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!! E-bikes - thoughts, opinions?

 
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I have a relative in her 30s who has lost her drivers license due to a medical issue, and it's looking like she won't get it back. She's really struggling with having to ask people for rides to work every day, and with getting groceries, etc. She's working, and lives about 3 km out of town, and isn't fit enough to walk or bike that distance.

I'm thinking of recommending she purchase an e-bike, or an e-trike for the spring. I've tried one, and I loved it, but stubbornly cling to my road bike. I was thinking an e-bike or e-trike would be faster + less "old lady stereotyped" than a regular electric scooter.

Anyone here use one? What features would you recommend?

I'm thinking :

- Disc brakes - I think they are best for wet conditions, I have them on my personal bike
- Flag, obviously.
- A bike style bike, with real pedals, to allow her to get home even if the battery fails.
- Fat tires??? I have tried them on a regular bike, and hated them, but have heard they are great for snow - maybe they wouldn't be so bad with electric assist?
- Large front and rear cargo baskets.

eunorau-new-trike-electric-bike-review-426x213-c-center.jpg
[Thumbnail for eunorau-new-trike-electric-bike-review-426x213-c-center.jpg]
Something like this trike???
 
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I have tried a few e-cargo-bikes, and the one I liked most was the urban arrow. It drives a bit like a train (I have not driven a train, but I imagine that is how it feels…) and is not fun to drive without the motor.
However ended up getting a bullit because it was far less expensive and very maneuverable. I think it could be modified into an e-bike, but that adds weight.

EDIT Regarding baskets: I do not recommend them. The center of gravity moves up and basked on the front wheel makes turning difficult and slower. The risk of the entire contraption tipping over is also far greater.
And yes: Big disk brakes and big tires are required.
 
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What a great idea.

When I was ill, I didn't want to drive so I got an electric bike to commute.   It was wonderful and being out in the fresh air twice a day helped me regain muscle.  

It's been a while since then, but here are some things I found important.

- keep the basket on the front as small as possible!  Weight in the basket effects steering and when cycling in traffic, one needs the steering as accurate as possible.
- I got some folding, lightweight wire baskets for the back of the bike which was awesome as I could carry a week's worth of groceries with no problem.
- lockable pod for the back of the bike to stash my helmet in.
- twin locking system - a small U-lock to mobilize the front wheel against the forks for quick stops where there's nowhere to lock it, and a longer cable lock (not a large D-lock as these are easy to break despite the advertizement) for regular locking.
- a really good helmet!
- when I had my bike, it was heavy.  The battery alone was 60lb.  I couldn't take my bike on the bus if I needed help getting home.  Weight and buss-ability of the bike are something to consider.
- I liked thin tires as they were more efficient on the road and gave me more steering control.  


Something that's important to me as a driver:  Visibility!
- One Solid front light that points down.  Flashing lights, especially flashing in the blue-white spectrum, can cause nausea, loss of balance, lack of depth perception, and disorientation in some people.  These are not symptoms you want to induce in a person driving a car towards you.  
- I like two lights on the back, one on top of the other.  One bright red solid light pointing directly back and one duller red light pointing down and flashing.  This is the easiest for me to see where the cyclist is and how fast they are moving from the back.
- Cyclists are just about impossible to see from the side!  But some awesome people have these lights in the tires to make circles EVEN WHEN STILL.  As a driver, I appreciate this!
- flags annoy me as a driver.  They distract me from seeing the cyclist.  They move around and flutter.  They really piss me off because it's saying "I'm too scared of the cars but I'm not going to do the simple things like following the local laws so I have a big stupid flag that is going to wave in your face and destract you from driving safely".  As a cyclist, they catch the wind which disrupts my balance.  
- A better option is to learn the local cycling laws and follow them.  Take the lane when you need to, keep to the cycle lane when you don't, and don't hover between the two extremes.  
- Bright clothing - especially in the rain and winter.
 
pollinator
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I worked in a bike shop for 4 years. E-bikes where just coming out as the new hot item. My parents own a couple and they love them. They never used to get out riding but you can hardly get them of a bike in the Summer now.

A few recommendations:

If you want a cargo e-bike I would recommend xtracycle. They are the tried and true company and I know many families that commute their kids to school on these bike. There are designed to carry a load and handle well. The sticker price matches the quality of the brand. Tough bikes built to last. Hard to find second hand because they are so popular. The motor packs a punch; no issue going up steep hills with a load.



If you want something that can handle all trail conditions I would recommend a Growler from Rocky Mountain. These bikes are easy to handle compared to may other e-bikes because the battery was built to fit the frame not vice versa; the bike handles just like any other hard tail. It's also a mid-fat tire and handles we in snowy conditions. In my opinion they are the best bang for your buck with the quality of components and battery. If you're riding in primarily icy conditions I would recommend looking into a studded tire. They come in different models depending on what level of suspension and drivetrain you desire. My parents have the base model and it suits them just fine. It is a "pedal assist" design so you always have to pedal (no throttle) you just choose how much you would like battery to kick in; this way you can also conserve your battery life or power up a hill. If you run out of battery it's just like peddling a heavier bike. Rocky is known for the smooth ride for pedal assist e-bikes. The bike doesn't take off on you when you initiate peddling.

 
r ranson
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If I were to cycle again, I would get this light.

Legally locally, the cyclist isn't supposed to pass on the right, cars stopped at a light except under certain conditions and never if the car is signalling to turn right.  They are supposed to merge with the traffic and take the lane.  But they don't.  

This light would make it much easier for me to see cyclists passing on the right.

 
Catie George
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Thanks for the suggestions, especially brand suggestions!!

Does anyone have experience with trikes? I am not sure how confident of a biker she is. I'm not a fan of trikes generally, but would be interested to hear from someone who has one.
Any recommendations for battery type/size?

There's a Pedago retailer near where she lives - any one have experience with them ? She's short (slightly over 5') so test driving before purchase would be a really good idea.

I biked for 4 years of university + 6 months after graduation, so "get a bike" is my automatic response to "I can't have a car".

Re baskets - agree about most weight being in the back, but when I was cycle-commuting a small front basket to stash keys + lock+ purse, , or leave my helmet in when parked while the back was laden with groceries was great. I also prefer putting most of the weight in panniers rather than a back basket.

R Ranson - 100% agree about visibility.... Excellent bike lights + spares are must haves, and I also agree about steady lights rather than flashing.  I am very tempted some days to buy cheap $2 amazon bike lights and keep a bag of them in my car, handing them out to idiots riding at night, dressed all in black, with a broken reflector and no lights. I have never tried a bike flag, but wouldn't be adverse to trying one - my cousin lives on a 80-90km/hr highway with signed 30 km/hr blind corners and a narrow shoulder between her and town. No local bike lanes.  Cyclists breaking laws and passing on the right are also pet peeves.

Weight isn't a HUGE issue - there's no bus service where she lives.

 
r ranson
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Trikes are awesome!

If her health involves balance or vision issues, then definitely look into trikes. Feeling balanced when moving is so important.

The most important thing is that the bike has to be a good fit for her and help her feel confident.  If she's not confident or comfortable, then she won't use it.

Are there anywhere within a days travel she can go to see ebikes and etrikes?  Even if they aren't the right brand for her, just going and "trying them on" will help her learn what she needs and wants in her future purchase.
 
Ashley Cottonwood
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I think trikes are great if you need the support, however...

- They are often hard to fix or find replacement parts for. They are often brand specific and/or not readily stocked
- They are more difficult to manoeuvre
- The upright geometry allows for the reduction of pressure point on the wrists and back but decrease efficiency of pedalling greatly

I don't have much experience with pedago but having a dealer near by is a huge advantage in itself. Ask if your local bike shop has tech trained in maintaining and repairing e-bikes!  

Also, I wasn't going to post this in case is scares people off but it's super important...

DO NOT STORE YOUR E-BIKE CHARGING UNSUPERVISED!

All e-bikes have lithium ion batteries made by the same company. Their design is inherently flawed and on very rare occasions ... they explode.

We had one explode in our shop. And when I say explode I mean burst into a ball of flame and continue to burn like hell as two staff pulled it out of the shop. It's nasty, toxic, gick and we had to have the whole shop professionally cleaned and lost a bunch of our product because of the smoke damage. If those staff weren't there after hours our whole shop would have burned down. The frame of the bike was carbon and it completely burned in half!  

This is a super rare occurrence ("we joked it was winner the lottery we never wanted to win") but from the event sparked a whole lot of new safety protocols for the entire industry. READ THE MANUAL!
 
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@ Catie George - I'm going to put on a *very* old hat here - sorry if it comes across a bit bossy. You need to know/find out exactly why her license has been lifted. By Canadian law, a bicycle is a vehicle, so if she's medically unfit for a car, *please* make sure she won't be a danger to herself, pedestrians, or cars (remember if a car swerves to avoid her, it could loose control or interfere with another vehicle). I'm hoping you've already considered such things, but I felt I had to clearly spell it out. My cousin's best friend was killed by a cyclist going the wrong way on a one way street - safety first!

That said, I have an uncle who spent his retirement building trikes specifically for disabled people, and there are many reasons for disabled people to be assessed for that approach. His trikes were designed before the electric option existed, and at times were an important therapeutic tool which improved strength, independence and function.

I would try to find a seller who would allow an on-road test drive, and I would bring a "load" with me, so your relative can test the bike under real conditions. If you have a local shop, they may be willing to bring in a brand for testing even if they don't normally carry it so long as they think there is a market.

r ranson wrote:

flags annoy me as a driver.  They distract me from seeing the cyclist.

When I used to pull a bike trailer with a kid in it, I used a long flag sticking horizontally out from my bike in an effort to get drivers to give me more clearance. Mostly I tried to avoid roads in favor of trails, since a bright yellow trailer, bright clothes, and a flag weren't enough. Now that I don't need them so much, we have bike lanes locally, and I think there's been more education of drivers to respect the rights of cyclists. Now we actually need more effort going in to educating cyclists to respect the law!

Bike helmets: Here it is the law to wear one, but not everywhere. I've heard people say that wearing a helmet won't help if you're hit by a car - lots of motorcyclists are killed by cars despite their helmets being far more substantial than bicycle helmets, so I will just point out the situations they do help in: a) if you hit an object on the road, such as a branch and fall off your bike, the helmet could make all the difference, b) if you are only side-swiped or cut off as opposed to high speed impact, the helmet could also make a difference, c) if it's a really bad accident then, yes, all bets are off, but if the police see that you did whatever you could do to make yourself safe and visible, there's a greater chance the driver will be charged and your medical costs will be covered than if you were seen as "partly to blame".
 
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you're getting great advice here, but I have one difference of opinion: I very much prefer more weight up front than in the back. having tried both ways extensively, I find that bikes handle much better and more predictably with weight in the front.

I do still carry some in the back, but I've got a big basket and panniers up front and a good size saddlebag in the back. this has worked well for city commuting and on- and off-road touring.
 
Sebastian Köln
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Most cargo bikes have the weight in front, just not on the steering part. You can still steer without having to accelerate the weight, but keep full view (in case of kids or poorly secured load) on it.
My recumbent bike has all cargo weight on the back, and it does get interesting to steer.

Edited the image a bit…
technical_wireframe_bg1.png
[Thumbnail for technical_wireframe_bg1.png]
Bullit cargo bike
 
Catie George
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Jay Angler wrote:@ Catie George - I'm going to put on a *very* old hat here - sorry if it comes across a bit bossy. You need to know/find out exactly why her license has been lifted. By Canadian law, a bicycle is a vehicle, so if she's medically unfit for a car, *please* make sure she won't be a danger to herself, pedestrians, or cars (remember if a car swerves to avoid her, it could loose control or interfere with another vehicle). I'm hoping you've already considered such things, but I felt I had to clearly spell it out. My cousin's best friend was killed by a cyclist going the wrong way on a one way street - safety first!



No offense taken at all - it's an important consideration!!! Her doctor has signed her up for a program that helps people with disabilities regain their license, but it's probably a less than 50% chance at this point if she'll be able to manage it/or even feel comfortable driving. I've been waiting to suggest this to her/discuss this with her until after she's taken the program.  Because of the lower speeds and greater visibility, she'd likely be safer/less risky on a bike than a car. It would be something she would need to discuss with her doctors, at minimum.



That said, I have an uncle who spent his retirement building trikes specifically for disabled people, and there are many reasons for disabled people to be assessed for that approach. His trikes were designed before the electric option existed, and at times were an important therapeutic tool which improved strength, independence and function. I would try to find a seller who would allow an on-road test drive, and I would bring a "load" with me, so your relative can test the bike under real conditions. If you have a local shop, they may be willing to bring in a brand for testing even if they don't normally carry it so long as they think there is a market.



Yes - strength, independence, and function is exactly what I was thinking.

And yes, I really do think if she is even moderately interested, I'll need to devote some time to driving her around to a few local shops that sell them so she can try a few to see if it's an option she'd feel safe with/comfortable with. And then spend time giving her a refresher of "safe biking" basics (signalling turns, shoulder checking, balancing with one arm out, "claiming the lane", safe braking habits, etc) + setting up the bike/trike to fit her and help with her issues  (mirrors, lights, reflectors, kickstands, more comfortable seat, etc, etc).  
 
r ranson
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Re. Batteries.

The e-bike I used to have had a feature that the charging would turn off when the battery is fully charged.  This is a really awesome safety feature and it would be good to ask about when buying the bike.
 
r ranson
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Helmets:  My family member's life was saved twice by wearing a helmet.  The first time was a patch of gravel and the second time was a van parked in the cycle lane with the lights out.  He cycled 56km smack into the back of the van.  We know it was 56 km because it was a police radar vehicle.  Both times the helmet company sent free replacements.  They also offered him a substantial amount of money (several thousand dollars) if they used his story in their promotional material.

It may not save a life every time, but it does make an appreciable difference to one's chances of surviving a cycling incident without becoming a vegetable.  I always wear a helmet when cycling even if the law doesn't require it.  

Also, we can customize the helmet to be bright or pretty colours or have stickers of ponies or whatever makes us joyful.  
 
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An E-bike is a great option where you have access to safe routes. Weather isn't as much an issue thanks to fenders and a rain jacket or warm gear. Safety is paramount though, says the guy who has been hit by a car on a bike hard enough that the cops thought I was walking, my bike was thrown so far down the street. I've lived in some cities where it's just too dangerous to commute, due to poor road maintenance or even the storm drain grates lining up the wrong way, where your wheel would go right in and flip you. But if you have a safe route to take, then I'd argue a bike is better than a car even if you can drive, in many situations. Below are some great articles by Mr. Money Mustache who has a lot of great info:

DIY Electric Mountain Bike

A Year of Riding E-Bikes

Electric Bikes: Gateway Drug to Bike Commuting?

Hauling Large Loads with a Bike
 
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We ride e bikes, have fully reflecting helmets, hi viz jackets, keep the front light on and keep the back light flashing red. We also fitted mirrors. I love the fresh air and exercise I get. We are also biting the bullet and have put a deposit down on the latest model of all electric car, which means our gas guzzler will only come out on very rare occasions (him indoors is a petrol head and nothing is going to change that).
Before everyone gets on to me about charging the car, we are going all solar, and there is technology that allows the transfer of energy from house to car and back using the car battery. But again, him indoors is in charge (no pun intended) of the power stuff and I am not  fully informed of that side. Im just glad he is on board with all the other permie stuff I throw at him.
Back to bikes, I also use an app to look at gradients etc when I plan a route as we are in an area of huge canyons and I nearly popped a knee cap attemting a short cut. No point being green AND out of action when ther are things to plant and grow.
 
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If your relative doesn't have issues with dizziness or balance, I would go for a normal e-bike, not a trike.
I have bought one second-hand this year and it makes a difference as to both the distance I can cover and the amounts of groceries I can buy. I have to say though that I love cycling on flat landscapes, my problem are the hilly parts around here.

I switch off the battery when I am on even roads or downhills, and switch it on for slopes.
A friend has a carriage bike with a huge front loading area, but I think it is not really easy to drive.
I have a small basket on the front and a big basket on the back. This is usually enough.

My battery can be secured with a key and lock (I guess this is standard), so I can either take the battery with me (when it is cold outside) or leave it there, but locked in place.

Before buying my bike I have done a test ride because I am very short so not any bike would have done. I usually don't wear a helmet if I drive slowly and on bike lanes, but I have good lighting. In Germany, you are not allowed to ride on public streets/roads without all that lighting and reflectors.
Like here: https://www.stadtansichten-nordhausen.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/verkehr_verkehrssicheres_fahrrad_01.jpg


And all children here have to take a "bike rider's licence" in elementary school so cyclists are well aware of the rules and risks.
 
Sebastian Köln
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r ranson wrote:Helmets:  My family member's life was saved twice by wearing a helmet.  The first time was a patch of gravel and the second time was a van parked in the cycle lane with the lights out.  He cycled 56km smack into the back of the van.  We know it was 56 km because it was a police radar vehicle.


How ?!?

I thought that I was driving fast… but 56km/h?
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Our bike battery just clicks into the bike so when we leave them we just pull the battery off and take it with us.  This is ours. It is not long distance but great for going shopping or visiting friends. Or bars.
https://www.gtech.co.uk/ebikes/ebike-city.html
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Sebastian Köln wrote:

r ranson wrote:Helmets:  My family member's life was saved twice by wearing a helmet.  The first time was a patch of gravel and the second time was a van parked in the cycle lane with the lights out.  He cycled 56km smack into the back of the van.  We know it was 56 km because it was a police radar vehicle.


How ?!?

I thought that I was driving fast… but 56km/h?



Wow! Ours stop delivering power at 22kmh but going downhill obviously one speeds up naturally, but with all  the potholes here I lose my nerve at about 35 kmh!
 
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VISIBILITY and SAFETY
I have been riding as my main form of transportation since 2007, and have owned a heavy electric bike, and now am very happy with a light e-bike kit conversion.  Being seen is being safe, and I have not had a road accident yet. Here is what I think keeps me safe:

1. My LED reflective vest from Maxsa Innovations: https://www.maxsainnovations.com/reflective-safety-vest-with-16-led-lights/.  Currently available on eBay for $21 including shipping. ( I never buy from Amazon). The lights are on the sides, as well as the front and back. I ride with them flashing, and several times over the years cars have pulled over or stopped on the road and the driver has thanked me for wearing it, and wished all cyclists would wear one.  Runs on 2 AA batteries, and lasts a long time if you don't stuff it into a bag and break the wires. I wear this vest on every ride.  Wearing it during the day comes in handy if I need to stop and get some obstruction off the road (most often a dead animal, but sometimes a big branch, or something that fell off a truck. It looks so official, you see, and motorists see me.

2. My flash flag, 18 inch long that sticks out into traffic, and really keeps the cars a safe distance away. Even an inch or two helps a lot!  The wonderful former Canadian Mountie, Terry Smith,  who created and sold these has retired, and no one has picked up the business. I bought a bunch of them when he was closing down, so should have a lifetime supply now. $30 on eBay right now, including shipping.  This flag has a clip and a spring so you can easily bend it out of the way and clip it to your bike frame when riding on a trail, or walking it on a sidewalk, or bringing the bike in and out of a building.  I know it works to keep me safe because some days I forget to unclip the flag, and wonder why the cars are coming so close to me all of a sudden. Then I realize my flag is not out there helping them to keep their distance!  Here is Terry's valuable guidance to being safe after sunset: http://www.safetyaftersunset.com

3. My mirror: I have tried many mirrors over the years. The handlebar mirrors get smashed when the bike falls over. The helmet mirrors vibrate too much, they are too small, and they need constant adjusting as my helmet shifts on my head. I am delighted to report that I have found my best mirror yet: The Bell SMARTVIEW 300 UNIVERSAL WIDE ANGLE BIKE / BICYCLE MIRROR • FULLY ADJUSTABLE.  Available right now on eBay for $20, including shipping. I love being able to glance down any time and see what is going on behind me.

4. My helmet, with attachment options for front and rear lights.  I first saw a helmet like this in Portland, Oregon, and loved how the cyclists were more visible with that back light so high up, so I bought one. When riding at night,  I love having both a  light on the front of my helmet, and a second one on the handlebars. My helmet light lets me see what obstacles might be in the way on the side of the shoulder, and further ahead. I can even use it to help drivers realize they should dim their headlights to keep from blinding me. The Blackburn Flea lights that came with the helmet are no longer being made, but there are other lights out there now that can be attached to a helmet.

5. Riding without sunglasses.  I make firm eye contact with drivers who are about to pull out into the road, so they know I am there, or at intersections, etc.  Even then, sometimes they pull out anyway. That seems to happen in the mornings, when people are heading to work and are totally on auto pilot.

6. I never, ever ride with earphones. I want to hear what is going on around me at all times.

7. My small wind chimes. A friend gave me a small set of wind chimes (metal, 3-4 inches long), in 2008, when I was living a nomadic life, and only had my tent and bike. I couldn't hang them on my round tent, so I put them on my bike. They are still there, and have saved me at least once from being 'doored'. I was riding along a row of parked cars on a busy street in the summer, and just after I passed a car a man called out to me: "Hey, I almost opened my door into you, but I heard your wind chimes!"  Wow. They also help me avoid accidents with pedestrians up ahead of me, when riding on a path or on a shared road shoulder, because they can hear me coming. When riding with other cyclists, they can hear if I am still with them. The sound is gentle, pleasant, and always there.

8. Turn signals. I just bought these, and have only used them once, so can't really say how well they are at keeping me safe. But I need to make a left hand turn onto my street, from the 50mph curvy highway near my home, and drivers can't see my arm sticking out there at night if I am sitting stopped on the highway waiting for a chance to turn left.  I always breathe a sigh of relief when I make that turn safely - day or night.

Diane-and-bike-May-2018.jpg
[Thumbnail for Diane-and-bike-May-2018.jpg]
 
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Last fall I got a Radwagon, 7 speed electric assist cargo bike.  It's a local Seattle area company.  I like it a lot, and once you figure out how to contain your things, you can haul a lot of stuff with it.  Being in the PNW, I have two big weatherproof panniers for everyday use.  The front rack on this bike is fixed to the post and doesn't move when you steer, which is a little disorienting at first, but much better if you have a load there as it doesn't affect the steering like on a regular handlebar type rack.  The headlight is on the rack, which can lead to a less than optimum light when going around a sharp turn at night.  It has regenerative braking, so if I drag my brakes on the downhills it makes up the power I used getting up.  It has pedal assist, with 5 levels, plus seven regular speeds with the gears.  You can also do nothing and use the motor only, but that is a little crazy and I only did it once to try it out.  That sucks power, as you'd expect.  I can ride around for more than a week on my regular rounds before I have to think about charging the battery.  I have yet to load up to capacity in terms of weight, or to where I felt it was unsafe, and I can haul everything I need to on a daily basis, plus the coop order or gas cans.  It's very well balanced if you load it carefully.  There is a motorcycle type kickstand that is very stable for load/unload.  

I'm very short, and I barely fit this particular bike.  The stepthrough is quite high because the battery fits down there, though there is definitely room to have both feet on the ground straddling it.  Getting on can be a little tricky, but only for a really short person.  The balance takes a little getting used to, but that's the cargo bike length.  I like having the weight low.  The pedal assist is akin to having an extra set of gears.  I find it makes me able to get stronger, as I can set a pace and keep it and not have to get off and walk when it's too steep for me to pedal.  The headlight is super bright, there is a tail light and when you brake a brake light.  Radbikes make several other models.  My neighbor has one of their very fat tired mountain bike styles, and he loves it too.  The cargo bike has disc brakes, which are great.  It rides pretty rough--no shocks--but the mountain bike version has better suspension.  I changed out the seat for a little more comfy ride and mine is fine.  

Where I live there is not much road, it's all gravel, and only a handful of vehicles on the island.  No streetlights, and lots of mud and potholes and sudden sandpits in the road.  So far, the bike has performed really well. I have to park it in a dry spot, for sure, and wipe it off after a rainy, muddy ride.  I  was a little worried about the mud level, but as long as you keep it wiped off no problem with the pedal detection system, which tells the bike to engage pedal assist. Definitely get a good helmet!  Top speed via the motor plus pedaling is around 25mph, and it's easy to cruise around at 15mph as a regular thing.  You can ride this bike just as a bike, too, though it's heavy unless you take off the battery, which weighs maybe 5lbs.  Like any regular biking, you need raingear and proper clothing.  This bike works fine with skirts and dresses.  A cargo bike is much better than a regular bike with a trailer.  The balance is better, the handling is better, you're just more contained and compact.  I'd think it would be safer in traffic, though that isn't an issue here.  

The ebike is a good compromise if you need to haul a bunch of stuff around, or if you're a little old or sick and need the extra help occasionally, or if you need to go a bit farther than you are comfortable walking but is a ridiculous distance to use a vehicle for.  It wasn't cheap to buy, but it hasn't taken long to offset the initial cost by not buying fuel for a truck.  
 
pollinator
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Well, Catie, it depends what her medical condition is. If it is balance, I would strongly recommend an e-trike: For bonus, it has some way to carry groceries/ supplies etc. They are pricey, though: https://www.lifestylemobilityscooters.com/ew-29-electric-mobility-bike/?gclid=CjwKCAiA3abwBRBqEiwAKwICA6Rr8IKpk5vuPatbxTy16RlJVnYGKMzM2JgJB_oK5-eZIiqgPRgDvBoCGBQQAvD_BwE
The choice of wheels depends on the kind of roads she would be travelling. Busy roads? An electric vehicle, especially a smaller one is not very visible and they make no noise. Dirt roads? well, then you might want those solid tires.[I hate them too: no cushion]
It should be possible for someone who is mechanically inclined to rig up something that would be functional. There are kits for sale and depending if you have a big town, there may be some folks that would sell what they have.
Incidentally, if her medical condition involves fainting spells, she may not be safe on any contraption and would still need to rely on other folks to help her. She would have to do that in the winter anyway. I would suggest approach a church and create a bank of helpers. I think the reason we hesitate to ask for help is the fear of imposing, and indeed, if you have only one helper to give her rides, it becomes an imposition. If you have a half dozen people, it is not a big deal, especially 3 kms from town.
 
pollinator
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Remember to be careful turning with any short wheelbase vehicle. They turn very quickly and can oversteer and go down fast. I learned this lesson with my first mountain bike many years ago. Those short wheelbase mobility trikes are safest up to maybe 10mph IMHO. Very short wheelbase. But they look very ergonomic and great for puttering around.
I want to try a cargo bike. They look heavy but I’m strong and giant person so think I can handle one. And they are stable cruisers comparatively.
 I would go as far as to say my county is bicycle unfriendly. There was little vision put into place regarding bicycles when building the roads. Probably the minimum required by state law. But there is the rails-to-trails route going about 40 miles up the valley. The gravel is well graded but best for fat to medium fat tires.
 For a street use in a rural valley like mine a recumbent trike worked well for a elderly man whose driving license was revoked due to vision. He rode the trike all over the valley for about 10 years as he was very fit and strong. They are very low so he used flag poles for visibility to cars.
 
Catie George
pollinator
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Isa - the RadWagon was actually one of the models I was looking at! Do you mind telling me how tall you are? I believe she's 5'1".

Diane - Your windchime idea is brilliant.  I actually have that mirror, bought it in a local bike store when I was cycle commuting... not considering until I opened the package where I was going to affix it on my road bike handle bars!

Cecile - I don't think churches are anywhere near as powerful/influential here in Canada as they are in the states for organizing people/charity. You'd be lucky to find a congregation of 20 locally. She is using Community Care, which is a local volunteer service that will drive people to medical appointments in the city, but community care won't take you to work. Actually, work is not the issue, as she has a few coworkers who drive past her place, it's groceries, pharmacy, post office, bank  etc... She's getting better at asking family members for help (and my mother, who is by far the closest relative to her is also helping her is getting better at remembering to offer her rides if she's going anyway), and she's getting good at ordering things to be delivered to her, but she really misses her independence.
 
Isa Delahunt
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Catie, I'm 4'10.  The Radwagon is supposed to fit people from 5'2-6'2.  Once I'm on, it's very comfortable, and once I figured out how to get on safely, it's no problem and feels very safe.  
 
Posts: 97
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Diane Emerson wrote:VISIBILITY and SAFETY

6. I never, ever ride with earphones. I want to hear what is going on around me at all times.





We added a hub motor to our bike that looks very similar to Diane's.
If you mostly use it for assisting up hills and getting up to speed on flat ground, the battery will go several miles.
It's great for running errands and going to work on nice days.
It was WAY less expensive than the E-bikes I've seen.
 
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I'm very interested in adding a hub motor to my high quality bike. Anyone with pros/cons and specific ones they especially like or dislike? Thank you
 
Phil Swindler
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Barbara Kochan wrote:I'm very interested in adding a hub motor to my high quality bike. Anyone with pros/cons and specific ones they especially like or dislike? Thank you



We got ours at a local Schwinn dealer.
We took in the bike and they installed it for us.
It was easy to learn to use.
It has a little thumb controlled throttle.
It uses 3 12 volt batteries like the ones they use in exit signs over doors.
Sorry, It was 10 or 12 years ago.  I don't remember what it cost.  I do remember it was way less than buying an E-bike.
Had to replace the batteries a few years ago.
I just Googled the model number of the battery.
 
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“Flashing lights, especially flashing in the blue-white spectrum, can cause nausea, loss of balance, lack of depth perception, and disorientation in some people.  These are not symptoms you want to induce in a person driving a car towards you.”

This is the case if lights flash at certain frequencies, such as some strobe lights. A blinking light does not create this reaction, and is far more attention getting than a solid light. I immediately see bikes which have flashing lights front and rear, ideally both red and white or red and amber. It also helps with depth perception, to be able to determine how close they are, which a solid light doesn’t do. The lights should be on the bike AND rider, the higher the better.

“ flags annoy me as a driver.  They distract me from seeing the cyclist.  They move around and flutter.  They really piss me off because it's saying "I'm too scared of the cars but I'm not going to do the simple things like following the local laws so I have a big stupid flag that is going to wave in your face and destract you from driving safely".  As a cyclist, they catch the wind which disrupts my balance.”

I love bikes having flags, as it tells me from a distance to be alert for a cyclist. I see the flag before I would ever see lights in the daytime, and I see the flag when I can’t always see the bike due to a vehicle in front of me. It doesn’t distract me from seeing the cyclist because it IS the cyclist. I don’t need to look for the rider, I already know they are attached to the flag. I’m not sure how having a flag equates to a rider not following local laws. The scofflaws I see on bikes generally have no lights or flag.
Where I live there are numerous rural roads where kids ride dirt bikes and small atvs on the shoulder and occasionally in the road. It’s legal, and I really appreciate when THEY have flags, as I spot them much sooner.
 
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My advice is to only consider power-assisted pedals.  They make you feel like Bionic Superman, and encourage use.  A cheaper hand control for the motor just makes you feel like Marlon McWimpo.  The exercise as good for anybody, and one's comfortable range increases painlessly at 10% a week, which can build up to full fitness.   Also, don't load it down with so many power - robbing things like fat tires that you wouldn't ride it home with a flat battery.  
 
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 Be sure to consider the width of a trike or even a 2 wheeled trailer. If there are narrow areas to bike through, this could be an un-forseen problem.
  I'm 60 and I have a Yuba Mundo cargo bike and love it but it is a huge bike. I would recommend a smaller, "basic" e-bike with a "single" wheeled trailer ("B.O.B." is a version of these trailers). If you go this route, get an easy to use "frame stand" instead of a normal "kick stand". This will hold up the bike and trailer while loading/ unloading and getting on and off the bike. Small rear panniers, small "frame", (not front fork) mounted front rack and small single wheeled trailer plus all the safety stuff previously mentioned, should cover all that is needed. Good luck.
 
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I have a Haibike with Yamaha motor and it has a 100 mile range and is a 21 speed. Has three power settings for the pedal assist motor other than off. Wasn't cheap new, I have buyers remorse because I don't need it any more (it was for the hill where I used to rent), it cost so much ($3000), and because the derailer doesn't handle all that power very well and skips casettes.
 
Posts: 32
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Ebike definitely recommended, she will go 3 kilometers "no sweat".
A pedal-assist (or pedalec) will only give power while pedaling.
In Ireland a 250 Watt motor is the limit, it gives around 25kmh before it legally cuts out. (modified can give 42kmh but wears the motor down faster)
Higher Voltage gives faster motor, and higher Amperage (mAh) gives further distance.   (Watts = Volts x Amps)

If she's going with a trike, get a light for each of the rear wheels to show drivers the bike's "width".
Helmet, lights and reflective vest when its raining, no exceptions.
It sounds like she has to commute a very dangerous road, maybe a trike would not be best if there are blind corners.
Lots of good advice about lights in the thread.

Unless the front basket is rigid on the frame like a Postman's bike, I would go with just the rear basket and panniers. ( See my ebike in the picture below )
I have a lock and chain as it is more difficult to break than any other lock. (My lock is an Abloy 362 with unpickable mushroom cylinder, and the chain is a 13mm Protector steel alloy, too wide for a bolt cutter)
Mine is an expensive bike but in 2 years it has paid for itself in money saved from not getting taxis for shopping.
I have a mirror attached to the handle bar going downwards as its less intrusive (I drive on left side).

I have a rear basket and panniers which take all of my shopping and drinking water twice a week.
I got the basket from the local shop back yard, I think it was used for vegetables, and is held in place with 8 cable ties.
My tires are normal 1+ inch wide, but my preference is mountain tires 2+ inch wide, able for most road conditions.
Fat tires of 4 inches wide are very heavy and when bouncing over bumps you need very strong forks and bike, increasing the weight.


So, I recommend disk brakes, rear basket, mudguards, lights, helmet, reflector vest, rain jacket, waterproof boots, mountain bike tires, decent gloves, hard tail bike (for sturdy carrier), I prefer chain drive to belt drive, motor mount position is personal preference
Try the bikes available to her first, to see if she likes the idea.
Travel her route with an experienced cyclist for a while if she is nervous.
If there are any footpaths (sidewalks) she might consider going on them, especially if she has a disability, as they are often safer, but give right of way to kids, animals and pedestrians.

Neoprene gloves, water proof, lined, wind proof
https://www.ebay.ie/itm/ROCKBROS-Bike-Gloves-Winter-Thermal-Warm-Full-Finger-Cycling-Glove-Touch-screen/263336045957
Shop where I got my bike (for examples), they have many electric cargo bikes, etc.
https://www.greenaer.ie/

My bike
Mirror

Rear basket and lock

Haibike SDURO 2015


Usually after I click Submit I realize I forgot something.
 
tel jetson
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Julie Reed wrote:A blinking light does not create this reaction, and is far more attention getting than a solid light. I immediately see bikes which have flashing lights front and rear, ideally both red and white or red and amber. It also helps with depth perception, to be able to determine how close they are, which a solid light doesn’t do. The lights should be on the bike AND rider, the higher the better.



blinking lights on bikes are illegal in at least Germany, and I believe several other countries. I'm not sure why that law exists and it doesn't mean blinkies aren't effective, but it's something to think about.

most of my day to day biking is in an urban setting and I personally find blinkies on other bikes to be more than a little bit annoying. they're often bright enough and designed with little enough consideration to the beam shape that they end up blinding other cyclists and drivers. I often see blinking bike lights brightly illuminating road signs that are twenty feet above the road and wonder what that could possibly be accomplishing.

but I digress. if you want to go with a blinking light, I suggest only using a red one in the rear. that's another law in Germany, by the way: the only colors allowed are red for the rear and white in front. for the front, a blinking light can be OK is you're in an area that has a lot of streetlights so that you don't need the light to see. still, I think a solid (no blinking) light up front is better in any setting. I would also recommend a light that has an asymmetrical beam pattern that cuts off at the top so that your light is concentrated on the road where it will be the most helpful. remember that the goal is not to shine a light into anyone's eyes. that won't do anyone any good.

I feel safe riding with a good headlight and taillight (my headlight cost about $70 and the taillight was about $20), but adding reflectors and reflective material to your bike and bike clothes seems like a better bet than a bunch of lights if just the two lights doesn't feel like enough. you don't have to worry about batteries, it won't break, it's a lot cheaper than lights, and it will light you up just as much or more than a bunch of lights without the risk of blinding anyone.
 
tel jetson
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Joe Moon wrote:Unless the front basket is rigid on the frame like a Postman's bike, I would go with just the rear basket and panniers.



it always surprises me to see this advice. when I first decided I didn't want to ride with a backpack anymore, I put a basket on the back of my bike. it was awful. I found a front rack as soon as I could, after which riding with cargo was much nicer.

without any cargo, most bikes carry roughly 60% of the total weight on the rear wheel (with the exception of racing bikes). adding more weight over or behind the rear axle increases that number even more (unless weight is also added to the front). that's not good for handling and can even lead to the front wheel coming off the ground going up hills. rear wheels are also inherently weaker because of the asymmetry required for the drive train parts.

I don't want to belabor this, because it's clear that many people do prefer carrying things exclusively on the back of their bikes, which is fine. but my experience lines up with the general consensus among touring cyclists: keep things relatively balanced front and rear with a bit more up front. securing heavy items so that they don't shift is important wherever they're carried. bike messengers, who carry heavy loads in conditions where quick handling is very important, almost universally put cargo on the front of their bikes if they aren't carrying it on their bodies.

this is all beside the point for any number of cargo bike designs, though. cycle trucks with a fixed stout rack over a small front wheel are designed for the whole load up front, as are bakfiets-style cargo bikes. the xtracycle design, with dramatically extended chain- and seat-stays is designed for rear loading and works great for it. I'm less familiar with trikes, so I'll leave the particulars of those to others.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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The front of the bike is also the one tasked with directionality. I think that is why bike makers and motorcycle makers tell you to not overload the front axle.
 
tel jetson
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:The front of the bike is also the one tasked with directionality. I think that is why bike makers and motorcycle makers tell you to not overload the front axle.



I've never seen this warning from a bicycle maker. to the contrary, the frame builders I know (granted, that's only three people) specifically recommend more weight up front. a motorcycle is a different beast entirely.
 
Joe Moon
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Its your own preference where you carry things, and the lower the weight the better for stability.
Having said that, I once saw a video about bike geometry which explained why the front fork is tilted slightly, and how that makes the front wheel stable as opposed to unstable. ( I can't remember if it was the TED talk, but the short version is below ).
Extra weight anywhere on the front wheel can be disruptive enough to make the bike unstable.
You can get bikes with the front carrier attached to the frame, which doesn't effect the steering. I rode a Postman's bike for a few years, front basket, very stable, never fell over, even when I parked it arse-ways.

I agree its better to share the overall weight towards the front, somehow, but not to compromise the bike steering or stability. Perhaps buying one with a front wheel mounted motor?
I once tried cycling with a front basket (on the handlebars), and although cycling was fine with at least one hand on the bars, the bike while stopped would always turn to one side or the other and fall to the ground if I took my hand away.
As for my own bike, I need to have the tires fully inflated (around 40 psi suits me), because of all the combined weight ( me + up to 30kg cargo ) and so it doesn't wobble around.
The more weight you carry higher up, the more you notice all that weight going into corners, over bumps, etc.

The whole idea of a carrier is so you don't have to have bags swinging from the handlebars, a very dangerous situation, extremely unstable for steering.
If you do have to carry a bag by hand, hold it down by your side and go one-handed on the bike, or get the bus.
If you've ever worn a backpack you will notice its very different walking with it, than cycling, the weight is all going in other directions.
Front baskets are very popular and many people manage well with them. I would just caution to be attentive with them, especially for moving liquids, pets, etc.
 
gardener
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THis is a great discussion! Thanks everybody.

I rode one that my friend bought. It wasn't cheap but not top of the price bracket either.  Designed as an ebike, German, I think it cost about $2000.  I was amazed at how fast and easy it was. Remarkably efficient.  It wasn't a cargo bike.  However, I think that I would possibly have a trailer that I could use it with.

Currently, I ride my regular non-powered bike to work every day and often for errands.  I have a backpack and old pannier pouches on the back, plus a rack.  I like the weight and stuff on the back. I have to agree that I wouldn't want more weight on the front wheel for steering.  

We are currently considering an ebike for my kids, who almost never do any exercise of any kind, and my wife, who only walks the dog.  I think using the ebike might make environmentalism and exercise more attractive.

John S
PDX OR
 
She'll be back. I'm just gonna wait here. With this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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