Thursday, June 4, 2015

Copenhagen vs. Flykly Follow-up (Sort of) and my e-bike

In case you ever wondered about the MH blog post stats, these are the all-time greatest hits.

The runaway post for this blog is unquestionably the Copenhagen Wheel vs. Fykly post. Almost a year after being published, it still gets multiple visits each day. I don't know if anyone is actually reading it, but readers all over the planet click on it every day. In the post I asked myself a series of questions, which I will now try to answer, even the rhetorical ones. (Bear with me, I do have a reason for doing this.)

Who can I call to pick me up?
My wife told me she would have happily done so.

How committed am I to this National Bike Challenge thing?
Apparently, pretty snagging committed - I am still at it.

Whose idea was this anyway?
Some stupid MH writer thought he could become leaner and greener by riding a bike to work.

When are the FlyKly and the Copenhagen Wheel shipping?
The Flykly apparently started shipping in January (2015) and Superpedestrian is still taking Copenhagen Wheel pre-orders and hoping to ship this spring (which is now).

Is this what fall and winter are going to be like?
They were pretty rough, snagit!

Does Cinnabon deliver to moving targets?
Believe it or not, they don't even deliver to non-moving targets.

Is it time to order an electric bike kit?
I thought it was. I sold the undependable electric motorcycle and used a tiny portion to order a kit.

When are the FlyKly and the Copenhagen Wheel shipping?
See answer above.

Should I look for a job closer to home?
Nope, I like my job and love the people!

Isn't "telecommute" a beautiful word?
It really is - four-syllables bookeneded by a "t" sound....

Why is that woman in the Tahoe laughing at me?
I don't know, but they are still laughing.

Does this mountain bike tire make my butt look bigger?
It did. I finally invested in a skinnier tire, and the old caboose looks much more petite now.

When are the FlyKly and the Copenhagen Wheel shipping?
See answer above again.

Which one should I buy?
These days, I would probably lean toward the GeoOrbital wheel, but it's not shipping yet either.

Will I spend the whole winter waiting for a wheel that ships "this fall"?
Indeed, I would have.

Should I just spend the money on a lesser bike kit that is currently available?
I did that. I built a really cool bike, but it was not easy and required a fair amount of trial and error. Learn more below.

Which of them should I buy????!!!!!
Probably neither.

So, let's talk about the one I did buy. I went to Green Bike Kit and ordered their 36 volt 250-350W rear geared hub motor kit on a 26" wheel. By the time it made it from China to my house, I had about $550 tied up in the conversion kit.

Ain't she pretty?
It took a while to install it, and I eventually figured out that the PAS system was incompatible with the bottom bracket on my fairly standard mountain bike, and the LED meter really needed the PAS sytem in order to work effectively. And 250-350W really means 250W and that's really not enough power to get a fat boy like me around. So, I ordered this controller, did away with the PAS setup and LED meter, and now I have a very usable electric bicycle that is capable of hauling me and my petite-looking caboose, but I have to pedal a lot to make any impressive progress.

(FYI, the only other physical problem I have encountered is that the connector between the charger and the bottle battery is very poor and needs to wedged into place in order to charge the battery.)

Overall, I am (mostly) happy with the quality of the components, but I do not think it is suitable for a novice installer or anyone without a fairly strong knowledge of bikes, e-bikes, or electronics. (I overestimated my own knowledge and skills on this choice.) The installation instructions are terrible, generic, and incomplete, and the company representatives tried hard to answer all questions, but the language barrier proved to be a substantial one. (I wish I had spent a few hundred more at a place that could answer questions and offer advice on the initial purchase.)

The sad part is that I almost never ride it. After participating in the National Bike Challenge last year, I found myself a lot stronger and more capable of riding in adverse conditions. (And, the NBC has no category for e-bike miles.) Also, I really like not having to charge the non-electric bike. I also like being less worried about weather and theft with the standard bike.

The true beauty of a standard bicycle is the simplicity. I am healthy enough to ride a regular bike and my commute is not overwhelmingly long (10 miles round trip), so I built an e-bike I do not really need. And it gathers dust as I get stronger.

E-bikes encourage more cycling, research says

E-bikes have a definite list of virtues, but not everyone needs one. (I blame it all on the National Bike Challenge!) And I am really glad that I did not pre-order a Copenhagen Wheel way back when I first started drooling over them.

May you find the green transportation that serves you best - I will endeavor to keep making mistakes on your behalf.