Archive for the ‘Elation’ Category

Bad ideas

July 29, 2011

I’ve had a tough couple of days on the road and I suppose this kind of post was inevitable and is often found in bike blogs the world over.

But first for those interested the Yuba and the Elation are going strong 4 days and maybe 50ks per week, Everything ticking along beautifully.

I have some very set routines in my bike travel and some very tried and true routes. Two days per week I travel in evening peak hour on the very busy but very slow moving Cleveland Street in Inner Sydney. Until now I have not had a problem. I keep up a cracking pace and really only the most inpatient driver could ever accuse me of holding anyone up.

So this week for some reason I have had my life threatened with a car two days in a row. All cyclists have at some point experienced the the close pass but this it the first time I have experienced a driver purposefully changing lanes to drive directly at me; both drivers missing me by maybe 12 inches.

The thing that has shaken me is that these “attacks” were completely unprovoked, not the aftermath of some incident or exchange of words as might be expected if not condoned.

I was simply riding on the road. Indeed this is what the 2nd driver accused me of. “Get off the road you *&;^%&;$*” is about as intelligent as his explanation got as I rode up next to him only 20 metres on. He went on the say he hadn’t touched me and that next time he would hit me! Great death threats..just what I need. To be honest despite his foul language and bravado, I could see in his eyes and hear in the tone of his voice that he wasn’t comfortable being confronted like this (especially when I pulled out my iphone and asked him to repeat his threats, which he wouldn’t). So maybee he will think twice next time. Maybe.

Maybe I’ll think twice about riding on that road again, or riding at all if I can drive, it would be a sensible personal reaction to this kind of thing. So if they are trying to scare me off, it might just have worked.

It was not smart of me to approach him at all, I know this, but in these situations, adrenalin often gets the better of me (as with most males). I mean how do you feel when your life is threatened?

Why does this happen and what can we do about it?

Maybe these are just bad people, but I think they are more often good people with a bad idea. In Sydney and other parts of Australia the print and commercial radio media is in bike story overdrive. There are weekly news stories and shock jock tirades, mostly related to some controversy over bike path infrastructure, but always with an anti-bike slant.

Is this emerging antibike sub-culture giving weak minded individuals a bad idea, swerve at bikes?

What to do? Smile, be courteous, move over, wave drivers past, ring my bell? Well ask me again next week because this week I say *&^% that…

What we need is more bikes, riding in small groups. Mostly in Sydney bike don’t ride together, we are like lone antelope surrounded by leopards, but really there are enough of us around now to form little groups and I’m convinced that this would be safer even if it doesn’t lead to more acceptance from good drivers with bad ideas.

Update

February 23, 2011

I’ve been fully ebiking on the Yuba for 12 months now. I would estimate I have travelled around 2000 ks in that time. So I thought I would just update how it was all going.

I travel 2 days per week with 50Kg of children plus school bags for about 2ks before carrying on to work. Two day per week I just have 30kg of children. Of course the drawback of this load is that it grows steadily heavier every day. When I started I used to ride up the short (30 meters) steep hill at the start of the trip fully loaded now I just get the “cargo” to meet me at the top of the hill.

The Yuba climbs hills fine really and I could ride up almost any hill fully loaded. However in the required very low gears the forward speed is so slow that balancing the bike with wiggly cargo becomes an issue.

My boys are pretty much over the novelty of the bike and treat it just like any other daily routine, which is good I guess. However the rest of the population is yet to get over the apparently amazing sight of 2 kids on the back of a bike. Every journey is constant attention from every passer by. We get pointing, shouting and head turning double takes everywhere we go. It’s all usually positive attention and good I guess but gets a bit boring after a while.

It reminds me of when I rode my Vespa ET4 in Sydney with very few other Vespas on the road about 10 years ago. Then I would often cop outright abuse. Ten years later they are everywhere and an accepted alternative form of transport.

So what is good what is bad, what has worked and what hasn’t.

Weather

The weather has at no time I can remember in 12 months stopped me riding. This I think is a testament to the good weather we have in Sydney but also to the idea that if it does rain the worst thing to happen is you get wet…The Yubas huge bag allows me to carry full wet weather gear and the only problem then becomes keeping the electrics in the eLation dry, so far so good. The recent heatwave was tricky and for 2 days I wore a tshirt and changed at work to cope with excessive perspiration.

Yuba Frame and forks

Good not broken, what else can i say, looks like it will out last my grandchildren.

ELation

This thing is good. Enough said. But to carry on.. it is robust, water resistant, adds good assistance when I need it and none when i dont. The 10 Amphour battery is is great and seems to have a range of 15-20 ks but really I have never let it run down and charge it every chance I get. I have only seen the orange low battery light once after about 15ks. Things have failed like the freewheel coming loose from the bottom bracket and the battery moving and shorting inside it’s housing but Allan at ELation has always been quick with service and advice. He now has a new model base on a 48volt battery, but unfortunately it seems to sacrifice the terrific forward mounted battery position.

Wheelset – Spinergy Xylone

Light lovely slick, I really loved these wheels they seems to roll forever…and broken. The rear rim failed after about 9 months (thankfully not catastrophically). I live and learn, the rims are just too narrow to support the tyre widths I was using at a pressure that made the bike rideable. I have updated to a nice reasonably priced Halos SAS wheelset with a 48 spoke rear and nice wide rims. I can now run much lower tyre pressures and this has improved the ride considerably allowing the balloon tyres to do the suspension work they are designed for.

On a positive note the rim was replaced under warranty and I am now thinking about building up a hardtail mountain bike with these wheels and a few spare bits and pieces I have left.

Go- Getter bag

I think my bag is great but it does hang down a bit off the side of the bike. I think this is because it is a V1 bag on a V3 Bike the newer ones look a little different and might sit a bit better. It’s a great bag for losing stuff in I’m often pulling things out that I lost 6 months ago. I used the separator panel to create a false bottom so I can hide my tools and stuff underneath when I lock up in public areas.

Pletscher Stand

How good are these things! In a word TOUGH. I must admit I really feared it wouldn’t last long with it’s spindly looking legs but it has been excellent and taken a world of abuse in the last 12 months. It’s no good for serious cargo loading and will tip if the bike is too unbalanced, but really I love the lightweight and great design.

Other Stuff

I’ve broken a few things over the last year like chains and derailleurs and things have worn out like brake pads and the rear tyre is going a bit bald, but overall the bike has been a fairly reliable form of daily transport. That said, it would have been different if I had to attend a bike shop everytime I have a little problem, in terms of both time and money, so having the skills and tools (a basic bike repair kit has been a great investment) to keep the bike on the road has been an important factor.

Foot

June 30, 2010


So I’ve broken my foot. I’m not good at being unwell, I moan alot and tend to limp around the house with a pained expression while of course attracting little sympathy from the family (not true really my 7yo boy has been very caring really).

No I didn’t come off my bike, no it wasn’t that dangerous downhill skateboarding thing I sometimes do. I was switching off a light and just took a bad step…such is life.

With the greenewheels bike I’ve not mounted the battery in the original location yet, although I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to, I’ve got it sitting in a rear basket to test the whole thing before I go to the trouble of making a more permanent solution.

The Ping battery will physically just fit in the space where the original was so in order to make a casing for it out of plywood I need to be millimetre perfect in it’s construction or it will foul either the rear wheel or the cranks. My first attempt at cutting out the wood just didn’t fit so I’ll have another go making the box a little bigger and slowly reduce it’s size until it fits perfectly.

So I’ve got the Greenewheels going with it’s new battery and even with a broken foot it is the best way to get to work as I can ride right up to the front door (it’s walking that is difficult!).

The handlebar change and front disc fitting was very easy really and the brakes are great, strong reliable (no shudder!) and work well even with the pretty average original electric cutout brake levers. The bike is again pretty much the same as it was when I was riding it last year but I have disconnected the primitive pedal sensor setup. It took too long to come on, too long to turn off again and added too much power when I didn’t want or need it.

I have really been able to appreciate this lighter and faster ebike this week or so. I’m convinced the new controller makes the bike much torquer but it’s been a while since I rode it in original configuration so it’s hard to remember. Top speed without pedaling feels basically the same (28-29ks) but I’ll need a speedo before I can be definitive.

Riding this style of bike with the whisper quiet hub motor makes me realise that my “eLated Mundo” is really a bike for the enthusiast. More pedaling, more gear changing and more noise. My wife for example is an Ok bike rider but she has just not been able to come to terms with riding the heavier, longer, more gearchangier Mundo. I think for your average non cycling person the hub motor style bike is a compelling ride and makes a strong case for the ebike in general. Now all we need is reliability, good aftersales backup and reasonable cost and these things will be everywhere!

Finished

April 6, 2010

It’s done! Well it’s never done and I do intend to keep up the odd post here and there as I experience riding and repairing things, but its on the road so time for a bit of summing up. It’s been a long project from conception last October to completion now. Most of this time was taken up with research and decision making. I didn’t keep track of all the time the construction took but I guess about 14 nights, 3 or 4 hours per nights so maybe 40 or 50 hours for the basic build (not counting tinkering adjustments and brake problems) but remember I have been in no hurry and had to learn a lot about running brake cables and tuning gears along the way, so you might not take as long.

I am thrilled with the bike and the reaction it gets from others (too much reaction at times, makes it difficult to get where i’m going!), and due the the Mundo’s well designed frame and the high spec components, it is the best bike I have ever ridden. I think I’m pedaling more than I would have liked so a bigger hub motor would be a more pleasant ride but I’m limited to the Australian 200wat legal limit and I’m sure the eLation is making the best of this limit. You may ask why not just get a more powerful motor as the police wont be able to tell anyway. As Allan at Elation explained, it is not getting picked up, it is being involved in an incident/accident when you will be required to prove that the motor is legal. Allan tells me this has happened to an Elation owner already, thankfully he had the 200watt option.

I have really enjoyed “making” my own bike (well assembling anyway) and I think this experience will pay off when i need to maintain or upgrade things. Money wise I have certainly not gone down the cheapest path with little change out of $4000 aust dollars. My budget was about $3000 but upgraditis seemed to take hold at every turn!

If your considering doing what I’ve done I think you could easily knock $1000 off my spend with different wheels and lower spec components, but personally I wouldn’t change a thing on my bike. Cheaper faster and likely better would be to buy a complete bike like the Surley Big Dummy, or even a complete Mundo, but again I’ve enjoyed the process so much that my next bike will be made this way too.

In the end the bike does what I wanted it to do; it stops me driving a car. It is also a statement, a very loud bright orange statement, about what is possible on a bike and that personal transport is a series of options not just choice between crowded public transport or driving in congested traffic.

That’s kind of why, when I could, I went for aesthetically appealing or matching colours. It’s a more convincing statement if it looks cool. And yes I am up myself…a bit.

Regrets I have a few…but may I say….

Frame

The Mundo frame is a well designed but not very well constructed piece of gear, but by all accounts the V3 is far superior to previous versions and I guess if I boil it down I only had a few niggles like over-sprayed paint and brake compatibility, and the already known dropout issue. However from a business goodwill point of view, I don’t think Yuba are doing themselves any favors selling this as a frame to end users unless they can sort out the quality and comparability issues. Mine came shipped direct from China which means checking on quality must be difficult for the Yuba guys. It will lead to many, like myself at times during this blog, underselling what is really a very good design.

I really don’t need the capacity of the Mundo, I’ll likely only ever have 60-70Kgs of cargo and passengers so a lighter better made bike might have worked just as well if not better. But the  Mundo frame is great to ride and it still needs to be in the shortlist of any serious cargo bike buyer.

Wheels

The Spinergys are great, light and stiff but only time will tell if the rear takes the weight. I rode about 1k the other night with my wife and 2 young boys and bags etc aboard and the wheel still runs perfectly true so so far so good! I’m sure the light freewheeling feel the bike delivers is due, at least in part, to the low weight of these wheels. I should have gotten a wheel with a wider rim to suit the fat balloon tyres, but they ride fine with 60psi.

Brakes

The big discs look great and eventually work fine but are likely overkill, 160mm front and V rears would work just as well. I am still having front shudder so if further adjustment can’t sort it out I guess I’ll be looking for a new set of forks.

eLation Kit

The other bits and pieces on the bike are pretty good stuff but the eLation cranks and front cogs are not as good, thankfully the front cogs are upgradable when i feel the need, and with the motor helping I really don’t change the front cogs much anyway.

Overall the eLation kit is great.  It will pull and give good assist at any speed, providing your in the right gear. It will cruise on 30Ks with no problems at all and can in the right conditions sit on 36ks or so for considerable periods (all this of course with moderate pedaling).  It is noisier and not as pretty as a hub system but until hubs get some kind of gearing it is the best way to take full advantage of the 200Watt Aussie limit.

Deflopulator

Hmm maybe its just me but I still got the flop.

Stand

The side stand I salvaged off my old cheap mountain bike was working great until I put any load on the bike then it just plain failed! I bought a cheap centre stand (from Morouya Bikes), seemed good but fouled the chain when folded up and in a low gear.

Eventual solution? Pletscher kickstand, the 2 legged stand that folds up on one side, very neat. Expensive and not able to cope with really any cargo loading but better than finding somewhere to lean the bike all the time! Thanks again to Cheeky Transport for this and a their generally interested and helpful service.

Azonic Pedals

Look good, cheap ($20- I think), went well until the first time caught in the rain now they are making the most awful groaning noises ever. Marked for upgrading. ****UPDATE*** These pedals have stopped groaning (after I lubed them up a bit more) and are still going strong 600+ks later! I do like the grip pegs, very secure, but they are ruining my work shoes.

Go Getter Bag – Yuba

Big – great, you can take anything with you with this bag. It’s an on bike bag,  it could be carried around at a pinch but if this is required just strap on a backpack instead.

Soft spot seats – Yuba

Good solid comfortable but for short trips sitting on a wooden board would be just a good! Easy to steal off the bike too.

Alligator Bullet Proof Brake and Gear Cables

Look good seem to work well, until I went to fit last bit of the rear brake cable when I discovered the last bit of cable was kinked.  Couldn’t really remove the whole kit from the bike now in little bits and return them. Mismatching cable now but not the end of the world.

Thanks to all for you views (over 1000 hits in 3 months or so) and to all for your helpful comments and encouragement.

Bent

February 1, 2010

I guess it is the nature of documenting a project like this that it will appear to be a list of hiccups and problems. But really I’m enjoying the process.

Tonight I fitted a chain and tried to fit the side loaders. The Mundo uses about 1 and a half standard SRAM chains. Chain went on Ok. Used the large ring to large ring plus 1 inch fitting technique. but on middle chainring some gears  made the chain very seem loose. Will see how that one goes.

Side loaders – Well the side loaders arrived with the bolts screwed into them about a 1/4 inch, just so they didn’t get lost I guess. They were totally jammed and on removing one I bent it pretty badly so I’m on the hunt for some replacements. I tried to fit the other but found it impossible to start. I now feel in a small way for you guys who had to build up a V1 or V2.

Cranks –  These are the Elation 4 ring cranks. The chain guard seems to have been hot glued into place and fell off with one little touch of my foot. Looking for another option here too.

Handlebars – riser bars scavanged from one of my other bikes, heavy and a bit flexy but I like the position.

Brakes – waiting on a new 185mm set for the rear but I fitted the front. Tensioned the mount to the IS tabs and didn’t notice that the bolts went right through and were biting on the disc, slightly scratched a groove into the disc. I shimmed the bolts out with a couple of washers. I guess the Mundo mounting tabs are thinner than standard?

Seat is temporary I have a Brooks B67 on the way.

So I went for my first “ride”. No brakes, no gears, no worries! It rides great. it really does not feel a heavy bike to ride at all.

I was stuck in top gear and on cranking down on the pedals the rear wheel slipped in the dropouts a few times until I cranked down on the quick release alot tighter. I have some better longer skewers on the way too so will try and improve on this too soon.

Next, I’ll fit all the cables, when I can find my dremel tool…I hope to have it ridable in about 10 days or so depending on how many late nights I can manage!

Elated!

January 20, 2010

I ordered the elation kit a few weeks before I had the mundo frame
delivered. My worry then was that the oval shaped frame was too wide for the elation mount. At least is was according to my measurements and the elation website. However this week I finally received the elation kit and it just and I mean just seems to fit!

might need to add a link or 2 to the chain link straps so the bolts reach the nylock in the nuts

More will follow but a test fit was pretty encouraging.

Next dealing with some of the mundos frame issues!

Why do I want a cargo bike?

January 20, 2010

Early 2009 I purchased a greenewheels electric bike through ebay which I used 3 days a week all year for dropping my 6yo at school (2kms) and proceeding to work (about another 3-7Kms one way).

I bought this bike after a lot of research and it worked well for many months. It probably needs a blog of its own however suffice to say it had a few problems which I have dealt with along the way and it is still working fine but is in need of a new battery.

About 3 months ago I was riding home with my 6 yo son in his usual position, perched on the cross bar in from of me with his feet up on the fork tops. I had thought about the safety aspect of this long and hard comparing it to other options like a trailgator bike but decided this was as safe, comfortable and practical as any other option. Anyway the local police didn’t agree and pulled me over to suggest this was not safe. Not big deal, no heavy handedness, no fines, just their opinion.

The law on passengers on bikes in NSW is that you can only have the number of passengers the bike is designed to take. This looks pretty open to interpretation if you ask me.  All the same this situation along with the need to take 2 boys with my 3 yo starting preschool this year  leads me to the Cargo bike and the Mundo!

With a cargo bike like a Mundo I could carry 2 kids plus luggage.  Also, I am hooked on the electric bike concept and wearing ordinary clothes while riding and so I have purchased an Elation motor kit to boost me along hopefully just like my other electric bike. All be it limited to the 200Watt Australian power limit.

Why build it myself? Cost? Maybee.  More likely my often painful self-sufficient streak and the enjoyment I get from building things. You may find a ready to buy option would suit you better. However such is the state of the Ebike market that an ability to repair and maintain your bike yourself is almost essential.