Ebiking For the Health of It

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This article first appeared in the September issue of the Ashland Locals Guide:

Ebiking For the Health of It

by Jerry Solomon


There is a common misconception regarding electric bikes – that they do all of the hard work for you. It’s true that they complement the pedaling power of the cyclist as well as provide assistance whenever needed, but it’s important to note that they are not the same as a motorbike or scooter.

Because electric bikes reduce the level of effort required when compared to a regular bicycle, they offer the perfect way to bridge the gap between no cycling and cycling on a regular basis. Health experts universally agree that even modest amounts of regular exercise are far more beneficial than no exercise at all and as such, ebikes are ideal for helping people of all ages enhance their fitness. Riding to work, school, or the grocery store on an electric bike offers significant health benefits to the rider.

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Some even believe that electric bikes provide greater exercise opportunities simply because ebike owners choose to ride their electric bikes more than they would a regular bike. Riding an electric bike is often so exhilarating that it may not even seem like you are exercising, which makes people far more likely to stick with it, therefore increasing the health benefits even more so. Choosing to ride your ebike means that the car stays parked, therefore no exhaust fumes are generated, and that, of course, results in health benefits for everyone. Any way you look at it, riding an ebike more of the time is a healthy choice for yourself and everybody around you.


smiling woman on odk cargo bike We’re making healthy choices at Ashland Electric Bikes that will benefit us all. With the help of my new associate, Blaine Pickett, we’ve reorganized the shop from stem to stern to maximize efficiency and make your visit more pleasurable. Our extensive array of accessories are more clearly displayed. The installation of a state-of-the-art, Oregon-made work stand will make servicing ebikes much easier and more of an ergonomically friendly experience for Blaine and me. Happy technicians make happy sales assistants make happy customers. Everybody wins. So, come on down and see all that’s new at the shop…for the health of it! Be sure to ask about the new electric cargo bikes by Biruni Motorbikes of California. They’re helping us create a whole new healthier world for one and all.

Who Rides Electric Bikes?

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This article first appeared in the June issue of the Ashland Locals Guide:

Who Rides Electric Bikes?

by Jerry Solomon

Are you wondering just who it is that’s buying these new, seemingly expensive bicycles? (Compared with a new or used car they’re a bargain!) Let me tell you. My customers are, first and foremost, people who want to make a difference in the world. They want to do something healthy for the environment and for themselves. They recognize that the majority of their trips around town could be done without the car. Additionally, they’re also an honest bunch; they know that in truth they’re just not going to make very many (if any) of those trips on a standard bike. Whether its the last steep hill home or time constraints or physical limitations, they know that a regular bike will probably become a born-of-best-intentions addition to the garage clutter more than it will be a regularly used means of transportation.

Easy Motion - Couple in the city on a bridge

 

So, who is a candidate for joining the growing ranks of ebikers? Any household that is considering a second car would do well to consider electric bikes. You can manage many of your chores about town quickly, easily, and have a ton of fun along the way! How about all the young graduates this year? What if, instead of their first car, you set them along a more eco-friendly, sustainable path with their first electric bike? Anyone with access to a car for occasional use would do well to consider an electric bike for themselves for more daily use when a car is simply not necessary.

 Verticle woman on bike

Has that demon Time, or some physical ailment taken you down a few notches from where you’d ideally like to be, yet you still want to ‘be a part of the solution’ in the world? You’re a prime candidate for an electric bike. You recognize that these are not expensive toys but are in fact, quality transportation devices that cost a fraction of what it takes to buy and maintain a car. Additionally, do you know anybody who has ever lost weight or gotten in better shape by driving a car? The notion that ebikes are ‘cheating’ or that you won’t get any exercise is simply incorrect. Ask any ebike owner.

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The bottom line for me is that I want to see a world with more bikes and less cars. Electric bikes are opening the door to a wide range of people who would like to incorporate bicycling as legitimate alternative transportation in their lives. If you’re ready to join the quiet revolution and promote a cleaner, healthier, more human-scaled world maybe its time you become someone who rides an electric bike. Come take a test ride; all this will become clear in an ear-to-ear grinning flash!

The Wheels Go ‘Round & ‘Round

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This article first appeared in the July issue of the Ashland Locals Guide:

The Wheels Go ‘Round & ‘Round

by Jerry Solomon

 There are various types of motor drive systems in use on ebikes today. The most widely used type are hub motors, and that will be the focus of this article. A hub motor is an electric motor that is laced via the spokes directly into one of the wheels of the bike. It serves as the central hub/axle assembly. There are two types of hub motors to choose from: direct drive or internally geared.

Velociti electric bike motor close-up

 

Direct drive motors are the simplest design of the two. A relatively basic electric motor becomes the central hub and axle of the wheel. As the motor turns once, the wheel turns once, hence the name direct drive. They are smooth and quiet running at higher speeds and are very durable. No internal moving parts means nothing to wear out. Direct drive motors can handle higher voltages and stand up to considerable (ab)use. The downside is that they create a noticeable amount of drag that can be felt when pedaling the bike without running the motor. They are heavier and provide proportionately less riding range than the more energy efficient geared motors.

 Zumaround-Electric-Scooter-Motor

Geared motors have a set of planetary gears inside the case that allows a smaller motor to run in the neighborhood of a 5 to 1 ratio, increasing the power output relative to its size. This allows them to deliver more power from a standstill with less electricity than a direct drive. Geared motors are smaller and lighter. They create very little rolling resistance when running under pedal power alone and their efficiency provides greater range from each battery charge. The flipside is that they are a bit noisier and, since they have moving gears inside, will require replacement parts eventually.

 

As to the question of which is better; there is no definitive answer. It depends on your needs and desires. If you’re looking for an ebike that’s lighter and feels more like a standard pedal bike, a geared motor is the choice for you. If you want a rock solid motor that can ‘take a licking and keep on ticking’ or you want the quietest option available, a direct drive motor is the choice for you. Ultimately, choosing between different bikes should be based on much more than just the motor type. The final decision should be made, quite literally, by the seat of your pants. Come test ride the different styles and see which one feels the best to you. All details and specs aside, the bike that you’ll say “Yes” to riding the most is the best bike for you. So, what are you waiting for? Its time to discover your new two-wheeled partner in adventure and travel!

Wind Runner Returns for 2013!

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What can I say? I love this bike! For those of you who have followed the electric bike movement for awhile you may notice something familiar about the Wind Runner. The basic bike frame is, in fact, the old Tidalforce S-750 from the early 2000’s. At the time it was considered by many to be the state of the art in ebikes. Things changed and the company closed up shop around 2004-5. My source snagged all the remaining new bicycles minus their drive systems and sold them to serious ebike D.I.Y.ers including myself via the internet for years. The various iterations of the Wind Runner through the past four years have been my reinterpretations of this classic piece of ebike history. In early 2012 I bought the remaining inventory of these new-in-the-box bikes in the country. It wasn’t until last summer that we finally ‘cracked the code’ on our ultimate vision of what the Wind Runner could be. The current offerings are all variations of that long-held idea.

The key component and challenge of the bike has always been the battery. The ideal location, of course, would be in the center triangle of the frame. However, its a fairly tight space and its been no small feat to build a pack within those parameters. We finally hit pay dirt when we found LiPo cells from Tenergy Corp. that, literally, fit the bill. We’ve been able to build both a 36V and a 48V 10AH pack that fit into our custom aluminum and ABS plastic cases. With the battery issue tackled, every other component option is open to choice.

We offer two basic versions of the Wind Runner – the 3600 series and the 4800 series. The nomenclature refers to the battery voltage and each series is equipped with its own compliment of drive systems and components. The 3600 series sports a 350 watt geared motor, 26″ wheels, and Tektro V-brakes.

The 4800 series is equipped with a 500 watt direct drive motor, 24″ wheels, and Shimano Deore hydraulic disc brakes. Tire styles, fenders, seats, and handlebars vary from bike to bike depending on customer preference. We also offer a tasty Suntour dual crown fork upgrade to bikes destined for serious trail time. I can personally attest to the success of these as hard core, serious single track trail bikes. See my “A Moment’s Reflection” blog for more about that.

Pricing starts at $2499 for the basic 3600 edition and $3299 for the 4800 edition. The Suntour dual crown fork adds an additional $200 to these prices. Tires, fenders, seat, handlebars, and brakes can be modified as well. Pricing varies based on specific upgrades.

I have a few of these already built up in different versions as described and the remaining bikes will be built to spec for the customer. (The above photo is a ‘one-off’ build that includes a White Bros. Groove 200 fork, Cycle Analyst computer system, and monster Schwalbe Big Betty dirt tires. We’ve since added an additional 24V pack to boost this bad boy up to 72 volts of trail taming ecstasy!)

I have less than a handful of framesets left to build out. Once they are gone it will truly be the end of an era. We sincerely believe that the few dozen or so Wind Runners that have and will make their way into the world are destined for some measure of classic status among ebike aficionados. If these photos encourage you to agree, I invite you to come see for yourself what the Wind Runner’s are all about. Grab yourself a piece of Ashland Electric Bike history that you can ride into the future!

Sun Electrolite – the Perfect entry-level Ebike

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Just in! At last, I’ve found a quality ebike priced well below $2K that I can stand behind with confidence. My friends at Sun have introduced the Electrolite electric bike for everyone desiring a solid entry-level ride. It sports a 250 watt geared motor, 36V 10AH lockable and removable lithium battery, and both pedal assist and manual throttle modes. Suntour front suspension, Shimano 8 speeds, and a sturdy alloy center stand add to the value.

This bike has many features that are usually only seen on higher priced models. With each one I assemble I discover new details that impress me even more. Its available in two sizes so even the shortest of riders can be accommodated. All this for the value price of $1599. Its taken me almost five years to find an ebike around this price point that was worth a 2nd glance. The Sun Electrolite is worth a long hard look; its a budget bike that will stand up to the test of time, I’m sure.

At that price there’s no reason to wait any longer – Come Ride The Future – now!

Testimonials

My husband has bad knees which prevented him from bike riding with me, so we decided to get him an electric bike. Jerry was very knowledgeable, helping us pick the one that would work best for his needs.... Read More

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