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What would it take to convince you that pedal assist is better?

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View Poll Results: What type of assist system do you prefer?
Pedal assist only (Bosch, etc)
24
45.28%
Pedal assist + handlebar throttle (various configurations)
21
39.62%
Throttle + conventional pedaling
8
15.09%
Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

What would it take to convince you that pedal assist is better?

Old 08-10-16, 08:09 AM
  #1  
tegnamo
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What would it take to convince you that pedal assist is better?

Like the title says, the issue of customers wanting ebikes with throttles, and a retailer not having a good way to sell them on the pedal-assist-only (Bosch, etc) style that they happen to carry. Some people don't want to pedal at certain times. If it's pedal assist only, then the buyer won't have that option. I've seen some sales lost because of this scenario. The customer will go to an ebike store down the street to get their throttle bike. And certain manufacturers only make pedal assist bikes, so there's no real way out unless the retailer starts selling another brand.

I think pedal assist tech is getting quite good. Some small amounts of lag, but otherwise pretty seamless. However, I personally can't think of reasons why you wouldn't ultimately want a throttle as well! Maybe if pedal assist was "perfect" then there's no need for a throttle?

Thoughts?
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Old 08-10-16, 09:14 AM
  #2  
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Depends on what type of pedal assist you are talking about... My BionX is "perfect" it senses/measures my pedaling effort and gives back what ever % I choose with 4 levels t choose from. Don't need a throttle, tho it has one and I do use it about 1% or less of the time... If you are talking rotation sensors on the crank to make someone "pretend" pedal, may as well just use a throttle. IMO
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Old 08-10-16, 09:17 AM
  #3  
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Okay, to clarify, I meant pedal assist wherein you're exerting some amount of effort, and the more effort, the more assist from the motor you get. A Bosch would be a good example of what I'm trying to get at.
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Old 08-10-16, 09:41 AM
  #4  
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A properly set up PAS doesn't need a throttle is what I say to people I talk to about my system... Unfortunately people who buy E-Bikes often want to use them like mopeds thus the shift to a must have throttle here in N America...
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Old 08-10-16, 10:17 AM
  #5  
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Currently I have a throttle +conventional pedaling. It works well for me. To those who say, without ever riding with me, that I only, "fake pedal," I will point out that 1. they have never ridden with me; so they cannot know what I do. 2. I know what pedaling feels like, and I know that I am pedaling.

That being said, i would prefer a torque sensing bottom bracket for proportional input. However, that costs more than I wanted to spend on a commuter bike.

I do prefer having a hand throttle too. It serves as a useful backup. I will provide a couple of examples. The first is when I damaged the line going to the magnet switch based PAS that was on my cheap kit. I pedaled home and diagnosed the problem. I then unplugged the damaged cable and used the throttle, + pedaling, for a couple of weeks, until I had time to repair the damaged cable. Now it works fine again.

I will throw out another example, one that is slightly more dramatic; my daughter was hit by a car. Of course they just drove off. She needed to get home and was not able to pedal the bike due to the pain. She was able to use the throttle only to get home and a deliveryman helped her get he bike into her apartment. A long, hot, bath and a lot of painkillers later and she was fine.

(Why didn't she call for medical assist? This is America, she couldn't afford it. Medical issues are the#1 cause of personal bankruptcies and personal debt can easily land a person in jail.)

I see the throttle as a useful, nearly essential, backup system on an e-bike, even if the primary sensing is a PAS or torque based system.

Last edited by Robert C; 08-10-16 at 10:18 AM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 08-10-16, 11:01 AM
  #6  
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The first 3 levels of pedal assist on my bionx feel seamless... no quick acceleration. The highest level of assistance, you can feel a pretty decent burst, but still very controlled.

Bionx does come with a throttle, but I have never had it hooked up (same with the regenerative braking.) I have ridden bikes with the throttle and they are fine. I just haven't really come across a situation yet where it would be necessary. I imagine it would be useful if you are injured, can't pedal, and you rely on your ebike as transportation. I have a 50cc scooter for that scenario.
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Old 08-10-16, 11:09 AM
  #7  
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I bike for fun and to me, it's not a bike unless you pedal. If it's an appliance that you are using to get to work on time or to deliver goods, well sure, a throttle makes sense. Our ebikes have both a throttle and a PAS. Throttle assist can be useful for getting started.

Like Robert C, I don't understand the disdain for the cadence type pedal sensors. Mine feel fine to me, and would not be interested in shelling out the extra cost for torque sensing in a DIY kit, plus a torque sensor wouldn't work that well on my lower powered hub motors. Better for powerful DD motors where there is plenty of torque in reserve.
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Old 08-10-16, 01:30 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
A properly set up PAS doesn't need a throttle is what I say to people I talk to about my system... Unfortunately people who buy E-Bikes often want to use them like mopeds thus the shift to a must have throttle here in N America...
All bicycles that have both a motor and pedals are Ďmo-pedsí. The object of a motor is to get there faster or easier, or both. With the bicycle and gearing options we have today, and for a rider with even an average level of fitness, very little effort is required to pedal a bike on level ground and up mild inclines. In that regard, itís difficult to justify PAS. I do understand the speed and time advantage that some seek, though. Where the boost of a motor is actually needed is when climbing hills. In that reality, all a motorized bicycle requires is a simple, manually-operated thumb throttle.
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Old 08-10-16, 02:40 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by slomoshun View Post
All bicycles that have both a motor and pedals are ‘mo-peds’. The object of a motor is to get there faster or easier, or both. With the bicycle and gearing options we have today, and for a rider with even an average level of fitness, very little effort is required to pedal a bike on level ground and up mild inclines. In that regard, it’s difficult to justify PAS. I do understand the speed and time advantage that some seek, though. Where the boost of a motor is actually needed is when climbing hills. In that reality, all a motorized bicycle requires is a simple, manually-operated thumb throttle.

I get your point, that you feel feel that a thumb throttle is best. that way you could choose when to use it. I will point out that you can achieve the same by either leaving the electric assist off when not in use, or by selecting the assist desired from the controls.

Oh. . . not again. . . Another one. . .

I am concerned with your slinging around words that have definitions that are provided in statute. We were discussing bicycles, which have definitions. Mopeds and motorized bicycles are also defined devices, which I do not see this conversation as addressing.

Frankly, we have had this discussion ad nauseum. Attempting to insert it into each and every e-bike discussion becomes boorish.

Now, the typical smartass remark made at this point is, "what definitions . .. there are many." The answer is simple, the definition in the jurisdiction where it is being applied. If you happen to live in one of the few nations where e-bikes are defined as mopeds, then fine, but understand that you are in a rare exception. Otherwise, please do not try to steer a conversation that was doing quite well without you into that same, heavily trodden, ground.

Again, if you happen to live in some rare jurisdiction, or, more likely, you were just not aware that the words you are using have been clearly defined in statute, I apologize and ask you to understand that in the US, UK, EU, PR of China, and many other nations these words have been defined. If you are not aware that these words have definitions, please understand that they do. You may not have been trying to steer this thread to ground that has been covered ad nauseum; I do understand that.

All that being said, this subforum is devoted to the discussion of e-bikes, not mopeds and motorized bicycles.
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Old 08-10-16, 06:47 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Robert C View Post
...All that being said, this subforum is devoted to the discussion of e-bikes, not mopeds and motorized bicycles.
All an 'e-bike' requires is a simple, manually-operated thumb throttle. Does that make you happier? K.I.S.S.
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Old 08-10-16, 06:57 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by slomoshun View Post
All an 'e-bike' requires is a simple, manually-operated thumb throttle. Does that make you happier? K.I.S.S.
Sure, I definitely get the point of just needing a thumb throttle. I was riding a friends velomobile a while ago and it was nice to hit the throttle when pulling away from stop signes, and then, when I was back at 20mph, to completely release the throttle and just pedal. It definitely made me more willing to operate legally and come to full stops.

. . . And about the other part of the post . . . we get trolled a lot. If it seems I was a bit quick on the trigger, try to understand. It is great to see another person interested in e-bikes in the forum.
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Old 08-10-16, 07:35 PM
  #12  
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I understand and was just responding to option #3 in the Poll.

Pedal assist only (Bosch, etc)
Pedal assist + handlebar throttle (various configurations)
Throttle + conventional pedaling
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Old 08-10-16, 07:56 PM
  #13  
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Answering the OP's question - what would make me interested in a PAS is the phrase: "this will help you ride at the same level as any of your friends". For example, if I can select the percentage help I want that would help me in pacing a stronger partner, and not fall behind or have the other rider have to wait for me to catch up. An even pacing is the one thing I can't do with a throttle only system, unless I "pulse" it.

However, I really didn't like the PAS on the Trek I tried out. It felt strange. I don't want the motor on all the time as I like to pedal on my own, and only use the throttle when I want to flatten hills to protect my knee. So when I do the long rides (20 miles on up) on my ebike the front hub motor stays off for the most part, and my bike just rolls along as an analog under my own power. I ride my road bike more often, but for shorter distances (20 miles or less), and always for strength training.

That said, if I gave a PAS a longer trial, say 20 miles or more, maybe I would like it. Maybe.

Last edited by momsonherbike; 08-10-16 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 08-10-16, 09:34 PM
  #14  
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Don't know whether this mirrors others experience, but initially I wanted a half-twist throttle because I had been a motorcyclist. However, after riding a Haibike and BioxX-equipped Felt, both with PAS only, I was hooked on it. You'll convince them of the excellence of PAS only with a test ride. You need to explain to them how PAS amplifies their pedaling effort.
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Old 08-11-16, 03:01 AM
  #15  
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Pedal assist only "it's the lesser of three evils"
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Old 08-11-16, 04:04 AM
  #16  
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I went with PAS, as I want some assistance for longer, hilly rides. The twist/thumb throttle doesn't allow for that. It's either all or nothing. I can see the appeal of have PAS/throttle, but I prefer simplicity.
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Old 08-11-16, 11:52 AM
  #17  
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I think KISS would mean only having PAS.

I'm a little bit backwards from everyone here. I use throttle only, because I like to pedal (where as most use PAS if they like to pedal).

Generally, I don't want any help in the 0-15mph range. I prefer not to have a motor at those speeds. In the 20-29mph range, I like to have a boost. Thus I have a throttle so that I can only have power when I am at cruising speed (generally over 20mph)
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Old 08-11-16, 02:19 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by tegnamo View Post
I think pedal assist tech is getting quite good. Some small amounts of lag, but otherwise pretty seamless. However, I personally can't think of reasons why you wouldn't ultimately want a throttle as well! Maybe if pedal assist was "perfect" then there's no need for a throttle?

Thoughts?
There's no such thing as a "perfect" pedal assist. That siad, pedal assist is my preferred method of riding an E-bike, but why not have a throttle/button for non-pedal power too? Why not give the buyer/rider the choice?

This is what makes the BaFang bolt-on PAS/throttle product so wonderful. "You" get to select how you what it to function, plus select the bike "you" want it on.

IMHO the best setup is a mid-drive with cadence and torque sensors, plus a throttle option. All the big manufacturers have to do is have a plug in for a throttle "option" if the buyer wants to add it. Simple and easy solution to meet personal preferrence without loosing a sale.
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Old 08-11-16, 03:35 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by NoPhart View Post
There's no such thing as a "perfect" pedal assist.
I think a bigger/stronger hub motor or mid-drives with a torque sensor and good tuning are close to perfect. That is, if you define perfect to feeling like a normal bike just going much faster at the same effort. I wonder if people who think throttles are best have ridden a good PAS bike? A cadence based PAS is more of an on/off switch than a pedal assist IMO.

I have a throttle on my Cross Current which also has a torque sensor. Its 350W motor is geared for high speed cruising so the bike feels sluggish below 10-15mph. The throttle acts like an override switch and allows me to apply full power off the line and during low speed climbs. It's also nice if you want to jump out into small gaps in traffic. For $50-100 option I think it's a nice option to have but it seems that many manufacturers are getting away from offering throttles on their e-bikes.
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Old 08-11-16, 04:16 PM
  #20  
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Many of the primo E-Bikes and E-Bike kits like Bosch and BionX are mainly building for the EU market and there it is illegal to have a throttle so... For the BionX you can add a throttle here in N America so that's not really a problem for getting a BionX if you want a throttle... Do you need a throttle on a BionX? Not at all, you can change the factory settings as to how soon and how hard the assist kicks in and in level4 it would be just like using the throttle anyways... A 300% boost to your pedaling effort goes a long ways to taking off and going faster, just like a throttle and pedaling... Oh, and yes, the pressure sensor type of PAS that the BionX uses IS "perfect"... So seamless... That if you didn't know you were riding an E-Assist bike you would just think wow, I feel good today, and doing great, must be in better shape than I thought as you ride the bike...

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Old 08-12-16, 08:37 AM
  #21  
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After more than a year researching E-bikes and owning one for over six months, I don't think E-Bikes will be as popular in the USA as they are in Europe anytime soon. The market being targeted is young, but the market that seems to benefit from them is older people "needing" the electric assist. The young market seems to view electric assist as a handicap enhancer or neat novelty feature. IMHO E-bike commuting isn't going to be a huge thing in the USA either, it's just not practical for most people; it's more of a "only choice" option.

Pedal assist E-bikes are a wonderful thing, but it seems the most likely market in the states is retirees looking to feel young again and for additiional help with those pesky hills and head winds. Weight verses electric assist is a trade-off that most aren't willing to do or just don't need the extra cost and hassles of charging yet another device.

I'm finding out that E-bikes are a very difficult sell dispite the nice PAS systems and throttle optins out there. Discounts on NOS last year models are around -50% retail and resale is even less. I feel for the E-bike shops trying to make a living selling them in the USA.

Maybe, just maybe in another year or two the battery weight and prices will be down to levels more will give it a try. Only time will tell...

IMO E-bikes with PAS and throttles are fun as heck!
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Old 08-12-16, 11:10 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by NoPhart View Post
I don't think E-Bikes will be as popular in the USA as they are in Europe anytime soon. The market being targeted is young, but the market that seems to benefit from them is older people "needing" the electric assist. The young market seems to view electric assist as a handicap enhancer or neat novelty feature. IMHO E-bike commuting isn't going to be a huge thing in the USA either, it's just not practical for most people; it's more of a "only choice" option.

Pedal assist E-bikes are a wonderful thing, but it seems the most likely market in the states is retirees looking to feel young again and for additiional help with those pesky hills and head winds. Weight verses electric assist is a trade-off that most aren't willing to do or just don't need the extra cost and hassles of charging yet another device.

I'm finding out that E-bikes are a very difficult sell dispite the nice PAS systems and throttle optins out there. Discounts on NOS last year models are around -50% retail and resale is even less. I feel for the E-bike shops trying to make a living selling them in the USA.
I agree with this 100% as I am one of those "older" people and we also tend to be "frugal" with our $$.

In my case, there was an unexpected benefit to a pedal assist bike:

I neglected my cycling for a few years while building our home, then found I was so out of shape, I was only doing short rides on bikes with a triple crank! My best bikes weren't being ridden at all, just so I could avoid the shame of walking up steep hills.

I got a cheap, pedal assist, electric just to expand my riding distance for running errands and such but found it was a great way to get back in shape as it forced me to expend effort to pedal in order to have extra speed and hill topping ability. I will be doing a review of my e-bike experience soon. (with pics!) Don
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Old 08-15-16, 04:01 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by ollo_ollo View Post
I agree with this 100% as I am one of those "older" people and we also tend to be "frugal" with our $$.

In my case, there was an unexpected benefit to a pedal assist bike:

I neglected my cycling for a few years while building our home, then found I was so out of shape, I was only doing short rides on bikes with a triple crank! My best bikes weren't being ridden at all, just so I could avoid the shame of walking up steep hills.

I got a cheap, pedal assist, electric just to expand my riding distance for running errands and such but found it was a great way to get back in shape as it forced me to expend effort to pedal in order to have extra speed and hill topping ability. I will be doing a review of my e-bike experience soon. (with pics!) Don
Don't know if you read my Bike To E-bike Experience post, but if you do/have you will see that I'm a 50-something returning to biking after 20+ years away and out of shape. It only took me 6 months on a E-bike to make the jump back to pedal. During that time I relearned much of what I use to know and learned even more about mountain biking, something that I had not done before. Now I own a Santa Cruz Hightower (CSH) setup for Trail, All Mountian and even local cement bike path use with Ergon GP5 bar ends mounted in front of the grips. This full suspension beast can truly do it all in comfort and style, but certainly not a frugle purchase at all.

Last weekend I road a cement riverbed trail 20+ miles to the beach and back with a friend on his road bike using the CSH with tires pumped up to 50psi. We generally cruised at about 14mph and averaged about 12mph according to his road bike computer. What surprised me the most about riding this somewhat higher end FS carbon MTB 29er was how easy it climbed the street underpasses. It rolls so well that I actually felt it climbed the underpasses easier than the E-bike and it rolled down the front side as fast as my buddies road bike.

Off road you have to hold it back on descents, as it will just continue gaining speed regardless of what is in front of you.

There's is no way I could have got to this point, riding such a nice bike in such a short time without the E-bike purchase. I do miss its' effortless rides. So much so that I'm in the process of doing a custom build with all my upgrade parts and a belt drive frame with 3spd IGH rear hub for putting around the neighborhood, beach cruising, as a loner for others to join in a ride without having to be an ironman and just plain fun ride to have around.

You are in your mid-70's and still riding. I'm in my mid-50's and want to still be riding when I'm your age. That's what it is all about; staying active and healthy to the end.

Get this. As we were setting up for our ride in the parking lot an 83 year old woman came over to talk with us while she waited for her ride partner. She was doing her first 50 mile ride and couldn't wait to post the results on her FB page. Mentally and physically fit as a whip at 83! We went towards the beach that was 10 miles away, so 20 miles round trip. They went 15 miles inland, then planned to turn around and go 25 miles to the beach, and finally 10 miles back to our starting point. As I was pulling out after our ride was done, she was pulling in for a water and protein break at her 30 mile point. Looked great and full of energy to finish her 50 mile goal. Awesome!

Hope you and I still going at 83 too...

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Old 08-16-16, 12:42 PM
  #24  
NoPhart
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I think the term "throttle" is a misconception to how some people use them on E-bikes. The first thing that comes to mind when you say throttle, is using it like a motorcycle to power the bike without pedaling. In reality many E-bike operators (myself included) use a the throttle as the electric assist on/off button or as a power "boost" button.

Like others have stated, some like to ride the bicycle as they always have and only hit the throttle when they want to add assistance. All this does is turn the electric assist on while they continue pedaling. I use my PAS with a throttle the same way. While riding with PAS on, I hit the throttle to get an added boost of power on difficult climbs. What this appears to do on my ride is allow the electric motor to go into "peak power mode" (350W motor pumped up to 680W power level).

In both of the examples above, the throttle isn't being used in the traditional sense of the word as most people would think.
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Old 08-16-16, 01:50 PM
  #25  
350htrr
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I beg to differ, when people start to use the throttle they may "think" they are pedaling/pedal "normal" but they start to pedal less, meaning pressure onto the pedals as time goes by, even tho they are pedaling 100% of the time... JMO It even happens with PAS only, once you start to use the higher levels of assist more, you end up pedaling les, meaning less pressure onto the pedals, again even pedaling 100% of the time, and after a time that becomes "normal" and when you try the same ride on a lower level of assist you will realize that... Maybe, just maybe, you aren't getting as much exercise as you thought... IMO

EDIT; In my experience once the thought occurs in your head that, WOW you are good today, riding like you were in the best shape of your life... You are using more assist than you think, or there's huge wind at your back, or both... Thus one always needs to ride in the lowest setting that works for the ride to make sure one IS actually pedaling as much as one can, and using a throttle is not as conductive to help pedaling effort if you actually want to pedal more ...

Last edited by 350htrr; 08-16-16 at 02:47 PM.
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