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!!! E-bikes - thoughts, opinions?

Posts: 32
Location: Ireland
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John Suavecito wrote:
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.

A trailer is a good idea if you have to regularly move anything big or awkward. Making your own trailer can be done also.

Ebikes are so easy to ride its hard to make visible health gains with them, but they do make some difference.
If someone needs to lose weight then walking a few times a week is the way to go, combined with short weights sessions and slight diet modifications.
I intend to make a thread about this soon.

I got my ebike mainly to bring shopping home. I had some money and it was either a bike or a good computer.
My health was in the poo hut so a bike was the obvious answer.
If I had not got the bike my health would have deteriorated long ago.

An ebike will help people get outside in the air and sunlight, at the very least, and that can make the critical difference if they need to leave some bad habits behind.
Its worth it just for that.
Especially if mobility is an issue. I have injuries to my back and knees that are years old, and there are times when I could not go on a regular bike, so for me an ebike is essential.
It could be the start of something great, especially if you all get out regularly ( which ideally would develop naturally ).

If you or the kids are any way technical you might consider an ebike kit, where you get a motor and other stuff to attach to a normal bike.
You'd buy the battery separately, and it needs some work to put everything together. Maybe a bike shop can do it.
Typically you decide on a wheel mount or crank mount motor.

However ebikes are getting more popular and cheaper ones are available. I have seen a folding mountain ebike for around 800 euro on ebay.
You can even get smaller folding ebikes to take on buses and trains (check your local regulations about that).
An ebike can be a no-sweat solution to that mile between the bus / train and work, or the bus / train and home.
I recommend everyone take a test ride.
Posts: 108
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"She's working, and lives about 3 km out of town, and isn't fit enough to walk or bike that distance. "

3km by bicycle should be feasible in about 10-15 minutes by most people on most bikes without undue exertion.  Many people could cover that distance in under 5 minutes.  Either there is a large hill, which would affect choice of e-bike or there is a deeper underlying health problem that needs to be addressed when choosing a transportation mode.  Or deep mud or sand dunes or epic weather or a lack of interest in using cycling for commuting.

If someone doesn't want to cycle an e-bike isn't going to do it for them.  There is helmet hair, the need for bike handling skill, the need to interact with other commuters, the presence of weather.
Posts: 8
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I can share my somewhat limited experience with two types of trikes. A bit of background - I was a very experienced cyclist with a bike as my only transport for decades and doing long distance trips. The first trike I only tried. It was an upright one, one front wheel, two in back. I got on it, started pedalling (about 3-5 ft) and promptly hit a wall. The fork had a weird way of suddenly tilting if you even slightly turned the handlebar. The next trike was a recumbent with under seat steering, two front wheels, one in back. I had it for about a year and then sold it. Wasn't happy with it. When you are close to the road and leaning back, you feel very vulnerable, not to mention the fumes you inhale close to the exhaust pipe. It was difficult to get up hills, and pushing it was even more difficult. If you don't have some kind of suspension you really feel the camber in the road with a trike, which is very disconcerting. It also makes it imperative to keep weight very low. That meant paniers on the back wheel for the recumbent. I had a basket on the top of the rack, but managed to overturn the trike a couple times on a bit of a camber becasue of it. I later added a small assist engine which didn't do much to improve the experience. I would highly recommend your friend try a trike before opting for one. They are not the easiest to operate. That said, there are many different styles, configurations, geometries and with/without suspension. My experience is just a pointer for a few things to watch out for.

She's really struggling with having to ask people for rides to work every day, and with getting groceries, etc.

Is she asking it as a favour each time she needs a lift? That would feel awkward, I'm sure. What about finding a regular lift with someone who could be even further down the road, but passing daily, as an official car pool setup. She pays the person towards their fuel cost, and both are happy in a fair exchange. Worth putting out a sign on the side of the road or ask around. A lot cheaper, safer and flexible.
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Rad Power bikes are a great low cost powerful ebike company. I see these all over the Pacific Northwest. People really seem to use them as car replacements. Especially the cargo bike called the RadWagon. I test rode one this summer and was very impressed. Would buy one right now if I had the $1,500.
Posts: 1278
Location: Victoria BC
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r ranson wrote:What a great idea.

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.

This stuff is important, especially the lighting IMO.

I am sensitive to lights at night; plenty of Completely Unspeakable Noxious Types seem to think their safety is improved by a strobe that feels precisely like being jabbed hard in the eyes if I allow it in my vision at all.. plus the other symptoms listed. Even if one is not light sensitive, strobes make it very difficult for anyone to see anything but the strobe. How wide your bike is, and exactly where it is, is a total mystery.. especially because so many cyclists magically switch between car rules, bike rules, pedestrian rules, and no rules...
Posts: 9
Location: SE Michigan
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We have Rad E-bikes and we really love them. My husband and I have RadWagons and our daughter has a Mini step-over. They are an exceptional way to get around as a commuter, are economical to purchase (they sell for $1499 and they often run sales). We got the racks and such for our bikes but ended up using aftermarket hacks to get the bikes just as we like them (an aftermarket rack for the back of our daughter's bike + 2 panniers with a lock down back on top; for the Wagons, we added 2 Kingsford charcoal storage bins on each side to make "trash canniers", which hold up to 25 pound-sized bags worth of materials. We strap down things on the rear as well with bungies).

All in all, an exceptional purchase. Finding the right gear to support your ride as a commuter safely is important, as many others have mentioned. A great lock is an essential...everyone asks about these bikes when we ride in our area (a town with good bike infrastructure and lots of bikers...people are always very curious of the bikes!). Our range is about 15 miles one way safely, hauling weight, but that ends up with a half full battery, give or take. We have nearly ditched our car, save for poor weather or the intense cold (and poor back roads right where we live, which are traditional "Michigan dirt" roads).

There is a good Rad owners group on Facebook, too, you can check out. Very helpful info and you can see what the issues are (which aren't many, to be honest).
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