The Coming Rift Between Urban Cyclists and Velomobile/E-Bike Riders

Background Reading


It’s always interesting to listen to the “chatter” amongst Urban Cyclists regarding what constitutes a ‘Real Cyclist‘. It always puts me in mind of reading a segment from the blog of one Sarah Palin as she waxes eloquent on ‘Real Americans‘. As I have said more than once before on this blog, there is not a ‘dime’s worth of difference‘ between a White Supremacist group, Sarah Palin’s Tea Party or the Nazi party when it comes to the narrow-mindedness of these groups when ideas that are outside their Comfort Zone are presented. What largely binds them together is their inability to do much more than express Group Think.

The Discussion

New electric bike can haul 100 pounds of cargo
Posted by JeffB (7+ miles) on September 4, 2013 at 5:42pm

Reply by Tom Dworzanski on Wednesday
Of course they neglect to mention how many pounds of human can go along with that 100 lbs because that matters quite a lot. The frame is extremely heavy, for that weight you could have gone with steel for strength and rider comfort. Next, the idea of replacing individual battery cells is pretty common and nothing new and you can turn any bike into an electric bike with any of the thousands of kits on eBay in an afternoon. $4,800 is pretty crazy for an electric bike that isn’t anything special.

I’m guessing the reporter and the dude know each other and this was just a friendly way to hook up his company with some free publicity because the bike is nothing special.

Reply by Jerry Lee on Wednesday
One my electric bike weighs about 100# with batteries and motor, and hauls my 250# body at around 30mph, add a few more battery cells and with a 1500 watt controller, you can join the 40 mph club. Cost is $229 for motor , wheel, throttle and controller(a year and half ago, now around $300), my lipo batteries run about about $180. Used it on Bike the Drive these last 2 years, where you can go WOT for a while, passed a lot of light weight bikes.

Reply by KayCee Militante on Thursday
LOL- I thought it was a typo! I ran into a lady at 11th street beach with an “El Mundo” she uses to haul big kids. Agreed, that price is nuts! More options for practical biking is great, for sure, but I thought they were going with 1000 pounds, since 100 is as you say, nothing special. That said- more than a few hundred pounds on two wheels is a bit ridiculous, have you seen what it takes to stop and start 400 pounds of bananas? (It’s been up before, but I’m posting again. Just for fun.)

Reply by h’ 1.0 on Thursday
How much for the charger? How long do the batteries last before needing replacing?

Reply by Davis Moore on Thursday
Awesome. The potential for 350 pounds of mass to go 40mph in the bike lane or on a multi use path without having to even break a sweat. What’s not to like about that?
And as a bonus the electricity all comes from solar and wind right?

This is one of those threads where the “Lord of the Flies” pile-on is dangerously close. But it always begins with ridicule.

Reply by Jerry Lee on Thursday
The chargers run between $80 to $300, and you need a power supplyabout $100. My setup ran $140 for charger and about $100 for power supply. I have 2 sets of batteries each can run 15 to20 miles, depending if you are a leadfoot or not. I had the batteries about 2 years now, they can be charged up 1000 times, If I ride on weekends, I charge twice, when I commute from Andersonville to franklin Park, I charg about 7 time that week. I don’t think I’ll get a 1000 charges, but we’ll see then.
these 2 sets of Lipo batteries can run on any of my 7 ebikes, they use a common plug among them and total amps for the 2 sets are 20A@48v. 10A will get you 15 to 20 miles.
Maybe this weekend, I am going to run my ebike at about 24v instead of 48v to see if I can stretch the mileage, running on 1 set of batteries for the same distance will cut about 15 pounds of weight.

Reply by Jerry Lee on Thursday
I don’t think it is wise to go 40mph or even 30mph on crowded streets, dooring possibility, potholes etc. I keep it around 20mph max , usually cruise about 14mph at the most. Chicago is flat, when there is an incline, you can climb with no effort as others are pedaling away in low gear. On Bike the Drive, there is plenty of open space after Oak st to open up. Another good place is out in the boonies, low traffic, better roads. The power comes from a wall socket courtesy of Com-Ed, for about 3 to 4 hours a night. the more throttle used, the less distance covered.

Reply by h’ 1.0 on Thursday
Just asking because I’ve wanted to switch to some sort of Lithium for mobile sound systems for a while, but when I figure in the cost of a compatible charger the expense quickly crosses into the “ridiculous.”
So was wondering how that could be casually left out of the equation.
Didn’t you used to be the guy that was all about human power, recumbents with fairings and the like?
Do you only ride electric bikes now?

Reply by notoriousDUG on Friday
Know what else can haul a 100 pounds of cargo?
My regular old me powered bike.
Electric bikes are LAME; if you don’t have to pedal to make it go you may as well just ride a moped.

Ok. We are now in ‘Lord of the Flies’ mode. We just need another asshole or two to join us in taking this kind soul down. Don’t you just love the ChainLink Forum.

Reply by Jerry Lee on Friday
there are several kinds of lithium batteries, Lipo, Lifepo4(lithium iron phosphate) , and several other kind, that I am not that familar with. there are also batteries such A123(Dewalt use them on their power tools), those look like battery cells and use can piece them together to form size and shape and power.
I started ebiking with seal lead acid battery( like your motorcycle battery) at 24v. I added another battery to get 36v and weight now is approaching 25 pounds. I then got Lifepo4, at 42v and a loss of 15 pounds. I used for about 6 months, avoiding Lipo’s because of fire hazards. Then I brought down and got into lipo’s, and lost another 5 pounds and more power and smaller physical size battery. There is a limit of how much batteries you can carry. lot of newcomers buy a ping battery out Hong kong and paid $500 for and comes with charger. Chemistry is of Lifepo4.
My charger that I used , total cost about almost $300 balance all the cells and charges quickly. You can buy a $50 charger with a built in power supply, but it will take you 8 hours to charge one pack. Caution: I sad earlier fire hazard…you don’t want to charge batteries while you are sleeping, especially Lipo. Once it start burning, due to excess discharge or puncturing it, it is very hard to put out and likely
your house will be gone.
Yes, I rode recumbents with fairing, and on this years Late Night ride I rode an electric power recumbent, I have 2 electric recumbents. Do I ride only electric? No, up until 2 months ago, I commuted to franklin park from Andersonville on my pedal mountain bike about 2.5 hours each way. Then I used the ebike just for the heck of it, it now becomes about 1.5 each way. on all the neighborhood rides with Lee Diamond and Bike45 rides, I use my various ebikes. I have 7 pedal bikes available including 2 recumbents, a Lightning P-38 and a tadpole trike. I have put thoughts on converting the trike, but it’s a pain in the rear to get in and out of the house.

Reply by Jerry Lee on Friday
there is satisfaction when you blow by a Lycra clad expensive bike and you see in the mirror of them trying to catch up, and I am old and fat. I don’t mean that I am so fast, that i am uncatchable. There some of those guys absolutely fast. They call it cheating, they said that when I was riding recumbents, thats cheating, whatever.
I don’t know if you know Ed Gin, a very fast rider, former HPra racer, who now ride a lightspeed, that you can pickup with one finger, this Sunday he had the chance ride one of my ebikes around the block, it turns out he was keeping up and passing cabs on Clark st, then on Foster.
I also ride a 1200 Harley Davidson Sportster, I am considering a motor scooter. there is a shop on Western north of Division that sells Mopeds, they looks snazzy, wouldn’t mind one of them either. Nothing wrong with a moped.

Reply by kiltedcelt on Friday
Jerry Lee said:
there is satisfaction when you blow by a Lycra clad expensive bike and you see in the mirror of them trying to catch up, and I am old and fat. I don’t mean that I am so fast, that i am uncatchable. There some of those guys absolutely fast. They call it cheating, they said that when I was riding recumbents, thats cheating, whatever.

I’m not going to jump on the I-hate-electric-bikes train, but I will say this – you can’t blow by some lycra-clad roadie who is riding an expensive lightweight bike, on your electric-assist bike and consider that some sort of achievement. If you think that’s cool, you’re just some douche on an electric bike who doesn’t realize that the only reason you’re blowing past anyone is because you’re using a motor. Give those roadies your same bike and the two of you can duke it out. I bet you probably won’t be the fastest guy then, or hey, maybe you’ll just be two douches on electric bikes going fast. Electric bikes have their uses – electric assist motors for cargo bikes that haul really heavy loads, especially where there are lots of hills, or perhaps for old farts or people who just can’t pedal for long distances. However, don’t kid yourself and think that you’re doing anything while riding an electric bike that can be equated with moving a bike entirely with your own two legs. It’s pretty much apples and oranges here. I could make the same argument and say, “Haha! Stupid lycra-clad roadie, I just totally blew past him in my car. Haha! Dude couldn’t even keep up!”

Reply by notoriousDUG on Friday
So you take pride in passing real cyclists because your electric bike goes faster with you not working than they go powering it themselves, is that right?
ride an electric bike all you want but stop trying to pretend you’re a cyclist when you do it.

Reply by Elwood Gruschow on Saturday
In the middle of this month a wedding is scheduled in our family. We are the host for five out of town guests arriving by plane. We do not own a car.

I just completed reserving a Lincoln Navigator for those three days. When I rumble down the street in that 6000 pound behemoth do you think I will feel satisfaction blowing past a zipping lycra clad roadie or a purposeful electric bike going their own way? I anticipate envying both of them.

Satisfaction is what I will feel , among other senses, when I complete the 12th Annual Perimeter Ride late afternoon of the 29th.

Reply by Jerry Lee on Saturday
yep, i am a douche, an old fat fart and whatever else, that’s me. yep the reason, the motor helps, but it is not enough, since top speed of bike is around 20mph at 48volts, add more batteries you will hit 30mph and so on, but at the moment top speed is around 20mph, pedaling can bring it up to 25 to 30mph.
your comment about the car passing, can a lycra guy pass a car on a highway? if you got time looks at this video, seeing a ebike pass cars and trucks on the highway.
so today some lycra, tommorrow cars……..

Reply by Jerry Lee on Saturday
with the way i see a cyclist blow thru red light and not even slowing for stop signs, I am not a cyclist.
and for the uninform….you do have to pedal, or 2 things….run out of batteries or fry the motor/controller.

I think Jerry’s point here is valid. Real cyclists do not ignore traffic controls.

Reply by notoriousDUG yesterday
The e-bike that he never pedals. That guy is not riding a bicycle he is riding an electric scooter at that point.
I want to understand how you think passing a cyclist. lycra clad or not, who is motivating themselves 100% on a bike that is either entirely, or mostly, powered by a motor is some kind of accomplishment. You didn’t do shit to be able to pass beyond spend money; I may not be able to go as fast as you do but I have the satisfaction of providing my own power.

Reply by globalguy yesterday
That’s called a “Fred” …

Reply by Davis Moore yesterday
Do whatever you want on your electric powered contraption. Call yourself a cyclist, be proud of accomplishments or ingenuity or whatever you want to call it, I do not give a shit.

Just stay out of the bike lane and off the multi-use paths.

You have no business being there zipping around at over 19 mph. 19 mph is the lergal limit for e-bikes anyway, and even 19 is way too fast for a bike lane or multi-use path IMO. If you’re doing over 16-17 you need to be a big boy and get your ass out in the travel lane. And you definitely have no business being on the bike lane or multi-use path doing 30mph. And this is not fat shaming, but if you are “fat” (your words) then you need to think about the additional mass your hurling around at 30mph and how that has the potential to impact others, literally. There’s a reason motorcycles and mopeds are more regulated, it’s because they’re heavier (more mass) and are faster (higher velocity) so the potential to do damage is higher. It’s no different being on an “e-bike” if you’re considerably heavier and travelling at way higher speeds than the average pace of cyclists in the bike lane. (The same would go for cyclists hauling ass under their own power.)

NY is full of delivery drivers on these things and they’re all in the bike lanes, they can barely control the things and they’re a menace. You try having a 250lb delivery driver bearing down on you going the wrong way in a parking protected (enclosed, so you have no escape) bike lane, weaving all over the place, at 25 mph. Not cool at all.

If you’re going to avail yourself of the convieniences of electricity (which comes from coal and nulcear in this region btw, so don’t kid yourself that you’re being environmental) then you disqualify yourself from the benefits of bike specific infrastructure in my opinion. Especially if you’re not using it to haul cargo or compensate for a disability, infirmity or age. And even then, being 60 doesn’t just give you a pass to buy some souped up E-bike and jam it at 30mph in the bike lane. I don’t care if your moving the pedals or not.

Other people’s safety takes precedence over your convenience and sense of enjoyment.

The fact that we should all be interested in other people’s safety is why the previous comment from Jerry is so apt. For the record the cycling industry and municipal governments do not for the moment make a distinction between human powered bikes and e-assist bikes on trails or streets. I believe that the industry is interesting in preserving its income stream. The municipal organizations are just now savvy enough to know how to classify these kinds of vehicles.

But here is the thing, a good velomobile can reach all of the speeds that Jerry does and do so strictly with human power. At those speeds it can be lethal as easily as an e-assist bike. But it relies on efficiency in aerodynamics to gain speeds that upright roadies can only dream about when riding in pelotons. Which brings up another point. Riding in pelotons on streets is as lethal to others as using either the velomobile or the e-assist bike. All three modes have greater mass than a single rider and greater speed. But even a single rider on an upright can kill a pedestrian when he fails to slow the bike.

Reply by Mike Fatout yesterday
Electric bikes make their riders weak and dependant on the almighty Lithium Ion Battery. They may as well be riding in a city bus while zipping by a Lycra clad bike rider. I may not be the fastest thing on two wheels but I’m using nothing but legs and lungs to ride my bike. Granted I’m not that old (56) but if I would rather walk than use an electric bike.

Reply by Jerry Lee yesterday
Well I guess everyone has a satisfaction one way or another.

Reply by Jerry Lee yesterday
you got it, you are satisfy, that you power by your legs, I have my own satisfaction too.

Reply by Jerry Lee yesterday
you have your own choice, I have mine.

Reply by Jerry Lee yesterday
I never said I ride fast on bike paths, I am only on them 5% max, only because the bike ride group that I with
use them, and you know what? I am usually one of the slower one, the people that I pass was on the “Bike the Drive” in May, where I can go all out. When you ride, do you only go half speed, don’t you want to do your best, or do you just cruise around like I do.

Reply by Jeff Schneider 20 hours ago
I don’t have an ebike, and don’t plan to get one. Normally traffic conditions prevent me from safely going as fast as my legs alone can power me anyway. But I know there are situations where an ebike makes sense. For example, I know an older woman who lives in a hilly area. Knee problems made cycling uncomfortable after riding only a short distance. Getting an ebike gave her the ability to go useful distances again.
I do worry a bit about how they might be marketed – i. e., to people who don’t presently cycle at all because it’s “too hard.” Having clueless newbies in bike lanes and on paths, with the ability to go much faster than is safe, does not seem to me like a good thing.

Our concern should never be about the marketing of any bike. That is a purely economic issue. If in a Capitalistic society you get to attract new customers who would otherwise not be able to ride, then great. What is lacking here is a vision by the ‘Lord of the Flies‘ group forming around Jerry for the problems we are likely to encounter going forward.

Trust me when I say that before long bicycles and e-assist bikes will be freely interoperable modes of transportation. There will be increasing interest in bikes that offer people the option of going either under their own power or with help. As the batteries get smaller and lighter that will make the choice even easier. And when you can offer people a bicycle that can do a few hundred miles on a single charge you have the makings of a very nice commuter bike. It means that people can travel back and forth to work without sweating.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 19 hours ago
I have no problem with pedal assist e-bikes that provide a modest boost and a top speed comparable to most commuters’ speeds. I think these are a great tool that expands transportation cycling to more people. They allow people with who wouldn’t or couldn’t otherwise ride due to terrain, distance, or health problems to enjoy traveling by bike. E-bikes that don’t require the rider to pedal and have higher top speeds however are a different matter. These are not bicycles, they are electric motorcycles and should be ridden like motorcycles.

The entire point of an e-assist bike is that it allows the user to chose the mode of transportation. If you have a person with limited power output who tires and simply cannot pedal home (using this heavier bike) they need the option to ride under battery power alone. To say these are not bicycles is to run counter to the bicycle industry and municipal law and shows a glaring lack of understanding of what these bikes should and can be.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 18 hours ago
Legaly speaking, when you are using a motor to reach those speeds you are operating a motorcycle and are required to have a drivers license with a Class L or Class M endorsement.

See page 46 of the Illinios Motorcyle Operators Manual.

As I said there is going to be a rift between the owners of these kinds of bikes and others. But what it will do is help to solidify the need for licenses and training for cycling in general. I would love to see all bicycles and their owners tested in real roadway situations before being allowed to take to the streets. E-assist bikes and velomobiles might just help with this transition to something meaningful.

Reply by notoriousDUG 17 hours ago
Apparently you also take satisfaction in butchering basic English.

DUG has the audacity to complain about the grammar others use. I think his past efforts at using the language have at times failed him as well. But what he is doing here has little to do with furthering the discussion. It is merely the kind of behavior that a bully engages in when he can safely do so. By this time next year (when everyone and his brother is carrying concealed weapons) bullies will have to take a different tack when engaging in their favorite sport (at least when face-to-face).

Reply by notoriousDUG 17 hours ago
It depends on where you are.
In a group on a bike that weighs more and goes faster then it was ever designed to with brakes not meant to stop that weight from that speed I would probably keep the speeds pretty low…

Reply by notoriousDUG 17 hours ago
Electric assist bikes that require you pedal and put in at least some effort in order to go are a great way to keep cycling accessible to people who’s physical limitations would otherwise prevent it.

NotoriousDUG And Jerry Lee

Who Is A Real Cyclist?

Who Is A Real Cyclist?

In the interest of full disclosure I have known Jerry Lee for about 20+ years. He is a soft spoken self-effacing man who strikes me as a throwback to days when civility was the norm. He is a true gentleman. NotoriousDUG not so much… But this is not about these two men at all. Their conversation represents a ‘clash in culture‘.

On-SarcasmTwenty years from now the Urban Cycling Crowd will have been exposed as stiff-necked bigots whose only real concern was their person convenience. They will have been shoved aside in favor of lots of folks on E-Bikes who will perhaps have never see a ‘brakeless fixed gear‘ bike and won’t remember the days when either Hippies or Hipsters roamed the Earth.

By that time the idea of body piercings and tattoos will have run its course and bicycles will look a great deal more like Dutch Bikes than anything else. In fact used Divvy bikes will be the ‘beaters‘ of this generation. Urban Cyclists will have gone the way of spats. Automobiles of that period will be smaller, electric and very smart driverless vehicles which will in essence replace bicycles during the winter months here in the Midwest. Yes, NotoriousDUG will still be blathering that anyone riding a vehicle that has electric assist is a ‘sissy‘ but this generation will have decided that kicking his ass is not worth the effort (if it ever was) and let him prattle. Someone will occasionally wipe the spittle from his lips and pat his hand in a gesture of sympathy.

For the truly hearty riders of that time velomobiles will be the ‘hard core‘ riders ride. They too will be electric assist vehicles but will also be open to the elements on top. Gone will be bicycle lanes, kicked to the curb because in ground sensors keep driverless cars from colliding with or overtaking smaller more vulnerable craft. In fact the idea of speed zones, red lights and stop signs will give way to in-ground sensors that will merely instruct vehicles at various intersections on which others to yield the right-of-way to and that will be that.

In the meantime we will have to suffer through pompous asses tell anyone who wants to use batteries that they are ‘not real cyclists‘ and have the brigade of idiots from Madison Wisconsin who are wannabe traffic wonks blather on about the Idaho Stop Law. I prefer to merely watch this video and pray to the heavens that everyone gets to disregard traffic controls altogether. I would dearly love to see this scene from a great height above Daley Plaza: