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  1. #1
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    Commuting with Pedal Assist

    Hey all,

    I'm a student at San Jose State University, and I have a project that involves bike commuting, and I was wondering if some of you guys and gals could chime in their thoughts on commuting with some sort of pedal assist?

    There are tons of option out there yet I rarely see anyone using them.

    What are your reasons for not using them?

    Or if you do use them what was the greatest factor in getting one?

    Thanks all,

    Bryan D.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  2. #2
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    By pedal assist do you mean some sort of power system?

    If so, I don't like them. I think they lead the riders to ride like a cyclist but at traffic speeds.

  3. #3
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    Pedal assist? Like electric? No way, Jose. I like pedaling up hills. PA completely defeats two of the reasons of why I commute - staying fit and and shrinking my carbon footprint.(energy to charge those batteries has to come from somewhere.) Even if I was open to the option, electric bikes aren't legal on a good portion of my commute (MUT.)
    When you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect.
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  4. #4
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    I commute because I like to ride my bike. I can't think of an area of my life that isn't made better by riding my bike to work. That list starts to shrink when you add a motor to the bike.

    Plus, I have a Yamaha for that
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by R+P+K View Post
    By pedal assist do you mean some sort of power system?

    If so, I don't like them. I think they lead the riders to ride like a cyclist but at traffic speeds.
    Thanks for responding rpk, and I'm wondering about what type of pedal assist have you seen that goes as fast as traffic speeds? I tried out the A2B along with other electric and gas systems and found them slow. But I do see your concern regarding safety when a fully fit/racer commuter were to use one.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdaddy View Post
    Pedal assist? Like electric? No way, Jose. I like pedaling up hills. PA completely defeats two of the reasons of why I commute - staying fit and and shrinking my carbon footprint.(energy to charge those batteries has to come from somewhere.) Even if I was open to the option, electric bikes aren't legal on a good portion of my commute (MUT.)
    So the source of power is a great concern to you then, and I totally agree. Commuting with a bike is suppose to reduce the amount of pollution rather than adding to it directly or indirectly. But I'd like to know your thoughts on someone who rarely rides bikes but wants to start commuting, what would you say about pedal assist becoming a gateway?

    Thanks for the responses and any more would be greatly appreciated.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  6. #6
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    [QUOTE=CommuterBoy;9078445I can't think of an area of my life that isn't made better by riding my bike to work.[/QUOTE]

    Sometimes I forget the negatives too when I'm just having so much fun mountain biking because the joy heavily outweighs the bad stuff; for instance the sweat in my eyes, swamp a$s, fear of ticks, flats, etc. Do you mind me asking what aspects of commuting to work that you don't like?

    Thanks again all!
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  7. #7
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    pedal assist = tail wind

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    pedal assist = tail wind
    Hahahahaha, the greenest form pedal assist, right after the downhill.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  9. #9
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    Pedal assist wouldn't be for me either. It goes against the grain of making the journey on your own which is one of the great things about a bike.
    "I did a century last weekend", Them's braggin rights.
    "I did a century last weekend on a motorized bike", Them's not

    I certainly wouldn't want a gas powered noise-box riding along with me. All of the commuters you will find on this forum do so because they love to ride bikes so I doubt you will find many supporters by polling people here.

    As far as it being a gateway, maybe. If it were a nice integrated electric system it could encourage a select few but not many more than that. If it were a gas powered thing that you had to start before you got on the bike I can't see it. I don't see many mopeds around despite the high gas prices.

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    pedal assist like someone like your buddy pushes you on the uphill? lol!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jogger View Post
    pedal assist like someone like your buddy pushes you on the uphill? lol!
    ...or a day after Taco Bell.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    Pedal assist wouldn't be for me either. It goes against the grain of making the journey on your own which is one of the great things about a bike.
    "I did a century last weekend", Them's braggin rights.
    "I did a century last weekend on a motorized bike", Them's not

    I certainly wouldn't want a gas powered noise-box riding along with me. All of the commuters you will find on this forum do so because they love to ride bikes so I doubt you will find many supporters by polling people here.

    As far as it being a gateway, maybe. If it were a nice integrated electric system it could encourage a select few but not many more than that. If it were a gas powered thing that you had to start before you got on the bike I can't see it. I don't see many mopeds around despite the high gas prices.
    I like the gamification spin on cycling you have pointed out in way of bragging rights. Within the biking community you are totally right with your example of pedal assist. But what about non-bikers? What if someone at the watercooler on Monday said, "I just rode 20 miles along the ocean and I could have done more but the sun was going down?" Wouldn't them be braggin rights?

    I completely agree with your comment about gas powered pedal assist, there's just too much negativity surrounding that. Thanks for the input.

    More is welcome all!
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jogger View Post
    pedal assist like someone like your buddy pushes you on the uphill? lol!
    I like your thinking; we need to bring jobs back to America!

    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    ...or a day after Taco Bell.
    If your taking about a methane capture device now that's intriguing; fuel yourself and bike at the same time... or 6 hours later.

    Jokes aside, more thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  14. #14
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    I don't think I'd want to use any sort of pedal assist. The effort it takes to get somewhere on a bicycle is part of the appeal. Plus, it'd feel like I was cheating.

  15. #15
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    Side note....

    Mega ugly windy today, I drafted off an electric bike for about 4KM...those things are a ***** to keep pace with.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    I have a project that involves bike commuting.
    Pedal assist ≠ bike commuting.

    I doubt you'll find many folks that use pedal assisted transportation on this forum. Since it's a school project, I'd bet you're intersted both the pro's and con's. If you haven't searched already, there's no doubt a Pedal Assist/Electric Bike forum somewhere where you'll find people with a different perspective.
    When you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect.
    -Mark Twain

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    I like the gamification spin on cycling you have pointed out in way of bragging rights. Within the biking community you are totally right with your example of pedal assist. But what about non-bikers? What if someone at the watercooler on Monday said, "I just rode 20 miles along the ocean and I could have done more but the sun was going down?" Wouldn't them be braggin rights?
    If they were riding an electric bike? no, not braggin rights. Bragging aside it is a feeling of self sufficiency too.

    The 4 main reasons I commute by bike are:
    - I like to ride, I like the freedom, it clears my head, I'm a cyclist, I have passion for the sport.... (we'll call that one)
    - Exercise, I get a workout during a time that would normally be wasted.
    - Environment, you can't get much greener.
    - Cost, I save about $2000/year by commuting by bike. (100% is re-invested in bikes and gear but that can go into that self sustaining category)


    Pedal assist would have a negative impact on all of those to some degree.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    I don't think I'd want to use any sort of pedal assist. The effort it takes to get somewhere on a bicycle is part of the appeal. Plus, it'd feel like I was cheating.
    True, I too would feel like I lost the accomplishment of getting there, but you still have all the perks involved with biking though. Sometime when I am driving I would see an overzealous sidewalk dip and think "if I were on my bike I would jump that!" Thanks for chiming in.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbigisbudgood View Post
    Side note....

    Mega ugly windy today, I drafted off an electric bike for about 4KM...those things are a ***** to keep pace with.
    Did the rider look like avid cyclist or average joe? Thanks for inputting.

    Quote Originally Posted by cdaddy View Post
    Pedal assist ≠ bike commuting.

    I doubt you'll find many folks that use pedal assisted transportation on this forum. Since it's a school project, I'd bet you're intersted both the pro's and con's. If you haven't searched already, there's no doubt a Pedal Assist/Electric Bike forum somewhere where you'll find people with a different perspective.
    I have posted this question in another forum also, but I mainly wanted to post it here because

    A) my teacher won't get mad, for a change, when I am on here!
    B) obviously the members of this forum have a different view on the subject

    I'm really trying to find the universal "need" for these and getting a broad scope, as you mentioned, is what I seek. Thank you for your comments.

    I appreciate everyone's comments here, thanks!
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbigisbudgood View Post
    Side note....

    Mega ugly windy today, I drafted off an electric bike for about 4KM...those things are a ***** to keep pace with.
    So is that a pedal assist assist?

  20. #20
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    I pass a guy on a pedal assist bike going the opposite direction some mornings. He is usually traveling at a pretty decent clip. Probably too fast to see the dirty look I'm giving him.
    Whiskey

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    Sometimes I forget the negatives too when I'm just having so much fun mountain biking because the joy heavily outweighs the bad stuff; for instance the sweat in my eyes, swamp a$s, fear of ticks, flats, etc. Do you mind me asking what aspects of commuting to work that you don't like?
    Ticks, like the critters? Or Ticks, like the muscle twitch in your quad? Either way, they don't scare me...

    I guess I've dealt with any negatives or fears just through a little planning and experience. I stash clothes at work, give myself extra time to cool down/clean up/get changed/fix a flat if necessary, maximize trips near work with the car to transport laundry, big stuff etc.... Honestly I can't think of anything that I don't like about riding to work. I can imagine that the list would be pretty long if I just randomly jumped on a beat up old bike in my work clothes and expected not to sweat.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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    (no excuse for that either)

  22. #22
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    The guy I see is riding a Giant Reign (or similar AM bike) with massive forks. The assist thing is some sort big drum in the rear hub. He has twist throttle and some sort of display thing on the stem.

    When I say traffic speeds I mean rush-hour speeds so probably 40km/h? Still much faster than my paltry 19km/h (with a tailwind).

    But like others said, a large part of the appeal is getting form A to B completely under my own steam. I feel proud when I look at my weekly totals and know that I did 100% on my own. I wouldn't feel that with pedal assist.

    I've yet to see a pedal assist bike offroad but I doubt it would be very welcome.

  23. #23
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    With the ageing of the population, I think (or hope) that bikes with pedal assist might allow more people to enjoy cycling. Seniors aren't really commuters, but they have lots of free time, and even in the deep burbs a lot of the trips that people make could be handled by a bike with a front basket.

    And I remember reading an article about a golfcart suburb in Florida where no one uses their cars and there are golfcart paths everywhere instead, but why not use ebikes? At least that way they'd be getting some exercise.

    I marvel at all the Europeans who ride everywhere in their stylish coats and somehow don't get gross and smelly, but I am not one of those people. If not getting smelly and gross was a really important consideration for me, then an ebike might be tempting.

    Where I live there's a jackass on a mountainbike that has a little gas engine, and he cruises the MUPs. The problem isn't that his bike is motorized - legally that is a problem, but I don't really care - it's that he's a jackass who can hit 40km/h with the push of a button.
    Last edited by newfangled; 03-08-2012 at 03:32 PM.

  24. #24
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    I've only seen 1 around here, and he doesn't seem to pose a problem, just an older, likely not well off guy making do without a car.

    I wouldn't want one unless I had some injury or other physical problem that made it the only practicable way to bike. My stepmother used her bike for errands and exercise before knee problems made it too difficult - I wondered if an electric assist bike would help her on the hills, but she ended up with double knee replacement instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    With the ageing of the population, I think (or hope) that bikes with pedal assist might allow more people to enjoy cycling. Seniors aren't really commuters, but they have lots of free time, and even in the deep burbs a lot of the trips that people make could be handled by a bike with a front basket.
    Seniors can also have issues with balance and a simple fall off an e-bike could be catastrophic for them.

  26. #26
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    ^ yeah, but there's seniors and then there's seniors. My dad biked all over the place in highschool/university, and now he complains (somewhat jokingly) that the gears on his mountain bike just don't go low enough.

    It's a sad fact of riding that even a slight incline or headwind makes things disproportionately unpleasant compared to flatlanding.

  27. #27
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    An e-trike gets round the senior falling over problem and a tall mast and flag for visibility isn't so much of a drag with an assist to help out.

    I think they make sense for a cargo bike to help haul the bacon home upgrade and into the wind, but it would take the fun out of it.

    BrianMc

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simonns View Post
    I pass a guy on a pedal assist bike going the opposite direction some mornings. He is usually traveling at a pretty decent clip. Probably too fast to see the dirty look I'm giving him.
    Why the dirty look? Obviously the issue has somethings you don't like, but if there was one thing that could change your thoughts on the subject what would it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    Ticks, like the critters? Or Ticks, like the muscle twitch in your quad? Either way, they don't scare me...

    I guess I've dealt with any negatives or fears just through a little planning and experience. I stash clothes at work, give myself extra time to cool down/clean up/get changed/fix a flat if necessary, maximize trips near work with the car to transport laundry, big stuff etc.... Honestly I can't think of anything that I don't like about riding to work. I can imagine that the list would be pretty long if I just randomly jumped on a beat up old bike in my work clothes and expected not to sweat.
    I hate ticks, as in the arachnid. Maybe I'm just a hypochondriac but whenever I get one of those buggers I just keep thinking about Lyme disease!

    Your planning sounds a lot like mine, extra clothes, decrease cadence when nearing destination, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by R+P+K View Post
    The guy I see is riding a Giant Reign (or similar AM bike) with massive forks. The assist thing is some sort big drum in the rear hub. He has twist throttle and some sort of display thing on the stem.

    When I say traffic speeds I mean rush-hour speeds so probably 40km/h? Still much faster than my paltry 19km/h (with a tailwind).

    But like others said, a large part of the appeal is getting form A to B completely under my own steam. I feel proud when I look at my weekly totals and know that I did 100% on my own. I wouldn't feel that with pedal assist.

    I've yet to see a pedal assist bike offroad but I doubt it would be very welcome.
    I would have to agree on the offroad comment, I can just imagine the mess of having people "climbing" sections that are clearly only for gravity work (think trials riding).

    Thanks for clarifying my speed question.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    With the ageing of the population, I think (or hope) that bikes with pedal assist might allow more people to enjoy cycling. Seniors aren't really commuters, but they have lots of free time, and even in the deep burbs a lot of the trips that people make could be handled by a bike with a front basket.

    And I remember reading an article about a golfcart suburb in Florida where no one uses their cars and there are golfcart paths everywhere instead, but why not use ebikes? At least that way they'd be getting some exercise.

    I marvel at all the Europeans who ride everywhere in their stylish coats and somehow don't get gross and smelly, but I am not one of those people. If not getting smelly and gross was a really important consideration for me, then an ebike might be tempting.

    Where I live there's a jackass on a mountainbike that has a little gas engine, and he cruises the MUPs. The problem isn't that his bike is motorized - legally that is a problem, but I don't really care - it's that he's a jackass who can hit 40km/h with the push of a button.
    Great points regarding seniors wanting to ride too. I only wish there was more consideration, like you mentioned in Florida, where maybe urban planners could cater to bikers too. If that "jackass" could pedal his way to 40km/h would your perception change? Thanks for the input.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    I've only seen 1 around here, and he doesn't seem to pose a problem, just an older, likely not well off guy making do without a car.

    I wouldn't want one unless I had some injury or other physical problem that made it the only practicable way to bike. My stepmother used her bike for errands and exercise before knee problems made it too difficult - I wondered if an electric assist bike would help her on the hills, but she ended up with double knee replacement instead.
    Sorry to hear about your stepmother, and I think it's a great topic regarding prevention of health concerns if people found easy ways of staying active. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by R+P+K View Post
    Seniors can also have issues with balance and a simple fall off an e-bike could be catastrophic for them.
    That's very true indeed. Now do you think pedal assist would heighten these dangers or curb them and why?
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    ^ yeah, but there's seniors and then there's seniors. My dad biked all over the place in highschool/university, and now he complains (somewhat jokingly) that the gears on his mountain bike just don't go low enough.

    It's a sad fact of riding that even a slight incline or headwind makes things disproportionately unpleasant compared to flatlanding.
    In San Jose it's fairly flat and the only "struggles" I encounter are the overpass and beating sun. Thanks for sharing.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    An e-trike gets round the senior falling over problem and a tall mast and flag for visibility isn't so much of a drag with an assist to help out.

    I think they make sense for a cargo bike to help haul the bacon home upgrade and into the wind, but it would take the fun out of it.

    BrianMc
    Do you really think that all the fun would be sapped out if pedal assist were used? Maybe I'm just biased as I also road motorcycles in the past.

    Thanks everyone for your contributions!
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    . How (sic) do you think pedal assist would heighten these dangers (of falling off a bike for seniors) or curb them and why?
    I suggested e-trikes. The power assist would counter the weight issue and the lower power output of seniors who have not been cycling with some intensity an appreciable amount of time. I have seen 70 year olds who still race blow by people half their age who thought they were fit. Most seniors realize they don't heal as they once did and that a fracture especially of a hip is a very serious injury, often leading to death. A heavy trike would be safer and more attractive to the less than fit with an e assist. Some exercise is much better than no exercise.

    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    . Do you really think that all the fun would be sapped out if pedal assist were used? Maybe I'm just biased as I also rode (sic) motorcycles in the past.
    My errand bike is not a long tail and is a handful when loaded. There is considerable joy in climbing the grades and getting it home loaded (the bike, not me). It isn't just a grocery run, it's an adventure. Maybe a cargo e-bike would make it attractive to more people, though the entry cost is considerable (over 2K for the Trek). However a long tail bike can be a handful to take up stairs etc without the e assist. Add the weight of the battery pack and motor, and you have a nice anchor though another exercise opportunity.

    BrianMc

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    Do you really think that all the fun would be sapped out if pedal assist were used? Maybe I'm just biased as I also road motorcycles in the past.
    I ride dirt bikes. It's a whole different sport...there are obviously similarities, but the attraction to cycling is that it's...cycling. The attraction to motorcycles is a whole different thing... speed/power/etc. I'd buy a little Honda Trail 90 or some rinky-dink motorcycle long before I'd buy a pedal assist bike If I wanted a slow, cumbersome machine to putter around on... To me a bicycle with a motor is the equivelant of pulling the motor out of a dirt bike and adding cranks and pedals. Why not just admit that you want a motorcycle instead of a bicycle?
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    I ride dirt bikes. It's a whole different sport...there are obviously similarities, but the attraction to cycling is that it's...cycling. The attraction to motorcycles is a whole different thing... speed/power/etc. I'd buy a little Honda Trail 90 or some rinky-dink motorcycle long before I'd buy a pedal assist bike If I wanted a slow, cumbersome machine to putter around on... To me a bicycle with a motor is the equivelant of pulling the motor out of a dirt bike and adding cranks and pedals. Why not just admit that you want a motorcycle instead of a bicycle?
    I think I may have dropped too many references to my riding days, and I want to clarify that I want this project to address the topics that have been discussed. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for chiming in.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    Hey all,

    I'm a student at San Jose State University, and I have a project that involves bike commuting, and I was wondering if some of you guys and gals could chime in their thoughts on commuting with some sort of pedal assist?

    There are tons of option out there yet I rarely see anyone using them.While they may be out there they are not mainstream

    What are your reasons for not using them?Don't need to more fun to just pedal normally

    Or if you do use them what was the greatest factor in getting one?

    Thanks all,

    Bryan D.
    You have two basic types of pedal assist.....Those that move with traffic and must be on a road.

    Those that can also ride the bike paths....

    I have seen a few of each...competing in traffic is a death wish.

    Riding the paths with assist is for people that could not do it otherwise.

  35. #35
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    bryan_d, I`ve I`ve investigated pedal assist with thoughts of possibly putting together an assisted bike for me and/or my wife. I decided against it, but have no problems with anybody else for using one. For my wife and I, while I`d love to play with one, I decided that we`d just never use one enough to justify the cost. For me personally, I already ride to wherever I need to in my own little valley, and to ride into town, whether assisted or not, I`d probably either hop in my truck. In the cases where I`d likely use the assisted bike, that would be nice weather and plenty of time available, so why not pedal? I shudder to think of my wife riding one, so that kind of scares me off too.

    Other problems that concerned me (some have already been mentioned, but these are my personal concerns):
    Cost of good batteries are outrageous if they have enough capacity to be of any real use.
    ICE, even four-stroke, is likely to be met with a lot of evil eye where it`s technicaly legal.
    Lots of confusion about what IS legal- if an owner has to research for days to find out what his status is, do you really believe the cops are going to know and understand that status?
    With good batteries and good controller, an (expensive) electric system might be very nice, price aside, until something inevitably goes wrong (electronics eventually fail, that`s just life). Since I don`t know squat about electronics, I`d be at a total loss for troubleshooting and repair of the system and would have to rely on expensive experts to handle it all for me.
    Finally, there`s enough confusion about how and where I`m supposed to ride my "normal" bikes. Ha, like any of my bikes are normal! Anyway, think how confuzededer I`d be and the drivers around me would be if I were on an assisted bike.

    Those are my thoughts. How bout telling us what the aim of your project is?

  36. #36
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    It's always hard for enthusiasts of any type to understand what would motivate non-enthusiasts. For example, Honda build a nice motorcycle that they thought would appeal to non-motorcyclists, the Pacific Coast (PC800). It didn't work.

    I really don't think you will get lazy Americans to ride bikes by giving them an electric motor and battery. Especially since pedaling such a thing will be much harder than pedaling a normal bike. Instead, just make electric scooters with no pedals. As far as the elderly go, I've seen electric golf carts licensed for the road (non highway use of course). Keep bikes simple.

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    I think Pedal assist systems are interesting. In general, I support anything that helps get more of the general public on a bike and out of their cages. However, I think that given the option of a pedal assist, most Americans would prefer the shelter/comfort, safety and cargo carrying options that a vehicle provides. This is probably the reason you don't see more motorcycles on the road. I think that for most people, that represents the biggest barriers to bike commuting. That and the actually or perceived lack of bike friendly roads.

    Personally, I hate the idea of strapping on an extra 40 lbs of equipment on my bike. I think it would feel pretty cumbersome, I wouldn't get to work that much faster and I'd be sacrificing the fitness benefit. On the other hand, I think it would be sweet to be able to cruise a lot further on a weekend tour than I would normally be able to. Double century anyone?

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    I commute by bike because of convenience. There are a lot of aspects of that convenience.

    Most days, I carry my bike down two half-flights of stairs to the street. Then I ride it for about three quarters of a mile with a little multi-pitch climby thing at the end, do a mostly flat or downhill-trending mile and a half, and I'm at school. I leave my bike locked outside for several hours, and at the end of the day I repeat the trip, in reverse, including carrying it up my two half-flights. Some days I guess it would be cool to have a motor to help me with the climbs in either direction but at the same time, commuting by bike means that even when I don't have time to do anything resembling training, at least I'm riding two and a half hours a week.

    My current bike cost $450. It replaces a series of sub-$200 bikes that I destroyed; I'm hoping spending a little more on something newer and higher-spec gets me something that stands up better.

    My worry is that if I added a pedal assist device to my bike, it would be more of a battle to get it in and out of my house and it would mean I'd be locking something more valuable outside to get stolen or vandalized. At the same time, I don't see it as making the bike more useful to me. And I can get a motorcycle for $4100, before I even argue with the retailer about the price, and scooters for about half that. (Or used of course.)

    You've got to somehow stuff this device into an MSRP that doesn't make people think "scooter" and keep it as convenient to use as a bicycle.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    A lot of strong opinions by people who have never ridden a pedal assist ebike or just don't fully understand them. I have a BionX PL-350 kit mounted on a 2001 Rocky Mountain Vertex Team Only hardtail. My complete ebike is less than 40lbs.

    I try and commute to work by bike mon-fri. I also do long hard hilly rides on weekends. 3 to 5 hours every Saturday and Sunday. This means my legs are complete utter toast on Monday morning.

    Commuting to work by bike on monday would be counter productive to my recovery. But using my pedal assist ebike allows me to average over 20mph with a very light pedal stroke. It means I ride a bike to work instead of taking my car.

    I also use it Fridays. Tuesday and Thursday I do structured interval training. Friday morning my legs are toast. Riding to work would be counter productive to my recovery. My pedal assist ebike allows me to average over 20mph at a very light pedal load. It means I ride a bike to work instead of taking my car.

    It's an assist system. You can still pedal as hard as you want. You can still get as hard a workout as you want. In fact. Once your speed exceeds the motors max operating speed on a street legal kit. You're pedaling a bike with 15 or so pounds of battery and motor with no assistance...lol.
    Last edited by Keski; 03-11-2012 at 09:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keski View Post
    A lot of strong opinions by people who have never ridden a pedal assist ebike or just don't fully understand them. I have a BionX PL-350 kit mounted on a 2001 Rocky Mountain Vertex Team Only hardtail. My complete ebike is less than 40lbs.

    I try and commute to work by bike mon-fri. I also do long hard hilly rides on weekends. 3 to 5 hours every Saturday and Sunday. This means my legs are complete utter toast on Monday morning.

    Commuting to work by bike on monday would be counter productive to my recovery. But using my pedal assist ebike allows me to average over 20mph with a very light pedal stroke. It means I ride a bike to work instead of taking my car.

    I also use it Fridays. Tuesday and Thursday I do structured interval training. Friday morning my legs are toast. Riding to work would be counter productive to my recovery. My pedal assist ebike allows me to average over 20mph at a very light pedal load. It means I ride a bike to work instead of taking my car.

    It's an assist system. You can still pedal as hard as you want. You can still get as hard a workout as you want. In fact. Once your speed exceeds the motors max operating speed on a street legal kit. You're pedaling a bike with 15 or so pounds of battery and motor with no assistance...lol.
    This is a very specific use of the technology that wouldn't apply to most people. I love riding bikes, but I'm not interested in "training". If I were into that sort of thing, I'd probably prioritize the commute and work the training thing around it instead of the other way around. After all, I'm not gonna win the Olympics or Tour de Whatever.

    Also, "less than 40lbs" is still really freaking heavy for a bike that isn't ridden off road and isn't a cargo bike. Those of us in urban areas often have to carry our bikes up and down stairs. So it's great that you like yours but I still think that normal bikes make way more sense for the vast majority of people.

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    Compared to actual training, commutes are often pretty crappy training. Keski's use actually makes a lot of sense to me.

    I'll drag myself to wherever after an intense day. But at the moment, I'm not going far; my commutes have rarely broken a half hour. I also have no pride about using my granny gear, or had none when I had a granny gear.

    I'm never going to make the Olympics, but I'd like to cat up in the disciplines I compete in. Getting better at things is fun.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    You have two basic types of pedal assist.....Those that move with traffic and must be on a road.

    Those that can also ride the bike paths....

    I have seen a few of each...competing in traffic is a death wish.

    Riding the paths with assist is for people that could not do it otherwise.
    I'm wondering what you mean about competing with traffic? Good point on those that could not ride otherwise. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    bryan_d, I`ve I`ve investigated pedal assist with thoughts of possibly putting together an assisted bike for me and/or my wife. I decided against it, but have no problems with anybody else for using one. For my wife and I, while I`d love to play with one, I decided that we`d just never use one enough to justify the cost. For me personally, I already ride to wherever I need to in my own little valley, and to ride into town, whether assisted or not, I`d probably either hop in my truck. In the cases where I`d likely use the assisted bike, that would be nice weather and plenty of time available, so why not pedal? I shudder to think of my wife riding one, so that kind of scares me off too.

    Other problems that concerned me (some have already been mentioned, but these are my personal concerns):
    Cost of good batteries are outrageous if they have enough capacity to be of any real use.
    ICE, even four-stroke, is likely to be met with a lot of evil eye where it`s technicaly legal.
    Lots of confusion about what IS legal- if an owner has to research for days to find out what his status is, do you really believe the cops are going to know and understand that status?
    With good batteries and good controller, an (expensive) electric system might be very nice, price aside, until something inevitably goes wrong (electronics eventually fail, that`s just life). Since I don`t know squat about electronics, I`d be at a total loss for troubleshooting and repair of the system and would have to rely on expensive experts to handle it all for me.
    Finally, there`s enough confusion about how and where I`m supposed to ride my "normal" bikes. Ha, like any of my bikes are normal! Anyway, think how confuzededer I`d be and the drivers around me would be if I were on an assisted bike.

    Those are my thoughts. How bout telling us what the aim of your project is?
    Hey rodar, thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I agree with your comments regarding costs and maintenance.

    And the aim of this project is still very foggy right now. I know I want to come up with a solution that promotes cycling as a transportation alternative but beyond that it is still too early to say.

    Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    It's always hard for enthusiasts of any type to understand what would motivate non-enthusiasts. For example, Honda build a nice motorcycle that they thought would appeal to non-motorcyclists, the Pacific Coast (PC800). It didn't work.

    I really don't think you will get lazy Americans to ride bikes by giving them an electric motor and battery. Especially since pedaling such a thing will be much harder than pedaling a normal bike. Instead, just make electric scooters with no pedals. As far as the elderly go, I've seen electric golf carts licensed for the road (non highway use of course). Keep bikes simple.
    Thanks for chiming in, and I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. And regarding your "lazy Americans" comment, I think I really want to aim in changing this view with this project. It will be an uphill battle, but I'm going to try my best. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbklutz View Post
    I think Pedal assist systems are interesting. In general, I support anything that helps get more of the general public on a bike and out of their cages. However, I think that given the option of a pedal assist, most Americans would prefer the shelter/comfort, safety and cargo carrying options that a vehicle provides. This is probably the reason you don't see more motorcycles on the road. I think that for most people, that represents the biggest barriers to bike commuting. That and the actually or perceived lack of bike friendly roads.

    Personally, I hate the idea of strapping on an extra 40 lbs of equipment on my bike. I think it would feel pretty cumbersome, I wouldn't get to work that much faster and I'd be sacrificing the fitness benefit. On the other hand, I think it would be sweet to be able to cruise a lot further on a weekend tour than I would normally be able to. Double century anyone?
    Thanks for sharing.I really like your thoughts regarding the lack of bike friendly roads, but like many things demand will drive that. Double centuries do sound like fun, but I wonder if my rear-end will give out before my legs do?! Hahhaha Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I commute by bike because of convenience. There are a lot of aspects of that convenience.

    Most days, I carry my bike down two half-flights of stairs to the street. Then I ride it for about three quarters of a mile with a little multi-pitch climby thing at the end, do a mostly flat or downhill-trending mile and a half, and I'm at school. I leave my bike locked outside for several hours, and at the end of the day I repeat the trip, in reverse, including carrying it up my two half-flights. Some days I guess it would be cool to have a motor to help me with the climbs in either direction but at the same time, commuting by bike means that even when I don't have time to do anything resembling training, at least I'm riding two and a half hours a week.

    My current bike cost $450. It replaces a series of sub-$200 bikes that I destroyed; I'm hoping spending a little more on something newer and higher-spec gets me something that stands up better.

    My worry is that if I added a pedal assist device to my bike, it would be more of a battle to get it in and out of my house and it would mean I'd be locking something more valuable outside to get stolen or vandalized. At the same time, I don't see it as making the bike more useful to me. And I can get a motorcycle for $4100, before I even argue with the retailer about the price, and scooters for about half that. (Or used of course.)

    You've got to somehow stuff this device into an MSRP that doesn't make people think "scooter" and keep it as convenient to use as a bicycle.
    Thanks Andrew, you and I share similar needs and views on the topic and it's really nice to reinforce my own views with others. I agree that weight, just as other have said, will be critical to this being a success, along with other factors. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keski View Post
    A lot of strong opinions by people who have never ridden a pedal assist ebike or just don't fully understand them. I have a BionX PL-350 kit mounted on a 2001 Rocky Mountain Vertex Team Only hardtail. My complete ebike is less than 40lbs.

    I try and commute to work by bike mon-fri. I also do long hard hilly rides on weekends. 3 to 5 hours every Saturday and Sunday. This means my legs are complete utter toast on Monday morning.

    Commuting to work by bike on monday would be counter productive to my recovery. But using my pedal assist ebike allows me to average over 20mph with a very light pedal stroke. It means I ride a bike to work instead of taking my car.

    I also use it Fridays. Tuesday and Thursday I do structured interval training. Friday morning my legs are toast. Riding to work would be counter productive to my recovery. My pedal assist ebike allows me to average over 20mph at a very light pedal load. It means I ride a bike to work instead of taking my car.

    It's an assist system. You can still pedal as hard as you want. You can still get as hard a workout as you want. In fact. Once your speed exceeds the motors max operating speed on a street legal kit. You're pedaling a bike with 15 or so pounds of battery and motor with no assistance...lol.
    A fantastic point of view you brought up here, Keski. I really like how it incorporates the "true-rider" type who rides for the leisure aspect but also wants to ride for utility. I feel that my project will be more geared towards the "non-rider" but reading your comments gives me more to work off of. Thanks a bunch.

    Thanks all, and keep em' coming.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  43. #43
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    I personally have no desire or need (this isn't a bravado statement). I ride and commute for fun, for general health and to stay thin. With my commute that means about 3 hours of riding per day where my heart rate is in the 160s or so and that seems to do pretty well for me. Additionally my ride is mostly bike path so the speed limit is 15 mph - it doesn't take much pedal power to get going that fast on most days (damned wind).
    :wq

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    For a couple years I would commute on a Specialized Hardrock by bike/ferry/bike to work and back almost everyday. The mile to the ferry was an elevation change of about 200 feet. I liked the workout this routine gave me, and I never pushed it so I never got too sweaty. It felt very leisurely - never felt the need for assitance.

    These days I work at a ranch/nature preserve with mainly dirt fire roads spread out over a couple hundred of acres. I decided to use my XC bike as often as I can there, when I don't have cargo to shuttle, etc. Feels great to be out in nature! But there's about 1500 feet of elevation differential over the various valleys and peaks. Here I could use some help - doing the work of patrolling the place is quite a challenge without using some kind of jeep or ATV. Gasoline engines are fun and easy, but we like to keep fossil fuel use to a minimum, so in that light alone pedal assist technology makes some sense. Another consideration is that, gas-powered vehicles make a lot of noise and scare the native animals something the owners want to avoid.

    The main problem is it takes quite a while to get around just on pedal-power you you end up pretty knackered at the end of the day. For all those reasons, I've been considering adding some kind of electric system so I can still head out with say 20 pounds of gear to work, and get back in reasonable time. Could be Bionx or the Ego Kit... since we don't have the know-how, we'd rather just buy a kit at this point to try out.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by nachomc View Post
    I personally have no desire or need (this isn't a bravado statement). I ride and commute for fun, for general health and to stay thin. With my commute that means about 3 hours of riding per day where my heart rate is in the 160s or so and that seems to do pretty well for me. Additionally my ride is mostly bike path so the speed limit is 15 mph - it doesn't take much pedal power to get going that fast on most days (damned wind).
    Have you always commuted to work? Do you think a system like this could benefit some other co-workers by chance?

    Quote Originally Posted by cloudripper View Post
    For a couple years I would commute on a Specialized Hardrock by bike/ferry/bike to work and back almost everyday. The mile to the ferry was an elevation change of about 200 feet. I liked the workout this routine gave me, and I never pushed it so I never got too sweaty. It felt very leisurely - never felt the need for assitance.

    These days I work at a ranch/nature preserve with mainly dirt fire roads spread out over a couple hundred of acres. I decided to use my XC bike as often as I can there, when I don't have cargo to shuttle, etc. Feels great to be out in nature! But there's about 1500 feet of elevation differential over the various valleys and peaks. Here I could use some help - doing the work of patrolling the place is quite a challenge without using some kind of jeep or ATV. Gasoline engines are fun and easy, but we like to keep fossil fuel use to a minimum, so in that light alone pedal assist technology makes some sense. Another consideration is that, gas-powered vehicles make a lot of noise and scare the native animals something the owners want to avoid.

    The main problem is it takes quite a while to get around just on pedal-power you you end up pretty knackered at the end of the day. For all those reasons, I've been considering adding some kind of electric system so I can still head out with say 20 pounds of gear to work, and get back in reasonable time. Could be Bionx or the Ego Kit... since we don't have the know-how, we'd rather just buy a kit at this point to try out.
    Thanks for sharing, and I hope to hear about which option you end up going with.

    bryan d
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  46. #46
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    About 70 pound trailer/kid combo, snowstorm, and riding single speed so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I''m not dedicated to cycle-commuting, just hate how slow, expensive, and unreliable public transit is.

    Pedal assist doesn't make sense to me, because I can't get stronger if something's doing even part of the work for me and it took me a long time to get where I am today.

    Regarding recovery: I may get fried and burnt out peridically but I'm not a racer so my recovery time can slow me down for a couple days if it has to. I just try to leave 5 minutes earlier in the morning, no biggie.

    FWIW, the only pedal assisted bike that's gotten around me and stayed ahead was burning red lights and running motors both front and rear. So I don't even know if he actually ever pedaled.

    I just don't get the point of that much cash being spent considering the end result can be slower, is definitely heavier, and bloody expensive all things considered.
    Couple electric motors, couple rims, couple wheel build costs, and you're spitting distance to a 5 or 600$ beater motorcycle that WILL be faster, allows you to COMPLETELY recover, and CAN carry more.
    Why emulate an engine with electric assist motor?
    Just get a beat-up 250 or 350cc bike and call it properly done.

    Just don't see any part of my ride that needs assistance that these things can provide. Gears make the bike easier, or faster. Would make more sense to get geared than assisted.
    If I need to be faster that badly I'll move to the motorcycle.
    If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by byknuts View Post
    Couple electric motors, couple rims, couple wheel build costs, and you're spitting distance to a 5 or 600$ beater motorcycle that WILL be faster, allows you to COMPLETELY recover, and CAN carry more.
    Why emulate an engine with electric assist motor?
    Ding Ding Ding! My thoughts exactly. I know it's a niche market, but I can't seem to understand the niche.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by byknuts View Post
    About 70 pound trailer/kid combo, snowstorm, and riding single speed so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I''m not dedicated to cycle-commuting, just hate how slow, expensive, and unreliable public transit is.

    Pedal assist doesn't make sense to me, because I can't get stronger if something's doing even part of the work for me and it took me a long time to get where I am today.

    Regarding recovery: I may get fried and burnt out peridically but I'm not a racer so my recovery time can slow me down for a couple days if it has to. I just try to leave 5 minutes earlier in the morning, no biggie.

    FWIW, the only pedal assisted bike that's gotten around me and stayed ahead was burning red lights and running motors both front and rear. So I don't even know if he actually ever pedaled.

    I just don't get the point of that much cash being spent considering the end result can be slower, is definitely heavier, and bloody expensive all things considered.
    Couple electric motors, couple rims, couple wheel build costs, and you're spitting distance to a 5 or 600$ beater motorcycle that WILL be faster, allows you to COMPLETELY recover, and CAN carry more.
    Why emulate an engine with electric assist motor?
    Just get a beat-up 250 or 350cc bike and call it properly done.

    Just don't see any part of my ride that needs assistance that these things can provide. Gears make the bike easier, or faster. Would make more sense to get geared than assisted.
    If I need to be faster that badly I'll move to the motorcycle.
    Thanks I appreciate you chiming in. Do you by chance no any co-worker, friends, or family that you think would like to get back into biking again but need a little "push?"

    Thanks.
    Just keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    Do you by chance no any co-worker, friends, or family that you think would like to get back into biking again but need a little "push?"
    I sure do know a lot of people with bikes sitting in the garage with their tires deflated, for various reasons, ie lost interest or 'time'.

    Bottom line is that I believe at this stage, electric assist is a luxury most people cannot afford. For me it's a dubious financial stretch and very experimental, even a kit as polished as the Bionx. Battery technology is quite limited in range and heavy. The extra weight makes it a real pain for anyone living in an apartment where there is no secure, street level storage. And the biggest hurdle is the MSRP as AndrwSwitch noted. The kind of person that buys a new road bike and a new MTB is certainly spending in the neighborhood of an electric assist bike for sure. But there is a stigma of bringing a gun to a carbon fiber knife fight...

    That said, Keski's got a point in that the benefit of assist is underappreciated, even with the flaws in weight and MSRP. Basically, the ordinary bicycle's development over the last hundred years shows much less progress than other modes of transport. We have the bullet train, (had) Concorde (but jets are still way better than the Wright Flyer), and even an entry level car is probably better than 1912's Rolls Royce.

    All cars once came with 'manual' windows (as recently as the 90s), and power windows were originally an expensive option for Cadillacs and Mercedes. Telegraph and Teletype have given way to Texting and Email. Cell phones once were real bricks in size, weight and cost...and only Howard Hughes and Gordon Gekko could afford one. But all those things eventually became mainstream. But we are all still pedaling at ~15 mph just like Thomas Edison...

    At the very least, electric assist has the potential to help cyclists keep up with traffic for the first time in history, and eliminate the stigma of being a traffic obstacle and target for road rage. I'm sure we've all had those raw encounters with pent-up hostility. Maybe it's the same feeling the Amish have while cars whip past their horse drawn buggies.

    Sure, you may not feel like you're 'doing the work', but instead of riding 25 miles, you might go twice as far in roughly the same time. And you'd be keeping up with traffic on the roads, and be able to dial it down for the bike / mixed-use path. If you just go with the flow, you won't piss anybody off.

    When you go to buy a car, you like to hear 'Power everything' and 'all options' under the assumption you're getting more for your money. Stick shift is not as popular as automatic, and it hurts the resale value. Of course, 'enthusiasts' always want the manual, but there are fewer of them with the proliferation of dual-clutch gearboxes that will shift faster than humanly possible.

    Someday, electric cyclists might feel the same pity for regular cyclists that Bullet train passengers have for the prisoners on a freight-speed Amtrak. That is why it is so sad for there to be no Concorde in the skies or people on the Moon - it shows civilization stumbled backwards in the same way as when Pol Pot ordered city-dwellers to go back to subsistence farming.

    But in the case of Concorde or a Moon base, the technology was too far ahead of the times, and it was uneconomic, too bleeding-edge. While no-one today would settle for a phone-brick or manual window cranks, those are cheap fixes. It's hard to get some kinds of costs down, and that's the problem with mass adoption of ebikes now. That said, I think there will be a future for ebikes, just like people moved on from landlines to cell phones, even though the costs are generally higher - there is just too much benefit to ignore them - people sometimes simply a higher cost of doing business or life.

    Civilization is about moving forward. Even though that progress might be in a more resource-constrained and conscious world. So if we are ordered by some Ecomentalist dictator to give up individual petroleum consumption, I think I'd choose to bike with a little electricity. It would be more of a hoot than a death march by pedal power alone. Anything else would be so pedestrian.

    Here's an ebike of the future due out this year (Conway E-Rider, 160mm full suspension, est. 44 lbs?...5500-7000 Euros):
    CONWAY E-Rider High Speed Test "Bergrennen" - YouTube

    Here's a Giant Reign X1 with 350w 48v Bionx. Obviously, Reign is a bit overkill for the commuting/grocery getting, but it is very plush and as fast as a hybrid or road bike, slices through wind, and way better off the line. And a dedicated offroad Fisher Roscoe with 1000w Ego-kit (battery fits in a backpack), no unsprung weight, and balanced like a MTB should be.

    Oh, and I forgot my other bikes even exist anymore...at least until something breaks
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Commuting with Pedal Assist-img_4287.jpg  

    Commuting with Pedal Assist-img_4426-copy.jpg  

    Last edited by cloudripper; 05-27-2012 at 12:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    Thanks I appreciate you chiming in. Do you by chance no any co-worker, friends, or family that you think would like to get back into biking again but need a little "push?"

    Thanks.

    my buddy's mother is an e-biker, but it's a purpose built e-scooter not a converted bicycle.
    she used to cycle commute basically her entire life, never got a driver's licence, lives in an apartment building, now retired, basically ticked all the boxes you can think of.
    she said she did it because she couldn't handle some of the hills anymore.

    I'd go for something with real legs, make a difference in my inter-city abilities, she chose not to. *shrug*
    If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_d View Post
    Thanks for responding rpk, and I'm wondering about what type of pedal assist have you seen that goes as fast as traffic speeds? I tried out the A2B along with other electric and gas systems and found them slow. But I do see your concern regarding safety when a fully fit/racer commuter were to use one.
    I have seen one guy with two with hub motors that were 2/3 the size of the wheel. While I have no idea how much kW he was running, that guy did not pedal and was going uphill on the bike path and going faster than 30 MPH traffic on the adjacent street.

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