various braindroppings. infrequent. some incoherent. Please COMMENT, critique, complain, and send me a link to your blog or photos page. You can also click "follow" and get an email upon addl. posts. thnx!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why bicycling isn’t all that much fun:

ADDED JAN 28th----I just had to modify this blog post about biking because I went to the Electric Bike Expo last week and it really opened my eyes about the ebike revolution like never before! I’ve always been aware that ebikes were a great concept and that someday they could really take off and be way more popular if only they were built better, and cost less. I just didn’t notice that it had happened suddenly this year! The technology advanced in a sudden jump and now ebikes are powerful, smooth, quiet, go really far, and don’t cost nearly as much! At the Expo there were over a hundred different models, starting at $1,000… and they let anyone ride any and all of them as long as you wanted! I rode as many as I could in the 7 hours that I was there, and I must tell you, there wasn’t one that I didn’t want to take home and ride every single day! From big cargo bikes to high performance mountain bikes, and everything in-between, the motor assist made the difference between “O.K., cool, that’s a nice bike.” to, “Wow, that is seriously fun,… can I ride it again?” They now put the motor in the bottom bracket where the crank arms are, so that it can take advantage of the gearing just as we humans do! So now the motor, and the battery, can be much smaller and lighter than before. They also have torque sensors and smart electronics that very smoothly give you extra power when you’re pedaling, and you don’t hardly notice,… you just feel like you’re really in shape, and kinda like you’re always going with the wind or down hill! You’re still biking and pedaling, and you’re still getting some exercise, you’re just going much faster and not sweating and breathing hard. It changes everything about biking. You can bike to work without arriving a sweaty mess. And then on your bike home, you may want to set the assist level to low or off, and get a work out if you like. But should a head wind come up, or you just feel tired that day, just turn the assist level way up, and cruise home fast without much pedal pushing at all! There are riders of ALL levels finding the joys of ebiking. From die hard cyclists that add an ebike to their collection for pure enjoyment, to virtually first time riders, who maybe rode as a kid but never thought they’d like biking again since they’re out of shape. Some are buying to ride with a spouse or friend that rides a regular bike, and now they can ride together. And some get racks and baskets or panniers and literally replace the car ride to the grocery store! It only costs a nickel to charge an ebike, and then it goes over 30 miles! It truly is an exploding revolution in transportation. Take a friend and go test ride one at your local bike shop, or look up when the Ebike Expo is coming to your town. It just may change everything about biking for you!------

For those of us that aren’t avid bikers, aren’t fit and active, frequent riders that actually enjoy the rigorous workout of a challenging fast ride, working up a sweat, and getting winded, - bicycling is just not on our radar. Either we’re older, outta shape, occasional weak knee,…whatever, we just don’t think about biking much. However, most of us still remember enjoying the freedom and exhilaration of it in our youth, and secretly plan to get around to trying it again,…sometime! ‘Problem is, it not only takes a bicycle, (though there’s plenty around, and even if we need to buy a new one, they’re pretty cheap, and it’s a fun purchase!) but it also takes a great weather day, a bit of gumption, and an event or destination with maybe a friend that may or may not be in the same state or level of interest in the idea. But let’s say all the stars align, we buy a shiny new ride, the event day arrives, the weather is perfect, your helmut fits well,… ‘you’re ’STYLIN’!  The ride seems a little longer than you thought it’d be, but it’s fine. You lock your bike, attend the event, eat the lunch or whatever, and then it’s time to ride home. Your friend(s) are either way ahead, or way behind (either one is annoying), there’s suddenly slight inclines that you don’t remember riding down on the way there, a headwind has picked up, and now you're breathing hard, pumping those legs, and traveling at a speed that’s only a little faster than walking! - ’Not that much fun!? You start wondering what the return policy might be on the bike.? -What happened? 

Well,... several things. You may have selected too long of a ‘first’ ride. You probably shouldn’t have eaten that big of a lunch. You may have bought the bike you wanted, instead of needed (a heavy cruiser instead of a lightweight commuter), and then there are quite a number of other things that need some understanding and planning to make bike riding truly fun, even for an older, outta shape ‘inner child’ that’s still in all of us. Here’s a quick list of the most common foibles that usually keep people from enjoying casual bike riding. For starters, don’t think of it as exercise. It is, but don’t call it that, or you’ll never get around to it. The goal is to make the rides as easy as possible so that you’ll enjoy each one and want to do more, getting a little exercise in the process. If you want to get a long, cardio workout, go to cycle class at the gym. But bicycling should, and can be a pleasant experience.

Step one: Get a good bike. $400 buys you a brand new, wonderfully high tech, lightweight bike today that is a joy to ride. It won’t look like that cruiser of your childhood, but it’ll outperform it a hundred ways. Do not buy a heavy bike thinking it will give you more exercise. 

Step two: Learn how the gearing works. Gearing is a huge thing that will totally reduce your need for pedaling by about half, by utilizing leverage. Being in the right gear is everything, and today’s bikes shift extremely smoothly. Basically, if your feet are going around too slow (~75rpm is ideal, a $25 bike computer with “cadence” feature will keep you in the know), down-shift to a lower gear, and if they’re going too fast, up-shift. This is very important, and not hard to learn! 

Step three: Adjust your seat high enough so that your legs extend almost all the way, but with a slight knee bend. It reduces leg cramps and increases leg power about two-fold! This is so important, and yet you’ll see hundreds of people riding with their seat too low. Do not worry about being unable to reach the ground when stopped. If you need to stop you can hop off the seat or put one foot on the curb, but you must not ride with the seat too low! 

Step four: Pump your tires tight! When you buy your bike, buy a pump. The ‘garage' kind that stand about two feet tall, not the ‘emergency’ kind that goes in your backpack (though you’ll need one of those and a patch kit as well) and use it every time you ride (bike tires loose pressure in just a few weeks). Those big pumps are easy to use, fast, and don’t even cost much (~$20) like they used to. Riding with low tire pressure increases your rolling resistance by A LOT, and can feel like your riding into a headwind all the time! 

Step five: Avoid headwinds! How do I predict the weather you ask? Well, if you’re going on a ride for fun, and not to a specific destination, ride toward the wind when you start, that way, when you’re more tired on the way home you’ll have a tail wind! (same idea for hills).

Use a backpack. Don’t ever have anything swinging from your handlebars. Put it in your backpack along with your bike lock and cable that is long enough to go thru both wheels, the frame, around the pole, and up to the seat frame (~7’ coated cable is best. - it won’t feel that heavy in your backpack). The front 'ball' of your foot should be centered over the pedal, not the center of your foot. You'll notice most people biking by, with their seat too low, tires half flat, feet too far forward on pedals, in too high of a gear, sweating, straining, and not having much fun. If you buy the right stuff, adjust it right, and shift gears a lot, you’ll completely enjoy riding and discover why they’ve found that bicycling is the number one most efficient form of transportation of all. It’s true,... it uses less energy per mile than trains, planes, busses, cars, motor scooters, rollerskating,…even walking!

Actually, they’ve recently revised that study result. They found a new type of transport that uses less energy than even the bicycle. It's the electric bicycle! When calculating the energy in the electricity, compared to the amount of energy required to grow the food and the calories used to propel the regular bike, the electric bicycle is more efficient, whether or not you help it along by some pedaling. Electric bikes are exploding on the scene globally and are destined to out number the automobile. They go 20 mph for 40 miles and charge back up in a couple hours. The new ones have their “mid-drive” motor in where you pedal so they use the gearing for more efficiency like you do. That way they can have a smaller and lighter motor and battery which weigh less, further improving the performance. They have smart computers and torque sensors that know how hard you’re pedaling and supply a corresponding motor-thrust so smoothly you hardly know you’re on an electric! It just feels like an incredibly lightweight bike and you feel like you’re Lance Armstrong! You can adjust how much assist it provides, for example, setting it on “level 1” for the first part of your ride, and then if you get tired, or encounter hills or headwinds, switch to level 3 or 4 and put a big grin on your face! They still get you out and active and exercising, and they still provide all the exhilarating, wind-in-your-hair fun of biking, but without the hard pedaling, breathing, and sweating! Try one out at a specialty bike shop. They’re a little pricey, but then there’s a lot of technology there. And if they’ll get us out biking a lot more often, which they certainly will, then maybe they’re worth the investment!

This is the best mid-drive ebike for the price (street-price at ~$2799) that I know of as of this post date of 9/13/15    or, now (as of 1/28/16), if you're interested in a city bike like I am, this one (street priced at $2,300)

The Electric Bike, Your Next Family Vehicle

No comments:

Post a Comment