Burning Man allows Ebikes this year

Marty

Member
Anyone planning to go? It's an interesting event. . . There's no advertising allowed, and there's no one selling anything. It lasts for a week. Lots to see and do, and it's all free.

I usually run a solar recharge station for people's devices and will attempt to recharge electric bikes too.
 
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pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
I know radrover had a set of bikes they gave an option for delivering to funders at burning man...at least, if anyone ordered them for it! It was just a bike with some sort of cool wheel light setup.
 

sockthemonkey

New Member
I'm heading to burning man this year and I am looking to purchase my first ebike specifically for the playa....actually, I need one for me and one for my girlfriend. These bikes will not be used as commuter bikes later and will probably end up decorated burning man style. I think I've researched myself in circles for the past couple of days and could really use some advice....especially from anyone who has taken an electric bike to the burn. First off, my max budget is 3K each. (I can't believe I just typed that) We are a big camp on the Esplanade and we have a huge generator that provides pretty much unlimited power to the camp....so charging shouldn't be an issue. I would assume overheating the controller and dust getting on battery connections during charging might be a problem, and dust in the hub perhaps? I'm not sure and that's one of the areas that I'm getting stuck on. We are pretty open to many options. My girlfriend likes a lot of the pre-built step-thrus...The Big Cat Long Beach Cruiser seems like a good option for her. I'd truly love a fat tire cruiser style like the Elux. I think the 350W motor of the Big Cat might not be enough torque for the playa (top speed is not an issue b/c of 5mph limit) It seems to me that simplest....and as sealed as possible is best so also interested in the eprodigy Banff b/c of it's internal gears, and the Electra Townie.

To add one more variable. I already own a nice old steel frame cruiser that I love and would be open to having a kit installed professionally.....but once again spun myself into a circle with research. BionX 500 d looks amazing but do I need that level of performance. The 8fun looks like a good option at a reasonable price and I like the bottom bracket mid drive....somehow that seems like a logical place for the drive (but would eliminate my 3 speed gears)

As you can see.....I'm somewhat stuck. Any input or feedback would be greatly appreciated. I'm heading to a local bike shop today but realize that the advice may be understandly biased toward what they personally sell.

Thanks in advance.
marc
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Youre in SF which has a lot of eBike stores. Best way is to ride a few and decide if this is something you and your gf will use on the weekends, or will it just accumulate dust. eBikes are very expensive, and they lose around 40% of their value after the first year, so it's not something you just want to buy and dump. They should have Bionx kits to test.

Then check out SF Craigslist.. They have Sondors bikes for sale and many others, and you can get those for around $800 with some finagling.

http://sfbay.craigslist.org

If you're just planning to use it for BM, ebikes are probably not worth it.. Just buy you and your gf nice cruiser bikes at Walmart and have fun and don't worry about it getting dusty, or stolen!
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
dust in the hub perhaps?
Yes it can be an issue! I've found limestone dust to be the biggest problem so far, very fine dust. I don't think sand is as much a problem, as sand grains tend to be larger. I would think Bionx motors would be sealed as good or better than most. You'll need to clean any ebike everyday in dry, dusty conditions.

Good luck!
 

Marty May

New Member
Congratulations on getting tickets. I may have an extra ticket, but won't know until the event gets closer. Every year that I have an extra ticket I do a Craigslist treasure hunt to give it away. I post a photo (for only a few minutes) of where Ill be at a specific time, and wait to see who shows up. Its in a crowded place, by a clock tower, and I provide no description of me. I say that the first person who asks me for the golden ticket after the clock strikes noon gets it. So far it's been a lot of fun.

The Sonders bike has a range (according to Court's review) that makes it pretty hard to be of much use at Burning man, unless you have multiple batteries or don't go anywhere. I suspect we will see a lot of them there, but none will be more than 7.5 miles from their starting point unless they are pushed back. The range might be far less in soft playa dust.

Its early, I haven't done the math, and I will probably remember the actual numbers later, but I believe one loop around most of the loops will be a challenge for the range of the Sonder's bike.

I plan to take a 45 pound full size folding mountain bike, 350 watt hub motor and two 10.2 amp batteries, (total range 60 miles, much more at a slow speed) however, I suspect my old Mongoose Ascent will be the bike of choice.

I plan to spray everything with as much protectant as I can find, but know that the bike I take will never again look as good as it does now. I plan to sell it after the event, and might even sell it at the event, quietly, of course, if someone wants it bad enough to ask.

I agree that ebikes are probably not worth it in that environment.
 
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sockthemonkey

New Member
yes....I've been happy as a clam with my old steel cruiser covered in fur, and have always been an advocate of cheap bikes at burning man rather tan fancy expensive ones, but my GF has some physical disabilities that would make two weeks of bike riding on the playa impossible. She'd be eligible for disability pass and could ride a 4 runner if she liked, but she wants to ride a bike like all her friends. I'm 56 and this is my 10th year (her first). I go early and build the camp....basically 2 weeks out there. I have found with each passing year I get more and more tired, and see less and less of the city b/c it's simply exhausting (it's not just the riding but multiple factors including staying up till all hours of the morning, etc) Bottom line, an electric bike would be an amazing way to experience burning man....a game changer as far as what you can see, how far out to deep playa one can go. So....she really needs one, and I'd really like to see what it would be like. Yes....it's an extravagance, and I'm hoping I can find some way to use the bike after burning man, but I think it might be money well spent.
 

sockthemonkey

New Member
Marty...We had a couple of electric bike users in camp last year and there were some reliability issues....hence my careful research....but it really made a big difference in how much of the event they could see when they were up and running. Sonders does seem to be a bad bike for the burn and yes I think there will be many of them out there....broken down or being pushed home. So far the E Lux cruiser is my dream bike. I'd use it as a commuter bike in SF but I have no garage and live on the 3rd floor. Not sure where I might store it and 75lbs is a lot to lug up 3 flights. Heading to local shops today to get some advice.
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Sondors eBike will be very popular at BM and a good test. We have a FB group of over 2000 owners reporting a range of over 20 miles. Plus the bike looks awesome. And it's inexpensive. Extra batteries are cheap.

There is no way I would buy an ebike and subject it to those conditions for two weeks, unless it was so cheap I was planning on dumping it.
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
You guys can burn the bikes at the end of the festival - if necessary .... ;-) just kidding


p.s. I wish I could go to BM :-(
 

sockthemonkey

New Member
Rode a Sondors yesterday...not impressed. Not really the geometry I'm looking for either.

It's actually been very hard to find electric bikes for sale in SF that are not basically either very expensive mountain bike style or skinny tire commuter style bikes. My gf and I are looking for a cruiser style b/c that is what works best on the playa....or at least feels best. We drove out to Redwood city to a store with a big selection yesterday only to find they had nothing in a smaller frame. I'm 5"6" and she's 5' 4" I'm fine but she's looking for something a little smaller. Either 24" wheels or a 17" frame with 26. It's been kind of frustrating to be honest. Called the guys at E Lux....very nice folks. Bike might be perfect for me, but a 20" frame with 26" wheels seems a bit big for her (or at least she thinks so) Apparently a shop in Berkeley carries the Motiv line so I may head over there later today. Their frames are 18" and they also carry a step-thru cruiser that she's interested in. At this point we are giving very serious consideration to just buying a bike that fits her and then adding a kit. (same for me with my existing bike) Once again, any input or expertise (besides just telling me what an idiot I am for bringing an electric bike to burning man) is appreciated.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
I'm about 5 ft. I ride an Easy Motion EVO Street. It's a comfortable upright ride, step-thru frame, great for shorter folks, 26" wheels, 350W geared hub, integrated battery in the downtube. Sounds like it might be perfect for your GF.
 

Marty May

New Member
Hey:
The bike I'm taking to Burning man is shown in the video below. It weighs about 45 pounds, full suspension, a full size mountain bike. I'll have two batteries. I usually charge it from the solar panel on top of my van, so charging it there shouldn't find anything unexpected. I am also taking my old Mongoose Ascent, which is a great choice for the environment.

It looks to be a good choice, if an electric bike is a good choice, we will see. I plan to sell it immediately after the event, in addition to some other bikes because I have too many!

It folds and fits in the trunk of my Honda Civic, which is a huge plus for an event like Burning man. I can't imagine hauling around a Sonders bike, you'd need a trailer for it. This bike should have a range close to 70 mies at a reasonable speed with the two batteries. A similar bike with a 250 watt motor had a range of 44 miles at 14 mph on one battery.

If you see that bike, it's me, flag me over.

See you there!

Marty

 
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Marty May

New Member
Rode a Sondors yesterday...not impressed. Not really the geometry I'm looking for either.

It's actually been very hard to find electric bikes for sale in SF that are not basically either very expensive mountain bike style or skinny tire commuter style bikes. My gf and I are looking for a cruiser style b/c that is what works best on the playa....or at least feels best. We drove out to Redwood city to a store with a big selection yesterday only to find they had nothing in a smaller frame. I'm 5"6" and she's 5' 4" I'm fine but she's looking for something a little smaller. Either 24" wheels or a 17" frame with 26. It's been kind of frustrating to be honest. Called the guys at E Lux....very nice folks. Bike might be perfect for me, but a 20" frame with 26" wheels seems a bit big for her (or at least she thinks so) Apparently a shop in Berkeley carries the Motiv line so I may head over there later today. Their frames are 18" and they also carry a step-thru cruiser that she's interested in. At this point we are giving very serious consideration to just buying a bike that fits her and then adding a kit. (same for me with my existing bike) Once again, any input or expertise (besides just telling me what an idiot I am for bringing an electric bike to burning man) is appreciated.

I have ridden several Sonders bikes. Every time I come across one I ask how they like their bike (They just LOVE it) then show them my bike, point out it's an electric bike and offer to trade with them for a short while. They always have said the same thing at the end of their ride. But I won't say what that is here.

Interestingly I hear the same comment from all of them so far, they wish their bike had more reasonable wheels. I think there's an after market for performance parts for the Sonders bike, especially different wheels and tires.
 

Marty May

New Member
Here I am at Burning man, near the end of the event reflecting on the event and having an ebike. The verdict is that an ebike is awesome to have at Burning Man, it does what an electric bike does best, it allows you to ride farther, covering more territory.

The bike I took is a full suspension folding full size mountain bike, I think the suspension was a huge plus here. You get out on the playa and it's a blast. On the washboard roads I flew.

I am amazed at the Sonder's bikes. If I thought I would enjoy riding one I'd buy one in a minute, hard to beat the price, and I have yet to hear a negative report. There are a lot of pedal powered bikes that look a lot like the Sonder's bike. High single geared bikes with huge wheels were everywhere.

I wasn't sure about the usefulness of an ebike at this event, but now am convinced, an ebike is the way to go, if you have a method of recharging the batteries. One guy told me his generator run the entire event.

I had two batteries, and a 165 watt solar panel on the roof of my van. I never let a battery get very low, I changed it twice a day and always had the other one on the charger. It worked very well. I need a sticker saying my bike is solar powered.

It's going to be 36 tonight with a chance of rain! Never thought I'd be cold at Burning man.

It was a lot of fun, go if you can.
 

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Court

Administrator
Staff member
The Sonders bike has a range (according to Court's review) that makes it pretty hard to be of much use at Burning man, unless you have multiple batteries or don't go anywhere. I suspect we will see a lot of them there, but none will be more than 7.5 miles from their starting point unless they are pushed back. The range might be far less in soft playa dust.
I saw a few Sondors ebikes at Burning Man and they seemed to work alright, would definitely help to have a few gears but the single speed is fine if batteries run out, just stand up to pedal. With a range of ~15 miles you can get around the Playa pretty good (at least across and back a couple times) and then recharge overnight back at camp. I created the video below with some photos I took, saw a bunch of cool ebikes, e-rides and some creative bikes. Enjoy! Also, I'll be getting one of the new Sondors ebikes that are being advertised on Kickstarter and ordered the larger battery... will do another range test but expect 20+ this time, also got the LCD so I can try pedal assist.

 

one4torque

Active Member
You can double your range on the sonders with a cheap chinese frog battery on the seat post. That's what I did. Just used a DPDT switch to go to my 2nd tank :)
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
There have been ebikes and escooters at Burning Man for a bunch of years! My shop has serviced quite a few both before the trip and...oh yeah...after. We have a special diluted vinegar solution for the e-scooters that are caked in the alkalai sand. It's very interesting to talk with the folks going out there early to build the Burning Man city. Remember there are 50 to 70,000 people there, so it's really a good sized city!
 

Patti Lord

New Member
Rode a Sondors yesterday...not impressed. Not really the geometry I'm looking for either.

It's actually been very hard to find electric bikes for sale in SF that are not basically either very expensive mountain bike style or skinny tire commuter style bikes. My gf and I are looking for a cruiser style b/c that is what works best on the playa....or at least feels best. We drove out to Redwood city to a store with a big selection yesterday only to find they had nothing in a smaller frame. I'm 5"6" and she's 5' 4" I'm fine but she's looking for something a little smaller. Either 24" wheels or a 17" frame with 26. It's been kind of frustrating to be honest. Called the guys at E Lux....very nice folks. Bike might be perfect for me, but a 20" frame with 26" wheels seems a bit big for her (or at least she thinks so) Apparently a shop in Berkeley carries the Motiv line so I may head over there later today. Their frames are 18" and they also carry a step-thru cruiser that she's interested in. At this point we are giving very serious consideration to just buying a bike that fits her and then adding a kit. (same for me with my existing bike) Once again, any input or expertise (besides just telling me what an idiot I am for bringing an electric bike to burning man) is appreciated.
I'm heading to burning man this year and I am looking to purchase my first ebike specifically for the playa....actually, I need one for me and one for my girlfriend. These bikes will not be used as commuter bikes later and will probably end up decorated burning man style. I think I've researched myself in circles for the past couple of days and could really use some advice....especially from anyone who has taken an electric bike to the burn. First off, my max budget is 3K each. (I can't believe I just typed that) We are a big camp on the Esplanade and we have a huge generator that provides pretty much unlimited power to the camp....so charging shouldn't be an issue. I would assume overheating the controller and dust getting on battery connections during charging might be a problem, and dust in the hub perhaps? I'm not sure and that's one of the areas that I'm getting stuck on. We are pretty open to many options. My girlfriend likes a lot of the pre-built step-thrus...The Big Cat Long Beach Cruiser seems like a good option for her. I'd truly love a fat tire cruiser style like the Elux. I think the 350W motor of the Big Cat might not be enough torque for the playa (top speed is not an issue b/c of 5mph limit) It seems to me that simplest....and as sealed as possible is best so also interested in the eprodigy Banff b/c of it's internal gears, and the Electra Townie.

To add one more variable. I already own a nice old steel frame cruiser that I love and would be open to having a kit installed professionally.....but once again spun myself into a circle with research. BionX 500 d looks amazing but do I need that level of performance. The 8fun looks like a good option at a reasonable price and I like the bottom bracket mid drive....somehow that seems like a logical place for the drive (but would eliminate my 3 speed gears)

As you can see.....I'm somewhat stuck. Any input or feedback would be greatly appreciated. I'm heading to a local bike shop today but realize that the advice may be understandly biased toward what they personally sell.

Thanks in advance.
marc

Hi @sockthemonkey !
I'm super interested to hear what bikes you ended up bringing to BRC this year and what you liked and didn't like about them.
We have 20 mega puppets that we've been hauling around the playa on our longtail bikes and are starting to research ebike options for 2017.
-Patti