Calling Bike Mechs

Milspec

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The mid drive motors have a controller/display that allow you to vary the amount of pedal assist.

Installation is easy if you have any bike wrenching experience. The videos and support group are great.

They’re not a fad. E-bikes are the fastest growing segment in the bike industry. People can commute and run errands at significant distances, allowing an e-bike to be a far cheaper alternative to a second or third car. I also see LOTS of teens using them, too. For a few grand a parent doesn’t have to drive their kid everywhere. Of course it helps to live where the weather is mild and where it’s somewhat bike friendly.

Fuel prices will only accelerate the trend. Plus economies of scale will bring down the price a bit over time.
You might end up being right, but I think a lot of things need to change first. Namely, bike specific roads / paths to separate from motor traffic, the cost, and willingness.

You might be seeing popularity in metro areas where they would be nice compared to metro transit options, but outside of those areas it doesn't seem too popular. I remember when I tried to ride my motorcycle daily and it never really panned out in reality as you really didn't enjoy it in foul weather, so I think I rode it about 3 times per week only during the Spring and Fall periods only. At the $9,500 I paid for the motorcycle, I could have purchased a lot of gas for the car.

It just seems to me that the e-bikes are popular more for the speed thrill than anything else. Speed has always been a selling point in the bike market among road bikes and the e-bikes make it possible without all the long training efforts. I don't know if that covers the wide market or not?

In my area, what has been the most popular for the past 5 years are hotrodded golf carts and polaris vehicles. They are all over the place on the roads in town and there is even a dealer that sells high performance golf carts at $10k a pop with a lot that rivals most car dealerships. I think something like that will outpace e-bikes in popularity as a car alternative in town.

Now, what I would love to see more of are the enclosed bikes with a boost assist. There has been some creative folks building enclosed small 3 wheeled bikes for all weather use that I could see becoming popular with the addition of electric motors....I would be on-board with something like that for certain, but then if they would build a small gas / diesel engine single occupant commuter I would choose that every time over e-bikes.
 

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Milspec

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Okay, I do appreciate all the good advice, but after my first attempt at the distance I can admit defeat.

I had my neighbor drop me off at work and I rode bike. Took me 1:40:17 to cover the 20 miles. Not great, but it had some really long steep grades that were bastards. The bike performed without complaints, except maybe a little better padding in my cycle shorts would be nice.

What didn't perform well was me. It has been 10 years since my marathon / triathlon days, but I walk 10-12 miles every day on the job 6 days per week. My resting pulse used to be 49 at the end of my racing days, but remains pretty good at 53 today. That said, none of that mattered one damn bit on this ride. My legs were burnt after the first couple of hills and by mile 14 I was nauseous and really not enjoying the ride anymore. The final 6 miles were in survival mode, just staring ahead and focused on pedaling. Once home, I could barely walk up the stairs my legs were shaking and weak. Safe to say, I am not the man I was 10 years ago and not the man who could do a commute like I had hoped. Hell, that was just one way...I would dread having to try it again to go home.

I did learn a few interesting things though:

1. Fat guys in cycling shirts is not a good look. I am not an obese guy, but by cycling standards I am a blob at 218 lbs, 6'3".
2. My bike shorts just have the old school chamois pad, wasn't great after 15 miles. I think I should upgrade to the gel types.
3. Motorists are jerks. I knew that from my running days as well, but it never ceases to amaze me.
4. I was surprised to get "the wave" by motorcyclists along the route. Didn't really expect that, interesting.
5. I wonder if cycling has the pedal thing all wrong.....I need to explain below.

I ride on crankbrothers 5050 flat pedals with screw in barbs to help keep your shoe in place. I really like them a lot. With a pair of trail running shoes, the barbs dig into the tread enough to lock you foot in place so they don't slide around without needing special shoes. Even better, it allowed me to place my foot were it was the most comfortable rather than where the cleats say I have to.

And that is where point number 5 comes into play. I actually found it far more comfortable and efficient to ride with the pedal under my arch than under the ball of my foot. It might be because the 5050 pedal is a large pedal, but I wonder if pedaling is actually more efficient with the pedal under the arch rather than beneath the ball of the foot?

Anyway, thanks again for all the advice, but I think I am going to have to give up on this plan and just focus on a few easy rides per week for the exercise and enjoyment. I am too old and too fat to make such a commute.
 

Swirling Snow

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Assuming your legs are biomechanically aligned, and your calf muscles can support more than your own weight, then strapping your foot to a lever attached to the crank gives you a mechanical advantage. The lever is a proper cycling shoe, with a traditional wooden sole that doesn't flex. Your thigh muscle is the biggest muscle in the body, and the idea is to lose as little of its power on the way to the pedal as possible. (The best deal is if your calf muscles can add power of their own.) So, since our legs are designed to push on the ball of our feet as we run, that's where we push most efficiently.

Having said all that, I think you're right without straps. ;)
 

Milspec

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Assuming your legs are biomechanically aligned, and your calf muscles can support more than your own weight, then strapping your foot to a lever attached to the crank gives you a mechanical advantage. The lever is a proper cycling shoe, with a traditional wooden sole that doesn't flex. Your thigh muscle is the biggest muscle in the body, and the idea is to lose as little of its power on the way to the pedal as possible. (The best deal is if your calf muscles can add power of their own.) So, since our legs are designed to push on the ball of our feet as we run, that's where we push most efficiently.

Having said all that, I think you're right without straps. ;)
The calf part is 100% true in running, but I am not sure about on a bike. You really don't use your calves that much on the pedals, it is all quad and glutes (maybe a little hamstrings if clipped in) so I don't know if it really needs to be under the ball of the foot. When you dig with a shovel, you push the spade down with the arch more than the ball of your foot and it is a similar push down as you would on the bike.

Of course, now that I said that, I guess you probably still do push down with your whole foot, even if it is the ball of the foot clipped in. It isn't like you are standing on your toes like a ballet dancer, so you probably are pushing down with the arch area anyway. It just felt more efficient to have my foot slid forward a little until the pedal was centered below my arch.
 

chris m.

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The calf part is 100% true in running, but I am not sure about on a bike. You really don't use your calves that much on the pedals, it is all quad and glutes (maybe a little hamstrings if clipped in) so I don't know if it really needs to be under the ball of the foot. When you dig with a shovel, you push the spade down with the arch more than the ball of your foot and it is a similar push down as you would on the bike.

Of course, now that I said that, I guess you probably still do push down with your whole foot, even if it is the ball of the foot clipped in. It isn't like you are standing on your toes like a ballet dancer, so you probably are pushing down with the arch area anyway. It just felt more efficient to have my foot slid forward a little until the pedal was centered below my arch.
There’s been some research on this and there definitely is a school that says having the pedal axle a bit more towards the middle of the foot increases sustained power and endurance.
 

Stanford Guitar

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Inch by inch is a cinch. You took too big of a bite too soon. It’s not that you’re in bad shape, it’s just your body is not used to riding. One of my friends is your size (he is solid muscle however) and can crush 100 mile trail rides with big time climbing. You don’t need to be a toothpick to kill it on the bike. Start with 10 mile rides with less than 500ft of climbing and work your way up. The key is to ride at least 4-5 days a week.Track your progress on Strava. Take your bike to a good bike fitter and get it set up correctly. You’ll be doing 40+ miles with 2000+ feet of climbing in a couple months. If you put in some consistent effort you’ll get stronger faster than you think.
 
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Stanford Guitar

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There’s been some research on this and there definitely is a school that says having the pedal axle a bit more towards the middle of the foot increases sustained power and endurance.
There’s a company called Pedaling Innovations that makes a flat pedal to train exactly this. I have a pair laying around somewhere.

 

ale.istotle

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The incremental method is to drive 10 mi to work and park the car. You ride to office then back to your car and increase as your endurance builds. 40 mi round trip is a big ride.
 

Milspec

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The fact that you made it home shows that you can do it, but you need to get to a point where you can do it without exhausting yourself and being sore. Is there a halfway point you could park the car, ride the rest of the way into work, then ride back to the car after?
There is actually a perfect little small village near the midpoint. It would reduce my 1-way ride to about 9 miles. The only downside is that I would have install a hitch on my car and get a good carrier that could handle my xl bike....all of which is going to cost more than I would spend in gas.

Still a consideration though.
 

Milspec

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Inch by inch is a cinch. You took too big of a bite too soon. It’s not that you’re in bad shape, it’s just your body is not used to riding. One of my friends is your size (he is solid muscle however) and can crush 100 mile trail rides with big time climbing. You don’t need to be a toothpick to kill it on the bike. Start with 10 mile rides with less than 500ft of climbing and work your way up. The key is to ride at least 4-5 days a week.Track your progress on Strava. Take your bike to a good bike fitter and get it set up correctly. You’ll be doing 40+ miles with 2000+ feet of climbing in a couple months. If you put in some consistent effort you’ll get stronger faster than you think.
i used to call that "eating the elephant....one bite at a time" during the marathon days. I was very pleased to find zero soreness the next day, so there is something to work with.

I will be working on it.
 

jays0n

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I know it’s sacrilegious among many cyclist, but have you considered an electric pedal assist bike? You could get more miles/days in and a more consistent workout. 40miles a day with hills, wind, weather is no small thing on a bike.
What are you doing man! Don’t even mention that. You do know your little soldier might fall off for even thinking eBike right? Come on, get a grip.

Friends don’t let friends ride an eBike!
 

Stanford Guitar

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What are you doing man! Don’t even mention that. You do know your little soldier might fall off for even thinking eBike right? Come on, get a grip.

Friends don’t let friends ride an eBike!

The only way I'd consider an eBike is for a car replacement. Like hauling cargo or distance/time scenarios that would make an acoustic bike impractical. Even then, I'd have to mentally frame it as an 'exercise' motorcycle! That framing makes me feel better about it.

Most places where I ride MTB, guys don't take kindly to eMTB's. And in some places, they really don't take kindly to them!
 
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Buckaroo65

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We sell a lot of e-bikes to commuters, it makes sense if you want to show up at the office not completely sweaty. We also have plenty of retirees riding them, which gets them out on a bike even though the prevailing winds here are always coming from the front. The guy who built all of the counters and workbenches in our store has an e cargo bike to transport his tools to different jobs. E-bikes do have their place, but I agree that it’s not on the trails.
 

Eddiebaby1

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I hate e-bikes.
I've ridden one and it was wonderful. An Orbea MTB and it was like cycling in my dreams where I'm flying without effort. But once I get one i know my pedal bikes won't get used again and my fitness will suffer.
Also for the same price as a decent ebike the mint secondhand motorcycle I could buy would do around 150mph and take a minute or two to recharge as a gas station for another huge distance.
I will be getting one someday though. Hopefully not to soon.

And back on topic, I commute around 20 miles a day when I'm in the office (living a dream by not having a car!). I use tubeless tyres on and off road and in the last 8 years have been stuck once and had to put a tube in at the trailside. Not happened on the road yet.
If I had to go tubed I'd run tubes with sealant in them and suck up the extra weight for the reliability.

My road commuter:
51062310382_46b0d6a85e_k.jpg
 
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Colo Springs E

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Okay, I do appreciate all the good advice, but after my first attempt at the distance I can admit defeat.

I had my neighbor drop me off at work and I rode bike. Took me 1:40:17 to cover the 20 miles. Not great, but it had some really long steep grades that were bastards. The bike performed without complaints, except maybe a little better padding in my cycle shorts would be nice.

What didn't perform well was me. It has been 10 years since my marathon / triathlon days, but I walk 10-12 miles every day on the job 6 days per week. My resting pulse used to be 49 at the end of my racing days, but remains pretty good at 53 today. That said, none of that mattered one damn bit on this ride. My legs were burnt after the first couple of hills and by mile 14 I was nauseous and really not enjoying the ride anymore. The final 6 miles were in survival mode, just staring ahead and focused on pedaling. Once home, I could barely walk up the stairs my legs were shaking and weak. Safe to say, I am not the man I was 10 years ago and not the man who could do a commute like I had hoped. Hell, that was just one way...I would dread having to try it again to go home.

I did learn a few interesting things though:

1. Fat guys in cycling shirts is not a good look. I am not an obese guy, but by cycling standards I am a blob at 218 lbs, 6'3".
2. My bike shorts just have the old school chamois pad, wasn't great after 15 miles. I think I should upgrade to the gel types.
3. Motorists are jerks. I knew that from my running days as well, but it never ceases to amaze me.
4. I was surprised to get "the wave" by motorcyclists along the route. Didn't really expect that, interesting.
5. I wonder if cycling has the pedal thing all wrong.....I need to explain below.

I ride on crankbrothers 5050 flat pedals with screw in barbs to help keep your shoe in place. I really like them a lot. With a pair of trail running shoes, the barbs dig into the tread enough to lock you foot in place so they don't slide around without needing special shoes. Even better, it allowed me to place my foot were it was the most comfortable rather than where the cleats say I have to.

And that is where point number 5 comes into play. I actually found it far more comfortable and efficient to ride with the pedal under my arch than under the ball of my foot. It might be because the 5050 pedal is a large pedal, but I wonder if pedaling is actually more efficient with the pedal under the arch rather than beneath the ball of the foot?

Anyway, thanks again for all the advice, but I think I am going to have to give up on this plan and just focus on a few easy rides per week for the exercise and enjoyment. I am too old and too fat to make such a commute.

Well, you bit off quite a bit with no training to build up to the 20 mile ride with some long steep grades.

I'm in decent 'bike shape' and I've been riding my bike to work once a week for several weeks--difference is, my round-trip commute is about 14 miles with no major hills. I've looked at a map and plotted out several 20 mile spots from my house... I think even in my current state it would be a ride I would not look forward to. At first I thought your 1h 40m was terrible for 20 miles... then I realized my 7-mile ride typically takes me about 40 minutes. Granted, it's a casual ride where I'm not really pushing myself, but I think the fastest I could probably do it would be 25-30 and I'd need a shower for sure. So that 1h 40 wasn't really that bad, especially considering hills!

Good on you for doing it though, and getting through it. As someone else suggested, maybe don't tackle so much--cutting your car commute in half would be great--could you drive halfway, then hop on your bike for the rest of the ride into work?
 

imwjl

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Lots of stuff brought up here.

@Stanford Guitar my re-think on e-assist trail riding came as a trail steward and years on the ski area board of directors. They enable MTB riding for terminally ill and elderly. Some touching experiences changed my mind. Most states are adopting same or similar laws for them. Municipalities are adopting that as their ordinances. I'm not going to swim against the current. My age, rate of back deterioration and other matters have me realizing I might one one some day.

In our repeat deciding against an electric or new car, the quality well designed e-assist commuter bikes looked very sensible. I know people where it's a way to get to work not sweaty, and where it is working out to some activity is better than none. I will see a woman commuting in her cute work attire at modest pace in the AM and she goes home in work out dress hammering hard on the e-assist so really flying along.

@Colo Springs E you bring up a good distance. My logical commutes to two different offices are an 10.8 and 5.6 mi round trip and some days both for your 14 mi. Just that a few times week or even once a week does some base fitness. I also carry bike with car or in the van at times. It's for sure a base that lets you build.

This year is not working out for me to yet do as many big rides as last year but for sure just 25-40 of simple commute or exercise riding in a week is a base that lets me do 60+ on weekends.

It might be hard for me to judge miles because a 25-65 mi ride is often 1/2 gravel and I live where the WI, MN, IL and IA Driftless starts. It's not mountainous but you get that sort of climbing in. A ride west vs east is an easy 1000-2000+ feet of climbing distance for same time out. Also, my MTB rides register a whole lot more exercise for the miles covered.

For all, it's worth finding, joining or making your own posse of funsters for riding. It encourages keeping at it, challenges in good ways and can be a lot of fun.
 

chris m.

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I hate e-bikes.
I've ridden one and it was wonderful. An Orbea MTB and it was like cycling in my dreams where I'm flying without effort. But once I get one i know my pedal bikes won't get used again and my fitness will suffer.
Also for the same price as a decent ebike the mint secondhand motorcycle I could buy would do around 150mph and take a minute or two to recharge as a gas station for another huge distance.
I will be getting one someday though. Hopefully not to soon.

And back on topic, I commute around 20 miles a day when I'm in the office (living a dream by not having a car!). I use tubeless tyres on and off road and in the last 8 years have been stuck once and had to put a tube in at the trailside. Not happened on the road yet.
If I had to go tubed I'd run tubes with sealant in them and suck up the extra weight for the reliability.

My road commuter:
View attachment 994127
Unless you're using an ultra-light inner tube, I would think that tire+sealant doesn't weigh significantly more than tire+tube....in fact I thought for mt bikes it typically is a weight saver to go tubeless.
 

Eddiebaby1

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Some tyres and rims don't work with tubeless though even if you ghetto them. A couple of friends asked me to help them run tubeless on their runarounds as I'm quite the evangelist for sealant. Sadly they don't think spending as much on two new rims/tyres as they spent on their Halfords bike is a good deal.
 

Colo Springs E

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Unless you're using an ultra-light inner tube, I would think that tire+sealant doesn't weigh significantly more than tire+tube....in fact I thought for mt bikes it typically is a weight saver to go tubeless.

I'm pretty sure tubeless w/sealant is typically lighter. I don't care for the upkeep involved with running tubeless though. I run sealant in my tubes. It lasts a couple years instead of a few months. I don't mind/notice the extra weight.
 




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