Despite being fitted to an off-the-shelf Trek MTB purchased locally, the pads seem to be a rarity, being very small and untraceable by any of the local bike shops.
The guys at the Cycle Centre are very friendly and I had a cruise round their shop, not particularly intending to actually buy anything.
In the corner of the showroom there were several electrically powered e-bikes, and Daryl Neal showed me round them.
There are a number of designs for e-bikes, which can either be “turnkey” bikes, or a conversion kit that can be fitted to an existing bike.
Go to http://www.wellingtonelectricbikes.co for details of Daryl’s products.
The styles vary between ladies shopper complete with basket through long wheelbase cargo carrying machines to serious mountain bikes.
All the e-bikes have 250-300w motors, rechargeable batteries and a variety of control systems. The motors can either be integral with the rear or front hub, or positioned to drive the crank spindle.
Daryl let me have a ride on his demonstrator – a MTB with a hub motor at the rear.
I confess to not expecting much – how can a mere 300w be fun?
What a hoot the bike was! It’s like riding with a BIG tailwind. Over 30kph can be attained in seconds and maintained on flat terrain.
I was completely sold on the concept and made a plan for Daryl to convert my 4 year old Trek Alpine MTB to 300w hub motor and 17Ah battery.
Batteries are available from 13Ah to 17Ah.
“My” conversion has the 300w rear hub motor and a very effective system called “pedal assist”. This system supplies torque direct to the rear wheel via the hub motor, electronically metered according to the cadence (rate of pedaling) and how hard you are pedaling. The effect of this is you have legs like Lance Armstrong! This is most exhilarating – beyond all my expectations.
The amount of available pedal-assist can also be set to any of 5 different levels via a neat control panel fitted to the handlebars. I confess to always having it set to “max boost”, but lower settings will significantly extend the km range available per battery charge.
To add to the fun, there is a torque override control via a twist grip like a motor bike. When twisted, this by-passes the pedal-assist system and will apply torque in proportion to how much you twist it!.
The battery recharges in 4 hours via a normal household socket. Running costs are of the order of 0.5cents per km!…. take that Prius!!!!
The available range per charge varies greatly with terrain, speed, headwind and how much you pedal. I ride as fast as it will go, and get over 40km on routes with significant gradients. I’m confident that a range of well over 60km is achievable with more restrained riding.
The bike is still great exercise, but more fun cos it’s much faster and you can travel 5-6 times as far in a given time.
If the battery is exhausted, the bike is quite rideable, despite the weight penalty of the additional hardware.
I really recommend trying one of these machines.