BikeCommuters.com

Author Archive: The Bike Geek

The bike geek is a dude that enjoys all sorts of bicycle riding. He has been a bike commuter, Mountain bike racer and recreational roadie. He has an affinity for gadgets, software and data, lots of data!

The Bike Geek: My take on electric bicycles

The fine fellows at BikeCommuters.com have given me the opportunity to post whatever I want (bicycle related) unfiltered and uncensored. So when I told them that I was going to give my blunt opinion of electric bikes, they were second guessing if my raise in the form of recycled water from water bottles was worth it.

I share the opinion of many of our readers, electric bikes are not for us. Yes, I know that I’ve personally reviewed a few bikes, heck, I was an early adopter of the technology. In fact, here is my first electrified bicycle from 2005:

It was an entry level Giant Boulder with an EV Kit. Since I was going to start commuting 32 miles round trip, I figured that an electric bike was going to be the best solution for my commute. Nope. This effing thing weighed 80 pounds, had a range of about 20 miles, the top speed was like 15 mph and it handled like a dried turd. Here is why an electric bike is not for me: I’m a roadie at heart. That meant that I found myself pedaling this monstrosity most of the way because of “range anxiety” and I also easily outran the motor’s top speed. I ended up using the bike for about a week and ended up selling it.

Fast forward to 2010 and the technology advanced quite a bit and I reviewed the Torker T-450 Hybrid bicycle:

Lighter, better looking but same top speed and about the same range. I really tried giving an electric bike a chance, but my inner roadie just kept telling me “pedal damnit”.

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The technology has advanced some more as you can see from the E-lux Fat tire review.

Just look at that controller, that thing is sweet!

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So yes, technology keeps getting better but and a BIG but; these freaking bikes are expensive. There is no way in hell I’m paying over $3,500 bucks for an electric bike when I can spend less for a decent road bike.

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So why review them? Well, they are free to review first of all, they are actually fun to ride at full blast and it does wonders for SEO. I went ahead and interviewed a salesperson from a bike shop that sells electric bikes and found out that there is actually a decent market for these bikes. The buyers are usually around their 50s, have lots of disposable income and they live near the beach.

So to answer the question if riding an electric bike is cheating, ask Femke Van den Driessche.

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Next week: One of my favorite safety accessories and an update on my commuter bike

The Bike Geek: Quad Lock for Samsung S5

If you recall, on my battle of the fitness bands post I declared the Moov as most cycling friendly fitness band. The reason it bested the other bands was that the app was really good, but that left me with another issue: I needed a phone mount for my bike.

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Deciding which phone mount was no easy choice, there are plenty of mounts out there ranging from $9.99 to over $100 bucks. So what made me go with a Quad Lock case system? My buddy Rocky had one and he involuntarily crash tested it and the phone fared better than his knee.

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I paid $40.00 for the Quad lock or the equivalent of my monthly beer allowance (good thing I’m trying to lose weight). The Quad Lock system consists of a very nice phone cover:

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and the actual Quad Lock:

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This combination makes the phone very easy to mount and it feels very secure.

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I’m pretty satisfied with the Quad Lock, this setup will replace my aging Garmin 305 but I do have one concern: my phone’s battery life.

Here are more shots of the Quad Lock system:

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So what is coming next week? Another gadget? A bike? Nope, just my very blunt and honest opinion of Electrified bicycles.

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The Bike Geek: Challenge number three done

Where is the post about that Quad lock you may ask? It is coming up next, this weekend you get not one but two posts from your favorite Bike Geek!

Last week I posted about planning my multi-modal commute to work. One of the challenges that I had was that I had no commuter bicycle and I was going to try to score one for $150.00 from CraigsList.

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After searching for a few days and going through a sea of big box store “bicycles”, countless fixies, old ass bikes referred to as “vintage” and bikes listed for a dollar but not really selling for one (although some were worth a buck) I decided to change my search parameters.

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I really wanted a bike that could handle mild off road trails and be fast on the pavement; that meant that what I needed was a cyclocross bicycle. A search for “cyclocross” yielded few results and most of the bikes were way over the $150 price point. However, I saw this Devinci Caribou 1 bike being touted as a “touring/cyclocross” bike for $300. I’ve never heard of Devinci and a quick search yielded that this bike is Canadian and it was indeed a touring bike that could handle dirt trails.

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Long story short, I brought this bike home for a decent $338 Canadian dollars. The bike is in decent shape, not perfect but it suits my needs perfectly. I have amassed quite a bit of parts during my cycling years so this bike will inherit some carbon fiber bits such as a seatpost and handlebars, a Selle Italia Saddle and a Minnehaha rear rack pannier and Grand Bois tires that were provided by Wabi Cycles(more on those later on).

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I also placed an order for a set of Kenda King Cross knobby tires, new bar tape and Crank Brothers pedals. I don’t think that I will wait until Bike to work week, I really want to try this bike out once the time changes.

The Bike Geek: Planning a multi-modal commute

Welcome back to The Bike Geek’s weekly post. I want to thank BikeCommuters.com for letting me keep writing my ramblings. All I can say is that recycled air that they pay me with really gives me a good buzz.

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Today I want to share how I’m planning to use public transportation and a bicycle to commute to work. My daily commute round trip is only 44 miles but I average 2 hours and 30 minutes of stop and stop traffic. Ouch.

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So I’ve been thinking of doing a bicycle-Metrolink train combination to get to work. Being the Geek that I am, I had to do my research first and found a few “challenges” that will not make it straight forward to ride to work.

First challenge is the train’s schedule:

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The first train going to Orange County arrives at my departure point at 7:12 AM and arrives at my destination at 7:45 AM. That seems to be a good deal, only 33 minutes of transit time! (Not counting the bike portion, but we will get to that much later).

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Coming back is a different story. I usually get out of work at 5:30 PM so the 5:17 PM train maybe out of the question, so that leaves me with taking the 6:05 PM train. However, the 6:05PM train does not take me straight to my destination, I would have to transfer to another train netting me a transit time of 55 minutes. My other option would be to ride my bike from a further station, something that I’m really considering because of the route that I’m thinking of taking.

Second Challenge is my bicycle route:

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Taking the most direct route (Jamboree Road) is plain suicide. This road becomes a highway with cars zooming at 70 mph and multiple entrances where cars have to merge at speed. No thanks.

The safest route would be a river trail with bike lanes but for some stupid effing reason, the trail turns into a gravel road and then dead ends at a closed gate. W.T.F.

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That leaves me with the highlighted route, it is longer and again, for whatever effing reason, Edinger goes under Tustin Ranch road leaving me to take a small side street to reach Tustin Ranch Road. I have already scoped Tustin Ranch Road, it has nice wide bike lanes I just have to be careful with butt-hole drivers driving on the bike lanes. Sheesh.

So I got the schedule planned, my route planned, what the hell am I waiting for???? Well, the train ain’t cheap:

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$14.50 round trip!!! With today’s gas prices, I fill up my vehicle with $23.00 and it lasts me a week and a half or 10 round trips. So the question is, is it worth paying for the sanity of not being stuck in traffic and dealing with a-hole drivers? And also…

Challenge number three: I don’t have a suitable bike to commute with. But you will have to come back as I go in a quest to score a decent commuter bike for under $150. Oh, this bike also has to be able to tackle dirt terrain as my route will involve riding parts of the World Famous Fullerton Loop. My goal is to actually try this mode of commuting on “Bike to Work Week”, and who knows, maybe BikeCommuters.com will double my salary since I’m actually going to be commuting by bike!

Next week: First impressions of the Quad Lock for the Galaxy S5.

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The Bike Geek: Cat-Ears!

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: I was in no way compensated nor given free stuff by Cat-ears, LLC. In fact, I spent my beer money to purchase their Classic I product. OK, now onto my observations of the cat-ears:

Have you ever said to yourself: “Self, I wish I would have thought of that and created that product and gotten rich”. That is what cat-ears remind me of; a simple idea to remedy a nuisance while riding our bikes. If you are not familiar with cat-ears, their basic product is a piece of soft faux fur type material that attaches with Velcro to your helmet straps that will significantly reduce wind noise while you are riding.

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I ordered a pair of their Classics I not only to reduce the wind noise, but to see if they would also block the cold air from my ears as I ride my bike. All I can say is that they really work! You can actually hear your buddies talking shit about you as they try to drop you on a ride! I also rode with them on the streets, and yes, you can hear the traffic around you clearly. I also rode with them on chilly mornings and nights, not only could I hear my buddies complaining how cold their ears were but my ears were not cold at all! They were totally worth skipping my 12-pack of Guinness beer for the week!

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But they look dorky you say. Yes, yes they do. My buddies were making Elvis side-burn jokes which is not a bad thing, but when I told them that they were called “cat-ears”, the pussy jokes started flying. Interestingly, the cat-ears inventors knew they were going to get shit for the look of the product and this is what they say:

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“We did not get into the Wind Noise reduction business to sell products that ‘look like they work’… It would have been easy to design a product that is more visually appealing – but the performance would have been marginal at best.”

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So why am I featuring this product? Because I like to get behind companies that support cycling. Did I mention that Cat-ears is also made in the good ol’ USA? That’s right! American ingenuity at work right there for you!

So if wind noise bothers you or if you want for your ears to not fall off from the cold air, give Cat-Ears a look.

Up next: I am considering Multi-modal commuting!

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