Thursday, May 8, 2014

I try an electric bike

I'm in Auckland on business and went out to Tamaki to catch up with a friend from Christchurch who is working on some top secret innovation out there.

And he's riding an electric bike as his daily transport.

This is (another) John, and the bike he's built.

The motor is in the front hub - John says if he did it again he would try to put it in the rear, because wheel-spin can be a problem (!).

The thermos-like object on the downtube is the battery - which is good for hours.

The small brown box on the carrier is the electronic controller.

So what's it like to ride?

In a word - too easy. There is a thumb control that pushes as the accelerator after you get rolling with the pedals, and the bike just zooms away when you gently push it. I only rode it round the carpark, but there was a considerable slope up at the side which was completely flattened by the motor.

John tells me the top speed is around 40km/hr and that he easily beats traffic around Auckland's congested streets - which I absolutely believe.

The bike weighs about 30kg, but you don't really notice this when you're riding it, and all the weight is pretty low down, so it feels quite stable.

Would I buy one? Possibly not at the moment, since at least part of the point of riding my bike to work is 'free' fitness training. In 10 or 15 years when I am in my dotage, it seems like a good way to keep riding once the spirit is willing but the flesh weak.

All in all, though, tres cool.

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