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Pecha Kucha vol.45 – 7th July 2015

June 23, 2015


What the faark is Pecha Kucha you ask? Invitations to this thing kept turning up in my inbox and I’ll admit due to nothing more than the name alone, I wrote it off as some kind of hippy-trippy green-fest.

A Pecha Kucha night is an event format in which presenters show a slideshow of 20 images, each of which is shown for 20 seconds – giving a total presentation time of 6 minutes 40 seconds. Each event usually has 8 – 14 presenters. Presenters (and much of the audience) are usually from the design, architecture, photography, art and creative fields.

It was only when one of the presenters asked permission to use a couple of my photos I bothered to read through the website and realised this next one is bicycle-themed.

Design, Architecture, Photography, Art, Bicycles? – This thing sounds right up my alley. It might be up yours too?

Here’s a tentative list of presenters. Bound to change, but it’ll give you an idea:

Pecha Kucha Night Auckland vol. 45 in collaboration with Auckland Transport // “the bicycle edition” // 7 July 2015 // shed10, Waterfront // start 7.30pm, doors open 6.45pm // free entry // valet bicycle parking // eftpos bar // come early for a chat and a good seat.

  • Richard Easther // Physicist, University of Auckland // The Physics of Cycling: It’s How We Roll
  • Peter Madden // artist //
  • Carol Green // Bike Te Atatu // Bicycle Burbs
  • Barbara Grace // ‘An Odyssey from the Claud Butler to the Brompton World Champs’ or ‘Findings from an elderly cyclist’
  • Shane Chapman // bicycle chap // the history of bikes
  • Kathryn King // AT walking and cycling manager // ‘The Auckland Cycle Programme’
  • Karl Jim Kuhla // 9 year old boy // about cycling to school in South Auckland
  • Teau Aiturau (Tee) // Mangere Community Cycle Projects
  • Jessica Rose // bicycle rider // a journey back to the future with a girl on a bike
  • Greg Wood // Digital Creative Director // “FRIDING: Changing behaviour, one (Fri)day at a time” //

Commuting on the SmartMotion eUrban Electric Bike

June 20, 2015

It’s been a while since I last had a fang on an e-bike. A couple of summers ago I blasted around the Shore astride a day-glow orange cruiser and it shattered some preconceptions, electric bikes are a lot of fun!

In the intervening years worldwide e-bike sales have soared. In Europe, North America and Asia they can’t get enough of them, it was time to have another look…

Early morning on East Coast Rd.

A (very) early morning on East Coast Rd.

The guys at Bute Bikes in Browns Bay loaned me a candy apple red SmartMotion eUrban to put through it’s paces. But this wasn’t a summer-fling, a sunny-day smooch-fest, this was a solid week of commuting, and a cold wet week it turned out to be.

So I didn’t ascend mountains and take pretty pictures like last time. I was battling wet roads, drizzle and fog riding to work, a true test for any bike.

The eUrban is no head-turner, like a 90’s mountainbike it’s all straight lines and all business. But it’s a smart looking machine all the same and felt very solid and well put-together.

I chose the eUrban with it’s traditional “diamond” frame (highish top-tube), but Chris at Bute Bikes tells me it’s outsold by it’s sibling the eCity. They share most components but with the eCity’s “step-through” frame you don’t have to swing a leg over the seat when hopping on and off – something to think about.


Loved the little trigger-operated bell integrated in the left hand brake lever.

I don’t know if this is the “standard” way of doing things, but on the SmartMotions (and Pedegos for that matter) there are two ways to squeeze your juice.

First-up, using buttons on the LCD control panel you can select 5-levels of “assist”. You pedal as normal and (providing you keep pedalling) the motor helps out as little or as much as required. On level-1 you will hardly notice the motor, it effectively cancels-out the extra weight you are carrying with batteries and what-not. Click up to level-3 or 4 and you’re zipping along at road-bike speeds but in a very relaxed manner. Maxed-out at level-5 you won’t get the same mileage from the battery but you will be riding faster than you have ever ridden before. On the flat you are turning the pedals but hardly applying any torque. Tackle a hill and you change down a gear or two but the effort is still moderate, no breaking a sweat, even in your work clothes.


Built-in headlight wasn’t super-bright, but perfect for zipping around town.

The second way to apply power is to twist the throttle. Similar to a motorbike the more you twist the faster you go, it’s very addictive!

In practice you will use a combination of the two. The throttle is fantastic pulling away from a standstill. When the lights turn green you give it a big handful and are sailing along at 30kph in no time, no matter what level of assist you have selected. Feeling a little taxed on a big climb? – Twist the throttle to push you over the top, easy peasy!


All bikes should have a side-stand like this one. Rock solid!

I found the eUrban very comfortable. The bars are nice and high resulting in a straight back and a wonderful view of the road ahead. Meaty tyres, telescopic front forks and a suspension seat-post isolate you from road vibration and smooth-out pot-holes.

I live at sea-level and my commute starts with a 2km climb no matter what direction I choose. On my own bike I ride in a t-shirt and shorts year-round otherwise I get too hot grinding uphill and begin to sweat. On the SmartMotion I was adding items of clothing day-by-day because I was feeling the cold. By the end of the week I was wearing a thermal base-layer under my shirt, a lined raincoat and gloves!


European-style wheel lock was very handy for quick-stops.

I loved commuting on the eUrban, it was so well-configured for that role. It rained every day and the full-length mudguards did a great job keeping road-spray at bay. Dry feet, dry back, dry bum and dangly-bits – if you’re riding in everyday clothes mudguards are a no-brainer.

The rear rack supports the battery (locked with a key), has a sprung-loaded carrier up top and rails each side to support panniers. I used my backpack, but if the eUrban was a permanent member of the family I’d commute with my panniers, they fitted like a glove.

The lights are integrated in the bike so you never leave them at home or have to replace batteries. I work shifts and am riding in the dark literally every day. Using a car or motorbike you take having lights onboard for granted, it’s a very welcome feature on a bike.


Rear light, charging socket, battery-level indicator and USB charger on the rear.

With electricity on-tap at all times USB ports are provided on the handlebars and battery for charging devices. How cool is that, you can juice-up your phone or iPod on-the-go.

SmartMotion e-bikes are designed in New Zealand and use the same eDrive system they developed for NZ Post. The industrial-grade components are tough, easily serviceable and feature top-notch waterproofing. Okay, I stole that paragraph from the marketing department, but you get the gist – proven technology, designed by Kiwis, for Kiwis.

The lithium-polymer battery is warrantied for 2 years and should last 3-5 years before performance drops and it requires replacement. These high-tech Korean batteries don’t come cheap, but compared to buying petrol or using public transport it’s economical transport.

So I’ve blathered on about performance and features but there’s three words that sum-up my week of commuting on the eUrban – Fun, Fast and Easy. Those are pretty nice words to describe a commute, how does your’s stack-up?

I won a bike! Do you want it?

June 17, 2015
Schluter SS

Bikes-on-the-couch – Don’t tell the missus!

At the last Bike Rave Auckland, principal sponsor Lescykill Bicycle ran a photo competition.
Preoccupied as I was with not losing my nine year old daughter in the city, I still managed to grab a couple of decent snaps and won myself a bike!

I picked it up last week from Lescykill HQ and what a beautiful little thing it is. But that’s the problem right there, it’s little, a 53cm frame – the largest Lescykill make.

Couch Potato

Couch Potato

It’s one of those Goldilocks situations where the bike is too small for the two big boys in the family, too big for the two girls and the “just right” kid in the middle prefers to ride his mountainbike on the hills around here.

As much as I’d love to keep it (tempted to hang it on the wall) I’d prefer to find a new home so she actually gets ridden in anger.

If you fancy a brand new singlespeed (converts to fixed-gear with the flip-flop hub) give me a shout [ ]

Model: Lescykill Schlüter SS
Colour: Pearl White
Weight: A svelte 10.5kg
Asking price: $350

Lois from Lescykill gives her a final tweak.

Lois from Lescykill gives her a final tweak.

The photo in question.

The photo in question.

Frocks’ Westie Explore

June 16, 2015

Those Frocks-on-Bikes girls are at it again. As always, if you want a no-stress ride with some of the friendliest people on two wheels, tag-along on their Western adventure.
Don’t let the 1-1.5 hrs total riding time put you off – these scenic cycleways are mostly flat and the Frockers ride at a leisurely pace. Just the ticket if you have an “upright” bike and aren’t some kind of lycra-encased fitness fanatic.

Brompton cyclist Christine Sabin of West Auckland has trialled this easy grade cycle loop for us which explores some of the twin stream gems of the west.  The full loop is about 2.5 hours (1-1.5 total riding) and includes the following hot-spots and off-road / pathway riding:

 – Oratia Stream Cycleway
– 30-minutes at the Oratia Farmers Market / Artisan Wines / Packing Shed cafe
– Opanuku Stream Walk and cycleway
– 30-minutes at Coffee Studio, Corbans Estate and Art Gallery
– Through Henderson and then looping back to the Oratia Stream to arrive back at Sunnyville Train Station.
The ride departs 9.45 from Sunnyvale Park.  If you live near the western line, the 8.54 Britomart train arrives at Sunnyvale at 9.35am.  If you are not near a train station, car-pool with a friend with a bike rack or drop Christine or Frocks a line.  Christine also has a couple of bikes to loan. Contact her via or phone / text 027 494 9073.  Yeehaa!

#learn2ride Lessons for Kids

June 11, 2015


Bubs on Bikes are running #learn2ride sessions throughout June and July in Onepoto Domain. It’s very casual, no registration is required, but they have qualified instructors on hand to get those rug-rats mobile in no time.

See the facebook page for more info.

Hidden Gem: Bomb Point, Hobsonville

June 10, 2015
Bomb Point Signage

This photo is a couple of years old, no car access at the moment.

With two teenage rowers in the family I’m intimately familiar with Hobsonville Point. Westlake Boys High School have their rowing compound down on the landing and training for competition requires getting there so early in the morning it’s basically the night before! I often throw a bike on the car and go for a ride after playing taxi.

Westlake Rowing Eight

The old (flying) boat ramp, down by the wharf and farmers market.

In a couple of years Hobsonville Point has transformed from a decaying backwater to a thriving modern community and the developers have incorporated lots of people-friendly town planning. The housing is high-density but there are cycle-paths, walkways, parks, playgrounds and green-spaces everywhere, it’s very cycle-friendly. While still a work-in-progress (don’t get taken-out by a concrete mixer), it’s a fun place to explore by bike, probably safer than your neighbourhood, and perfect for family cycling. Official Map Hobsonville-Point-Explore-map All this new development is well & good, but you really need to get there soon while there’s still some decaying stuff left, that’s the really interesting part! Many of the former Air Force buildings have been demolished, but as you ride around Hobsonville you will still see evidence of it’s military past. The best example of this, for kids and big kids alike, is Bomb Point.

Bomb Store A

Bomb Store, Aye.

Once used for munitions storage, a network of magazines are dotted around the peninsular and there’s stunning views down the harbour. Spaced at regular intervals and surrounded by towering earth banks (many accessed by tunnels), if one of these bunkers blew to smithereens there was to be no chain-reaction. Most of the buildings are locked-up tight, but two or three have their blast-doors open and are free to explore.

Wet Magazine

Wet Magazine.


Time for Reflection

The developers are planning a walkway around the entire coastline and I suggest you get to Bomb Point before construction starts. At the moment you can ride the loop around the perimeter road, exploring the bunkers as you go, or tackle the grassy singletrack outside the fence if you’re on a mountainbike. That outside track (shown below) is pretty rough & ready, but that’s the appeal of the whole place to me, I like decay!

Bomb Store Perimeter

Outer Perimeter

Hobsonville Sunrise

Early morning.

There are two ways to access Bomb Point; Make your way down to “The Landing” and head South along the coastal road. There’s construction in that area at present so you’ll have to use your noggin. Vehicle access was prohibited on my last visit but I had no problem getting there by bike. The usual entrance looked like a World War One battlefield and was fenced-off, but in the western corner where the singletrack starts a section of the fence had been removed. Alternatively there’s a gravel path starting over by the new primary school (refer to map) that zig-zags beside what was formerly the grass runway. You could combine both and make it a fun loop.

Bombing @ Bomb Point

Bombing @ Bomb Point

Bomb Point Accommodation

Bomb Point Accommodation

If you or the kids enjoy exploring old military sites like North Head and Kennedy Park, I think you’ll enjoy Bomb Point. Make sure you head out there before it gets a make-over and loses some of it’s charm. Broken-glass and that faint smell of wee is something to be treasured!


Some great street art to be found.

Cyclists are Cocks - Redux

But the standard varies!


Buildings like these are systematically being renovated or demolished.

Skypath – Act quick, help make it happen!

June 4, 2015

This just landed in my inbox from the Generation Zero kids. Take 30sec out of your day and help SkyPath get over this last hurdle…

Thanks to you we have shown Skypath has overwhelming community support!

The last decisions about whether Skypath is allowed to be built are being made right now at a Hearing in Takapuna.

We’re hearing that some of the decision-makers are STILL concerned that ALL Aucklanders will always drive to an end and try and park, instead of actually walking, cycling or taking the ferry or a bus there. If the commissioners are too worried about parking they could block the entire Skypath project from happening. That’s 10 years of work from the community wasted.
We’ve decided it’s about time we got to the bottom of the matter.

complete the survey

Help us fill in this quick survey to tell the commissioners how you’d use Skypath.

With 4 days to go until the end of hearings, things are getting tight. Although over 10,000 people submitted in support of Skypath, a vocal minority of only 100 are holding the project back. Make sure our opinions are clear.

If, you’re interested in the Survey Results we’ll release them on Monday via our Facebook page here


p.s. Whoever is doing the graphic design over at Generation Zero is killing it, love those clean little illustrations!


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