Group Riding with Traditional Gravel Cyclists on E-Bike (dilemmas)

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I got interested in riding with a cyclist club by name Mazowiecki Gravel (Mazovian Gravel). These guys have amassed a lot of routes around the province (voivodeship as we call it) of Mazovia in Poland. Of course, I wouldn't even intend or be allowed to compete with them. Also, major events they organise are like 550 km race over 64 hours (no way!).

However, these guys are friendly, not as weird as roadies, and could accept me on their group rides. I only wonder which of my e-bikes would be the most appropriate to ride with them and not make them upset. If they ride as a club, they ride at cruising speed of 32-35 km/h (20-22 mph) on road, slower on gravel. My choices are:
  • Vado 5.0 S-Pedelec. It has no suspension (like gravel bikes), 2" tyres, and can ride at the club speed easily. The drawback is the e-bike carries a number plate and could be negatively perceived by the club members, or
  • Lovelec Diadem. It looks like a normal touring bike, has 1.6" tyres, good front suspension, and a hub-motor. It can easily ride at the Club speeds, maintaining constant speed (cannot ride slow). Drawback: It looks like a touring bike :)
Any ideas? I won't buy a 25 km/h gravel e-bike! It is too slow!
 
Last edited:

dmark

Active Member
First try the Vado; if negatively perceived, try the Lovelec. After at least two rides, you will have some ideas about what kind of performance you are looking for should you choose to purchase a third bike.
 

Akrotiri

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
I got interested in riding with a cyclist club by name Mazowiecki Grawel (Mazovian Gravel). These guys have amassed a lot of routes around the province (voivodeship as we call it) of Mazovia in Poland. Of course, I wouldn't even intend or be allowed to compete with them. Also, major events they organise are like 550 km race over 64 hours (no way!).

However, these guys are friendly, not that weird as roadies, and could accept me on their group rides. I only wonder which of my e-bikes would be the most appropriate to ride with them and not make them upset. If they ride as a club, they ride at cruising speed of 32-35 km/h (20-22 mph) on road, slower on gravel. My choices are:
  • Vado 5.0 S-Pedelec. It has no suspension (like gravel bikes), 2" tyres, and can ride at the club speed easily. The drawback is the e-bike carries a number plate and could be negatively perceived by the club members, or
  • Lovelec Diadem. It looks like a normal touring bike, has 1.6" tyres, good front suspension, and a hub-motor. It can easily ride at the Club speeds, maintaining constant speed (cannot ride slow). Drawback: It looks like a touring bike :)
Any ideas? I won't buy a 25 km/h gravel e-bike! It is too slow!
I would choose the Lovelec because let’s face it, perception is reality. Once they see the license plates on the Vado they will automatically assume it’s more of a motorbike than an e-bike.

Being that the lovelec looks like a touring bike they’ll assume it’s a typical slower touring e-bike made for hauling gear and sightseeing.

I would rather a new cycling group I joined think I was at a disadvantage rather than an advantage when using an e-bike for group rides.
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
What does the number plate look like? I is it a medallion you can cover with a sticker or a pannier for the first ride on the Vado 5.0.
 

Dave Rocks

Active Member
Region
Canada
City
Mississauga Ontario
You should buy one of these for your group ride. The looks on their faces = Priceless.
motorbike ebike.jpg
 

PedalUma

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Gravel is perfection. From Poland I adore the Rondos! They have the variable geometry gravel bikes I like. I am totally into the Rondo Mutt with fenders. And want to convert one into a superior electric gravel bike that will also be a commuter for the train and will be an urban assault bike. It will take on anything. These Polish bikes are so wonderful. I will use tubes with Stan's in them and Mr.Tuffy liners. All their bikes are sweet. I love to ride STeel. I have a ST Polish bike as a daily rider now from a sister company of Rondo and get complements daily in Northern California. It blows away $9400 bikes and does not look electric. A converted Mutt is the way to go. 16Kg and 80Km on the first 1.38Kg battery with 80Nm after conversion, and a low 8.5cm above the hubs and centered 60/40 weight distribution to the rear for traction and for handling up front. With no ugly wires just pure gravel pleasure. It will not look "electric." After the Chromoly Surly Big Dummy comes a Litespeed Ti then maybe a ST Mutt conversion. Maybe. We will see. Steel is real. Gravel is the way to ride.
 

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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
The bike you’re riding will quickly fade into who the rider is. Alaskan wrote somewhere about being accepted by roadies.
That's true. Alaskan finally ended up with buying a gravel e-bike. I watched a reaction of a gravel cyclist to the picture of Canyon Grail:ON -- he salivated at the sight :) No option for me; the 25 km/h restriction could be removed but the 500 Wh battery would have gone flat after 50 km of riding at Club speeds.

I would choose the Lovelec because let’s face it, perception is reality. Once they see the license plates on the Vado they will automatically assume it’s more of a motorbike than an e-bike.

Being that the lovelec looks like a touring bike they’ll assume it’s a typical slower touring e-bike made for hauling gear and sightseeing.

I would rather a new cycling group I joined think I was at a disadvantage rather than an advantage when using an e-bike for group rides.
That's a very convincing argument. Being humble and staying at the end of the pack would be perceived as "the old man is at least trying" :) The other good thing is Lovelec maintains constant speed at given PAS level; Vado is more "organic" (with variable assistance depending on leg input). Generally, the 250 W hub-drive motor allows me achieving good average speed easier than the "speed" Vado! Moreover, Lovelec is very predictable on the battery range.

I looked at the typical performance of my contact on Strava. His average speed is very good as for a traditional cyclist but it is what I normally achieve on e-bikes.

Marci Jo, Lee: Unfortunately, bars are closed because of covid now... A good hint anyway!

If the Sunday group ride comes true, I expect very strong headwinds on the route. It's going to be very interesting :D
 

Alvin1957

Member
Region
USA
City
Midlothian, TX
Hey guys,
The road and gravel group rides seem to be just starting up again around here so my wife and I are going on our first with the e-bikes. Weird that it has been a whole year! We have been just puttering about by ourselves. Anyway, about the drafting comment and nursing batteries. Is that a real thing with e-bikes? Do you save that much energy on an e-bike? I know that the bike is a minor part of the whole weight picture but they are more massive than conventional machines. Is an accident much worse when things go awry?
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
@Stefan Mikes Drafting is real. Trading off the lead so that the person punching a hole in the wind changes, helps everyone keep a faster pace. It even makes a difference on an ebike.

I ride two or three days per week with a group of lifelong roadies who are in my rather advanced age category. At 70 I am squarely in the middle of the pack age wise. These are inspiring athletes who are aging with fitness, health, grace and humor.
,
My first few rides I lingered near the back of the pack, getting accustomed to the pace and learning the ethos of the group and how to ride in a pace line, keeping a steady cadence and rate of speed.

Then on about the fourth ride we turned a corner into a stiff headwind, I moved into the lead, giving the other riders the benefit of my motor. I kept glancing in the rear view mirror to make sure I was keeping a pace that worked for the rest of the group, not forging ahead , with everyone locked in tight. I even sat up straighter and boosted my assist to punch a bigger hole in the wind for the pack to draft behind. At the end of this ride, I was a fully accepted member of the group.

The bike I was riding the most when I joined in was a Riese & Muller Homage, about as far away from a road bike as you can get. It is not the bike that will win you acceptance, it is your attitude and personality. Contribute when you can, be attentive, show respect, be humble, don't make a show of your bike's power or speed, Always join in the end ride beer stop or lunch. It is not the bike that will help you get accepted, it is you. Those social times will present an opportunity for you to share how ebiking has helped improve your health, loose weight, become a better cyclist. All those things will win you respect in return,

I am a fairly alpha type. However it helps at first to keep a low profile at first, listen more and talk less. Open up more as you feel your acceptance is growing.

And now almost three years after joining the group, I am riding a drop bar ebike and loving it.
 

Alvin1957

Member
Region
USA
City
Midlothian, TX
@Stefan Mikes Drafting is real. Trading off the lead so that the person punching a hole in the wind changes, helps everyone keep a faster pace. It even makes a difference on an ebike.

I ride two or three days per week with a group of lifelong roadies who are in my rather advanced age category. At 70 I am squarely in the middle of the pack age wise. These are inspiring athletes who are aging with fitness, health, grace and humor.
,
My first few rides I lingered near the back of the pack, getting accustomed to the pace and learning the ethos of the group and how to ride in a pace line, keeping a steady cadence and rate of speed.

Then on about the fourth ride we turned a corner into a stiff headwind, I moved into the lead, giving the other riders the benefit of my motor. I kept glancing in the rear view mirror to make sure I was keeping a pace that worked for the rest of the group, not forging ahead , with everyone locked in tight. I even sat up straighter and boosted my assist to punch a bigger hole in the wind for the pack to draft behind. At the end of this ride, I was a fully accepted member of the group.

The bike I was riding the most when I joined in was a Riese & Muller Homage, about as far away from a road bike as you can get. It is not the bike that will win you acceptance, it is your attitude and personality. Contribute when you can, be attentive, show respect, be humble, don't make a show of your bike's power or speed, Always join in the end ride beer stop or lunch. It is not the bike that will help you get accepted, it is you. Those social times will present an opportunity for you to share how ebiking has helped improve your health, loose weight, become a better cyclist. All those things will win you respect in return,

I am a fairly alpha type. However it helps at first to keep a low profile at first, listen more and talk less. Open up more as you feel your acceptance is growing.

And now almost three years after joining the group, I am riding a drop bar ebike and loving it.
Hello and thanks!
I am afraid that I was very unclear. Quite familiar with drafting on a conventional ride. I've just never been very good at it (not enough nerve to ride in close enough with that many riders around me!). I was just surprised at the possibility of practical drafting on an e-bike. I can see the energy savings. I take it then that this is common on e-bikes?
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Hello and thanks!
I am afraid that I was very unclear. Quite familiar with drafting on a conventional ride. I've just never been very good at it (not enough nerve to ride in close enough with that many riders around me!). I was just surprised at the possibility of practical drafting on an e-bike. I can see the energy savings. I take it then that this is common on e-bikes?
I don't see that drafting is common on ebikes at all. Much more so for roady group rides where it makes a much bigger difference. It is a skill I have been working to master out of desire to ride with my roady friends.
 

almikel

Active Member
Region
Australia
I guess you would rather go mountain biking on a glacier in the Alps?

that is awful...

Your point is very well made, especially,
It is not the bike that will win you acceptance, it is your attitude and personality.
But as you point out it's also about your actions within the group, ie
Then on about the fourth ride we turned a corner into a stiff headwind, I moved into the lead, giving the other riders the benefit of my motor. I kept glancing in the rear view mirror to make sure I was keeping a pace that worked for the rest of the group, not forging ahead , with everyone locked in tight. I even sat up straighter and boosted my assist to punch a bigger hole in the wind for the pack to draft behind. At the end of this ride, I was a fully accepted member of the group.
No wonder you were accepted/invited back again...

@Stefan Mikes - either bike should be fine, just stay back unless there's a flat stage with a headwind, in which case take the front at a reasonable pace...
I won't buy a 25 km/h gravel e-bike! It is too slow!
A friend owns a Giant Revolt gravel e-bike with a bad ass box fitted - he loves it.

cheers
Mike
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Having already had three group rides behind me...
...I think I can share some experiences.

Ride A was done with a group of people who have known one another for several years. A gravel-fanatic, a roadie on his "winter bike" (a hardtail MTB), a female roadie riding a road bike, and a young man on a hardtail. "Friendship" was the motto of that very group. They invite any new member enthusiastically and help him (and one another) all the time.
I was riding my Vado at that time. It was mostly roads and the first ride leg was downwind. Group members perceived me as an old ailing man, especially as I kept myself in the tail of the ride. The female roadie Ania was often asking me how I was feeling, especially as they rode > 30 km/h. I was smiling and replying I had the best ride of my life :)

The situation changed on the upwind leg. I could instantly understand the group was struggling so I rode up to the front and suggested drafting. The gravel-man was actually "sitting" on my rear wheel and giving me precise instructions. Post-ride, he was publicly thanking me for saving the day for them (we rode more than a metric century on that day).

Ride B was done together with two men from the previous group and it was gravel-oriented: asphalt, gravel, dirt, off-road. Full respect and friendship. The roadie had been tired because of upwind, I and the gravel-man respected that. Again, fine long ride. (Because of the "gravel-cycling", I rode Trance E+, an e-MTB).

Ride C was a disaster. The group leaders were a bunch of arrogant and selfish "professionals". I was met with a technical problem at the ride start and was left alone. Next, they left a new group member (a covid convalescent) alone. I was (riding Trance E+) able to catch up with that convalescent, and we had a nice ride together.

Regarding e-bikes and drafting: A dual or spare battery is a must if you want to lead a peloton upwind. Nothing comes free if one needs to conquer the elements.