behalf on the entire cycling industry for the gatekeeping you have experienced. I have worked at a few shops that seemed oblivious to the fact that you mentioned above “casual riders are where the money is, and they are serious consumers.” My current shop is amazing, super welcoming, and a hub in our town for bike community. Being at this shop for the past 3 years has reframed my “why” for working in the bike industry even among really low pay, terrible hours, and a lot of stress. I love creating a welcoming environment for every single person who walks through the door, and it is so fun to watch the joy on a customers face when they find the bike that they have been looking for. It has also reframed my expectations for how I will be treated in the bike world, which has actually been pretty disappointing. As a female walking into a bike shop, I am still treated with barely a head nod, and given information that immediately assumes I have 0 bike knowledge or experience. I hope this will change eventually, but a lot of shops (including ours!) still have a lot of work to do on just basic customer service, and treating everyone as an equally important customer. It sounds like you have found a great shop to support where you live, and a community of like minded people to pedal around with which is amazing!

3 Likes
#15

Why I Love e-assist, part 42967482:

My typical commute is down to 40 minutes on the second level of assist, third for hills (10 miles with full stops for stoplights and stop signs). This means it’s faster to ride than to take rideshare or transit!

5 Likes
#16

Oh that’s fantastic!

#17

I can’t wait for the podcast!

I have a bike converted on an old e-kit that doesn’t meet my current needs, but gave me a good opportunity to figure out what those needs are. [Answer: Enough battery power to going up hills + be hauling 60-70 lbs of dog in a safe configuration, whether trailer or cargo set-up.]

I believe that something currently exists that meets this definition. I just haven’t done enough of the research. I also have to figure out what that price per use actually looks like for me.

1 Like
#18

Ooooh I’m gonna try to figure that out this week! I’ve kept track of “trips that replaced car trips” and know that my car averaged $235/month for all car-ownership costs, and how much per month my bike averages currently, but I like the per trip idea a lot!

1 Like
Is $3,000 on an e-bike worth it?
#19

I got rid of my car 12 years ago, and relied on transit and bikes. When we had our first kid 7 years ago, we got a bakfiet-style bike (a Cetma Margo). It was $3500 including shipping & taxes. We got it when kid #1 was around 4 months old. The reason we went with that bike instead of a longtail was for weather protection (it came with a rain cover) and because it could fit an infant seat. I’ve always hated trailers (after hitting numerous trail bollards and weird curb cuts), so I didn’t trust hauling around a kid in one of those.

We used that bike for 5-6 years. We live in Seattle, which has pretty awful public transit (it’s slowly getting better as light rail stations come online) and tons of hills. Without that bike, we definitely would have needed a car. I’m not sure what type, but I’d conservatively estimate that the bike saved us at least $40,000. I also do bike repairs myself, which makes it even cheaper.

Then we had kid #2, and kid #1 started kindergarten at the local elementary school. The elementary school is at the top of a massive hill, and we’re on the steep side of the hill. We could bike to the other side of the hill and go up, but in reality what we ended up doing (because we were always late) was just biking to the bottom of the hill and walking up the last 2 blocks. That got old reeeeeeeeal quick, so we upgraded…

I tried having the local cargo bike shop adding a motor to the Cetma, but it was uncomfortable and the frame flexed. So we returned the motor and rented a couple different e-assist bikes. The Packster 80 was my favorite, so we bought one of those. It was very expensive ($8800 after taxes), but I got all the bells and whistles - dual-battery version, etc. It’s incredible, I love it so much. We’ve been using that for the past year. The Cetma’s been sitting in the garage.

My regular road bike is a fixie. I still like the simplicity of that machine, but for hauling 2 kids + random stuff around hilly Seattle, the Packster is amazing.

We’re moving to NYC in a few months, and we’re probably going to sell the Cetma and take the Packster with us. I’m a bit nervous about having such an expensive bike in the city (and NYPD’s ridiculous anti-ebike crusade), but we’ll see how it goes.

Math: 6 years of no car at $9k/yr = $54k. The two bikes cost $12.3k, and I expect to get at least $2k back when I sell the Cetma. The Cetma maintainance was super cheap; brake pads, chain, and lube every once in a while; probably on the order of $100/year. The Packster is proving to be a bit more expensive in that regard. Probably because of the eassist, it goes through brake pads A LOT faster, and I’ve already destroyed a disc brake rotor. I’ve only had the Packster for a year, but so far it’s been like $300-$400 in maintenance.

3 Likes
#20

I came here to do a small amount of venting. I want a Sonders Thin quite badly.
There’s one that’s been parking in front of the bike shop that’s next to my gym for a few weeks now. It looks really nice. I want a white one, I want to swap the tires out for white tires and the seat out for a leather seat, and I want to put a rack on the back for storage and ride into the sunset.

It’s perhaps an irresponsible purchase for me at this time, it can’t fully replace my car, but could potentially replace 50% of my commute. I have no idea when that would pay for itself, since it’s such an inconsistent calculation. But it’s not making me check their site any less or drool over the one parked near my gym any less.
They’re 1k, which actually seems fairly reasonable. But I also have SO MANY other places I could spend 1k.
I won’t ride a regular bike, as I know I’d have to get off and walk it at least twice during a regular day of commuting, and that will get old quick.

Ok, that’s all really- just a vent! :slight_smile:

1 Like
#21

<3 The most recent episode might be helpful if you haven’t listened to it yet.

But I get it. There’s two sides: maybbbbe this makes sense, but mayyyybe this is irresponsible and it’s hard to know until you try (and then it’s too late).

1 Like
#22

Yup Yup! :slight_smile:
I did listen to the most recent. Thanks!

#23

Plz allow me to braindump about bikes!

I love the idea of biking. Bikes are attractive (especially uprights!), eco-friendly, faster and more convenient than walking, and just feel friendlier than any kind of motorized transport. As we are a one-car household and I take that car to work, I sometimes feel like D and the wiggler are trapped in the house during the day. My commute is about four miles, which seems like a great length for a bike commute; I could also bike to the grocery store, the library, and points north that are not accessible by foot; when the wiggler goes to school, I imagine biking the less than a mile with him.

I am not a very good bike rider. I have a beautiful bike that I enjoy riding, an Electra Townie. At least, I think I enjoy riding it. I haven’t ridden much for years. Two years ago I had it tuned up and started to practice riding, but ran into the obstacle of HILLS. I obtained some advice from the MMM forums and came to the conclusion that my gorgeous, heavy three-speed bike is not suitable for my neighborhood, at least until I am a stronger rider and can use muscle to get up those hills (and freak out less going down). I became discouraged, and also pregnant, so I haven’t ridden since then.

An ebike sounds like an amazing solution. The assist would get me over the hills and allow me to practice riding, so I could get stronger and eventually ride my Townie, at least to the library if not to work. Also, part of my commute involves heavy car traffic and no shoulders, let alone bike lanes, so I think I’d feel a lot safer with the speed capabilities of an ebike. (I drive the same route I would bike, so I’m very familiar with it. And no, there isn’t a more bike-friendly option, since the problem areas are the ones close to my work and the other roads close to work aren’t any better. There are actually signs along the route indicating that it’s the bike alternative to the highway. I’ve also seen people biking it before; once I passed a guy on a bike, was passed by him at a light, passed him again on a long hilly road, and was passed by him again after I’d parked in front of my house.)

The big problem: Parking. As far as I can tell, there’s nowhere to lock up a bike around here. There are parking garages, and we got an email recently about designated motorcycle parking, but I have never seen a bike in this parking lot. I fear that if I locked a bike to a bench or something, the property management company would get mad at me. Also, I would be very nervous about just locking an ebike to something. I got briefly excited about the idea of getting a folding bike and stashing it in my cubicle, but then I realized that any ebike is going to have some kind of connectivity (Bluetooth, USB, wi-fi, etc.), which is not allowed in my building. I keep thinking about asking Facilities about bike parking–I’ve even drafted an email to them, using the upcoming Bike to Work day as an excuse, but I got anxious about sending it. Maybe because I am not going to be ready to bike to work next Friday regardless of parking.

1 Like
#24

Most ebikes are not internet connected, just a connection for charging the battery. I don’t know if that changes things, but not many actually connect to the internet or put off any radio waves (wifi etc). They’re closer to bringing in rechargeable double aa’s.

There are some very nice folding ebikez!

I’d say that a townie > ebike is a big leap. Townies are very very fun and extremely cute but are meant for flats or gentle rolling hills, not big hills or big roads. If you need to handle bike parking, you might be able to simply get a more generously geared bike meant for hills, that’s Much lighter than a townie which is nearly all bikes - for example a folding bike - and close the gap, so to speak. I worry about speed being the thing that makes you comfortable, over a bike that’s simply better geared/weighted for your commute.

That isn’t knocking ebikes as a solution, of course! Maybe it makes sense given your commute and comfort level. But I think it might be easier to find parking for a bike you can easily lift or fold than something so heavy it’s awkward to pick up!

I freaking love townie’s aesthetics and comfiness but there’s a reason they’re called cruisers- short for beach cruisers - aka flat land :frowning:

2 Likes
#25

That might change things if they just have regular plugs for the batteries. I literally can’t even have a USB port. A coworker got in trouble with a lamp with places to plug in USBs hidden in the back.

That’s fair! I’ve kind of been thinking, I obviously cannot commute on my Townie, so if I have to buy another bike in order for bike commuting to be feasible, I might as well get something really nice that can take me lots of places and carry lots of things. It’s not just about the speed, it’s also about the power up hills because I literally do not have the leg strength to bike up some of these hills. But maybe with a lighter, more maneuverable bike, I would? I’ve literally ridden less than a mile in the last fifteen years… but maybe I could start out riding the ~mile to the library to get more strength? (I wouldn’t be willing/able to take the wiggler on those library trips, though, so it would still be really hard to make time to practice.)

WAIT OKAY so “cruiser” and “beach cruiser” are the same thing and mean “works on flat land,” not “works in the sand”? People who ride bikes and people who sell bikes seem to use completely different terminology! I cannot keep track!

1 Like
#26

The works on the sand bike is called a “fat tire” - most bikes suck on sand to be honest, but fat tires work okay (mountain bikes are okay too). Beach cruisers = cruisers.

And yes, our names for bike stuff is bullshit.

You might be surprised how you can handle hills on a lighter bike! But getting strength up is definitely key!

1 Like
#27

When I was using an old step through Schwinn (close to a cruiser in styl, very heavy, very upright, few gears), trying to get up even a small hill was hell. Then I got a light road bike and was doing 600 foot elevation changes that felt easier than a 30 ft hill on the old bike,

1 Like