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Quick Ride: Pedego Electric Bike

December 1, 2012
Pedego Downtown

Mountain climbing? No problem.

I never quite ‘got’ the e-bike thing, why would you want a motor on a bicycle? For someone traveling long distances or hauling heavy cargo maybe, but bikes are so easy to ride anyway, even on Auckland’s hills. As an old-skool cyclist I thought using a motor was just plain cheating. It is, isn’t it?

It took one ride on the orange cruiser above for me to ‘get it’, in fact by the time I had climbed that first hill out of Browns Bay (where I picked-up the bike) I was ‘getting it’ big-time. The next couple of hours were a bit of a revelation to me, not just the appeal of electric-assistance but also the charms of a ‘sit-up-and-beg’ riding position.

Juice Factory

Mmmmmmm, electricity.

Bute Bikes have several brands and models for sale but Chris thought I might enjoy the Pedego Comfort Cruiser. He blathered on about motor sizes and battery specs but come-on, this electric-orange cruiser was a people-magnet and he knew it! I’ve never had such a positive reaction to a bike, everyone just loved it. Children shrieked in delight from the windows of their steel cages as I cruised past in the bike-lane. I had my photo taken twice, once while idling beside a mega-bucks Ferrari at the traffic-lights. A misplaced supermodel even complimented me on the bike when I was parked-up fiddling with my GPS, she loved the colour apparently, I blushed like a fifteen year old.

These are just a few of the human-interactions I experienced. Much like the Bullitt cargo-bike folks were intrigued by the Pedego and most were smiling straight back at me, I had a grin on my dial a mile wide the whole time.

Pedego - Really Really Orange

Yes, it really was that orange.

Before I get going on the electro-doofery a few words on the bike itself. It was orange. It was so freak’n orange I’m pretty sure it glows in the dark. The sparkly orange paint on the frame, rims and mudguards was complimented by some reddy-brown (okay, orange) tyres, and let me tell you it had some presence on the road, no need to dress-up like a traffic-cone on this baby.

Pedego is the largest e-bike brand in the States. They make a premium product and as a bike-nerd I recognized many of the quality components this cruiser was specced with. The frame looked well made and the whole bike felt very refined and well designed. Quite a contrast to some of the cheapo Trademe e-bikes I have seen knocking around, those tend to have a ‘department-store-bike’ level of componentry (i.e. heavy & cheap) and I would question the long-term reliability and support you would get with such a purchase.

Pedego Beach

Beach / Cruiser.

The Pedego was the first bike I have ridden for any length of time with the handlebars positioned higher than the saddle and also featured a ‘foot-forward’ riding position. Even at 6′ 5″ I was sitting upright with a nice straight back and when at a standstill both feet could be planted firmly on the ground – very confidence inspiring, no tippy-toes at all. This is quite different to the bikes I own, more in the Dutch-bike mould I would think. When you’re sitting-up straight like that there’s no pressure at all on your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or back, it’s incredibly comfortable.

That’s a far from perfect position for tackling big hills or nasty headwinds but with electric-assistance those two are no-longer a problem!

Pedego Workmen

Whoops, broke the speed limit.

But comfort is only one of the benefits, siting upright is safer too. In this position your head is up so much higher, you get an optimized view of your surroundings and you are more visible to other road users as well. I never realised how compromised my peripheral vision was in the ‘dog-humping-a-cricket-ball’ racing position. You can thank my father for that expression, but you know what he means – doubled over with your spine bent one way and your neck the other. That’s fine for going fast or riding long distances (with a bit of training), but just not necessary or desirable for riding around town on a city-bike.

Pedego Café

Looks right at home mooching around outside cafés.

The electric-assist had two modes and was easy to use from the get-go, second-nature after half an hour. You can choose between five levels of assist where you just ride along and the motor is helping you in the background. If you weren’t traveling at twice the speed you normally do you would hardly notice, it’s almost silent. There are sensors that stop the motor operating when you are braking etc, you won’t get pushed through intersections, it’s all very intuitive.

The alternative mode has you twisting a little throttle as you need it like on a motorbike. I preferred that as I could use just a little bit of ‘juice’ on the flats or sailing downhill and crank it wide-open up the hills for maximum boost.

Full-throttle was the way to go at traffic-lights too. I felt confident sitting in front of the first vehicle because when the light turned green I could pedal like mad and with the help of my little brushless friend be doing 40kph in no time at all. Really safe and really fun. On the flat you don’t have to pedal at all if you don’t want to, you could use the motor all by itself, but in practice you do pedal because it’s so damn easy and you get along faster that way.

Pedego Rangitoto

Had a beautiful spring day for the test-ride.

The weather was hot and humid the day of the test but I never broke a sweat. The only time I had to apply any real force to the pedals was going up Mt Victoria and if you’ve ridden that road you will understand why. When I did reach the top an old chap wandered over and complimented me on how fast I was ascending. He had just observed a pair of roadies grovelling up and reckoned I was doing twice their speed, I can believe it.

In fact I reckon ‘twice the speed’ with ‘half the effort’ sounds about right. On the big hills in and around the East Coast Bays I’m normally struggling to maintain 10-15 kph going up, but on the orange-monster I was putting in much less effort and getting up them at 20-30 kph. The motor is governed to stop assisting at about 35 kph so my ‘top-speed attempt’ down Wairau Rd was thwarted, but your average speeds are going to be much higher than on a regular bike. I set my GPS going and averaged 30 kph from Takapuna to Devonport using the Lake Rd cycle lanes. I can manage that on my cyclocross bike but I’m head-down and going for it. On the Pedago I was sitting bolt-upright, super-relaxed, taking-in the scenery, and the only people sweating were the tin-top operators stuck in traffic with no air-condtioning.

Pedego CruisePedego RoadieElectric

I know I’ve been gushing a bit here but it really was that much fun, I was having such a good time I didn’t want to stop to take photos, these are all I managed.

Are there any down-sides? I think I’d have to spend longer with the bike to work those out with any authority, I was a little disappointed with the range however. I was told it’s about 40km and towards the end of my ride the motor was starting to lose power and cutting-out a little. By the time I rolled-up outside Bute Bikes I’d covered 46km, so they were right on the money with that estimate.

The bike was quite ridable with pedal-power alone but it’s no lightweight, you would suffer on the hills. On the positive side a 40km range is probably plenty for scooting around town doing errands or a daily work-commute. The problem I had was it was so enjoyable and so comfortable I would have been happy riding 200km! I guess you could double the range with a second battery but they are a high-tech item and don’t come cheap.

So I’m not rushing out to buy an e-bike just yet (plenty of bikes in the garage already) but I’m starting to understand why  electric bicycles have surpassed traditional bike sales in Holland ‘land of the bicycle’ and the Dutch don’t even have hills. Maybe electricity can be exciting after all?

Thanks to Bute Bikes in Browns Bay for the test-bike.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2012 7:40 am

    Thanks for your article. It rings true for me as well that it took taking a ride on an ebike to fully understand there value and how using one might apply in my life (I own seven bikes so you would think that would be enough but alas buying an ebike really made sense for me to supplement my car use). To all those individuals starting to explore buying an ebike I would recommend riding several brands and ride them up and down hills to see how they perform. I would also like to say that it is a good idea to try bikes with different motor types: hub motors and mid-drive motors.

    Katie Walkden
    Pete’s Electric Bikes Boulder Colorado
    katie@petesebikes.com

  2. marty permalink
    December 10, 2012 8:54 pm

    I had the honour of riding the Orange Pedego on Saturday in the Browns Bay Christmas Parade, wow what a bike so much fun to ride .Even with a 3m banner tied to the seatpost (it was windy )the bike was solid and sure footed on the road, I forgot I had the Bike shop banner on the bike as I laid it over doing figure 8 turns on the main street in Browns Bay the bike handled like a dream. Now I have riden a Electric Bike I no longer think of them as the Dark Side of cyclng .There is a need for this kind of transport in NZ and its so much Fun, I think if more people commuted on electric bikes they would get to work with a big smile on there faces and thats got to be a good start to the day .Thanks to the guys at Bute Bikes for trusting me with there orange cruiser .We had 5 e bikes in the Parade, 3 cruisers and 2 tandems. Im sure we got some interest going about ebikes ,go and check them out at
    http://butebikes.co.nz/

    • December 10, 2012 11:35 pm

      Good stuff Marty, sounds like a hoot. I think e-bikes are a great solution for some riders on our local terrain but until cycling is perceived as ‘normal’ and ‘safe’ uptake will be slow. Still, you’ve got to try, that’s what BFNS is all about!

  3. Michael permalink
    July 28, 2013 4:43 am

    nice review! thanks!
    i am interested if the trottle also includes the pedal assist mode or where i can set it.
    also please tell me if the pedego cruiser comes with that little “board computer”?

    thanks,
    michael

  4. September 5, 2016 10:48 am

    Reblogged this on NZ Electric Bike Review and commented:
    Being overtaken by a bright orange Pedego when commuting on my road bike was one of my primary motivations to switching to an ebike for commuting.

  5. Bruce Anderson permalink
    November 24, 2016 5:11 pm

    For now on 7 months l am a proud owner of a pedego ridge rider,which is my ride everyday.I commute only by ebike,its fun rain or shine.I rode my bike daily through our winter past,and yes we in Auckland had heaps of rain,yet no trouble what so ever.
    Windy days head winds on a ebike and hills,no sweet,it is so much fun,to ride daily a ebike,and l would advise any and every one to purchase a bike as its so easy to get around on,how ever always ride with your fingers over the brakes,car drivers,yes the bad ones and there are alot in NZ,for we are faster on a ebike,and alot of drivers miss judge your speed.Like always take care and get in to riding a ebike,they are fantastic,and cheap as to run,compared to a car.

  6. brian winsor permalink
    December 18, 2016 8:14 am

    What is the price

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