Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Up with the Pacer: embracing an e-bike

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  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, and one more thing. People are interested in this bike (which does look cool) in a way they weren't over the E-City. I've happily had conversations with complete strangers about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    it's the torque sensor over the cadence sensor – it really does, as I had read, feel more natural to someone already used to riding bikes.

    Interesting. Can you expand on that a little?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19518 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Interesting. Can you expand on that a little?

    The cadence sensor senses how fast you’re turning the pedals, the torque sensor senses the pressure you’re putting on them. Much better for hills and for take-offs.

    As a cyclist, it feels like you’re putting in the work, you’re just getting better value for it. I have also noticed that it will occasionally briefly surge ahead when I’m coasting at low speed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Harvey,

    Hi Russell,
    Can you talk a little about regenerative electrics vs these ones? Are the penalties weight and cost or something else? And how big are those penalties? It just seems odd to me that with all the development that's gone into re-using the energy of braking, that bikes seem to not go there...
    (or have I got things mixed up?)

    Westmere • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Green,

    Saw you on it slow-rolling through the #WomensMarch rally at the weekend. I think? Re locks, I've just got an Axa Defender frame lock which is pretty meaty. It's the one with the hole for the plug-in chain which I've yet to get because there aren't any in the country, apparently. Got it from Electric Bicycle hub on East St.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown,

    Interesting, good read. Quite a good looking model too - I find most e-bikes aesthetically challenged. I am quite keen to get one for commuting but also concerned it may mean I spend less quality time on the road bike, sweating it out. The path of least resistance...

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I bought an e-Urban (the e-City's diamond frame cousin) a week and a half ago, so this is relevant to my interests.

    I went for that one over the Pacer partly for cost, and partly because the e-Urban seems more traditionally built and bulletproof for the kind of use I'm going to subject it to. I hit the 200 km service interval by the seventh day I owned it, for instance. It sounds like the Pacer is a solid beast nevertheless but the e-Urban feels like a the basic commuter mile-eater I need. I do plan to hang onto something a little more flickable for casual rides - whenever I actually get round to one...

    And for me personally the fact the e-Urban doesn't stand out from the crowd *as much* as the Pacer is a plus. Would definitely get those good locks before leaving that one anywhere sketchy!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Are they safe to use on dual use cycle ways at 30km/h?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2197 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Robert Harvey,

    Can you talk a little about regenerative electrics vs these ones?

    I've honestly never seen a regenerative bike or known anyone who had one, so no!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Are they safe to use on dual use cycle ways at 30km/h?

    If you're sensible about it yes, I think so. And sensible means not being an annoying speed demon where it's not appropriate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I've fitted a steel ring into the porch to lock up both bikes at home, but I don't think I'm going to be really comfortable about leaving the Pacer locked up out in the world until I shell out for a good-quality D-lock rather than a combination lock.

    After having my first e-bike stolen from the porch (minus its battery) I've had the mid-sized version of this permanently looped through the steel verandah railing. Threaded through a sprocket hole and around the bottom bracket it seems to be an effective deterrent. 18 months later I reckon it's great value and hard to fault the quality. I've spent more on the d-lock I carry around in a pannier bag.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4585 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sam F,

    I bought an e-Urban (the e-City’s diamond frame cousin) a week and a half ago, so this is relevant to my interests.

    That’s actually the one I originally wanted – it looked like a bike, which appealed.

    And for me personally the fact the e-Urban doesn’t stand out from the crowd *as much* as the Pacer is a plus. Would definitely get those good locks before leaving that one anywhere sketchy!

    Yes. There are downsides to having an attention-grabbing bike.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Robert Harvey,

    By regenerative electrics, I assume you mean the ability for the bike to recharge itself?

    From what I've read (admittedly I think on e-motions site itself), it isn't a goer. It creates drag on the bike in harnessing the energy (which is the opposite of why you get an e-bike anyway right?), and the amount of energy harvested only adds a very small amount to the total range.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    After having my first e-bike stolen from the porch (minus its battery) I’ve had the mid-sized version of this permanently looped through the steel verandah railing.

    Ah. Maybe that's an option. But it's too heavy to take out on the road?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thanks for the post Russell, I too have been weighing up whether buying an e-bike would get me out more. At present I use my bike only for small jaunts with the family; the hills immediately before my office (Bond St hill, or Bullock track etc), and immediately before my house are enough to ensure I arrive a sweaty mess. Running errands around the CBD presents similar challenges. So I've been seriously considering it, if it means I can get exercise on my way to work, rather than swearing at the traffic I'm a part of.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Damian Christie,

    So I've been seriously considering it, if it means I can get exercise on my way to work, rather than swearing at the traffic I'm a part of.

    It's certainly not the case that you get no exercise riding one. But I'm definitely not arriving in a sweaty mess when I go places.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22537 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But it's too heavy to take out on the road?

    Definitely motorcycle gear. It means an extra key to carry, but the convenience of it being always there and ready has worked out well for me. Most motorcycle dealers seem to stock them.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4585 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I believe some of the Pedego range (which were also in stock where I bought my e-Urban) do have regen, so perhaps it's possible to get some worth out of it with the right - and more expensive - technology.

    I remember originally thinking that you could recharge all electric bikes by pedaling when they were free-wheeling on the flat. I smugly declared to someone that they wouldn't be worth the effort because physics dictates you never get out 100% of the energy you put in. I was a dumbass. But it would be kind of nice if it was possible to pedal constantly and continually keep the juice flowing...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I'm not at all a fit person, so I sweat a bit regardless, but it's nice for it still to be the kind of very light sweat I got riding from Kingsland rather than what I'd be facing if I had to ride 18k unassisted (and back again at night). Pretty much removes any need for showering at work as a result . /tmi

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sam F,

    ...some of the Pedego range,,,

    A little discussion here, with specific reference to Pedego.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4585 posts Report Reply

  • Bill Eaton,

    there's not a limiter that drops the assist at 25 km/h

    My e-urban has this option in setup mode. First thing I did was reduce the cutout speed to 25kph (it was 30-something on delivery). Read the manual?

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    "Regen" in electric vehicles usually refers to regenerative braking - if you want to slow down, you use it instead of the friction brakes and the energy that would have been dissipated goes back into the battery instead. Modern electric cars all have it integrated with the brake; it also kicks in when you lift the throttle to mimic engine braking. Not sure how you'd control it on an e bike...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Robert Harvey,

    Can you talk a little about regenerative electrics vs these ones?

    I"m not sure that a production bike exists that has regen - it's possible, but it adds weight and complexity for little benefit. The core problem is that you want regeneration instead of braking, if regeneration is available, but you absolutely demand that braking always works whether regen is there or not. But bicycle brakes are all direct action, you can't tweak the electronic brake booster to divert braking p[ower into regeneration. So you end up with a "regen mode" on the throttle or a button on the controller. It's a bit of a pain to use, so people don't... so it becomes even less useful as a feature... so manufacturers don't put it in.

    A quick look at stackexchange suggests it's not very useful (search and maybe 10% extra range in hilly Auckland and an answer with more links)

    The numbers from that answer aren't encouraging, BTW: at 30kph you might have enough kinetic energy to give a 4% charge, assuming everything is 100% efficient. In practice you might get 50%. So you can slow down from 30kph using only regen, then the regen might get you back up to 20kph, But you need to start regen five seconds before you need to stop, because you can't charge batteries at 1000 Watts (that would be 15 minutes to fully charge a normal eBike battery!)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1118 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Moz,

    A quick look at stackexchange suggests it’s not very useful (search and maybe 10% extra range in hilly Auckland and an answer with more links)

    Whereas squeezing 10% more into batteries pretty much involves having 10% more batteries, simple to manufacture, simple to control. Much better returns from better battery technology.

    Also, on a good e-bike the range is good enough that who cares about getting 10% more. If you're intent on riding that far, maybe just give the electrics a bit of a rest 10% more of the time. If you're doing really big km and pedaling the whole time, essentially treating it as more of a sport than a form of transport, then you'd probably just be better off getting a very good road bike.

    Not that we won't always demand more and more. But it's pretty clear e-bikes crossed a threshold into serious practicality in the last ten years as a form of commuter transport.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    There will be times when it’s more fun to nip around on the light bike, surely. Work up a sweat. Must do that.

    Yes, also there may be times when you anticipate the fear of theft as greater than the fear of sweat. Like if you have to leave the bike overnight somewhere. I would not leave a flash bike chained up overnight at University. But many is the time that riding home lacked appeal for whatever reason - weather, drunk, feeling lazy, got a lift, batteries flat in the headlight, etc.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

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