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Most Efficient Form of Transportation for a Town  RSS feed

 
Johanna Sol
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Hi All,

Just want to share that we've found our electric bicycles and regular bicycles to be the most efficient form of transportation for our daily use. And it's pure FUN!

We have hills, strong winds, and snow and ice. The streets are fairly wide with low speeds posted on many of the roads, as well as some bike paths and bike lanes. We do all our errands in town by bike, including grocery shopping using a bike trailer. I frequently commute to substitute teaching jobs at area schools this way, unless it's too unsafe due to piles of snow narrowing the roads or ice sheeted roads.

Hubby sized up our power needs and installed DIY kits onto some mountain bikes. Mine was a garage sale purchase for $15. The kits included a battery, motor (built into the rear wheel hub), controller, wiring, throttle and charger and cost around $900 each (comparable manufactured e-bikes with our power ability cost at least $2,700). My battery is still going strong after 3 1/2 years and everything is working just like new, except I had to jury rig a throttle handle because it broke when I dropped the bike on its side. Estimated recharge costs between 2 and 15 cents and takes from 1/2 an hour to 4 hours max.

The benefits have been tremendous: I became in better shape because I pedal along with the power most of the time to conserve batter power and prolong its life. The rear of the bike is quite heavy so its like being on an exercise bike! This has led me to use my regular, light weight bicycle for trips up to 2 miles since it has easier for me - and I'm not getting a litany in my head about how hard it is. I have yet to run the battery down to the red zone - the longest ride we took was 26 miles.

I tend to use the e-bike for the following reasons:

Days that are windy - the power cuts through the wind like its not even there, even when gusts are strong enough to blow me sideways
When I'm physically feeling down and don't want to work my body too hard
When I substitute teach because it is a physically demanding job - between 2 to 4 miles one way
For hauling more groceries than we can carry in our backpacks
Exploring four-wheel drive terrain (we only have an AWD cross country Volvo) - most explorations in our area involve going uphill first so this allows us to get further back in and then ride down. The bike pushes itself on low throttle power up most grades.
Powering through sand and snow for much longer stretches than I can do with a regular bike.
And did I mention, it's fun? Talk about that EV grin!

Other advantages:
I can keep up with my hubby on his bike!
I can scoot across busy intersections quickly or zip around a parked car to get out of the way of someone coming from behind me
No insurance or registration needed - vehicle insurance covers pedestrians and bicyclists.

Disadvantages:
The bike is heavy in the rear so requires a learning curve for handling when not on it.
It doesn't have a cover from rain.

For information on how to add a DIY kit to your bike, hubby has instructions at http://www.evsroll.com/DIY_Electric_Bike.html

 
Jeremiah wales
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I use a Regular Bike 21 speeds every day. (when there is not 12 inches of snow on the ground). I find it much better than an Electric. The first week is hard, But once you get into a bit of shape. it is easy to do 10 miles one way and more.
I am Not in Great shape by no means. But 2 miles, I am not even warmed up yet.
Now I usually dont even sweat unless it is very hot.
So I carry extra tube and repair kit and two saddlebags on my bike. I also use a little aluminum trailer. The trailer works much easier. I can haul more stuff around from the store and easier to pedal
I live 1 mile from the store and 25 miles from the Big store. Open country roads
 
Johanna Sol
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Hi Jeremiah,

I'm over mid-50 and very active in other endeavors such as hiking, dancing, playing music, gardening, and working. I use my bicycles for transportation for errands and commuting to jobs as well as recreation. I find I do not have the stamina for a regular bike all the time. In addition, I am sometimes in a hurry and the e-bike makes it possible to arrive places without being super sweaty, and you can take off from a stop much faster because you don't have to downshift and go back up. Besides, biking against strong headwinds, which is often the case where we live, takes the fun out of riding a regular bike for me. I need both the fun and the option of taking it a little easier at times to stay healthy.

BTW, I started out on a no-speed bike, then rode a 3-speed for many years, before getting a 10-speed in my twenties. My current bikes each have multiple gears, which I use. I pedal assist my e-bike 98% of the time.
 
Jeremiah wales
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Johanna, I find that I enjoy Biking a LOT. I am in my 60's now and still go every day. If I stop for a few days. I find myself tired again on the first day of a new ride.
Do what you enjoy. I dont use e bike. Cant afford one right now.
Good Luck and Remember a head wind can only go one way. It is a Tail Wind on the way home.
Thanks
 
Chip Haynes
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Location: Clearwater, Florida
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I'm with Jeremiah on this one. I'm going to be 63 next month, and I still get a kick out of riding a regular bike all over town. Of course, "town" is a wide open thing. Are we talking a small town, maybe a mile across, or like where I live, where it's maybe 50 miles to the nearest cow? (Endless suburbia.) I have no problem with 25 or 35 mile days on a regular bike, but we are on the coast here, so it's not very hilly. (It can be quite windy, though.)

Johanna, ebikes are a sort of self-fullfilling need; that is, they are so heavy because of the battery and motor that they need the battery and motor. So how about this: Make it your goal, as the weather gets better over the next few months and into the summer, to get in good enough shape that you don't need the heavy ebike, and can do all you want to do with a nice light weight regular pedal bike. For the price of an ebike, you can get a Very Nice regular bike that should be a joy to ride.
 
Johanna Sol
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Chip,

I posted this because I believe there are many more people who would choose to bicycle if they realized it could be great fun and more cost effective and expedient for them. There are so many folks who live in the same town that we do, with the same distances to go, who drive everywhere. They do watch us closely. I am invariably asked when I go and substitute teach whether I bicycled to get there that day...or people in stores will express surprise if it's a little inclement out that we arrived by bicycle. Their attitude appears to be that we are somehow exceptional and that the choice to do this does not apply to them. (We bicycle year round - we'd only get about four months if we waited for the best bicycling weather...I've found snow pants to be a great help during colder days.)

If all of us bicyclists worked together to promote the freedom bicycling offers instead of taking a "you're cheating if you use an electric bike" attitude, we might be able to get more people out and about. (Our town participates in a bike-to-work week here every May, but that is often when the weather is not conducive to getting people out of their cars...the organizers of it are more interested in holding on to their petty power than collaborating with people like us - interestingly, we use our bikes far more often than they do.)

BTW have you ever tried an electric bike from a kit like ours? Some die-hard bicyclists who've tried out our e-bikes have been very enthused... We tried some of the manufactured e-bikes and found them lacking in many respects - including not having the fun factor. At least one person who tried using his Curry e-bike on the hills around here burned up his motor because his system was not sized properly, and he was relying too much on motor power.

Right now I use my regular, lightweight mountain bike more than I do my e-bike. However, to say that I must not be in good enough shape to use it all the time is ridiculous. There are limits to what my body can handle (it lets me know!) and I respect those limits.

My e-bike simply helps me to choose more often to use two-wheeled transportation... it's used judiciously depending on my circumstances for the day, taking into account my health, time, family relationships, the weather, and other constraints.

Anyway, I wish you all the best...



 
Johanna Sol
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Hi Jeremiah,

Both my hubby and I have ridden bikes and enjoyed them since we were kids. I primarily used mine for transportation in South Africa and New York before we met, then we did club rides in Texas. Having the e-bike option where we live in northern Nevada gets us out practically every day, so we seldom experience those off days where we lose condition. If we aren't on the bikes, we're out walking, regardless of the weather, so that helps. You're right about that tail wind - although it's usually behind us going out and not coming home uphill when we really want it! Have found that I can handle gusts up to 45 mph okay before it affects the tracking of the e-bike. On my regular bike, I can handle about 30 mph before I get blown over.

Happy biking!
 
Chip Haynes
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Location: Clearwater, Florida
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Johanna-

I think you've got it about right: You have regular bikes, but use the ebike when it's called for. Truth be told, if I want to go faster or further or whatever, I have both a motorscooter and a motorcycle (and a pickup truck), so I'm hardly one to play "the green card", so to speak.
It's just that I so so very many people around here that use ebikes and gas-assist bikes for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong places. And yeah, it drives me crazy. As so many people have said, properly utilized, no one should even know you're riding an ebike. Sounds to me like you're doing it right.
As for me trying an ebike, yes I have, but I also have a confession, of sorts: I have a pacemaker, so a case could be made that ALL of my bikes are ebikes!
 
Jeremiah wales
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Wow 30-45 mph winds. I am inside on those days. But I live in Northern Wisconsin, There are a lot of trees that block the wind.When the snow gets over 6 inches it becomes difficult to get around on a bike, Especially if the old snow is frozen.


Economical.
I have made very good money when I work. But now being retired. I have set myself up to spend when I need to spend. For example.
My Taxes, Basic Electric and Basic Water costs me aprox 1.00 per day to live in the house. I use wood stove and a Basic Solar Light system. Most people can not do that, But it takes self control. I have a full house.A 2 story 3 bedroom home with 2 car garage. Not a Hobbit Hut.
I use a Bicycle because I do not really need to start up my Van for 3-4 weeks at a time. I could use an Electric Bike, But I do not really need one. It defeats my Purpose. A lite work out to keep in shape and it costs me nothing to ride a Bike.
Some people on these sites are running in circles. I do not understand why. For example....

They use a Solar System. The system cost them 2900.00 to 12,000.00 for it. Yes they are off the grid. But how much did it cost them. It is possible to use a smaller one. My Solar system cost me 159.00 it is 3 years old now and has not stopped working.

They use wood heat. Their special wood boiler cost them 8,000.00. Heck why not just use a Gas Furnace for 10 years. use a well built wood stove not a State of the art one. wood costs me 600.00 per year in a Cold Winter at the most.wood stove cost me 100.00

The most I ever paid for a bike was 45.00 and I have a few other ones for parts. 4 extra tires. Extra tubes etc.

I just went on this little rant because I just wanted to point out an economical way to use transportation.
I can spend 2500.00 for a Bike and not get as much excersise from that as the one I pay 10.00-45.00 for and get excersise

it is all about choice. I am not trying to say anything against E-bikes. They are really neat. The good ones cost a bunch, even the Kit ones.

The only way I really train myself to jump on that bike is to make it easily available for me. Walk out the door and it is right there.
A friend of mine would never ride a regular bike. But then he laughs at me when He kicks in his Electric along side of me riding up a Steep Hill. But I just tell him, Hey who spent less money on their bike.
I followed the people who put little gas motors on their bikes too. Its all cool, But I like to have less that will break on me.

Have fun using your fun transportation.
Again, Dont take it as any attack on your point of view. We may be all right, But it is just a different way to look at it.

I have a dream of riding a 10.00 bike or a Very Basic Rat Rod T- Bucket car from New York to California some day. That may never happen.
J






 
Lance Kleckner
Posts: 123
Location: West Iowa
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Ebikes sound interesting and seem to be getting better with lithium batteries. Bicycling is simple and fun in itself, though I'm usually tired from work, so it doesn't really fit in my life much right now. May look into some assist to help me up hills when I am tired.
 
Johanna Sol
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Lance Kleckner wrote:Ebikes sound interesting and seem to be getting better with lithium batteries. Bicycling is simple and fun in itself, though I'm usually tired from work, so it doesn't really fit in my life much right now. May look into some assist to help me up hills when I am tired.


If the weather is good, there is space to bike safely (whether sidewalks or bike lanes), and the distance isn't overly long, using assist is the way to go after work IMO. I get a smile on my face each time my ebike helps me get home after a physically demanding day - my furthest job location is 5 miles away. It's also very satisfying knowing I didn't need to pollute the air or buy gasoline, or put more miles on our aged vehicles.

 
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