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e-bike touring

Old 03-18-24, 01:56 PM
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e-bike touring

I think I've decided something today about longer bike tours. When it's on rail trails (which is what I will mostly be riding near me) a regular bike is no issue. The hills or gradient is no issue, but I LOVE pedal assist on my e-bike.

When I'm fitter, I barely use it even on my 75 lbs. cargo bicycle, but here is the thing... fitness fluctuates for me (and most people) so biking can become really unappealing, but with pedal assist, you can get away from biking and come back and and work back up some fitness again in a more enjoyable way.

E-bikes are constantly changing and improving. My ebike was purchased about 7 years ago. That is EONS ago in e-bike years. I wouldn't purchase the same bike that I did back then, but I cannot complain AT ALL because it's still like new - including battery life. I LOVE that thing. LOVE IT... despite it being too heavy to put on nearly any bike rack. I LOVE that it is a cargo bike that can take passengers - helped me with my teen son with autism get used to riding on a bike as a passenger to help ease him into learning to ride on his own. I like that I can carry things - like this spring, We will bike to another nearby lake and I'll take our inflatable kayak. I can DO THAT on this bike!!!

BUT... I want to ride Ragbrai. I want to do a cross country tour (yes, I do). and with the price of good traditional bikes and with the tech changing so much on e-bikes, I think I would rather go that route. Sure, it can be done on a regular bike, but why would I do that? Just to say I can do it?

With these new gravel e-bikes and with them getting lighter and lighter, even when the battery assist has run out, the bikes aren't that heavy to ride as a plain bike and things could be planned to have places to charge and I could (and would) carry a spare battery.

The ONLY downfall is that you can't take these batteries on airplanes yet... (need to check on that) but that is OK. I can take a train to wherever the start or end point is for a cross-country tour. I LOVE riding my bike, but I don't need to kill myself doing it.

And who knows... maybe I'll feel diferently when I can actually do something like that (now I have a teen with autism in community college who needs a lot of support) and I'm full-time caregiving my MIL with dementia with my partner. But as e-bike batteries get better and better, it's beginning to understand who someone would NOT want the pedal assist?

I would love discussion and thought on this - in an open-minded way!
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Old 03-18-24, 02:32 PM
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You can tour on an e-bike but I would want something that I can get support (parts and maintenance) for all over just in case. In the end we had a customer who bought a R+M and toured Africa for a few months and had a great time. The owner at my old shop he went touring all the time on his electric bikes and loaded them down frequently. Though he had routes and extra batteries at other shops that he would store so when he went around he was well set and he owned a shop so he got top level service and a few times our GM went out to rescue him and solve a mechanical issue. However he was rough on his bikes basically the test subject for them to make sure if they worked for him they would work for the customers so while he did treat them rough they held up pretty well. The mechanics would complain but I kind of tallied things and his bikes weren't in for service that often usually it was adding something new to it for testing but not a ton of work on it compared to other stuff.

I have two electric bikes I would use for touring happily but I also have a standard steel touring bike from Co-Motion which would be more ideal for touring in many ways as well. No charging needed no chargers required less to go wrong that is not easily fixed on the road or limpable on the road. I don't need a computer to fix my regular touring bike in anyway. That is not to say I am knocking e-bikes I love e-bikes and generally my bikes have gone a while without much work. My R+M Supercharger hasn't been plugged in for a while and is working fine and gets regular checking.
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Old 03-18-24, 03:32 PM
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In the late 1980s, I had to use some scientific instruments that our company rented, they were too expensive for us to buy when we only needed them a few days a year. They had lithium batteries in them. We could ship by Fed Ex because the restriction at that time was about passenger aircraft, not all aircraft. We had a stack of information from Fed that documented how to ship things like that.

I think you can ship by UPS or US Postal Service on ground transport. For example several years ago I bought a big box of butane canisters for camp stoves which can't be shipped on aircraft, but Amazon shipped it to me by ground carrier.

My point is that if you have someone, a bike shop, a motel, you may be able to ship the batteries ahead of time.

I assume an e-bike without battery might still be too heavy for the 50 pound weight limit on some airlines, you might have to use Bike Flights. Or see if Bike Flights has any info on shipping batteries.

A friend of mine has an e-trike with a Bosch motor. I suspect you would want a high end machine that uses Bosch if you want anyone to work on it. A neighbor is a bike mechanic and he tells me that no regular bike shop in town will work on the cheap e-bikes. Even their spokes were so weird they could not replace them with normal spokes.
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Old 03-18-24, 04:07 PM
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"The rise in e-bikes, meanwhile, has made it easier for these bike-loving retirees to travel greater distances—including on multi-day itineraries. According to Backroads, 25% of their guests opted for e-bikes in 2019, which led the company to add e-bike only tours. Today, Backroads offers 11 dedicated e-bike tours in North America and Europe. As demand has ticked up, particularly among older adults eager to stay active later in life, Backroads has grown their fleet of e-bikes to more than 4,500. "

https://www.cntraveler.com/story/mee...r-golden-years
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Old 03-18-24, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I think you can ship by UPS or US Postal Service on ground transport.
UPS requires a "dangerous goods contract" to ship any lithium battery over 300 Watt Hours. In other words, you can't just drop it off at the UPS store. It has to be packaged by a certified hazmat shipper with the computer software to generate the shipping papers ...

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Old 03-18-24, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by BobG
UPS requires a "dangerous goods contract" to ship any lithium battery over 300 Watt Hours. In other words, you can't just drop it off at the UPS store. It has to be packaged by a certified hazmat shipper with the computer software to generate the shipping papers ...

+1 I remember calling UPS or FedEx once trying to ship a battery and the guy on the phone said "Yeah I can ship that" and I said "No you can't, I thank you for your willingness to help but this is a Hazmat and it can't be shipped by normal means I need the Hazmat department for that" Someone without the morale scruples and love for my FedEx/UPS drivers (they are generally quite friendly and good folks at least the ones I have seen regularly, I am sure there are jerks) would have just said yeah get me a label and I will toss it in a box and hopefully nothing happens but if it does it could be quite catastrophic. They make it really hard to get it shipped. I got certified by both companies and still had issues getting batteries out. I remember calling back after they sent it back for the third time and I asked what was wrong I followed your protocols to the T and she said "I don't know but we can't take it" I was fuming so I called the company I was trying to ship to and explained the situation and they said that is fine just properly dispose of it and we will figure it out. \

Someone needs to work on a safe and efficient way to ship batteries that isn't such a major hassle but also is not as dangerous to people. It would make life so much easier.
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Old 03-18-24, 06:25 PM
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bosch is really the most universal e bike electronics out there. since the bikes for the most part use al standard parts too it helps.
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Old 03-18-24, 06:37 PM
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I really look forward to what is still coming up for bike riding and touring with ebikes. I only feel comfortable riding my e-bike at normal biking speeds. I like to use the assist at the lowest needed to get the job done without having to get off the bike. Usually my legs are jelly after riding to the grocery store and back. (especially these days with having to be a full-time caregiver these days). I get just as tired when I ride my regular bike out on rail-trails, but if I ride traditional my bike in town, there might be times Have to get off the bike to make it up the hill and I don't know why that feels so defeating, but it sure does. I know with any regular riding you just get stronger and stronger and would use the assist less and less, but I'm sure there would always be times you would wish you had that extra boost! When I'm riding about town I ALWAYS grab my ebike it's just way more comfortable - even though it's a very heavy cargo bike!
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Old 03-18-24, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BobG
UPS requires a "dangerous goods contract" to ship any lithium battery over 300 Watt Hours. In other words, you can't just drop it off at the UPS store. It has to be packaged by a certified hazmat shipper with the computer software to generate the shipping papers ...

Thanks for correcting my error. Sounds like the rules have stiffened up since I was shipping electronic instruments with lithium batteries years ago by Fed Ex.
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Old 03-18-24, 10:57 PM
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Post from Electrics bikes by Doc Wui: Grin Techbology's take on ebike fires and UL testing, March 13, 2024,


The first part is the history , but you can skip to around the 30 minute mark. The takeaway is they could not get a modern battery with brand name cells to catch on fire, He believes it's low quality cells, not user abuse, to be the root cause of spontaneous fires. .UL testing won't catch low quality,
This very informative video shows how and why ebike batteries can fail.

Last edited by Rick; 03-18-24 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 03-18-24, 11:09 PM
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For ease of mind, I would fly to your starting point sans battery, purchase a new one there.
Or
Ship the battery. It cannot be that difficult. E-bikes are being ordered online and delivered continuously.
The expeditor will certainly know how to fill out the SDDGs
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Old 03-19-24, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Thanks for correcting my error. Sounds like the rules have stiffened up since I was shipping electronic instruments with lithium batteries years ago by Fed Ex.
Small batteries "packed with" or "contained in" equipment are in a different category. Scroll down for very complicated UPS flowcharts. Figure 7 for LION air, figure 8 for LION ground ...

https://www.ups.com/assets/resources..._batteries.pdf
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Old 03-19-24, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick
https://youtu.be/j92Gt4VviSQ This very informative video shows how and why ebike batteries can fail.
A local e-bike seller had a fire in the middle of the night several years ago.
https://www.channel3000.com/news/loc...deedfe27f.html
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Old 03-19-24, 08:56 AM
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In the last year I've met several people on the road who were touring on e-bikes. Some stay in hotels every night. One guy wild camps but still manages to charge his battery daily through his resourcefulness.
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Old 03-20-24, 09:35 AM
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Just call me waffler... As soon as I decide this is the best way forward when I realized my ebike is the bike I use the most often. I starting thinking more about it and realize it's an added headache. I guess I'll go on waffling for longer. Electric bikes would be more comfortable on the ride, but more limiting in other ways. I would use it more, but relying on needing to find an outlet makes me hesitant. Plus finding someone to deal with repair is a bigger issue on an ebike too.

I live in the B'more area.NOTHING is terrible far from town - ever. When I go on rail trails or anywhere near me to bike, there are towns everywhere. I would camp in camp spots, but would would probably lunch/dinner at restaurants where I could plug in. On Rail trails I don't need an electric bike either. The gradient is NOT difficult. But if I go on Ragbrai or do a cross country tour, things will be more difficult and outlets more spread out. I would want the convenience of an ebike... maybe.

But one of the reasons I like the idea of being able to pitch a tent is not having to worry about getting X miles in a day to get to my hotel reservation. I don't even like the idea of going to hotels because I have this fear of picking up bedbugs! (I got eaten alive by bedbugs above the arctic circle at an Air BnB in Iceland 7 years ago which fortunately none hitchhiked home, but since then, I'm just scared of sleeping anywhere but home, so I limit that. I LIKE sleeping out in a campsite too. (Just like I leave my bedroom window open all but the hottest nights at home).

We have an electric plug in car. We love it. It can go about 45 miles without a charge. Then it automatically flips to the small gas motor when we drive further. That is kind of what I want in an ebike... When I'm close to home, having enough charge to do those rides, but when I get to the end of the battery having the bike not be a BEAST for the rest of the ride. I THINK some of these newer bikes are getting better with that. They aren't that heavy! Like the new Salsa Confluence and the Orbea electric bikes?

There is a very nice traditional bike on line now for about 2k in my size, with the features I would like (but used). Or I could buy a new Ebike (and in the future buy a battery extender) for not a hell of a lot more and it would be NEW. It's even getting hard too justify buying traditional bikes with their hefty price tags even in the used market!

How many times did I waffle in this post?

Signed the Waffler.
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Old 03-20-24, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
..., but relying on needing to find an outlet makes me hesitant. ....
I was 100 percent self sufficient for all electric needs on my last bike tour, two weeks of riding, bike fitted with a dynohub and a Cycle2Charge USB charger to keep my batteries charged. But, I used muscle power for 100 percent of the propulsion, thus my electric needs were much reduced. Never needed to plug into an outlet for anything for two weeks. And I had a GPS turned on for every mile, the GPS was probably one third of my power consumption. Phone was turned off or in airplane mode when not in use. Usually had one battery powered blinker on in back. Camping, so needed artificial light in evenings and early mornings. The camera was used a lot, but I brought the charger for it, plus spare batteries.
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Old 03-20-24, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I was 100 percent self sufficient for all electric needs on my last bike tour, two weeks of riding, bike fitted with a dynohub and a Cycle2Charge USB charger to keep my batteries charged. But, I used muscle power for 100 percent of the propulsion, thus my electric needs were much reduced. Never needed to plug into an outlet for anything for two weeks. And I had a GPS turned on for every mile, the GPS was probably one third of my power consumption. Phone was turned off or in airplane mode when not in use. Usually had one battery powered blinker on in back. Camping, so needed artificial light in evenings and early mornings. The camera was used a lot, but I brought the charger for it, plus spare batteries.
I'm not being snarky in the least, but just geniunely curious, if you used your muscle power 100% to go up hills but you had an electric bike, why did you have the electric bike? And I can't tell from your bike list, but which was the electric assist one? Wouldn't a dynamo hub and carrying some battery chargers for the phone be lighter?

Hmmm... another thing I hadn't thought of - rain.
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Old 03-20-24, 02:21 PM
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mams99 Posted: I'm not being snarky in the least, but just geniunely curious, if you used your muscle power 100% to go up hills but you had an electric bike, why did you have the electric bike? And I can't tell from your bike list, but which was the electric assist one? Wouldn't a dynamo hub and carrying some battery chargers for the phone be lighter?

Hmmm... another thing I hadn't thought of - rain.
​​​​​​​I looked at Tourist in MSNs post and can't find any mention of an ebike.
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Old 03-20-24, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick
I looked at Tourist in MSNs post and can't find any mention of an ebike.
Oh... I didn't read it carefully - he was using a dynamo hub to charge and didn't need too even recharge that for the trip.... I thought It was about ebike and not needing to charge.
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Old 03-20-24, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I'm not being snarky in the least, but just geniunely curious, if you used your muscle power 100% to go up hills but you had an electric bike, why did you have the electric bike? And I can't tell from your bike list, but which was the electric assist one? Wouldn't a dynamo hub and carrying some battery chargers for the phone be lighter?

Hmmm... another thing I hadn't thought of - rain.
Sorry for not being clear, I do not have an e-bike.
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