I'll give you a minute . . .
K, time's up.
Here's the deal, then.
I've been getting more and more interested in electric-assist bikes, or pedalecs. Reason being, bike commuting has become, for me, not workable. It's the time commitment - at 34 miles round trip, with a chunk of elevation at the home end, and frequent wind, it can take me an hour or better to get to work and and 1-1/2 or better to get home. Throw in a shower at each end, and I'm looking at 2 extra hours vs the drive. At a stage in my life where demands on my time are at an all time high and my energy level is inevitably decreasing with age, the equation doesn't balance. My thought has been that maybe, this technology could be a way to work a bike back into my transportation scheme.
Ten, or five, or two years ago, my bike ego and resultant indignant sense of human-powered-purity would not have allowed me to even consider this heretical option. My, how things change with time and technology. I could go on, but Mr. Money Mustache explains my line of thinking far better than I ever could, in the first part of his post, HERE.
Where MMM and I diverge pretty radically is with respect to DIY kits/fiddling. Here again, I just don't have the time, much as I wish I did. I needed the plug and play option, and Bosch offers it NOW. The system is so well engineered and so well integrated throughout the bike.
In a super-tight nutshell, here's how it all works:
- Nothing happens unless you pedal. If you do pedal, however, the bike will assist you, proportional to your input. If you're lazy, it's lazy too. If you're on fire, then "let's do this", says the bike. The response is incredibly immediate.
- The level of assistance is adjustable by you, the rider. There are four levels. Zero is a fifth option.
- At the lowest level of assist, the bike will match you at half your input. So if you're putting in 100 watts, it will add 50.
- At the highest level of assist, the bike will add 2.75x your input. So if you're putting in 100W, it will add 275, for a total of 375. That's the shit that moves you up steep hills like a damn rocket and gets you home in time for a hot dinner, as opposed to a cold one.
- If you ride at the highest level, you will drain your battery long before your ride has ended, and you will be pedaling your 45 Lb bike strictly under your own power and your face will look sad if not downright agonized.
- If you ride at the lowest level, assistance will be with you for a great many miles, but your face will look content and not downright enthralled, as it would if you were climbing Bernard at 27mph and blasting spent electrons out your ass.
- Balancing overall trip time against judicious juice use is the game then, and a fun one it is, especially given all the feedback that the handlebar-mounted brain provides. Said the nerd.
Once I settled on the Bosch system as my must-have drive system, which didn't take long, I set about the task of deciding which brand integrated it into the dream bike with the greatest amount other stuff that I needed to have in my life. There's a whole big other story about that, but it would put you immediately to sleep, so it will remain untold. In the end, I recklessly forked over a small bike-fortune on a Trek XM700+. Great bike, IMO, but how about that for a lame big-box bike name. If it were up to me, I would incorporate electron spendage in the name for sure. The "Trek Electron Ass Blaster 700", for instance. I'm certain that they would sell a bazillion. (I am also certain that it is a very good thing for Trek that that I am not employed by their marketing department.)
Whenever I get a new bike that I'm really excited about, I feel compelled to act out in a juvenile photographic ritual that I call "senior pictures". I'm really excited about this bike, so here ya go . . .
|The "heart" of this fine machine.|
|That's a pricey drive unit, appropriately protected by a skid plate.|
|The "brain" of this fine machine.|
|Everything important (power assist level, info displayed) is controllable via this remote, left-thumb-operated unit.|
|Wires and cables abound.|
|Lots going on here. Internal cable routing galore; Cannondale-style headshock; worthy headlight|
driven off the main battery. And oh yeah, sucky fender line. Pretty sure I can fix that, though.
|Rad enclosed drivetrain. Whatever big-boy bell-bottom pants you threw|
your legs into this morning will work just fine on your ride.
|Standard rear der and gearset out back, which works just like normal, and if you use it right, prolongs battery life.|
|Hydraulic discs, which are welcome and appreciated at the higher speeds you run around at on this bike.|
|Somewhat fugly but super functional euro kickstand, which I am quickly becoming BFF with.|
Maybe my motivation makes sense to you at this point, or maybe you think I am totally full of bat-crazy bike shit, I get it. You may like it, or you may hate it. I am not sure myself. Proof will be in the pud'n, for sure. Let me get back to you. In the meantime, please keep your car out of the shoulder . . . I have someplace to be.