Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday News And Views

Guitar Ted To Speak At The Iowa Bicycle Summit:

Recently I received a request to speak and give a presentation on gravel routes, how gravel events benefit communities, and more at the upcoming Iowa Bicycle Summit in Des Moines, Iowa January 25th.

It is an honor to have been asked to do this and I am excited to share what I know about the gravel scene with city planners, county officials, and city and county engineers.

This summit is on a Friday and precedes the Iowa Bicycle Expo the next day. I may stay overnight.....maybe not. It depends on how Friday late afternoon/evening goes. I speak between 1:45pm and 2;45pm, so I think I will plan on seeing some folks while I am down there. Weather could factor into things as well, so who knows at this point. I may not even get down there if we have some crazy storm.

Stay tuned.......

Just another example of another new event for 2019.
And The Hits Just Keep On Coming:

My "State Of The Gravel Scene" posts were talking about several things, but the last one, about events, is getting the most run. Lots and lots of views on that post.

It's no wonder too. I think that 2019 is going to be a banner year for first time events. Cracking the record, perhaps, from last year. It's crazy. I still find it hard to believe that so many new events are still being planned, produced, and happening. But as I said, the smaller communities are really grabbing a hold of the gravel cycling scene and they are not letting go.

Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa seem to be the main instigators of late. No wonder- That's where most of these small towns and villages are that could use a boost and they have tons of gravel roads surrounding them. But certainly, there are more places doing gravel than just the Mid-West. Oddly enough, Florida is another hot spot for gravel. I think I've mentioned Mississippi, and their Gravel Cup Series, and that is a burgeoning scene. I expect to see more coming out of the Deep South in the years to come.

Texas is another hot spot for gravel. The Spinistry, a local to Dallas/Fort Worth club, is the big promoter down there. Those guys keep doing new stuff from time to time also. You may have heard about the SBT GRVL event, a first time event in Colorado which has been a big state for gravel events in the past as well. I'm sure I am missing many events, but the point is, there is still a LOT of expansion of events in the gravel scene, and there seems to be no plateau to it yet.

Wolf Tooth's new through axle offering.
 Wolf Tooth Debuts New Rear Through Axles:

Those guys and gals in Minneapolis are up to something again. This time it is through axles. Wolf Tooth is now offering 9 different lengths of rear through axles, all 12mm, in various thread pitches. What's more, because of their design, they have a cap, so they thought, "Hey! Why not anodize those?" So they have. Pretty rad.

The really cool thing is that they also are doing "Trainer Caps" which pop into each end of the through-bolt and allow you to stick your through axle bike on a trainer, or smart trainer. (Why? I don't know. Just ride outside! But yeah.....I get it. )

Anyway, these are available now, which is good, because a lot of you use trainers about right now. Now these are actually through-bolts. That means you need a tool to insert and remove them in a bicycle. In this case, a 6mm hex key does that job. Another cool feature is the stainless steel washer which will help you get the axle properly tightened and help to not mar your frame.

No front axles as of now, but you can guess why. First, rolling out front axles requires far more parts to be made since there are 12mm and 15mm through bolts with many different thread pitches, in 100mm, 110mm, and 150mm. Plus, you don't need a special doohickey on a front axle to use a trainer, and this is trainer season. So, makes sense to me why the rear axles are out with no front offerings. I bet fronts come later. But that's just me guessing. I don't know.

Harley-Davidson concept "e-bike". Image courtesy of Gear Junkie
 The Evolution Continues:

The Consumer Electronics Show, or "CES" for short, is going on now and quite a stir was caused when this "e-bike", so-called, was shown by Harley Davidson as a concept to attract future young customers. The concept appeared on-line on the "Gear Junkie" site here.

The article is also saying: "Harley designed these new electric bike concepts to attract a younger, more urban audience to the brand. The brand also designed them to be super easy to ride, with no clutch, no shifting, and no license required."

Now, a couple of points. First, on-line criticism from many in the bike community focused on the wording used, especially the use of the term "e-bike', saying that since "it doesn't have pedals, it cannot be an e-bike". I think the criticism is misplaced. The reason being is that what should be focused on, and changed by all of us in the cycling community, is how the vehicle is powered. Saying "e-bike" doesn't work anymore, and this is a perfect example.

When automobile manufacturers started combining different types of power in four wheeled vehicles the term used was "hybrid". This is the exact term we should adopt as cycling becomes "hybrid powered- or "human/electric" vehicles, if you will. What Harley is showing is, in fact, an "e-bike'. It is an electric powered ("e") motorbike (bike). They aren't wrong in the description. That's why the focus has to be on the power plant, be that a dual source, or "hybrid", or single source, as in the case with the Harley shown. Non-bike people don't know "e-bike" and it's "classes". That's geek talk and it flies right over most folks heads. Say "hybrid powered bicycle" though, and then we're getting some where with better understanding.

Harley also showed this electric scooter concept. Image courtesy of Gear Junkie.
Now the other point I wanted to bring up is that I have said all along that the so-called "e-bike" was a stepping stone toward an all electric powered motorcycle concept. Add scooters now to this idea I have. It is happening. Here is the proof.

I also have said that bigger companies- non-cycling companies, would get a hold of this idea and walk right past what cycling companies are doing with better performing, better looking products. Harley Davidson have done this. It's here. It is happening. Cycling companies spent far to long trying to keep "e-bikes" looking like bicycles, and now these more cutting edge designs are going to take over. Volkswagon, Ford, and GM, amongst others, are already making new designs to fit this demographic and category. I predict the "heyday" of bicycle companies in "e-bike" categories is coming to an end.

But, time will tell. Maybe I have a dim view of humanity, but in my experience, humans always take the easier way out, and not pedaling, versus pedaling, is the easier way. Pedals, as they did on gas powered, "hybrid" bicycles of the early 20th Century, will become like useless appendages and eventually disappear altogether. It's simply evolution.

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading the blog!


Barturtle said...

These companies will probably do these "e-bikes" better and cheaper than bicycle companies. I was marveling over the fact that for less than any number of bicycle brand electric assist mtbs, one can buy a full fledged racing dirtbikes from several major brands.

Unknown said...

First, let me say I have the greatest respect for you and what you do and have done for biking in Iowa, on gravel, and on your blogs. But I'm going to have to disagree strongly and even hope you might reconsider some of your positions on ebikes.
The word ebike has already become the standard, both for pedal hybrid powered bicycles and electric motorcycles. Like the song says, that's just the way it is and it ain't gonna change. If you had been a bike geek at the time, you probably would have lobbied against the term "mountain bike" in favor of something like off road bicycle, because Iowa. I get it, get off your lawn.
It's the Harley propaganda that got me all riled up. They have no intention of seriously competing with their own overweight primitive gas powered pigs with ebikes, even though, according to your link they are willing to take your $30 K now for a promise to get an overweight garbage e motorcycle in 2020. Alta motorcycles was a cutting edge SF start up e motorcycle company specializing in off road machines. Google Alta motorcycles. Harley invested in them to kill them and take their tech and smother it.
In considering your possibly "dim view of humanity", is that what you have seen at all the bike events you have attended and put on yourself? Sure, maybe a few have broken some rules, etc., but I fail to see how it would apply. But if you are talking about a corporation like Harley, it is true. But I believe there is reason to hope for and expect better. Even to demand it. Please check this link:
"Ebikes are disrupting the bottom end of the motorcycle marketplace. They have much lower barriers to entry for most people, have higher utility for our increasingly urban lifestyles and increasingly offer equivalent amounts of fun at a fraction of the price. We can see what will happen to much of the rest of the market when we look at other innovation spaces that have been addressed in other areas. Christensen and Raynor’s Innovator’s Dilemma demonstrates with case study after case study the impact on market leaders when entrants come into established markets with simpler products which offer different utility at a lower price point."

Guitar Ted said...

@Stephen Hill; First of all, thanks for your considered comments.

Okay, so you say,"The word ebike has already become the standard, both for pedal hybrid powered bicycles and electric motorcycles."

Right. So I am agreeing with that, and what I was saying was that the bicycle contingent was up in arms that Harley called their concept, "elec-mountain bikey" thing an "e-bike". So, you agree that this criticism is misplaced according to your statement. That's how I am reading it.

Secondly- electric powered, "you don't have to pedal at all" bikes are already cheaper than "e-bikes" sold in bike shops. I have seen, and have found on-line, several examples. Who is disrupting who? Hard to say, and in practical terms, the average, non-cyclist will not care. Harley is trying to reach a demographic (eventually) that won't be in cars, doesn't want gas powered anything, but still needs to get around in an urban setting/environment. I don't know why you've obviously missed that, but this sort of concept isn't aimed at their current, core market. Again- it's fairly evident by how you reacted that you weren't thinking along those lines.

My point hasn't changed about "hybrid powered cycling". It is a lot more easy to understand for the common person. "e-bike", as you have said yourself, covers things that are not cycling. It's a messy term, and in my view, it causes more contention than saying, "this bicycle works on hybrid power- you and an electric motor working in concert". That's simple and easy. Who cares what "class" it is? People only want to know what they have to do to ride it.

I also would argue about the "lower barriers to entry" comment in relation to hybrid powered bicycles. They are waaaay more expensive compared to traditional, human powered bicycles. That is barrier number one for most people.

Finally, the evolution toward vehicles powered by electric motors and especially ones with two wheels, will not include pedals in the future. Just like the early 20th Century examples when gas motors were married to bicycle technology, and there was overlap- a hybrid period, if you will, that ended when motorcycles matured and no one was interested in a "hybrid" of the two any longer. That is what I believe will happen in the near future. The bigger corporations with far more influence, money, and and better R&D will win the day. Bicycle companies simply cannot compete on that level and this Harley concept shows this plain as day.

Doug M. said...

My wife has a disability and mostly rides an e-assist converted cargo bike that she put together with our LBS. It lets her commute to work some days and gets us out riding together. I love that the tech is around now to let us keep doing what we love together.

But personally and for my own riding, I have yet to be inspired by the possibilities of hybrid electric bikes. 'Ambivalent' describes it best. I'll happily continue to get by with just pedaling.

Slim said...

I think there is some truth to your statement about humans picking the easy way.
I grew up in Holland, and in the eighties a bike maker there came out with an gasoline powered assisted bicycle. (Sparta Met). They were marketed and bought by older bicyclists. Guess what? I don’t think I ever saw one being pedaled, they were simply used as mopeds.