Hi everyone! I kind of feel like the odd person out in this forum -- I actually just learned how to ride a bike two years ago and have only ridden a handful of times since, mostly in residential neighbourhoods. The idea of biking on big roads still freaks me out a bit, and I still don't have the strongest muscles for biking. I'm more of a runner, but I was thinking of getting more into cycling because it would get me to places a heck of a lot faster than running does.
I work as a freelance writer, and was recently hired by a company called OHM Cycles to write articles for them. I didn't know that e-bikes even existed before this, but now that I'm starting to learn a bit more about them, I'm toying with the idea of trying an e-assist bike to help me build up my biking muscles and hopefully gain better control over my speed (I hate going downhill because I'm scared of going too fast!). If I had money, I'd go for this electric bike, but it's out of my budget.
So yeah, I don't know much bikes or biking at the moment, but will probably spend some time lurking around and learning from your postings, and maybe even ask a few questions.
I hope that one day, I'll be as enthusiastic about cycling as you all are!
Welcome "CathyL," hope you get the 'bug' and find cycling an enjoyable part of your life. By 'lurking' and asking questions on this site, you'll get a lot of invaluable tips, advice, and information to help you avoid the numerous pitfalls, including unnecessary pain from ill-fitting or inappropriate clothing or bad equipment purchases, riding a bike and seat not fit and adjusted to your body, and riding in dangerous areas. When I started riding long distances at age 14, 56 years ago, I didn't have any help at all, especially from forums such as this, so I rode a bike far too big for me, wore the worst clothing, and packed heavy, inadequate foods and gear. Consequently, although my youthful enthusiasm got me through, the equipment failures and extreme pain and discomfort discouraged me from continuing with cycle touring until I was in my early 40's at which time I got the bug again, asked questions, did research, and lurked about on forums before setting off again on long distance touring. I have toured from Fairbanks Alaska to south of San Fransisco and many routes in between. There still is some pain and discomfort involved, but nothing compared to my first experiences, and certainly not enough to interfere with the enjoyment, satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment I get from 'bicycle touring'.
Thank you, 10 Wheels and Big Lew! Your comments are very encouraging! I always feel bad that all my bike rides have been solely for practicing my maneuvering, building up my leg muscles for biking, and getting my body used to it, so it makes me feel better to hear that 10 Wheels had 1,000 miles on his legs before starting to tackle the local roads. Are there any exercises you can do on top of cycling to build up the right muscles, or is cycling itself the only thing that will do it? At one point when I was doing Capoeira, my quads got pretty strong.
I don't know anything about proper clothing, bike sizes, etc. at all! Guess I better start lurking!
My biggest issue is that I don't know any of the hand signals, so I never really feel safe any time a car comes my way.
Big Lew: How did you get into your first cycle tour? They sound so enticing! Did you start out with big organized groups, or just with a group of friends or by yourself?
First trip, at age 14, in 1960, my school buddy and I decided to go one an adventure during Easter Break....rode 200 miles before my buddies bike broke down, so we rode a train home (it was a 'first' for both of us, and a great adventure that we still talk about.) All but 3 of my numerous other tours were self supported and solo. As far as exercises, other then frequently riding for a couple of hours at a time, I have found that using a stair climber works the best to build leg muscles and toughen knees and achilies tendons needed for multi-day cycling.
I love e-bikes and think they are great fun. Really a nice way to ditch the car and save gas money and parking hassles when the weather permits. However, it's a whole 'nother different kind of riding. Your "real riding" skills would be better developed just plain riding around with no assist. When your legs are doing all the work, they develop faster. Also, the weight distribution may or may not be similar between an e-bike and your average road or mountain bike, affecting handling, braking (the e-bike is heavier) etc etc.
Thanks for your take on e-bikes. I don't drive (I don't even have a license), so I thought that an e-bike might be a good potential option for getting around faster (if I ever get the hang of riding on big streets!). I agree I need to develop my muscles more through regular biking.
About the e-bike facts you mentioned -- Do you know exactly how much heavier an e-bike is as compared to a regular bike? The BionX electric bike motor is supposed to be one of the lightest around. Does the weight make a huge difference? If I wanted to ride without a battery, would it take a lot more muscle power to pedal? Also, is there a best spot for the motor to be located for the weight to be most evenly/normally distributed? I thought it looked pretty reasonable on this electric bike, but of course, my thoughts don't really count for anything since I have so little biking experience.
Wow, 10 Wheels -- how long did it take you to ride 80 laps? I never keep track of the laps I do -- I just try to ride for an hour at a time. Does each lap count as 4 blocks, or two? Maybe I'll try to keep track of my blocks next time -- I only go around in circles a few times, so I don't think I could really monitor my biking in laps.
I don't have an electric bike, just test rode a few. I don't remember the brand names, but both were in the last two years. One was a very clunky kind of low-end mountain bike with a bolt-on motor and battery pack, and was pretty fun, but on my test ride the battery conked out about 2 miles from the home of the guy that was selling it. It was a bit of a long haul back with all that weight. ("But I just charged it last night!") That's not a good sign, since the replacement battery cost more than he was asking for the bike.
The second one was a newer, slicker, but almost as heavy rental e bike from my LBS. It would get up to about 25 mph on the flats, but again, was too heavy to really enjoy as a bike for pedaling.
I guess my point is the ones I've tried are great if you think of them as electric scooters (that can be pedaled, if needed), but not so great as an actual bicycle. The one's you've linked to are probably (maybe?) quite a bit better, as technology continues to march on.
Lascauxcaveman: Yikes about the one that conked out on you. I don't know much about e-bikes but OHMs are supposed to be some of the better ones. Maybe I should just wait for something new to come out that weighs the same as a regular bicycle. That could take a while though.
The e-bikes page for OHM says they use "Lightweight Aluminum frames" and are supposed to be 25% lighter than other e-bikes but apparently they are still pretty heavy compared to normal bikes.