The last few weeks I’ve been commuting by electric bike to a local school where I’ve been doing what’s known as a practicum (since I’m retraining as a science teacher – you know midlife crisis or something similar). Commuting by bike to a nearaway place has been so much better for the soul (and wallet) than my normal long driving commute on State Highway 1.
Many of the kids at school had been asking me for a ride and one science lesson I was happy to oblige. I worked it into a lesson about distance/time graphs and many of them had a go. Some of them more than one. The verdict was “It’s gangsta, Mister,” which I think roughly translates as “The bicycle is a whole lot of fun, Sir.”
I have celebrated two firsts as well. My first first was copping unwarranted abuse from a motorist. I have read in so many blogs about bike commuters getting regularly abused by idiot drivers and it hadn’t really ever happened to me. I overtook a parked car. Well it was parked when I started overtaking it, and he pulled out without using an indicator or by looking in his mirrors, or anywhere at all. I yelled out “Hey!” loud enough for him to hear and he stopped the car and thankfully didn’t hit me. A little down the road when he caught up to me he wound down his window and yelled that I should look where I was going and that I should make myself visible. It was daylight and since it was cold I was wearing my fluorescent yellow jacket. Yeah my bad.
The other first is on a rural road riding home from school I passed a guy coming the other way on an electric bike exactly like my own. I had seen lots of other cyclists in town those few weeks from the kids riding to school, to the ladies doing their shopping, to the old men riding, and the pretty staunch Maori guy who rides a bike without any brakes and stops by putting his feet on the ground, which he does barefoot. Ouch!! But another electric bike, I didn’t expect it.
So are electric bikes catching on I wonder. One thing that might help is that Shimano have got a new range of bike bits which aren’t for sale in the shops yet, but will be appearing on bikes in the next year or two. This is going to mean that just about every bike manufacturer rather than just a few are going to have an e-bike model. Apart fr0m the lack of a throttle (those damned stupid restrictive EU laws) the set looks pretty nice. Integrated lights, a handlebar mounted e-bike/normal bike computer, computer and fly by wire internal rear hub with 8 gears. Hopefully this’ll mainstream e-bikes in terms of bike shop support. If there is only one set of gear to learn about then the average humble bike mechanic won’t get all nervous and refuse to work on an e- bike. And hopefully at the same bike shop the sets will be sold, and as spare parts too. It’ll be so great to get a second battery as easily as it is to get a spare tube.
Although some purists out there rankle at the thought of all those “lazy” people on e-bikes, or maintain the quaint line that they are only good for disabled people (you know who you are), it isn’t going to change the world if e-bikes only substituted for normal bikes but if they helped substitute this:
At school I have to read out the notices. One notice was that the local police were targeting non-compliance with local mandatory helmet laws and were giving out $55 spot fines. The “good news” was that if you got fined you could take the fine to the local cop shop and buy a helmet for $50 and the fine would be waived. Like religion the egg-head mandatory helmet people are using a “get them while they’re young” strategy.
And the last thing to say this morning is about the Gruber Assist.
If you don’t mind your seatpost being heated til it is 7o degrees C then you can have a secret motor on your bicycle. It is quite expensive like anything manufactured in the E.U. (the company is Austrian) and it is seriously underpowered with their tiny batteries, but it can be fitted to any normal bike with a straight seat post.