Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday News And Views

Trek Valencia+
The Electric Bicycle Conundrum: At this year's  Interbike show, there was a very large presence of and prominent placement for "electric" bikes. Many in the U.S. cannot figure out why these rigs have not taken off here as they did in Europe.

Then there is the "pedelec" versus "throttle control" electric bike debate that goes on within the electric bike industry here itself. The term "pedelec" is in reference to how these bicycles are "assisted" types, where the rider has to pedal to enjoy any benefit from the motor on board. The "throttle" controlled type needs no introduction as it works like any motorcycle or scooter.

In brief, the whole premise behind the electric bike is that it will presumably get those who would not otherwise be cyclists to become cyclists. This is itself a flawed philosophy merely from the standpoints of safety and cycling infrastructure.  Getting an electric bike will not begin to fix those issues, and non-cyclists either know this, do not care, or are the very ones trying to kill cycling commuters.

Secondly, as was recently pointed out in "Bicycle Retailer And Industry News" latest "Reader Feedback" column by a CEO of an electric bicycle company, Americans do not want "pedelec" type bikes, but the throttle type. I would go even further and say that what Americans really want are motorcycles with proper turn signals and lights that don't require any license or insurance and that can go on any bicycle path, where cars do not go, so they can circumvent the "system" like cyclists do, only under power.

It is important to understand this. Non-cyclists with the disposition to get out of their cars are not going to do that on normal bicycles. They probably see how cyclists "get away" with doing things that the motorized set can not do, and they want in on the action, but they want to bring their motors along with them. I'm pretty sure the guy with the Huffy equipped with a small gas motor and the fellow with the full on electric scooter dressed in full leathers and full face helmet I see on a regular basis on my city's bike paths would be a clue here.

Maybe I'm wrong though.......

Workin' on it.....
Trans Iowa Masters Program:

The Trans Iowa Masters Program seems to have struck a nerve with a lot of riders in the gravel riding scene. There seems to be something about a "border to border" crossing that gets folks stoked. Maybe it is something else, but whatever "it" is, I have heard from a lot of riders that are thinking very strongly about taking a stab at this one. Frankly, I am surprised and humbled by this.

So, with Trans Iowa v10 stuff calming down a bit here, I am starting back up with this project. I have a rough idea for the certificate for finishers that do the route, submit the GPS proof, and do the written report. I am going to set up a web page where the reports and images can be viewed, and of course, the cues will be drawn up soon.

Basically, the final outline for this event will be in place. Then all I will have left to do is to verify the course, and it will be ready to roll. As I have been working on this again, I have wondered about the course, actually. It will be fun to see just how the entire thing plays out when I do get a chance to check on it, likely early next year.

Sterling Tire Update:

My previous update is here. Now we've had some minimal snow stick around for a bit and here are my thoughts.

I figured the tires were a "win" over my previous Larrys, and I still think that, but I do not like a couple of things about these tires and it kind of bugs me the longer I get into ownership of these.

First of all, there is no way these tires are stretching anymore than they have and they are a far cry from being anywhere as big as advertised. If I had some Rolling Darryls to mount these on, they would likely gain a bit more girth, but here is the problem with that theory- It wouldn't make the tires work any better. This is because the Sterling has a very "flat" top and the side walls start turning down to the rim immediately after the outer row of knobs. Pooching out the side walls with a wider rim won't gain you anything, which is just the opposite with a Surly tire. The Sterlings will only have what they have for float, unless there is a new, wider casing with a wider set of rows of knobs on it.

The second thing that kind of bugs me is how these tires seem harsh, but I don't think lower pressure will help that without hurting steering and rolling resistance a lot more. I hope to find some sand somewhere around here to test out my theories on air pressure with these tires. More snow at some point wouldn't hurt either!

Again, these are better than Larrys that I was running, but if I had to do this again, knowing what I know? I'd get the Husker Du or Dillinger out back and a Lou up front.

That's it- Have a great weekend, and don't get mowed down by shoppers!


bicycletorch said...

Without the ability to ride from the front door really limits the usability of assist style bikes. The infrastructure of most US cities means driving to the bike trail where people feel safe to ride. Impractical for a lot of people to lug that batteried bike.

And thank you for the TI Masters Program. I am looking forward to trying to fit it into my schedule next year.

Unknown said...

I think your point about e-bikes is spot on. The people who want e-bikes want to avoid all the financial and regulatory downside to motor vehicles, and get access to "off the road" routes that bikes have.

I'll add that as a bike mechanic - I really have no interest in working on these things. I work on cheap kids bikes, I work on cheap wet beat-up delivery bikes - and I just don't want to work on someones electric mo-ped. I refuse to feel guilty about it. It's just to much "mission creep" for me. /shrug

Jeff said...

I appreciated your post. I think the only place for electric assist bikes are for hauling cargo and kids up hills. I'm thinking here of bikes like the Bakfiet which is a beast to take up hills. Given the popularity of cargo bikes in Europe, perhaps this explains the popularity of electric assists. But yeah, I commute year round in Seattle and a couple of times I've seen yokles on electric assist bikes tearing past me on a level grade and in the bike lane and have been thankful not to see them again. Those bikes are probably gathering dust in each owners' respective two car garage.