It has been a month since I put my first e-bike together. The first week of owning my BL-36 beach cruiser, I replaced my stock kick stand with a dual, motorcycle-like kick stand for the added stability when I park my e-bike [“ Pyramid Alloy Double Bicycle Kickstand ”]. It helps to manage and stabilize the weight of my e-bike when I get off it. I also bought a front wired basket mounted to my handle bars to the front fork [“ Wald 198 Front Adjustable Basket “] -- it’s my trunk for now, carrying my U-lock, heavy 7 foot cable (to help lock my e-bike around palm trees or big poles), an old black t-shirt (to cover over my controller box when my e-bike is locked up), a small, foldable insulated lunch bag (to keep my food and/or drinks temperature just right), and it sometimes carry my groceries home from the super market. After riding around the first week, I ran over a staple on the road and got my first flat tire: I noticed the flat tire on my front wheel the next day. I went out and bought three inner tubes, took the staple out (felt the inside of the tire for any sharp objects that might be protruding), changed the inner tube, and stored away the other inner tubes I purchased in my closet for emergency. Since I have no room underneath my seat for my saddle bag (which holds an extra inner tube and tools to fix a flat tire), I instead, used the Velcro straps on the little seat bag to strap it on the outer front basket.
During the second week, I had an issue with my battery pack. I think all the fast rides- hitting bumpy roads in the city had loosen a wired connection to one of the battery terminals. About ¾ of the way home from work, my power completely stopped working. I assumed the battery was low on “juice,” and I rode my bike by pedaling only. A couple of traffic lights later, it dawned on me that the power didn’t fade like it did on my endurance test run; but it stopped all together. So I unzipped my battery pack and I noticed a wire was completely off one of the terminal. I placed it back on (with a nice, pretty blue spark), and I had my power assist back online working for the rest of the ride home. Once at home, I doubled checked all the wired connections, wrapped the batteries with duct tape to better hold down the wires in place. Another thing I did on the second week was to adjust my bicycle seat up a lot higher; apparently I was riding “Groucho Marx's” style. After several miles of this poor riding style, my knees were starting to hurt. Since adjusting my seat to a proper height, my bike rides are much easier and comfortable on my knees.
On my third week, I grew increasingly apprehensive about all the insane city drivers and dealing with their road rage, that I started to take the “inner city roads” as opposed to the major boulevards. I even went so far as to research on the Internet other bikers’ route using Los Angeles side streets to avoid the heavier congested roads in my area. Luckily for me, there is a river bike path (it’s Los Angeles so our rivers are all cradled in concrete) that slices through the city to right next to my workplace. The river bike path is great because it’s a non-stop, always open lane; it’s a quiet and serene bike ride, and no cars to share the road with. I can enjoy the view because I am not concentrating on pushing (peddling) my bike along the path, but enjoying an easy ride using the power assist –as it does all the work for me, giving me time for “special moments” by communing with nature while riding. I feel that I was plucked out of a mad, hectic, scramble of a world and I was placed in a calmer, exhilarating, “take your time and smell the roses” type of a world. A few other side notes: the weight of the gasoline gouging and budgeting for it has been lifted off my shoulders for the time being; parking is a lot easier than with my small SUV; I always go to the front of the line at each traffic stop; and most noticeably, I catch myself looking for any excuse to go somewhere, anywhere on my e-bike, kind of like I did when I was a little boy-- full of energy and optimism. Owning my e-bike has open up a whole new world for me. Los Angeles has become my backyard.
During the first month, I learned to ride at a better rhythm now. I prefer to ride at 7th gear (7-speed cruiser) and I pedal lightly with my e-hub. It feels like riding easily in 3rd gear but flying at a constant 7th gear speed. I do about 80% throttle most of the way, and I like to have that extra "omph" left over (the other 20%) for when the traffic lights about to change or other eventualities. I am also learning to time some of the traffic lights on my route so I can have a mostly non-stop ride in the city. It’s great to see the same group of cars at each traffic light that I stop at, and knowing that I am saving money on gasoline.
My next project is to get my e-bike night riding ready. I already purchased at a great deal ($95.00) the Blackburn System X6 (one spot light plus another flood light), a bright lime colored safety vest with sewn in reflecting taped from Home Depot, and next on my list is a couple rear tail lights -- a Planet Bike Superflash and a Reelight SL 120 single rear package (a nice back up light because it’s always on and doesn’t require batteries to operate). I also test rode some alternative routes back home (the river bike path has gang graffiti spray painted in some areas, so probably going to avoid the bike path at night). I am looking forward to doing some riding at night (or at least be prepared if I am caught somewhere after dark).
In the near future, I am going to upgrade my rack and battery pack to a Topeak Super Tourist DX Tubular Rack and “QuickTrack” MTX TrunkBag DXP with built in side panniers. I like this combo because I can quickly disconnect the battery pack and charge it up at work or take it off and bring it with me on the beach for better security, and the built in panniers will work great for added storage when I need it (i.e. more grocery to carry home). I am also going to get a LiFePO4 48volt battery pack when the prices come down a little (figure I got a couple more years left with my current battery pack).
In conclusion, with the high cost of gasoline, and the poor economy us Americans are dealing with, I made some significant life-style changes. The best so far was purchasing my e-bike.
Thanks again for your time,
165lbs (getting good exercise-losing some weight)