Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If you can ride a bike, you can ride an ebike

Retwitting good news from Niagara! :-)


If you can ride a bike,
you can ride an ebike!

By Penny Coles

   Billy Lake is not only getting around town a little easier, he is having a blast while he's at it. The Shaw Festival actor has never driven a car or had a driver's licence, so he is accustomed to relying on a bicycle for transportation. But he recently discovered ebikes, and now can not only get around town but to Niagara Falls or St. Catharines without arriving exhausted and sweaty, he says. "All my friends want to borrow it," he says, "but that's not happening." He's having too much fun with it himself. "There's no gas to worry about, no parking problems, no registration and no hassle. And I can go to work in style."
   An ebike is powered by a battery, can go up to 32 kilometres an hour, is more eco-friendly than a car, and no licence or insurance is required. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride an ebike, assures ESkoot owner Colin Telfer—rent one to tour around town in style, or if you want an alternative way to get to work, you can purchase one. You've likely seen a few locals scooting to an afternoon Shaw performance or on errands around town, he says. "I expected rentals would be the majority of our business, but so far it's been sales to residents. Some are seniors who are using it instead of a second car, and some people just like the convenience of not having to look for a parking space." There are no gears to worry about and no clutch—it's almost like driving a golf cart, except that it requires the same balance as riding a bike. It takes just seconds to get used to it, says Lake.
   "I was a little nervous at first, but it is really very easy to ride—easier than a bicycle, because you don't have to pedal. I think it took all of five seconds to figure it out."
The smallest of the models, which sell for less than $900, look like a bike with a battery, while the larger models, all EMMO brands, go for up to $1,595 and look more like a scooter.
They can be pedalled for a short distance in an emergency, but they're heavy - you wouldn't want to go too far, says Telfer. A gauge on the bike gives lots of warning if the charge is running out, he explains, so there won't be any unwelcome surprises.
   You can go 40 to 70 kilometres on one charge, depending on your weight and the terrain, he says. And if you compare the cost of recharging to the price of fuel, it would be the equivalent of getting about 600 miles per gallon at today's fuel prices. It costs about 35 cents to recharge and takes six to seven hours, says Telfer. And you can enjoy our local bike paths—Ontario laws treat ebikes as they would a traditional bike, although pedestrians like to be warned when one is passing—they are just as quiet as a bicycle. "They allow you to travel a lot faster than on a bike, but you can still relax and enjoy the scenery, and even carry on a conversation if there are two of you," Telfer says.
   If you're renting one, a security deposit is required, and you're asked to remain within about a 12-kilometre radius of downtown, which will take you to Queenston, Virgil, and most area wineries for visitors on a wine tour. Riders must be 16 or older to rent one, and a helmet will be supplied.
For more information call 289-271-0663 or drop in to 376 Mary Street.


Ask Torontoist: Off The Road, E-Bike, or Whatever You Are!

Ask Torontoist: 

Off The Road, E-Bike, 

or Whatever You Are!


In response to yet another provocative article 
backed up by Toronto's cyclist Union 
that is meant to bring nothing but a flame 
to our ailing cycling eco-community. 
   Isn't keeping of our city's air clean and our planet green, the sky blue, sunsets and sunrises beautiful, streets quiet, Torontonians healthy and our future and future of our children bright - most important and common goal for all the cyclist and e-bikers above anything else in our huge TO, already overflown with so many smoldering cars, stuck idling in heavy and chronic traffic during the rush hour, flooding and congesting our streets almost 24/7 now, killing dozens of cyclist every year and slowly poisoning the rest of us every single day, while there's already more than enough asthmatic kids and lung cancer cases statistic around?
   Is the danger really that terribly great when an e-biker responsibly takes free bike lane solely for his or her own safety and our common safety on the road, just like any cyclist does, yet moving at the same as cyclist speed or often much slower, so that would justify any cyclist to push e-biker much closer to whizling cars and then yet try to pass e-biker on the right side being too busy with his own life? After all, how many cyclist are killed by e-bikers and how many by cars??
   And finally, isn't this time to unite our efforts for our own common good to push Ford for more bike lanes or push him out of the office, instead of watching him bringing yet even more cars to TO DT core and wowing to get rid of all lanes and put all cyclist even at much greater danger of death???
   In the light of these questions the problem of sharing lanes between cyclist and bikers looks simply miserable and mediocre at it's best and is nothing more than a plain selfishness of some rare cyclist once scared "to death" by unexpected weak beeping behind him - not Torontonians on behalf of which he tries to speak here and represent. As a matter of fact such articles can only spoil even more already badly spoiled image of Torontonians and give all nontorontonians just another reason to laugh and hate TO for it's selfishness, greed and lack of plain common sense and wisdom. 
   I can't believe how TO Cyclist Union is closely focused on pedals instead of focusing on much greater danger around them - cars. It's clearly a huge luck of vision and leadership and is simply compromising of all the highest goals of cycling itself.

Tranquillity of trailing the trailer on a green forest trail :-)

  Greetings from Lubo Ebiker to all my blog readers and visitors!

   Let me congratulate everyone with the beginning of a new 2011 e-riding season we all were patiently waiting for so long and can finally enjoy it after another extremely long and cold Canadian winter :-)  

   EbikerLubo.BlogSpot flips a new page for this wonderful season to keep you inspired and well informed on the latest trends in e-biking here in Canada, particularly in Toronto and GTA as well as in the whole world.

   Because of a substantial interest, on demand of my fellow Toronto e-bikers from Ebikeriders.com  for those, who is not a member of that excellent forum for TO e-bikers yet, I decided to post few pictures here of my improvised trailer I made myself last year from a regular heavy duty dolly, heavy duty caster wheel base as a hitch and a wire fence clamp to reliably keep them together that could  be all  readily and easily purchased  in Canadian Tire  or Rona here in Canada anytime or anywhere in the North America in Home Depot or Lowe's stores.

   Here are few words I have published recently at EbikeRiders.com as a quick review of daily usage of such a trailer out of my personal experience.

   "A big heavy duty wheel caster from Home Depot or Canadian Tire bolted upside down without a wheel on top of the rear rack, a heavy duty dolly (not a P-handle) for $50 from Canadian Tire plus a fence clamp to piece it together - works fine as an improvised trailer for me for the second season already.

   Cost-wise it's much cheaper than bicycle trailer for kids and much more convenient and versatile just like any other dolly would be. Removes easy from the bike by removing only one nut and bolt. Lets me easy bring batteries to an apartment on the 6th floor or bring half of a skid of bricks from a nearby construction site, takes 3 times more load than e-bike can handle :-)

   Speaking of the way to attach the trailer, there are pros and cons for all of them. For instance, if you extend the rear fork on one or both sides and hitch the trailer flat, then it doesn't block stop light, but it's harder to extend the fork and you can not take longer loads, also there is more load directly on the already heavily loaded rear wheel yet bypassing shocks, which soften the extra load and stress on a bumpy road. If you attach under the rack, the load might block rear lights and there is a good chance to damage the plastic when backing up with the trailer at sharp angle. So the best way for me so far is when hitch is installed on the top of a rear rack, but I have to extend my rear lights and remove the trunk box, which is ok for me, but might not work for somebody else. The best way I guess is to make the hitch easily removable too using some wing nuts and attach it in a way that is the best for a particular application or task.

   Now, word of caution. Out of my experience 350W bike is good only for up to about 100 lbs and when it's cold outside and no steep hills just for short trips. I successfully fried yesterday my smaller scooter's motor controller halfway to that exhibition, which is sad, though not a big deal for me, since I basically was waiting for the controller to die so I can finally replace it with a full size 12 FETs much better Daymak controller like I did on my first bike last year, but if that was my only bike I would have to shell out about 150 bucks to fix it and wait for a couple of weeks for repairs.

   For safety I also tie it with a cable and lock to the bike rack. Another thing to mention, speaking of safety are brakes, they better be disk brakes, but drums are sufficient, provided that they both work fine.

   Frame also flexes alot even with only 100-200lbs trailer on bumpy roads of which there are many here in TO, so some plastic might come off prematurely or even crack where it locks. Yesterday actually I got my trailer flipped for the first time when going at full speed on Willson Ave east of  Dufferin St, the road there was worse than in Ukrainian village :-) The bike was ok though, the hitch allowed enough freedom  for the trailer to flip on it's side without flipping the bike along with it. I just had to hold  the handlebar firm to still keep the scooter upright, so it's better to slow down on a bad road to some 15-20kmph, though it's easy to get used to going at full speed with the trailer behind after a while like with the car.

   Police never stopped me so far questioning the trailer or hitch design, so it probably does look solid, well done and reliable from their point of view.

   Speaking of drivers, some hesitate to pass or drive slowly behind staring at  the trailer, slowing down the traffic behind them and then blaming blocking of the road on us, especially ladies, so I must watch my mirrors and encourage them to pass safely time to time, even though the trailer is not any wider than the bike's handlebar, but  that's often the case even without the trailer for some mysterious reason. Some cheer up laughing and yelling jokes, when I'm moving big loads, others stop and admit that it's good idea worth to remember, trying to have a better look at the hitch, etc.

   Future improvements - wider wheel base to avoid flipping and maybe larger wheels for better coasting plus installation of light reflectors, red-white strips or even perimeter lights for safe riding during the dark, use bike flashers. Also it makes sense to extend the rear and front plastic dirt deflectors and make sure there is one on the dolly as well, otherwise dolly gets dirty quite fast. For the controller I'm going to install a fan or two with a switch to keep it cool when towing heavy loads at lower speed uphill during the hot summer day. Bolt removable big plastic box or two to the dolly to haul the small stuff, etc.

   For straps, those ratchet straps from a Dollar Rama work fine for me. The color is bright orange which I didn't quite like initially, but it definitely does add to the overall safety and visibility on the road :-)"

   That's all for now. If there's going to be even more interest here, I'll continue to post on that topic and eventually write more in depth review of my trailing experience here in TO. 

   If anyone has any questions, ideas or suggestions regarding my trailer, I'll do my best to answer timely them all here as well, so questions are welcome.

   Now here are some pics I took at my e-bike with the trailer attached, they are pretty much self-explanatory. You can click on them to enlarge for a more detailed view or right-click and open in a new tab for your convenience...


   All said above is not to encourage anyone to make a trailer the way I made, using my hitch design or ask me to make one  for them, even though I can do it properly thanks to my extensive personal experience, or even to promote trailing at all, because obviously I cannot take responsibility for everyone's actions, safety or driving habits, except my own. 
   This blog article serves rather as an overview of my own two years long experience of towing the trailer  with an e-bike which I would like to share with all fellow e-bikers around the world who feels confident and seasoned enough to use my experience properly, carefully, safely and securely for their own good, and at their own risk to make their life easier and e-biking more practical and popular, giving the world another chance to live cars at home and e-ride instead, thus keeping the air cleaner, road safer and living  - greener.