Friday, October 8, 2010

The first commuter bike

Motivated by the back pain - I fixed up a Specialized Expedition I had since my last biking obsession in 01' and equipped it with... drum roll please.... an electric motor. Now this alone might seriously put off many hardcore bike folk BUT I HAD MY REASONS!!

1) I was fat(ter) - and this was easier to manage. I have tried to avoid the reality but the truth are what it are.
2) I couldn't show up to work all sweaty. Simple enough - working your tush off (that's inaccurate - your tush kind of gets firm but maintains its presence) can make one inappropriately smelly and corporate merica just doesn't allow that. More on this later..
3) This is super cool technology: I like neato mechanical things. A bicycle is a neato mechanical thing, my job involves neato mechanical things, my other interests are neato mechanical things - my wife is not a fembot- so I have achieved some balance.
4) Not only was the technology cool - it was capable. I purchased my BIONX PL-350 for a mere $.. Let's not talk about that. Let's talk about how far it could go - and the nifty features:

  • 4 assist and 4 regeneration modes. This is huge. When you feel strong, use mode I or don't use any assist at all. Heck - feeling REALLY strong? Use regenerate mode 4. Any of you hardcore beetches think an electric bike is for wussies? Try this out: Ride all day in regen mode 4. I rode home once in regen mode 4. That was the usual 13.2 miles with about 850' of climbing. Note I said "once". That was just to prove to myself it could be done.

  • It could go the distance: The round trip commute to work is about 26-28 miles depending on whether or not I can cut through a field due to snow. In the winter I get another couple of miles in. My first test run was on mode 2. It took place on the weekend and drained the battery about 3/4's worth. Mode 2 had plenty of power; enough to average about 19.7 mph

  • It works with you - not all by it's lonesome: This is another biggie. The genius behind the design is that riding is intuitive. There is a strain gauge that monitors how much you strain (got it?) and in turn it puts out a percentage of corresponding power depending on how much power you put out. It'd be like if me and my lady went out the tandem bike and worked in perfect harmony. Quite opposite the way I usually commandeer the tandem - here's one clue: Bendix 2 speed kickback shifting. Here is another: Maybe some shin guards would be a good idea? When I bought the thing the guy warned me ‘ “You’d better have good communication skills, if not it’ll test your relationship some”

  • It’s well integrated: Sure you can buy kits out there that will kind of get the job done for less money. It is doubtful they have as many useful settings or work as seamlessly. The cheap kits appeal to those who like the “Back to the Future” look. Lots of gaudy technology zip-tied and bolted with various adapters to a likely even cheaper and more gaudy bike. I think I just offended a few MIT boys - not one bit sorry bout that. Enjoy your leggings, armor and buxom wenches ya nerds.
    • It can be fitted on your existing bike. This really doesn't need a lot of explanation. I had a bike - they had a motor. The BIONX weighs less than just about every system out there. It has a whole bunch of other features that are properly documented here: I suggest considering the system while your significant other is either away or intoxicated. I know I was drunk when I bought mine.  

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