Tuesday, August 18, 2009

(electric) biking Oakland, part 3

plus 48 lbs.

Yesterday I started taping and mudding in the dining room, and quickly ran out of paper tape and realized I was getting low on mud, too. Drywall mud is heavy. You can get small buckets (which don't go very far), or larger boxes, which weigh 48 lbs, or 5-gallon buckets which weigh a ton. So I pedaled over to Piedmont Lumber in search of more. I started to lock the e-bike to a railing display, and one of the guys in the yard said I didn't need to lock it. He joked that "He'd just ride it around the yard a bit." I told him that was fine as long as he didn't run over any nails.

I went in to get the tape and mud, and while I was doing that, the guy came in and asked, "Does that thing have a motor?". I replied in the affirmative, and he shouted back out to one of the other yard guys that he was right. So I went back out and told them about it. I went back in and paid, and came out to get my box of mud. Then another customer started asking me about it. He'd gotten two electric bikes at Costco that were on closeout, and found them a bit underpowered (similar to my experience trying electric bikes a couple years ago), but as they were on closeout, he got a good deal. I strapped all 48 lbs. of the box on the back, and off I went. It was definitely noticeable having the extra weight on, but more because of balance than slowing me down very much. Once I got to bigger hills, it did slow me down some, but I still made it up the hill to home.

Firestorm Memorial

Today I donated blood platelets at the Red Cross on Claremont, and I rode the bike again. Getting there is a snap as it's downhill, and it's scenic because I get to go past Lake Temescal for part of the ride. After that I went and exchanged a t-shirt I got at the Art & Soul Festival, (helpful tip, whether you're working in the electronic world or the physical one: security through obscurity doesn't work; putting your address on your website and printing it on credit card receipts is not obscurity), then headed for home. I rode past the Claremont Hotel, and then up old Tunnel Road. I stopped to look at the exhibit for the 1991 Firestorm, then up the hill from there.

I used to ride that way on a regular basis with my late friend Dave. He and I would hop on our bikes at his house in Rockridge after work, ride up old Tunnel Road, then hang out in the hot tub and drank beer. Cancer claimed Dave in 2006, and the Enron-induced energy crisis claimed the hot tub some years before that. So it was a trip down (or up, in this case) memory lane for me. It's by far the easiest way up the Oakland / Berkeley hills. It's also blessedly (almost) free of cars, so it's a great ride. With the e-bike, it was hecka fun, to say the least.

And because I was just asked about them, here's some more technical specs on the bike:
  • 7 gears (Shimano shifter)
  • front disc brake
  • front shocks
  • rear caliper brake
  • 250 watt motor, 36V system
  • removable lithium ion battery
  • charging takes about 3 hours at 90 watts
  • 700-1000 charge cycles
I used a Kill-A-Watt to see how much energy recharging used. The Pacific E-Bike website says 4-6 hours, but the times I've paid attention, it's been closer to 3. The battery is easily removable (though there's a small lock to keep it from being too easy), which makes charging a snap. Just tip the seat up and pull the battery out, and you can carry it inside to charge if you don't have power where you keep your bike.

I'm not sure how much the bike weighs; as I've noted it's more like a cruiser bike, and the battery definitely adds some weight. But it sounds lighter than the ones the guy got at Costco, and has more power and range to boot. And it's not so heavy it can't be ridden as a regular bike with the motor switched off.

Can you tell I like this bike?

Part 2
Part 1

3 comments:

Electric Bikes Human Transport said...

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crazy57bus said...

Thanks for posting all about the electric bike. I've been poking around the internet looking at them for a while. I think I may have seen you zipping up the hill by my house, but you were so fast I couldn't see the make of the bike. I'm definitely checking one out in Berkely

Gene said...

Ours is all black (with an "I Bike Oakland" sticker on the battery); there aren't any manufacturer labels on it. Pacific E-Bike will let you take a test ride near them, or with ID, take one for a day for a longer test.