From the monthly archives:

April 2010

David Balzer, eBike rider, BionX rider | Author

by Electric bike guru on April 30, 2010

Born in New York City

College in Rochester New York

Employed by Connecticut Dept. of Transportation – Title: Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator

Traveled New York state and Vermont by bicycle with American Youth Hostels

Leader with 5 Borough Bicycle Club since 1995.

After a small incidence roller-blading, David Purchased EV Global electric bike in 2009.
As of August 2010, David is riding the BionX bike kit.

David Balzer

David Balzer

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Commuting to work with an eBike

by Electric bike guru on April 20, 2010

The decision to use an ebike to commute to work has many advantages.  According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average car costs about 50¢/mile to operate, including the cost of registration, insurance and fuel.  An electric bike may cost one-tenth as much, or even less.  For one thing, there is no registration or insurance required, and the cost of the electricity to recharge at the end of the day is only a few cents.

There are many variations in ebikes, but they all have a motor and a power supply which, if you wish, allow you to ride the bike in powered mode, with little or no pedaling required.  Some people would like to ride a bike to work, but have no place at work to shower and/or change clothes.  The prospect of arriving at work sweaty and tired is enough to discourage many people from riding their bike to work.  The great thing about an electric bike is that, if you wish, you can use battery power to get to work, and save the pedaling for the return trip home.  The key factor is the bicycle’s range, which is determined by a number of factors, including the size of the batteries, the average speed of travel, the weight of the rider, and the type of terrain.  An ebike range of 10 – 20 miles before recharging is typical.

Some electric bikes have their batteries mounted on external rear luggage racks.  Others have them mounted mid-frame, or, as with the EV Global eBikes, actually integrated into the frame.  The latter is the ideal arrangement, because it leaves the bike’s rear rack available to be use for carrying clothes or other items needed for work.

Often, batteries are removable.  This means that, if necessary, you can bring the battery inside in the morning to recharge it during the day, so that when you go home at night you are again riding with a full charge.  This is especially important if the round-trip distance you ride to work exceeds your bike’s maximum range.

One thing an electric bike cannot do is keep you dry.  And although the motor and electronics are generally sealed from the weather, seals dry out with time, and a driving, penetrating rain can send moisture where you would not normally expect it to go.  For this reason, the best course of action is to save your bicycle commuting for dry, sunny days.  And parking your e-bike in a locker or other enclosed parking will keep it safe from those sudden, unexpected downpours which seem to have become so common of late.

Checking the weather forecast the night before your commute is standard operating procedure.  And with access to the internet, virtually any major news service can provide weather forecasts which are updated hourly.  If you do get caught in a sudden downpour, finding a dry place to wait it out is better than getting soaked.

What about riding your e-bike in traffic?  Well, e-bikes generally have a cruising speed between 10 to 16 mph.   With the exception of some city centers, this is too slow to allow you to blend with traffic, so you’ll need to ride your electric bike as far to the right as possible to allow normal traffic to pass you safely.  If you do pull into traffic, say to make a turn, remember to wait for a safe opening and to use hand signals.  And remember that you will have to keep your other hand on the thumb or twist throttle in order to maintain a steady speed. Electric bikes like the popular eZee Forza electric bike top out at just a bit over 20mph and might be safer to ride on country roads because you are going with the flow.

ebikes often cost $1,000 – $2,000 or more, so securing your bike properly once you arrive at your destination is important.  Make sure to turn the power switch off.  If you have the capability to remove the battery, you may want to do so.  If you cannot remove it, then consider disabling the connection, if it is not difficult to do so.

Securing the bike itself should be the same as with any bike.  A good quality u-lock or chain is recommended.  For chains, the links should be hardened.  U-locks should be equipped with lock cylinders which cannot be easily picked.  Stay away from most combination chain-locks, as they are relatively easy to pick and may make your bike a target for thieves.  Consider spending a minimum of $20 for your lock or chain.  Spending less is unlikely to get you the hardware you’ll need to protect your considerable investment.

As always, riders should wear a properly fitting bicycle helmet.  Recent studies have shown that there is little difference in the protection offered by inexpensive helmets as compared with the more pricey brands.  The chief differences are in appearance, and comfort.  Spend enough to get a comfortable helmet, because a helmet which sits in the closet at home cannot protect you.  Interestingly, these same studies show that all helmets offer less protection as they age.  So if you’ve had your helmet more than five years, it’s about time to think about getting a new one.

Obey all rules of the road, and be courteous to motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists.  Now get ready to start having fun on your ebike, saving money, and arriving at work on time!

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Mustangs, Minivans and Electric Bikes – A History of EV Global

April 20, 2010

The author of this post owns an EV Global electric bike.  EV Global was started in 1996 by auto industry giant Lee Iacocca.  Thirty years earlier, in 1964, Lee Iacocca was an auto engineer at Ford, when he identified that there was a new generation of auto buyers, and they needed a new car, one [...]

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What an electric bike is NOT

April 20, 2010

It’s 2010, and electric bikes, (ebikes for short), have been with us for more than a decade.  Sales were initially modest, but over the past several years, interest in and enthusiasm for electric bikes has been growing steadily.  Yet a lot of people, even avid cyclists, don’t really know much about them. So what is [...]

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