For the first trip I wanted to start with a normal pedal bicycle then hopefully return later to experience an E-bike. Here are some details of what I learned.
In the USA there is a big discussion over e-bikes and pedal bikes co-existing in the same lane. In Shanghai "bike" lanes you can find bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, motor-scooters, razor scooters, motorcycles, push carts, tricycles, pedestrians cars and buses. Basically anything with wheels (or not) and can move forward (or not) can use the bike lanes. The differences in speeds can be quite big. Not only that, you will often find vehicles going in the opposite the direction of traffic!
One type of E-bike that stands out is the "heavy-load" E-bike. It is a normal SLA battery e-bike with a strong frame and basic pedals. They are very heavy and sometimes have big motorcycle-like front forks.
This was just a quick run to test a different GPS tracking app, make the initial trip on a new LiFePO4 pack and scout out this route. There was quite a lot of wind, but still a decent location to make up & backs. There is nice scenery and not too many cars. We will try to make more complete runs after the Asia trip.
Coming from high-performance sport bikes, I still find going in the low double digit speeds fun. More turns would be nicer, but you can't have everything. Music was added to the clip so as not to put anyone to sleep. The full trip video can be found here.
The bike was set up with unlimited Amps and Speed. The App is MotionX :
The full version of the video available here:
Full GPS data and map available:
Distance: 2.22 miles (3.57 km)
Avg Speed: 23.49 mph (37.8 km/h)
Max Speed: 33.43 mph (53.8 km/h)
Avg Pace: 02:33 mins/mi. (01:35 mins/km)
Min Elevation: 403 ft (123m)
Max Elevation: 456 ft (139m)
Total Ascent: 62 ft (19m)
Total Descent: 68 ft (21m)
There was a huge bike shop nearby but my bike was rented from a small bike shop called RAD Wechsel. The guy there was very nice and the girl working the register seemed excited to help. They had a few interesting looking yellow bikes as rentals, so I gave it a try.
Bike Friendly Town
The tram/subway system in that town is excellent, but having a bicycle gives you more freedom especially for short trips. Like in the Netherlands, there are tons of bikes and awesome bike lanes nearly everywhere.
Wow, A bike to get around
You see bicycles of all types, but what is different from the USA is that people actually use bicycles to get around. There are not so many mountain bikes or race bikes too be seen. Most common are more upright commuter-style bikes with internal hub shifters and city tires. Many bikes get left outside and it rains quite a bit. Few riders wear a helmet. Speeds are like 10-15mph (16-24kph) maybe faster and average riders are surprisingly strong.
The bike I rented was a non-folding steel-framed bike on 20-inch wheels. It has an internal 7-speed hub and the handlebars could swivel to the side so it became very narrow for storage on the train or whatever. I found the mechanism hard to work the first time I tried it on the train with everyone looking. Fortunately, the Germans gave me a pass since they realized I was American.
The first thing you notice is that the bicycle is very rigid, not surprising since the steel frame makes 3 triangles. The rake is quite steep and the small wheels make handling very nimble.
It does feel slightly heavy, but it has a lot of accessories like rear rack, rear basket, kickstand, front dyno, full lights and a bell.
I must say, the rear basket was unbelievably handy and inspired me to mount one on my commuter bike when I got back. I know it is hideous, but the pain is well worth the gain. The 20'' wheels make you feel like you are working harder, but you quickly adapt. It could have been the front dyno or maybe less inertia from small wheels (or me being out of cycling shape) whatever the case, it was not enough to make me want to throw the bike into the Rhein.
One thing that was hard to get used to was the coaster brake. It was super-duper sensitive. I was riding with one hand and accidentally pedaled backwards. The rear wheel locked and I nearly flew off the bike.
I personally like the idea of getting rid of one of the cables and brake levers, but there is some inconvenience that I won't get into. This particular bike did have a rear v-brake, so coaster brake was redundant. I did eventually get accustomed to it, but we will have to do more investigation at a later time.
I did get a few looks, but I like to believe it was because the bike was painted yellow. Germans have better things to do than so much as to glance at your bike. It was rental so I did not care.
Where this bike smoked other bikes was in getting on and off trains and maneuvering around pedestrians. The trains got quite packed and having a bike is, I must say, kinda embarrassing. During these times, you want a bike that fits in your pocket or better yet, just disappear. Moving through the city is the same story; smaller, more maneuverable is better. It's easier to park and lock up as well.
Almost perfect but..
The rake: it was too steep and in corners, you had to be careful not to push the front wheel loose. I think they did this to make it more compact.
Riding position: It was the standard mountain bike riding position. I never understood why someone would want to lay this much forward just to ride a bicycle. This is an easy fix, change the handlebars, which I was tempted to do.
High step: With the basket on the back you really had to kick your leg up like in a cabaret to get on the bike. The other way would be to lean it down and go over the "triangles" which is more work than necessary.
Coaster brake: this is still inconclusive.
But the biggest problem...
...was the lack of electric motor. Coming from an E-bike, the only thing I could think was "why does this bike not have a motor?" I would almost never need to take the train. It would nearly replace a car, except when you need to go to the airport or the Nürburgring...
This bike would be perfect for a front hub-motor conversion... if only I could bring it back to the shop. Going to compactbike.de gave little information. I did not see a another "compact-bike" in town or in the USA for that matter. So my affair with this bike might be over.
A motor-only ride down an interesting section along the water tributary. Amps limit set at 20A and riding was full throttle. It needed the full 20A just go 24 mph (38.6 kph) because of a very strong head wind. On the return it was possible to go 27-28 mph (43.5-45 kph) with only 10A!
We received a 35A controller and will install it after the upcoming Asia Field Trip. The cables need to be modified as they are all too short for this bike! (See full GPS results here)
Per Regulation: Speed was limited to 20 mph (32.2 kph). Current was limited to 15 A which limited the power output to about 750 W. Low voltage cut-in was set at 46 V and the BMS will shut the system down at 43 V. The Cycle Analyst will cut down the throttle if the current or max speed conditions are exceeded. The Controller is 20 A and the bike can reach 27 mph (43.4 kph) when unregulated. Conditions were sunny but windy, smooth road, and only a few times the bike needed to stop for traffic.
- The bicycle ran for 1:40:46 and covered a distance of 31.5 mi (50.7 km)
- Average speed was about 19 mph (30.5 kph)
- The pack put out 14.73 Ah/726 Wh at a rate of 22.8 Wh/mi (14.2 Wh/km)
- It climbed 1572 ft (479 m) and nearly same on return before it stopped.
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GPS Map: http://www.trailguru.com/wiki/index.php/Track:5C16
This is the repeat of the 7mile trip on 25/03/2009 to the warehouse. This time my plan was to do minimal pedaling and go as fast as possible on the motor alone. The average speed was 22.8mph / max 31mph. Most other E-bikes top out at 15mph. I arrived around 19min which beat my target time of 21min. I would have arrived faster if i did more pedaling on the very hilly section, but the difference would be quite minimal (less than 60 seconds estimated) I never dropped below 15mph, which was the AVERAGE of the last trip. With the powerful motor, it really feels like you are always going downhill both ways.
It was very windy and quite cold today. The headwind was incredible and switched to a cross wind once I got on the 125. I needed to tuck down on some of the windiest section.
I was using the 48V 15Ah battery with limitations set at 23A and no speed restrictions. I used very little pedaling limited to the very strongest hills of Olympic Parkway. Its difficult to contribute any pedaling above 20mph and the average speed was already 23mph.
The max speed was about 31mph, there was a jump in the GPS tracks which shows 41mph for a brief period. This happens when it looses the signal for a second then picks it up again. It thinks I slowed down then cleared that gap in an instant and briefly displays a high speed. Average speed is not likely changed.
The trip by car takes 12-15min and the toll is about $4.00 cash, I felt safe as there are very wide bicycle lanes on the toll road. I think 5 min of extra time is not worth the $4 and no exercise. I believe I could arrive in 16 min-something under ideal conditions. On the return trip I dialed back the assistance and reduced the average speed it took 26min going a slightly longer route.
Tracks from the first test:http://www.trailguru.com/wiki/index.php/Track:54LRGoal was maximum efficiency.
Is this for real? My advice, get a comfortable seat!
"It is the invention that has transformed the daily commute for million of ordinary Chinese, but a decade after electric bicycles first appeared on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai the "e-bike" revolution has still to catch on in the West." (more from www.telegraph.co.uk)
Here are the GPS tracks from the ride down the 125 which recently opened to bicycle traffic. The lanes are super wide and you can save on the toll since you don't have to pay on a bicycle. I was against the 125 becuase of the high price of the tolls, but now everything is OK.
The trip took 28min, and averaging like 14mph with some pedaling. I was being very conservative. I believe can make this trip in 21min if I go fast and not cut through the mall. The non-toll way takes about 30min by car.