A vid on my 2017 Sprinter build out.
Riding an electric bike is a unique experience. Some might think it’s like riding a motorcycle yet, no, it’s quite a bit different. This difference alludes to something significant. Getting on an electric bike is to be amazed at the torque, the exhilaration of acceleration. This grabs the attention right off the bat.
I usually tell people to be careful to not let it take off uncontrollably. Bicycle electric motors can be as efficient as 95%; power is easily available. I myself abuse this super power, weaving through congestion, jamming through and torquing out of tight situations. And hopefully not crossing paths with officialdom.
This acceleration brings a feeling of freedom and power. Humans like to move. If anyone cares to give it a bit more time, one will notice the silence rather than the iconic exhaust noise that is pervasively everywhere. Silence is beautiful. No messy gasoline, coolant and oil to deal with. Forget all the wonky and ideological debates: it’s nothing but a motor and a battery. Plug it in, charge it and go. For some, it’s an instant revelation, for others over time it’s the future. Like, the future of everything.
The world runs on fossil fuel. Every single thing not out there in nature, not messed with by any human besides hunter and gatherer tribes: everything is related to the goo of vast 100 million year old forests. (Not dinosaurs) And from that, the vast levels of ancient carbon released into the air and water. Cheap energy, sugar, crack cocaine, what have you. Outside of the one and only particular political party on the planet, the human effect is accepted. Yet our planet is under a powerful and myopic worldwide system of profit.
There are plenty of those who would rather make the excuses that solutions are not possible, too expensive, too this or that. Yet we have no other choice. I would love to have an electric drive van, yet until then or until self driving cars become the freedom that not every person needs a large piece of expensive machinery. In the meantime I think about of a rig like this:
Actually I meant this:
A prediction I posit is that it’s getting worse before it’s getting better. That is such the mind boggling scenario and yet, there is no doubt a radical change is coming. Humans have always operated on the boom and bust cycle. And the carbon energy cycle is about to bust and for a reason as never before.
The reason is unlike an addict that needs to decide to quit or die. Maybe we can find a way to scrub the air or darken the sun, yet the oceans will continue to acidify. How we roll wheels on the earth will remain if we want to keep moving stuff and ourselves, making things and communicating about all of it. I do hope the utopian vision of Star Trek comes true. Instead of this backwards “we can’t stop using fossil fuel” mindset, enough of us are optimistic and realize that we might be smart apes, yet smart enough to progress.
Riding a full suspension electric bike on the rocky and rippin singletrack around Norther Arizona.
Finally getting this website thing happening. I wanted to have a place to rant, talk about bikes and whatever.
It better than social media really. Facebook can be like pissing in the wind. And it seems somewhat inappropriate to rant and get on a soapbox there. Here I figure I can do whatever the fuck I want.. within reason.
I thought about what would be my first posting, so why not electric bikes? I have much to say about them, having it been apart of my work at Shimano for ten years at least. The last few years I’ve had a Karmic bike with a Bafang drive train for commuting that kicks ass.
As a means to rant and to have an opinion, this post is about my experience and about the social discourse. I started testing prototype full suspension bikes with Shimano around 2005, probably earlier. We bolted a motor to an Intense, cut and welded a motor unit into Turner and tested some other stuff way back before most anyone knew anything to bitch about how they would destroy the sport.
Since then as many now know, Shimano is in full-on competition with the very large German company Bosch to build the best mountain bike drive train. In Europe I’ve heard that electric bikes are half the sales of all bikes. That is saying something in a place where bikes are serious transportation. Europeans don’t think e-bikes are a problem. And it’s legal to ride an electric bike on most trails even.
Here in the good ol’ USofA, people are much more opinionated about electric mountain bikes in particular, even thought they have yet to really catch on. Commuter bikes are a different story, which I’ll get into some other time. I understand that there is concern about trail access and if hooligans start blasting on the local single track it could get National Forest and other land managers upset. So far that has not happened.
I’ll be the first to say that they are motorized and should not be ridden on non-motorized trails. Yet some think it’s just cheating which I call BS. Those who are the most opinionated seem to be who have never ridden an E-MTB. Yet once most people ride one they realize that they are damn fun. Some riders get pissed if someone passes them electrically enhanced and that is just ego crap. Yet what needs to happen is education and signage on the trails.
Another thing I hear is they are only for riders who have some injury, health issue and are just not strong enough. Again I call bullshjt on this. Yet they are great for those who can’t go as fast as those people that bikes are their lives and they work hard to stay in shape. Yet bikes are my life too. I work hard to stay strong and fast as I get into my 50’s, yet I can ride my full suspension long travel E-MTB hard and I come back home really worked unlike a ride on my push bike.
It’s a great recovery day tool as well. Sometimes it’s just hard to get an easy ride in when I just want to go spin and go easy. With the E-MTB I can go as hard or easy as I want on real trails. Spinning on the road, which I never do, or go ride some flatter smoother trails is not necessary and not as easy to get just the right workout level anyway. I think that racers could really benefit by using an E-MTB in their training.
I also have to mention those who simply think E-MTBs are not cool for whatever reason. Like here we have people driving to the trailhead in a gas burning car and that is perfectly OK. Then we have moto dirt bike riders ripping it up and that is cool to so many mountain bikers, yet ride an E-MTB and you are a cheater and and lazy. Double standard douchebaggery just to begin with.
My current E-MTB is a Pivot Shuttle prototype with Shimano E8000 drive unit.
Thanks to Chris Cocalis at Pivot for this bike. Having ridden some other E-MTBs, this bike still is one of the best. It’s somewhat heavier than the production carbon version. I also like that the battery is easy to swap out since I always carry a spare battery in my backpack. I have yet to ride the production Shuttle and check out the screw on cover that holds the battery in. They went for an internal battery system compared to my external mount battery
I have this bike set up to go up to about 30 MPH max, which is about the same as a Class 3 “S Pedalec” bike. Normally the power is supposed to cut off at 20MPH for the most common Class 1 bike. Legally, and it’s a bit of a grey area in most states, it’s not allowed to have an E-bike go faster than 20MPH under power on the road. Off-road is does not matter. Go as damn fast as you want! Just like a motorcycle.
I could continue to go on about how the bike rides and all that. And I could write a post just about that if anyone wants me to. The bottom line is this bike is awesome. It can be hard and challenging to ride since I can simply go farther, faster on trails, moto trails even.. than I can on a pedal only bike.
My next post will be about electric commuter bikes and how electrification is the future of all transportation on this planet. If we want to keep jamming around the planet we have to. Even then the future is uncertain, yet it’s about time we get off the fossil fool mindset addiction.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton