Electric powered bikes, bicycles with motors Stories about electric bikes, powered bicycles

27Mar/141

E-Brompton Banter—Part 11—My Gen-E-ration, by Turbo Bob

Electric Brompton TurboFollowing 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.

E-Brompton in Santa BarbaraDuring 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.

http://www.nycewheels.com/brompton-electric-bike.htmlInto 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.

 

Turbo-and-the-E-BromptonThis 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.

Read more Blogs by TurboBob!

10Oct/130

Winter is Coming (Prepare to batten down the bike battery)

my-electric-brompton-s-first-boat-tripA 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)

Brompton in the snowThis morning driving to work I turned on the seat heaters for the first time after last winter. Oh Oh...the good times are coming to a close.

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.


my-electric-brompton-s-first-boat-trip-1Thanks 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!

Jack

 

 

25Jul/130

E-Brompton Banter-Part 10-Big Fun is Eas-E, by Turbo Bob

Tracy tries out the E-Brompton

Tracy tries out the E-Brompton

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!

E-Brompton at Petco Park

E-Brompton at Petco Park

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.

-Turbo Bob.

“ 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!

9Aug/120

E-Brompton Banter-Part 4-Abb-E Road

The E-Brompton and Turbo

The E-Brompton and Turbo on the car-empty streets of LA during CicLAviaBrompton Banter Part 4 Abb-E Road, By Turbo Bob

A blog by TurboBob

Part of the fun writing these articles for NYCeWheels comes from choosing the titles of the posts. Seeing that this great folding Brompton is hand-made in England, and considering all the roads I have been riding it on, the title wrote itself. Of course this is the E-Brompton, converted to electric-assist in New York, but the Beatles played in New York, right? Thanks Ed.

"I saw a Brompton Bike Oh boy"

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing myself to the Beatles, but this great bike might make the grade. It is a world-wide sensation and holds top interest for many enthusiasts. It strums a chord with Brompton lovers that rings true. Then add the electric power to round-out its versatility and you have a number one chart topper. Sometimes, the attention I get when riding this bike makes me feel like a rock star.

Keep your E-Bromtpon by your side.

Even without the prying eyes that seem to notice this bike, I just love the feeling it gives me on a personal level. It rides so nice and the power to tackle the grades easily brings a smile to my face. The inner satisfaction of a folding E-bike is a great boon on the harsh streets I sometimes ride. It soaks up the pavement and gets me down the road in style and comfort. And the ease of keeping it by my side gives a feeling of security that I don’t always get with my other bikes.

Fold your Brompton up and head on out

Lots of my rides are near the house and consist of errands and visits. Many more are accessed with a car ride to cool places. After a quick fold the Brompton is loaded up and we are on our way. Upon arrival, a few seconds turns the small package into a full-sized bike and the ride begins. And what a ride it is. With three-speeds, the Brompton can handle most areas I ride in with no problem. But, if the going gets tough, I just toggle the thumb throttle, and the power of the 250 watt hub motor pulls me up and over any grade in the road.

The long and winding road, on your Brompton

What a great feeling it is to know that this E-bike can take me to places known and unknown. It is like a one-man tour bus. It has a spot for all my gear and between the power in my legs and the power of the electric motor, we can work our way into the neatest of locales. With the near silent operation of the direct-drive motor, I am sometimes unnoticed as I zip through city streets and quiet neighborhoods, something the Fab Four could appreciate.

To say I am loving my time with this gem would be an understatement. It fits so many of my cycling needs. It kind of lingers in the corner of the house until it comes to my side. Then, like two guitars in sync, we bond time and time again. I feel this way about some of my other bikes, but not nearly as on the level of this E-Brompton. It has that something special that you only get from a best friend.
The quality of this bike and E-conversion are also part of the package. It has a feel that you don’t get from other bikes. Tight, solid, and fast, it just all makes sense. There are no worries as you ride far from home. The confidence this brings to any ride will keep you in the saddle until supper is ready and waiting. I have even missed a meal or two because the fun kept flowing, just like the bike does as you ride new and exciting places. But when I’m ready, the E-Brompton will bring me back home happy and content, if not a tad hungry.

The E-Brompton- music to my ears

Like a favorite song, the tune of this bike keeps playing in your mind. Even folded and sitting waiting for the next ride, it brings good times to your memory. It is an art form unlike any other, as it plays on your inner needs for beauty and necessity. It brings to life many hidden desires that will keep your days and nights filled with happiness and music. The kind of music that can’t be muffled by traffic or congestion. An E-Brompton has the rhythm that so many long for.
I applaud this bike every day, Turbo Bob.

-TurboBob Bicycle Blog

“As a kid I had a dream---I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe in the world. I lived for that bike. Most kids left their bikes in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it by my bed. Funny, although it was important to me then, I can’t remember what finally happened to it.”---John Lennon.

7Aug/120

E-Brompton Banter-Part 3- Sentimental Journe-E

Turbo's brother gets a chance to try out the E-Brompton

Turbo's brother gets a chance to try out the E-Brompton

A blog by TurboBob

In this installment of my E-Brompton Banter I want to talk about the bike itself. As you might know, I had my Raw Lacquer M3L for over three months. I got a chance to really fall in love with this little folder. I took it on so many rides and to some very cool places. Hence the title, Sentimental Journe-E.

A bit about the Brompton

A Brompton is built to very high-quality standards and rides like a full-sized bike. The convenience it allows for all bike riders is phenomenal. The ability to store it in small places and take it wherever you go is just part of the charm. The interest it generates is obvious when riding it and every time it is seen in its folded mode.
This E-Brompton has the electric-assist but it is still 100% Brompton. Every ride is a thrill and every journey is a adventure. It takes you on vacation with every turn of the pedals. And as you Brompton owners already know, just gazing at it can be most satisfying.

There's just something about the Brompton Bike...

There is something about this bike that is unlike all others.
When you go through the fold, you can feel and touch what seems like a fine watch or camera. Each movement is akin to a symphony and you are the conductor. The on-looking crowd is in awe of your mastery of your folding bicycle. Ok you say, it folds, big deal, what about the ride?

That too is part of what makes it so popular. Giving the feel of any decent full-sized bike, you are never left to think that you are giving up anything to have the folding option. Yes the wheels are small, but it just doesn’t sink in during your ride that that is an issue. It glides as you ride and you get where you’re going. That is part of what a bike is all about. Sure, you need to be a touch more mindful of large road obstacles and grooves. Then again this is a requirement on any given bike. Never once has some bad pavement caused me a problem. It is no mountain bike either, even still, some groomed trails are well suited for the type of riding you might do. It is no laid-down speed road bike, but can be more than comfortable on long touring rides. It is what you make of it.

I have said on many occasions (not just me by the way) that if you could only have one bike, a Brompton would make the best candidate. It excels at many things and is adequate for most things. It can handle a heavy load and can be quite fast without it. It can ride slow to see the sights. It can take you on the back-roads far away from the crowd. It can commute and hide away secure on your arrival.

If all this sounds to good to be true, then just ask the next Brompton rider you see. I’m certain they will mirror my comments and more. The Brompton Company production keeps ramping up and they still have trouble supplying all the converts. That says a lot in itself. A bike this nice with so many great features is hard to find on the floor of most bike shops.

Now for the E-Brompton!

Now, add in the electric-assist conversion and it just keeps getting better. One of the best things I like is how it makes the bike’s stock gearing expand. Low gear is amplified with a touch on the throttle. A steep hill is cut down to size in a way that really pleases me. I can flip it into high-gear and make good time without bogging down. With just a small help from the front hub motor, I can really make good time without overdoing it.

Yes, that is an E-Brompton

So the E-bike part just makes all the great features better. With a small weight penalty (and a cost one too),this E-Brompton is a bike for the times. Easy to take on public transportation, easy to store and secure at your destination and easy to ride, an E-Brompton can get you out and riding when you want. And once again, that is what a good bike is all about.

Still not convinced? Just hit me up to ride this beauty or stop by the NYCeWheels shop and take your first spin on the E-Brompton!

-TurboBob Bicycle Blog

*“If we can make the rider forget that the bike is there, we have done our job.”---Doug Martin*

15Mar/122

E-Brompton Banter-Part 1- Great E-xpectations

By Turbo Bob

Bob riding his non eBrompton in anticipation of the big day.

Bob riding his non eBrompton in anticipation of the big day.

What a great time it is for electric bikes. The quality and ride keep getting better, as the weight and inefficiency gets trimmed. I just got the thumbs-up to be involved in an extended test on one of NYCeWheels’ E-Bromptons and I couldn’t be more excited. As Izzy builds this great converted Brompton for me, I will spend some time to think and dream about the pleasures to come.
You may have read my ’Boy Gets Brompton’ series of articles on one of the NYCeWheels’ sites. I got to spend three months with a Raw Lacquer M3L and came to understand it very well. Some of the stories were a little whimsical, but overall, I really got to dive deep into all the plusses and the few minuses of this great folding bike. Bottom line is, I love Bromptons.
As too, I love E-bikes. The electric-assist bike has been carving out its place in this world, and the word keeps getting spread. Great for so many people and reasons, adding a electric motor assist to a bike can make all the difference for utility and recreation riding. So what better combination then the ultimate folding bike, paired with an electric-assist system? It would seem to be a match made in heaven.
So let’s talk about the bike headed my way. First off, the base bike will be the new H3L. This brand-new version has a longer stem that allows the handlebars to sit two inches higher than the original layout. This will not only lend to my comfort (my 6’ 2” frame), but to the comfort of all riders who desire a more up-right seating position. This up-dated model still has the same super small folded size, and every great feature the L model offers. That includes fenders too.

An e-Brompton near NYCeWheels in NYC

An e-Brompton near NYCeWheels in NYC

You must know by now that you can get your Brompton bike in the most cool selections of colors. You can mix and match, or have yours in all one color. NYCeWheels offers their basic E-Brompton in black or white, but for a little extra, the color palette is wide open. They can also convert your existing Brompton to an E-bike so your color style doesn’t have to change. My new H3L E-Brompton is going to be the ‘in-your-face’ white. Talk about standing out in a crowd. It should be awesome.
The E-bike conversion is one that they have perfected to a ‘T’. With quality pieces from twenty different sources, Bert and Peter (Izzy too) have gone far out of their way to make sure this bike is right on the money. I’ve seen the videos and poured over the specs, and I am sure this E-bike won’t disappoint. My desire for the increased capacity 10 Ah battery was oked by the shop, so my fun rides will be extra long.
The battery will fit into the included ’C’ bag that impressed me so much on my last Brompton bicycle test. It has many pockets, is water-resistant, and comes with a water-proof cover bag just in case you want to ride in wet and wild conditions. There will be plenty of room to keep the battery charger in the bag so it will be handy when I am out-of-town. And believe me when I say, I plan on taking this bike to some far-away places. That is just one draw of a folding bike like this.
With a strong 250 watt front hub motor, I expect to have all the power I need. It will be a brushless and gearless motor. That means it will be quiet and efficient. With virtually no moving parts, it should last longer than who knows what. A thumb throttle will allow me to use the power when I like, with none wasted. That should net me some long rides with an easy way to the top of any hill or grade I encounter.
The whole conversion will add about 18 to 20 Lbs to the overall weight. It might make carrying the bike a little tougher, but almost half of that will be in the detachable carry bag, so I don’t expect it to bother me too much. And any weight penalty will be more than overcome by the power which the motor will add to my legs. If you have ridden E-bikes, you fully know what I’m talking about.
So, as I wait for the delivery driver to make his way to my house, I know that this E-Brompton will make it all worthwhile. Expect to see a flurry of articles about my new folding bike hit these pages. Take this time if you will, to read the ’Boy Gets Brompton’ stories to find out more about my take on Bromptons. Also, I hope you get a kick out of my E-titles for each post.
Thanks for reading, Turbo Bob.

Of course, you could always just order your own E-Brompton and find out for yourself... ;) or an convert your current Brompton to an eBrompton.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”---Ernest Hemingway, By-Line.