Awesome no need to fear pedaling now right ?This straddles the on-topic Toughroad thread and a more generalized Intro/Bike Garage post... But when looking for information, I found myself in bike-specific threads more than the hits from searches, so here I am. Yesterday I picked up a 2018 model Toughroad, my first ebike and my first "real" bike in quite some time. Test riding, I really liked the Trek Supercommuter but absolutely loved the ride of the Road E; I don't need a road bike, so I was hoping the Toughroad would be similar enough. It did not disappoint.
My commute to work is ridiculously short, so I'm constantly thinking that I need to be on a bicycle; however, inclines have made it difficult for my wife and I to enjoy riding more. Laziness and comfort have been difficult hurdles. I used to ride 2-3 mile errands weekly on my trusty old ride, but I haven't been active at all for the past few years and have plateaued at 230lb and not near the physical stamina of years past. Though my family eats fresh and healthy most days, at 47 I've found it more difficult to lose weight and find motivation. I've been wearing a Fitbit for the past year to track my baseline and the data doesn't lie - I need exercise in addition to the healthy (ish) diet. I think folks like me know this already, we just don't want to make that change.
I was nervous picking up the Toughroad due to the long ride home and the unfamiliar route. I decided to have my wife take me to pick up the bike after work thinking it might fit in the car with the front wheel removed. I wasn't sure of myself and fearful of the cardio -- flushed face, gasping for breath, head pounding with over exertion. Everyone at the shop was confident I could make it home, though, and after the LBS manager realized we live near each other he suggested we ride together. I'm up for an adventure, and the no-pressure support from the shop took away the excuses; I sent my wife home with the car and told her I'd see her in an hour.
In researching ebikes, I realized I had been out of the saddle and mashing rather than spinning -- probably a habit from riding a 20" freestyle for so long. Looking back, I figure this is why my quads always burned and I was winded after a short ride. So my main goal (other than making it home) was to be aware of my cadence. We set off from the shop and rode 1 mile on a high traffic five-lane road to connect with the local paved trail. I began with no assist so I could feel the bike and sense when it was "helping" -- after half a mile or so, I turned assist to ECO and it simply felt easier to move my weight. I was keeping a 90-95rpm cadence at 15-20mph.
Once on the path, I could see this portion was a slight rolling decline with twists and turns, but again no issue in ECO and keeping a steady cadence in the 70-80rpm range; I thought my cadence should have been higher, but this was comfortable and I was maintaining 15mph. I was afraid this bike wouldn't be as nimble as I wanted, but it thread the tight turns effortlessly. The path follows stormwater retention ponds, and at 2 miles we made a turn into an incline with storm water discharge areas that looked like tiny 1-foot box jumps, one after another. With the incline and obstacles ahead, I switched to NORMAL assist and kept cadence with ease. The Toughroad took these bumps like a champ. I was expecting it to be more jarring since there are no shocks and a rigid seat post, but I barely felt anything other than the rise and fall.
About this time I started (over) thinking assist vs gears; I'm sure this will come naturally as I ride more, but I'm still trying to find the balance between more assist and lower gearing. The SRAM double tap shifter is a dream, by the way.
At 5 miles, the trail ended and we dog-legged to the tallest incline of the ride: about a quarter-mile at 40' rise according to Google. I definitely would have walked this hill in the past. Stepping up to POWER assist allowed me to make it without issue, though speed and cadence both dropped. I think, had I been more experienced, I would have geared more effectively in these climbs. Shortly after cresting the major incline and entering the (only slightly) more manageable uphill, I saw what used to be a glass bottle in the residential bike lane. My brain didn't tell my body to zig fast enough and I clipped the pile of shards with my front tire. Immediately the tire began hissing and spraying sealant everywhere. We pulled over to check the damage and wiggle-spin the tire to distribute the sealant; I've never ridden tubeless, so I was glad to have an experienced riding companion. The spray of sealant stopped and we started again, chalking this up to a learning experience and true test of the bike. Coming out of the uphill, I realized that I hadn't geared higher or taken the assist out of POWER; my cadence quickly increased to 100-110rpm and took me by surprise. I wondered where the curve-off was with the SyncroDrive, but we hit another incline almost immediately and my cadence was back to the mid 80's.
We had rolling residential streets for quite a while; we were in familiar territory for me so the ride itself was more relaxed. The drop bars were a life saver; I loved the positioning and ability to switch when my body began to feel stiff. This is totally subjective, but I think these drop bars made a big difference for me even though I never rode in the drops. By 6 miles, though, I was really feeling my breathing and heart rate. This was about 30 minutes of cardio - I don't remember the last time I've had five minutes of cardio. I recalled reading about the "conversation test," if you could carry a conversation you were not over-exerting yourself, and realized I would be okay. Taking stock, I noticed that the saddle had been surprisingly comfortable and that I didn't feel any of the soreness my LBS warned against with my jeans and ankle strap. But what I noticed most was that I could feel my quads working, but they weren't burning or aching. It felt good. I think this is why the purists look down on ebikes; anyone in my physical condition should be burning by now. I didn't earn these miles. But I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm going to get home and my legs won't buckle from exertion. Of course, I'll also be getting home completely covered in sealant, as my tire continues struggling to heal. It spurted and sprayed, went quiet, then started spraying again, on repeat, for the rest of the ride. We stopped to take stock one last time, but the pressure was holding well enough so we kept moving forward. Around 11 miles, we split ways and I rode the final mile home.
I'm sure as I put more miles on this bike, I'll find small things to fault or tweak. But right now, after riding more in one day than I have in decades, I couldn't be happier.
That’s the one I have. Rack It for E-bike or something like that. It doesn’t seem overly large to me and the way it integrates into the frame is actually quite nice - other than the fact it is a proprietary mount that doesn’t work with any other rack.
I’m sure you’ll be happy with it. I am using an old pair of Mountain Equipment Coop panniers that are no longer available. I tried the Thule ones recently but took them back because the material was super stiff in the cold. I did like the way they clipped on but they just didn’t suit my needs.Thanks Kristjan - I ordered the "Giant Rack-It Metro E Rear Rack" as it looks like what I need. Can I ask what bags you got for it?