By: Mike from DIYBIKING.COM
If you live in a four story walk-up in Greenwich Village do not - I repeat - do not buy a Stromer ST1 under any circumstances.
I’m just throwing that out there.
Here’s the thing: I’ve already ridden and reviewed the electric assist Brompton and Dahon Formula, and these are electric assist folding bikes that brag about their weight and portability. The Stromer ST1 doesn’t fold and, at 62 pounds, is around twenty pounds heavier than either of those aforementioned NYCeWheels bikes.
The fact that it doesn’t fold was an issue out of the gate, because I couldn’t bring it with me on the train if I returned from Manhattan during Metro North peak hours. So I brought it home early one weekday afternoon and was not only able to bring it on the train easily, but I was able to see one of the new and seldom seen Metro North bike racks.
I you eat your Wheaties, you’ll be able to bring the bike up and hook it on the rack. When I did this, I heard no creak and because it is still the relative size of a normal bike it did fit.
While sitting next to it on the train ride back, I got to look at the bike in such a way I was able to understand where all of the weight was coming from. The 500W motor in the rear hub. The 36 volt lithium ion battery stowed in the bottom tube. The rear rack and fenders - all of it gives the bike heft.
Still more weight comes from the unusual and optional seatpost A Cane Creek Thudbuster. I’ve been familiar with these for a while and would write a song about them if I could. Any bike with a hardball aluminum frame (like the Stromer ST1) needs one of these. It just makes a more comfortable ride.
So yes, this is a heavy bike. That can’t be sugarcoated. But then again, you get something for all of this heft. To find out what it is, you have to turn the bike on, select the ‘Power’ mode, and begin pedaling.
With the fat Big Ben tires and the solid frame, the bike doesn’t feel like anything other than an electric assist battering ram when riding. Pedaling at a pace that feels like ten miles an hour while the spedometer says you’re going double that is a grin-inducer, to be sure. Not only that, but the bike has regenerative braking that puts power back into the battery when you slow down - which is not a common feature.
I’m going to have to put this bike through some paces - including, but not limited, to a hilly, 20+ mile ride. I’ll let you know how that goes shortly.
The Mars Rover meets Surly attitude in this space age electric bike.
One of the things I value most in a bicycle is its reliability in any terrain. Even in NYC, you can encounter hills, potholes, gravel, and glass – not to mention spontaneous rain and snow. While sleek city bikes are stylish and lightweight, I don’t always feel comfortable taking them too far.
At a glance, you KNOW this won’t be an issue with the Surly Moonlander. The tires alone live up to the name — they’re big (and I mean BIG — 4.7 inches wide big) and knobby enough to take a joyride on the moon.
BionX D-Series: A match made in heaven
The BionX D-Series motor powered assisted pedaling is a godsend in a bike oriented for rough terrain – the acceleration of the motor is buttery smooth, taking you from 0 to 20mph in seconds. In the stop-and-go streets of Manhattan, I was leading the pack of cars with ease.
Some electric bikes can’t handle the speeds reached with a motor helping you out, making the ride feel bumpy and brittle. The Surly Moonlander and the BionX D-Series is a match made in heaven. Thanks to the cushy tires, I was sailing over potholes, glass, curbs, and lawns at over 20MPH and couldn’t even tell the difference.
Handling the Moonlander
It’s a Surly bike, so the breaking is predictably perfect. They’re soft and gradual, unless you slam down on them in an emergency – at which point you stop on a dime.
The only thing more shocking than the massive tires on this bike is how lightweight it is. It’s a formidable electric bicycle – easily one of our biggest in the shop – and yet it was one of the lightest electric bikes we own, weighing in at ~45lbs.
During my test tour, I was riding in the slick mud and leaves of Central Park and never found myself slipping or losing control. Even pedaling straight up jagged rock formations was possible!
A Clear Winner
The Surly Moonlander is to all-terrain what the Stromer ST2 is to speed and power: the absolute best in its class. The space-age look and crazy performance is sure to draw attention. Through rain, snow, or some sort of Indiana Jones adventure, the BionX powered Surly Moonlander will not let you down.
Here at NYCeWheels, we're especially proud of the BionX powered Surly Moonlander... because we built it ourselves! Check it out on our online shop – and if you're based in NY, come in for a test ride.
This last month has been a month of firsts, a month of living to the fullest and making bold decisions. At the supermarket I passed up the 89 cent “poor man” onion to purchase the ever elusive Sweet Vidalia, at the MoMa, I passed up Andy Warhol to see the Diego Riverez exhibit, and as a means of transportation I took a detour into the 21st century, test-riding a couple of top of the line electric bikes, the Kettler Twin and the Stromer Electric Bike.
Electric Bikes are awesome!
Both of these bikes were quite impressive. The Stromer Electric Bike has four different levels of assistance and at its fastest can go upwards of 30 miles per hour. The Kettler Twin’s not far behind, with three levels of assistance, and a 20 miles per hour top speed.
I had a fantastic time with both of these bikes, but it also got me thinking. Could I ever be the kind of person who rides an electric bike all the time? Did I miss my road-bike or had I been seduced by the thrall of electric speed?
An electric bike is a unique experience
Riding an electric bike is definitely a different experience than riding a traditional road-bike. One of the things I like best about road-bikes is the direct transference of effort to speed--- you get out what you put in. On an electric bike, you no longer need to put in the effort if you don't want to. If you start feeling a little tired, you can just kick up the assistance and let the bike do the work!
Commute on The Stromer or the Kettler Twin!
This makes an electric bike, like the Stromer or the Kettler Twin, a great choice for commuters. For someone who is tired of being stuck in traffic with their car, tired of paying gas prices month after month, an electric bike offers an elegant and virtually effortless solution.
E-bikes have the advantages of a road-bike with none of the effort!
While, at first, I found myself missing the physical challenges involved in riding a regular bike, eventually, I began to see all the amazing possibilities opened up by electric bikes. On a bike like the Stromer or the Kettler Twin, you could commute 14 miles to work, feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, without spending a dime on gas and without feeling the least bit tired!
If you asked me last week if I wanted to buy an electric bike I might raised an eyebrow or two, but now after speeding up a hill on the Stromer Electric Bike, pushing thirty and grinning like a maniac, I might be changing my tune.
But don't take my word for it, go try one for yourself, and see which electric bike is right for you!
Another great extended test begins today. After getting my order confirmation from NYCeWheels last week, the shipping company has called to schedule the delivery of my new Gepida Reptila 1100 this afternoon. To say I am excited doesn't do justice to the word. Watching the Gepida video of Peter demonstrating this bike has fueled my fire to grasp it. If you haven't seen this clip on NYCeWheels website or Facebook page, I suggest you have a look. I am already impressed with this new electric-motored bike, and I haven't even ridden it yet.
If you've read my articles on the Brompton folding bike, then you might have a feel for the reason I titled this story the way I did. The name of this bike is just so cool. I will make every attempt to add reptile references to the titles and story lines. I am even thinking about getting a snakeskin to attach to the top tube of my new bike. I'm still debating on if a pair of large fangs on the handlebars would be too much.
So here is the bite to this series of articles. Bert is a 'nice' guy. Bert is the top Gecko at NYCeWheels. Bert knows I have been riding my E-bike for over three years. Bert thinks I can evaluate this bike and convey its quality and worth. Bert sends me the bike fully assembled and ready to ride. Bert lets me give it the full shakedown and then tell you how cool it is. Bert expects you to believe me and then you rush over to get your own Gepida Reptila 1100. Sounds simple enough to me.
Lets do this!
Since before, and after, my wife and I purchased the electric-assist bikes we have now, we have test ridden many different ones. I have reported on many of them on my own blog site. I have a long relationship with bikes and electro-mechanical things. I have devoted my life to the repair and modification of transportation machines. I think Bert is correct in thinking that my opinion on such matters can be trusted. As he, and you found in my Brompton blogs, I will tell you the straight story without the salesperson slant. I'm a mechanic, not a salesman.
Enough of that, on to the bikes. The electric motored bike I ride is the least expensive one on the market. Fairly low quality and very heavy, I have still been happy with it. I have found that most people wouldn't. They wouldn't put up with the mechanical problems I had to overcome to make it dependable. Most people want an E-bike that is built well and exhibits no problems. That is kind of a by-product of cost. I tell people you don't want the cheapest, and you don't need the priciest. Somewhere in between those extremes is the machine for you. The Gepida Reptila 1100 fits into that category. With it's European quality and it's mid-range cost, it should be a perfect fit for most people who are looking for an electric motored bicycle. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Chances are if you are reading this, you have a fairly good idea what an electric bike is and why you want one. They go by many names. I have found I like the term 'E-bike'. Also used are--Electric bike--Electric bicycle--Electric assist bike--Bike with an electric motor--Pedelec--And others. Some of these have to do with your ability to power up the motor without pedaling. There are many brands and types of E-bikes. The best and most popular use a brush-less motor in the hub of the front or rear wheel. A lithium type battery is the strongest and lightest one available. There are different type of lithium batteries, the Reptila uses a lithium-ion. But all in all, it is a bicycle, with a seat, pedals, and wheels.
So check out that video, search the NYCeWheels site for info, and follow along here as I power down on my new Gepida Reptila 1100.
In the meantime you can read Harrison's first review of the Gepida Reptila
"I took to calling my bike my friend. I carried on silent conversations with it. And of course I paid it the best attention. Which meant that every time I returned home I stood the bike upside down, searched for a clean rag and polished the hubs and the spokes. Then I cleaned the chain and greased it afresh. That operation left ugly stains on the stone in the walkway. My mother would complain, beg me to put a newspaper under the wheel before starting to clean it. Sometimes she would get so incensed that she would say to me, in full sarcasm, 'I'm surprised you don't take that thing to bed with you!' And I would retort---'I would if I had a decent room and a big enough bed.' "
Henry Miller, My Bike and Other Friends.
How can a simple and fun folding E-bike help my community, you might ask. The answer is ’in more ways than is easily imagined‘. The benefits it gives an individual are many. Health, happiness and economical ease are some of the ways. The freedom and joy of a bike ride can be big factors in a person’s life.
Go green and get healthy with E-bikes
The ways it helps those around you and your community are also very big. We all hate air pollution. Equally, we don’t care much for noise pollution either. You won’t see or hear an electric-assist Brompton adding either of these things to the world around you. The world loves quiet and the E-Brompton love the world. Any bike helps to keep the gas-burners off the road and out of the way of our serenity. The Brompton with an electric-assist conversion does it so much better. Of course the folding aspect of the Brompton is very handy for many reasons, but add in the power to help you up the grades and your peace of mind while cycling goes sky-high. A contented person does wonders for any community.
The health benefits of cycling are well known. With an E-Brompton, you have the option of not pedaling, but you will find that when you are on a bike, pedaling just comes naturally. As with most E-bikes, the best way to ride is to let the motor do some of the work while you do the rest. Another great part of E-bikes is the way they can help people recovering from health issues get back on a bike and work their way back to full strength. Count on an electric-assist Brompton for that.
Some people who would otherwise never cycle because of lost strength for many reasons, can enjoy cycling with minimal concerns. Helping people do what they want, when they want to is a big reason that E-bikes continue to gain popularity world-wide. Adding electric power to a Brompton folding bike just makes sense in so many ways.
E-brompton goes to city hall
The reason I decided to do this post on helping the community with my Brompton has to do with a recent trip to city hall here in San Diego. A local bike advocacy group, Bike San Diego, put together a day where we would ask our local leaders to move towards making our town more bike friendly. I could have ridden downtown, but it is quite a way. So, I popped the E-Brompton in the back of my econo-wagon and drove about half way to the free parking area near the airport.
Riding to the meeting was a big part of the plan. And handing over that cash to the parking place might have helped our local economy, but I’d rather spread it around in ways that make more sense. Spending your money wisely helps your community too. It has been proven that a strong biking presence in a area promotes businesses. Riding an E-Brompton makes for a good local economy.
After the meeting there were friends and new friends that wanted to talk about the E-Brompton. And as always I let anyone interested take it for as long of a spin as they wanted. I have long since lost count of how many seats have sat in my saddle since NYCeWheels sent me this bike last year. There is much talk in every instance of how this bike would be so welcome in their lifestyle. E-Bromptons bring community members together.
This post on how E-Bromptons are good for communities is kind of a stretch, but not all that much. Bikes are good for us, E-bikes are good for us, so why not electric-assist folding bikes? If it is good for even one person, the whole area benefits. I know the E-brompton has been great for me. It has been handy, rides great, makes me happy, and helps pull me up the hills when I need. What more could you ask for in a bike?
“Any body type can be fit to a bicycle and any person, regardless of age or sex, can excel on one. In fact, a smart women can be competitive against a stronger man simply by using common sense and intuition.”---Connie Carpenter Phinney.
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Electric bike kits are comprised of an electric bike motor, a battery pack, throttle, and charger. The electric bike motor kit should (and most do) include everything you need when you want a conversion kit for electric bike.
It is a good idea to make sure that the electric bike motor kit you are buying does include everything you will need to convert your bike to an electric bike. If the retailer does not indicate that the electric bike kit includes everything you need than you may want to ask the question before buying.
An electric bike motor kit is a great investment if you already have a quality bike that you are comfortable with and is compatible for an electric bike motor kit.
This is when it becomes really important to choose your retailer carefully. The reality is that some online retailers are just looking to make a profit and will sell an electric bike kit to anyone that wants one, whether or not it will work with their specific bike.
A reputable retailer will make sure your bike is compatible first or they will advise you before you buy your electric bike kit.
The electric bike motor and the full electric bike kit can also give you the best of both worlds when it is combined with a folding bike. A folding bike is a great way to minimize the storage space needed while maximizing your ability to obtain all the benefits of a great bike.
Some retailers offer folding bikes that are already electrified – the retailer adds the electric bike conversion kit to the bike for you. Finding a retailer that can do this is great because then you can be assured that your electric bike conversion kit is installed properly and will operate when you receive it.
Though it is relatively easy to install an electric bike motor kit on your bike, if you have the ability to hire a retailer to do it for you than you are better off. For those that cannot, you can probably install your electric motor bike quickly and easily.
Again, the most important thing to remember if you are considering buying an electric bike kit is to make sure your motorized bike kit includes everything you need to convert your bike to an electric bike – and, of course, that your bike can be converted with an electric bike kit.
More and more retailers offer custom made electric bike kits. If you are considering buying a custom electric bike conversion kit you again want to make sure that you are buying from a reputable retailer. We found a great electric bike motor kit at a shop in New York City called NYCewheels. Click here for details on the BionX electric bike kit.
Dahon is one of the biggest and best folding bike manufacturers in the world. They've been consistently winning folding bike competitions for quality, popularity, and convenience for years. The lightweight bikes are easy to fold, and great for city commuters, since they fold down to a small profile and can be easily stored in a small apartment.
Over the last year, Dahon has been developing their first electric folding bike. One of their lightweight folders with an added boost of electric-assist power could be really convenient and fun for the daily commuter. Finally, after a year of planning, the Dahon Boost electric bike is available to buy.
The Dahon Boost is a Top Quality Electric Bike
Skeptical of an electric bike manufactured by a folding bike company, I was surprised at the ride of the Dahon Boost when I first stepped down on the pedals. It was ultra-responsive, and gave me a proportional motor assistance based on my own pedal power. I just set the power on a controller on the handlebars, and pedaled the bike. The motor was seamless, and I didn't feel a jolt or any skipping when I started and stopped pedaling. It felt just like a regular Dahon folding bike, with someone gently pushing me along.
The Dahon Boost uses a Lithium Battery
Every bike with electric motor power manufactured today is built with a good quality Lithium battery. This allows the bike to travel for roughly twenty miles on a single battery charge. The Dahon Boost, with its integrated pedal-assist, can travel up to 25 or 30 miles, depending on the mode. Its battery is also about half the weight of other electric bike batteries, weighing about 4 lbs! Needless to say, this is one lightweight electric folding bike, with a total weight of about 43 lbs. altogether.
The Dahon Boost has the same folded profile as other Dahon folding bikes, so space is not an issue. It's one of the only electric folding bikes on the market that is portable, lightweight, and also has great range. For city commuters, there is really no better choice for a great electric folding bike.
These days there are so many different electric bike models to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is the right one for you. There are ultra fast sporty electric bikes like the Stromer St1 Platinum, lightweight electric folding bikes like the Formula BionX bike, cruisers like the A2b Alva + or affordable best-bike-for-the-price electric bikes like the iZips.
The best way to learn about a bike is to hear directly from someone who purchased one. Here is an email that we got from Victoria, a customer who purchased the iZip E3 Metro, and wanted tell us her thoughts about her new bike:
"Dear Peter et al.,
My iZip 2014 E3 Metro arrived a week ago and I have put well over 100 miles on it. I love its sturdy body, its low center of gravity stability, its large load carrying capacity, the always active on-demand twist throttle and the cadence Pedelec sensing which makes the Metro take off smoother than for my husband's Pedego Commuter.
The Metro replaces my old and now dead LA Free mid-drive e-bike that used torque sensing. That little bike felt more powerful for hill climbing, but I think that is what mid drives are noted for. In all other ways the new Metro is better--including its five or six-fold increase in distance per battery charge.
The 2014 Metro is a beautifully designed e-bike and prefect for my needs, which include an 11 mile RT rural commute plus frequently a side trip into town for groceries. Here is to the no fossil fuels commute!
We'd like to thank Victoria for sending us this very informative email, and we hope that it will be useful to anyone who has just started looking at the different e-bike models out there. Take it from Victoria, if you want an electric bike that has great range, stability, durability, and a lower price, the iZip 2014 E3 Metro is a great choice!
Today, I took the E-Brompton for a spin. It is a fantastic custom electric bike, and initially it doesn't even look electric. The hub motor isn't immediately noticeable and the battery is well stored and hidden in the front bag. Just like on a standard non-electric Brompton, this front bag is still quickly removable. Disconnect the battery from the bike, remove the bag from the carrier block, and you'll be able to charge your battery inside. And don't worry, the battery is in a separate pouch and doesn't take up much room, leaving tons of space for your own luggage.
The Electric Brompton is nimble and powerful
Riding the electric Brompton bike is a breeze. The motor's controls are ultra simple for setting speed and the thumb throttle is very convenient. The whole E-Brompton setup still weighs under 45 lbs, less than many old school steel road bikes I've owned. This definitely takes the Brompton to the next level as a commuting option. With electric assistance, you'll be able to ride longer distances without breaking a sweat, and when you get to work you won't be exhausted and in need of a change of clothing. So fresh and so clean! (clean!).
Does the Electric Brompton still fold?
The electric Brompton bike folds up just as quickly and easily as a non-electric. Although technically you can fold the bike with the bag still attached, I found it easiest to remove the front bag first, just to give myself a little more breathing room.
From here it's all business as usual. Fold the rear wheel underneath the frame via a quick release, unscrew the hinge at the center of the top tube and swing the front wheel to the right and back towards the frame, loosen and fold the handlebar with a few twists, and blammo, your electric bike can fit in your closet or be checked on an airplane.
For a more detailed description of how to fold the Brompton bike with large high resolution pictures, check out this folding bike blog.
Does an electric bike work with gears?
Because the motor is in the front wheel of the Brompton bike, it can be used simultaneously with the gears. The important thing is to use a Brompton that has a high gear range. When you hold down the throttle, the E- Brompton will shoot you forward at 20 mph, and with a single speed Brompton, you wouldn't be able to pedal fast enough to actually engage the transmission. The model I tried was a 3 speed version which has a nice high gear range and worked well in tandem with the motor, allowing me to pedal along comfortably while pushing 20 mph.
The Electric Brompton is one great ride. It has all the convenience of the original Brompton, the same compact fold, the same flawless craftsmanship, with the added power of an electric motor. Anyone who wants an electric bike with great range and power, and needs it be compact enough to fit in their New York apt, the Electric Brompton bike is the way to go.
Following the timeline of the Who is kind of like following my own, my interest in bikes and that of the E-Brompton. The Who cranked out this wild tune in 1965, just a year after they came together as a band. Said to be one of the top three rock groups of all time, these British rock and rollers are still making history with every appearance. This song is about trying to find a place in society, something many E-Brompton owners might be able to relate to. Then again, why try to fit in when you know you are happy and doing the right thing?
The 60’s were a time of enlightenment and turmoil. Adults had mostly turned away from bicycles to embrace the motorcar. What had been a main source of transportation and relaxation for all was mostly enjoyed by the kids during this era. I know this for a fact because I was one of them, and loved the freedom and excitement bikes offered me daily. That was (and is), “My Generation”.
As I rode and fixed my bikes, I found other interests through home-made electrical devices and music (among others). My bikes allowed me a chance to be myself, free from boundaries and depending on others. At the time I never envisioned a bicycle with an electric motor, even as I would spend time with my cousin who had built a wagon powered by a salvaged washing machine power plant. He was tethered by a super-long extension cord, something that didn’t match my fancy. I was soon to be enamored with stinky, noisy gasoline power, like so many others of my time.
As the 70’s began, I was off and running with the two and four wheeled crowd, loving my hot rods and motorcycles. With every visit to one of the local race tracks, competing with roaring exhausts made my dreams of the era come true. It was during this time I earned my nickname building little econo-cars into muscle car stomping machines. I’ll never regret those days, but also, I’ll never repeat them.
During this decade a man in England was finding the need for a folding bicycle that could change the way we get around. Andrew Ritchie was up and running, getting the name “Brompton Bicycle” a place in two-wheeled history. Even though it only really hit mass-production in the late 80’s, Brompton started to get accepted in the bicycle world.
The eighties saw music change, yet the Who stayed true to their fans. This whole 10 year period still saw me high on gasoline, as a mechanic and racer. Bicycles rarely entered my mind as my heavy foot played a different tune. Sure I rode a bike now and then, fixed some for the neighbor kids and kept just the smallest lookout for new trends. Yet if I couldn’t fill the tank, it wasn’t my kind of ride. Shame on me.
Enter the 90’s. Brompton sales and interest started taking off. The Who continued to play to sold-out crowds. Adults got back on their bikes, following a green movement, exercise, freedom and fun. I was one of those adults, getting a Schwinn college bike from a friend in 91. My youth was rediscovered, the thrill was back, I was in love with bikes once again. My cars were idled much of the time as I took my bike more and more places. It was during this time I got my first taste of an E-bike. Crude, yet very eye-opening to be sure.
Into the next 10 years my cycling expanded. I met my wife and she too was so happy to get on two wheels once again. Still with no E-bikes in our horizon, it didn’t matter, bicycle riding was fun and smart. We were both like minded in the three R’s---Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Before long we were looking for a way to commute by bike. Sure bikes added fun to our lives, but we wanted more.
Enter our E-bikes. After some investigation we got a pair and never looked back.
It was during this time I was reintroduced to folding bikes by NYCeWheels. With a flashy raw lacquer M3L Brompton, I was blown away with everything it offered. (I’m sure you’ve seen my series of articles, “Boy Gets Brompton”). Bikes are awesome, but one that folds and rides great is incredible. All my past times with riding and repairing folding bikes disappeared in my memory as I found the Brompton had none of the weaknesses and problems of those bikes of old.
NYCeWheels sold their first Brompton back in 2005, and it wasn’t long before the founder, Bert Cebular, envisioned mixing his love of it and electric bikes into one. With determination and an experienced crew, the E-Brompton started to take form. Once it was perfected, it became an instant hit. The first one left the sales floor in 2012, with many more to follow. I’ve been riding mine for over two years and have chronicled my times with it many times here on the NYCeWheels blog sites.
This E-Brompton is so well engineered. Taking the lead from Mr. Ritchie, NYCeWheels moved forward with some great innovations. All the extra components are secure and tucked in as not to affect the fold. The quality and longevity are proved to me with every ride. This E-Brompton has been on several vacations, been ridden by so many first time E-bikers and generally been like a right hand man. If you have been following along with this series of articles then you have half a clue to the way I feel about it.
The E-brompton is a bike for my generation, generations past, present and future too. I am sure with the first ride you will feel the same.
BTW, if you hurry I bet you can still get some tickets to the Who’s latest sold-out concert. Turbo Bob.
“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels."---Heinz Stucke, German long-distance touring cyclist.
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The first thing you notice about the the A2B electric bike is that it looks very sturdy. Big beefy 3 inch tires, disc brakes, thick durable Tig Welded frame, with giant ultra strong rear rack sticking out the back -more than any other electric bike in the shop, the A2B has the look of a Moped.
The most comfortable electric bike
This is not to say that you should try going off jumps and doings flips. The A2B looks more like a gas powered mini motorcycle, but it is more of a cruiser than a racer, more a lover than a fighter. First and foremost, the A2B is just incredibly comfortable. Its seat is wide and cushy, and the handlebars are situated relatively close to you, allowing for a more upright riding position, which puts more weight on your sitting bones and less on your wrists. The front and rear suspension are fantastic, allowing you to glide over bumpy streets and trails as though nothing is there. And the thickness of the frame provides extra durability. Of all the electric bikes I've tried, the A2B is definitely the cushiest.
The A2B is also a very powerful electric bike, fit with a 500W motor and a 36 volt lithium ion battery, which fits nicely inside the down tube out of sight and out of mind. This hi wattage motor is combined with a high torque engine making the A2B Electric Bike great for towing a lot of weight. The A2B which we keep here at the shop has a trailer hitch fitted to it so that we can use it to haul equipment, bikes, and other heavy inventory. Once we folded up three brompton bikes, put them in a cart, and used the A2B to haul them all the way from the shop to an exhibition in Tribeca and back. That's around 25 miles hauling about 300 lbs of weight in total!
Just the right amount of Pizzaz
Because of the thickness of its frame and it's numerous components, the A2B is not one of our ultra lightweight electric bikes. Nevertheless, it has great range, particularly if you attach a second battery to the rear rack, as most savvy riders are wont to do. With two batteries at your disposal, you could potentially ride 40 miles or so before having to recharge.
Often customers ask about which electric bikes are the lightest, or which look and feel most like regular bikes. But what I like about the A2B, is that it embraces its ebikeness. Where most electric bikes have pared down frames to minimize weight and increase sleekness, the A2B lets it all hang out, turning heads with some pizzaz. If you're looking for a bike that's nice and beefy, ultra comfortable, but that still has great power and range, the A2B electric bike can't be beat.
There's no doubt about it, we live in an age of wonders. When I was a kid, I loved science fiction, imagined a future of flying cars, teleportation machines, voice activated George Foreman grills that could produce a perfect medium rare steak in seconds, but it never occurred to me that the tech already existed to super charge my old trek bicycle with an electric motor conversion kit.
Maybe if I had spent less time watching Night Rider and more time reading science magazines I would have seen the electric bike revolution coming. As it is, according to a wiki article on the subject electric powered bikes made up 10 to 20 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles on the streets of many major cities by 2007, and the trend is only just beginning. Earlier this month I watched the first footage of an electric powered flying bicycle. My 8 year old self stands agog.
Powerful electric conversion
The electric conversion kit has got to be one of the most fantastic inventions of the 20th century, and as time goes on, the technology for it gets better and better. One of the most advanced kits on the market is the BionX conversion kit, capable of converting pretty much any regular bicycle into a powerful motorized vehicle capable of 45 miles on a charge and 20 mph top speeds.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
What is the BionX conversion kit? How does it work?
When you convert a bicycle into an electric bicycle using the BionX conversion kit, you replace your rear wheel with a new wheel which has a motor in it. This motor is powered by a Lithium Ion battery which is mounted to the frame of your bicycle, and is activated using a console that is mounted on your handlebars. The battery is easily removable, and comes with a charger that can be plugged into any normal 110 wall socket. It takes about 4-5 hours to fully charge the battery. Your bike is still a bike, and you can still pedal it as usual, but now you can press a button and the motor will kick in boosting you along a flat at 20mph, or helping you up those pesky hills.
The BionX uses pedal assist
Some electric bikes use a throttle to activate the motor. In the case of a bike like the A2B Metro, the throttle is on the grip itself, just give a twist and you'll feel the motor kick in, whether or not you happen to be pedaling. On the BionX kit there is a throttle, which exists in the form of a small red button which you push with your thumb, but actually the BionX works best as a "pedal assist" electric bike.
Using the console on your bars, you select one of four levels of assistance ranging low to high, the motor then works in tandem with your pedaling cadence. At the lowest setting, the motor will do about 25 percent of the work for you, at highest, it will boost you along at 20 mph with absolutely no effort required on your part. What results is a system that is more powerful, more efficient, and more intuitive than a throttle activated system.
Are there different types of BionX kits?
There are three different BionX kits. The cheapest is the pl250 conversion kit, which uses a 250 watt motor, and a 26 volt Lithium ion battery. This is the entry level kit, lighter than most other kits on the market and with decent power and range.
The next step up is the pl350 BionX kit. This kit uses a more powerful 350watt motor capable of faster acceleration, and is powered by a larger 36 volt battery for more range and power. This kit one of the most popular as it offers more range and power at a mid range price point - a good meeting point between affordability and high performance.
The last option is the premium Sl350 BionX kit. This is the most advanced BionX conversion kit currently on the market, using a more powerful 48 volt battery for increased range and power, while maintaining a light weight. Including the motor, battery, and console, this kit will only add around 18 lbs to the weight of your bike. This means that if you convert a road bike that only weighs 25lbs to start out with, you'll end up with an electric bike 20 lbs lighter than most other electric bikes on the market.
So there's the basics! Hope this was helpful as an introductory guide. Check out the BionX conversion kit, and see where our future might be taking us.
All the best,
A few months ago an older gentleman named Steven came to us, looking for an electric bike to help him up the steeper hills, down the longer stretches, and keep pace with his wife who, according to Steven, "rides at a she-woman pace."
Steven ended up purchasing the electric brompton bike, one of our best folding bikes, fit with a powerful electric motor, and since has kept in touch, writing a great electric bike review of his bike for us, posting on our facebook with pics of his bike, and providing a steady stream of clever and beautifully written anecdotes about his bike and his many adventures.
Most recently, Steven shared a post of his on FB, all about preparing his electric brompton bike for the impending winter season:
"Winter is Coming (Prepare to batten down the bike battery)
This is Rochester, NY. In traffic my mind will ramble and I was thinking that with early dark and colder weather, my Brompton E-bike will soon be sleeping with the bears until spring. Sure, I see folks on bikes in mid-January on ice-coated streets, but I suspect that most buyers of electric bikes do not fall into that living-on-the-edge, gotta-be-nuts category. I sure don't.
Which led me to muse about that expensive battery and how to store it for the winter. I got to work and Googled Li-ion battery care (my "boss" is my wife and I can get away with that performance-review killing behavior, I'm underpaid, anyway).
Bottom line: the battery needs to be stored away from cold or heat; under moderate temperatures in the 40-65 F range. Freezing temps and high heat is good for battery sales but bad for you.
More interesting, do NOT store the battery fully charged. It puts excess stress on the cells. Ideally the battery should be charged at 40 to 50% of full charge. How to determine that I haven't a clue, but that is the guideline. Recharge the battery a bit every month or so to make up for normal discharge. There is a lot of information online but it is clear that a bike battery cannot just be left in a corner of a cold garage.
Thanks again Steven for the great post, and for making a few good points that everyone should keep in mind while preparing for the winter. If you plan on being beset with snow and think you won't be riding your e-bike for awhile it is important, as Steven mentions, not to let your battery sit unattended for a long period of time. We've definitely gotten some calls from those who left it until to late and ended up with a battery that was so low it couldn't recognize a charge.
Steven also makes a good point that it's better not to store a Lithium ion battery at completely full charge, as it will put a strain on the cells to maintain that energy. To estimate the charge of a battery, it's easiest to use a console that can measure remaining charge. The electric Brompton comes with such a console, which indicates when the battery is at %100, %75, %50, and %25. This isn't an exact estimate (Steven is currently in the process of finding more exact methods of determining battery charge) but it will be close enough to determine a safe storage level.
Always a pleasure Steven! Looking forward to hearing about your next adventures on the Electric Brompton Bike!
Picture the following situation: you live in the country, at the top of a large hill. The nearest town from which to get groceries is 15 miles away by scenic drive. You enjoy living in a beautiful area and want to do your part to help preserve the clean, wonderful environment that you wake up to every day by biking as much as possible--but who has the energy to ride 30 miles every single day? Your knees have gotten a little creaky recently, and your back no longer enjoys hours on end crouched in the cockpit of an ultra-stiff road bike. What to do?
Comfortable Electric Bikes
This plethora of woes is all to familiar for a great number of our electric bike customers. Many folks come to us for electric bikes, not looking for the latest, techiest toy, but simply for a comfortable vehicle that fits into their lifestyle and just works. For these customers I often recommend Currie Tech's selection of iZIP electric bikes. Their powerful motors eat up hills with ease, and because they are all built around classic cruiser geometries, you could lounge in an iZIP saddle all day without ever getting sore! With designs ranging from the super simple Path electric bike all the way up to the retro-modern iZIP Metro, not to mention a wide-ranging pallet of color schemes, you're also sure to find an iZIP electric bike that suits your aesthetic tastes.
Now here's another situation: you're planning your last summer escapades to the sunny coast of the Southeast, or perhaps California. You've booked the beach house, bikinis and board shorts are all packed, and your pasty overworked skin is begging you to get your tan on already. With a week of as much relaxation in front of you, you realize you cannot stoop to actually walking to refill your koozie with a fresh, lime-kissed Mexican beer. Even pedaling too much would surely defeat your purpose in lounging here. What on earth can you do?
Style and Performance
Once again, Currie's iZIPs come to the rescue. For the ultimate in beach cruising electric bikes, I always recommend the iZIP Zuma. With its cushy, wide tires and relaxed, sloping frame, the whole bike screams "chill" (well, ok, gently asserts, "chill")--but let's not sell the Zuma short. Under the hood it's packing a 500 watt motor which can easily cruise at 15-20 miles per hour, while a set of Avid disc brakes provide all the stopping power you can use and more. The Zuma is one fun electric bike that truly unites style and performance.
The best part about the iZIP bikes is that we've just lopped several hundred dollars off the price of each! Whereas before they were some of the best valued electric bikes in the shop, now they are an absolute steal. Get your Currie Technologies iZIP today while the low prices and sunny days last!
Riding a bike is fun. I wanted to start out with something we can all agree on. If I've already lost you, then you might want to rethink the statement. Sure, there are other reasons to ride---transportation, health, job, money and the such. Yet when it all goes full circle, we come back to the fun factor.
My point is that if we want to have fun while we ride, then riding a fun bike is sure going to be important. Everyone has a type of bike they might enjoy more than others. What I've found with this E-Brompton is that it can be almost each and everyone of those bikes. It is fun to ride. It can make the perfect commuter. Even though it has electric-assist, you get to choose just how much exercise you want to receive. It can be used for touring, saving money, saving the planet and many of the other reasons you ride.
The base bike is a rock-solid folding and riding machine. A stock Brompton is truly a bundle of fun by itself. Then with a little of magic from the crew at NYCeWheels, it is transformed into something even more special. They perfectly add the few items that neatly and nearly turn it into a flying carpet. Not that it’s so much faster, or better looking, just that it is so much more versatile and fun. And fun is what we are talking about.
They can convert your Brompton if you like. Or you can pick out just about any combination of options and colors for your new Brompton and NYCeWheels can covert that before you get it. Mine happens to be an all white H3L. The H stands for the 2 inch taller handlebar stem, the 3 stands for the three-speed rear hub gear, and the L stands for lectric---just kidding, you know, having a little fun.
Building a great electric folding bike
The skill put into this conversion is mind-bending. They source all the parts from almost 30 different companies. The narrow 250 watt direct-drive motor is a drop-in piece that helps maintain the Brompton factory warranty. These pieces have no affect on the fold and just the smallest effect on the fold size. Sure some weight is added, something you’ll never notice during the ride. And that extra heft is divided between the bike and the ‘C’ bag so lifting it and carrying it isn't much tougher than before.
So, you might ask, what is so much fun about an E-Brompton? I knew I wasn't going to be able to avoid that question. For one, I get to ride it. Any bike you might ride will almost always deliver the fun you seek. Even a beat-up rusty klunker (not a description of this E-Brompton) can turn an afternoon at the beach into a day to remember. Fun factor #1---bikes are fun.
Part of the thrill (read fun) of an E-Brompton (any Brompton for that matter), has nothing to do with the ride. It has to do with the razzle-dazzle of the fold. Many are awestruck just to watch it turn back and forth from a bicycle to mini jumble of paint and wheels. If you own one I need not go any further on explaining how cool that is. My favorite is, “How long does it take to put your bike back together?” And then, BOOM, they can see it all and understand. Now that is fun!
So, I’m sure you can see that this post is about why having the electric-assist makes a Brompton bicycle more fun. Just imagine a stiff head-wind, a gradually rising grade in the road or even a hot day that rolls through your body like fire. Then imagine a invisible superhuman arm taking off the load and helping you and your bike keep moving smooth and easy. Just the imagining part is fun, but the real-life help of motor and battery is even more fun.
A throttle powered folding bike
If you are so inclined you can raise both feet in the air and power down the road at about twenty like a motor scooter. Generally you won’t, but every now and then it’s worth it. Most of the time you find that adding about half the driving power with your legs and the other half with the motor-assist works the best. Or too, you can pedal like normal almost all the time and just add a little power on the tough hills. These my friend, are part of the fun that having an E-Brompton can bring.
Trying to explain an E-bike to someone who hasn’t tried one can be tough. I have let so many people have their first experience on one and it is only then that the full realization of how great and fun they are comes into their minds. This too is part of the big fun of an E-Brompton, sharing that fun with others. You might be tempted to keep that part to yourself, your decision.
How do I have fun? I think you know now.
“ Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”---Mark Twain, American humorist.
Excited about one of these of your own? You can purchase an electric Brompton at NYCeWheels.com!
Want more Turbo Bob? Visit his very own Turbo Bob's Bike Blog!