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Electric Erik

May 30, 2011
DSC_5695

Erik, a.k.a. Singlespeed Pimp.

Bicycles with electric motors have never really captured my imagination. I mean bikes are so easy to get around on why would you bother with a motor? Maybe for the elderly, people with physical disabilities, or yes, I’m going to say it… lazy people! It probably hasn’t helped that the majority of e-bikes I have seen in Auckland have been ugly, heavy and cheaply-made monstrosities – more like scooters with pedals than an actual bicycle.

Recently a photo of a mountainbiking pal of mine from Germany caught my eye. There was Erik posing with his new bike (as only he can), and low and behold it was adorned with an electric motor and not one, but two batteries. I had to know more about this contraption so I dropped him an email and his answers opened my eyes a little to the possibilities of electric-assistance.

I have a 35km commute (each way) to work and will try to do that by bike now. This Riese und Müller Delite has a 500W BionX motor and a license plate, which is the only legal way to ride the 500W motor in Germany. The less powerful 250W BionX motors give you power up to 25km/h, this one stops at 45km/h. The great thing is you can easily keep a speed of 40km/h, no matter if on a street or a fire road, even a light uphill is no problem.

I did this commute sometimes but it takes me more than 1hr 30mins with my normal bikes and I can’t ride on a street because it is a very narrow one, very dangerous for a bike… and 70km every day takes too long and is too much for me. The Pedelec will help me with power and make me faster… I tried it that morning and it took me exactly 1hr for the 35km including a change of the battery. That is the only weak link as the battery is empty after about 22km when using full power.

The bike as you see in that pic with about 1kg of stuff in the bags weighs 30.5kg

SAM_0279

A German with a sense of humour.

A 40km/h average? That’s Lance-on-monkey-blood speeds but you won’t be working-up a sweat like he currently is. Petrol is more expensive in Germany, so as well as staying fit & healthy Erik will be saving money before too long, and he’s having fun doing it!

Being a bicycle fanatic he’s also gone for the daddy-o of pedelecs with dual-suspension, top-shelf components and an extra battery and charger. This rig retails for more than 5000 Euros so it’s a serious investment but I think money well spent. His commute of 35kms is at the extreme end of practicality in my book but Erik has made it practical with his equipment choices. He also weighs 125kg and runs the motor at it’s maximum output so there is better economy to be had by using one of the three lesser power-settings available.

On a pedelec you have to be actively pedaling to receive any assistance from the motor so they are certainly not the lazy option. I’d sure like to try this beast on some of Auckland’s nastier hills.

Good pedelecs you can buy under 2,000 Euro, and for most people that works perfectly. That still is a lot of money for sure, but you get a lot of mobility and I really hope that it will bring people away from the thinking that you always have to take the car for everything…

I have two small kids, there are times you just can not take anything else than the car, but I try to teach them that a little walk is nothing bad… I have a lot of people here in the kindergarten or school who live 1 mile away from school and always take the car… I hate that…

That last paragraph is priceless, my philosophy exactly. In this modern age when Walmart provides obese customers with electric carts for travel “inside” their shops we need more people with Erik’s attitude. And here’s the kicker: Erik’s daily 70km bicycle commute is to and from the petrol station he owns and operates! I laughed so hard I almost cried.

Thanks so much Erik for sharing your story.

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Quite a machine, fast and comfortable.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn permalink
    May 31, 2011 8:24 am

    Great article thanks. However, the fact about Walmart and motorised carts is tragic, isn’t it? What next? How long will it be before that happens here in NZ? Hopefully never! So sad! I love your bike articles. Thank you for discovering our city for us all to enjoy.

    • May 31, 2011 10:06 am

      Thanks Carolyn. Because I’m so damn skinny I try not to comment too often on the obesity epidemic but I wouldn’t think Australia and NZ are too far behind the States.

      I’d guess diet is most of the problem but making it easy for people to walk and cycle around town can’t hurt. Build a more “livable” city and you have a healthier population by default.

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