Hello, introduction & my boring cycling life story.

Jboz

New Member
Region
USA
Not a total newbie to the e-bike world, but new to the forum. Just wanted to say a quick hello. Here's abridged cycling life story, and how it eventually brought me to an e-bike...if you are interested.

Kid chapter. Loved bikes from that moment in 1963 when my dad who was running behind me holding the seat of my old brown hand-me-down bike let go, and I experienced a feeling I have never forgotten. A five year old boy's first taste of freedom, and it tasted fantastic! Over the years flowed a series of kid bikes, including one purple "Grape Crate" Sting Ray as a reward for straight A's. Geez, I wish I still had that bike. I finally graduated to a real 10 speed road bike in 1975, a silver Nishiki International, bought with grocery bagging money. My best friend took one look at it and bought the identical bike, and we started doing some serious riding. Our first big ride was probably 70 miles, and wasn't planned...we just started riding one morning and realized by noon we were pretty far from home, so we turned around and came back. Loved that bike. I took it apart and put it back together a few times, kept the chain lube, pampered it, changed the cloth bar tape about a dozen times (always red). But my pride and joy was stolen in college a couple of years later and didn't have the money to replace it. The next thing I knew, my kid life was complete and I had embarked on adult life.

Grown up chapter. Life happened. Jobs, bills, obligations, relocations, climbing the corporate ladder, wife #1, wife #2, and kids. Cycling was not in my life, but never forgotten. Fast forward about 30 years thru all that life crap to the year 2009, my 10 year old was doing a bucket list project for school. And he asked me what was on my bucket list. I had to think for a minute, but I had heard about a ride called RAGBRAI several years earlier and I threw it out there. He asked me questions about it, but mostly he wanted to know why I hadn't done it yet. So I made up some BS about being too busy, but the real reason was that I was about 70 pounds overweight at that point and hopelessly out of shape. But he kept it up and I resolved to him that he and I would ride it someday. He decided that 2012 was the year...he would be 13. So went out and bought a carbon frame Giant Defy road bike. One big problem, I was the 70 pounds of extra baggage pressing down on my sit bones. Probably wasn't fit properly either. Couldn't go more than 6 miles before pain kicked in. Then I discovered recumbents, and rode those religiously for the next 6 or so years, including RAGBRAI 4 times, and managed to drop the 70 pounds. At that point, I figured I would try regular road bikes again. Went out and got a really nice Lynskey, raw Ti so it's the same color as the one I had stolen back in college...and yes, red bar tape. Got it professionally fitted, along with a proper saddle...and voila, no pain. So I've been enjoying the hell out of that bike. But at 60-something, speed was pretty much a distant memory, and I'm pretty bushed at the 50 mile mark.

The AARP chapter. I had a great job and a great boss. Finest exec I've ever worked with, but she retired. Company brought a young gun in, "smartest guy in the room" type. We clashed. I lost, but I really won. As in retired...peace, OUT! My son has become an avid and very strong cyclist by now, and we wanted to do some rides together. We did some moderate distances of 30'ish miles. Riding together is great father/son time, but I could tell it was frustrating for him to plod along at my speed. We tried having him ride at his own pace, but pull over every 10 miles or so to wait for me, but that wasn't fun for him either and it kind of defeated the purpose of riding together. So I took the plunge and added an Orbea Gain e-bike to my stable. The bike is beautiful and looks just like a road bike...you really can't tell by looking at it. In fact, I told my son I got a new bike but didn't tell him it had pedal assist. We did 35 miles that first day I kept pace easily, and took my turn pulling into a headwind. Even when he was drafting me, he still didn't catch on that it wasn't 100% me. He just kept saying "Damn, Dad!" I finally let him in on the joke and we had a good laugh. Anyway, I promised myself I would reserve the e-bike for rides with him, and I've kept that promise. When I ride solo, I ride non-powered. I know that will eventually give way though...time waits for no man.

Next chapter. With my newfound freedom, my bucket list can become a reality. I find that the list is almost exclusively multi-day cycling tours. Portugal, Turkey, Hungary, and many others including a whole bunch of US rides. Going to try my hand at mountain biking, maybe some rugged bikepacking, and for that I will skip ahead right to an e-MTB. As for my touring plans, I expect that for the next few years it will consist of some on e-bike, and some non-powered. I'm toying with a 7 week Coast-to-Coast next summer...e-bike would really enhance the experience, but I'm struggling with the logistics of charging, especially on the more remote stretches out west.

Anyway, hello forum members. I just found this site a few days ago, so I will be reading lots and and posting a bit going forward. And sorry, I'm usually not this long-winded. Stay well!
 
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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
rugged bikepacking, and for that I will skip ahead right to an e-MTB.
Welcome @Jboz!
Just a remark: as a practical owner of an e-MTB and an avid tourist, I just want to say an e-MTB is not the best idea for bikepacking.
  • An e-MTB is made for technical trail riding: short trips with big elevation gain in rugged terrain. Range of e-MTB is limited, too.
  • Not suitable for road, really.
  • MTBs are not made for loading them with the baggage at all. Any racks suitable for an e-MTB are for low load (and it is the best not to use a rack at all).
  • Difficulty to install durable fenders, permanent lighting. Forget about any kickstand!
You better reconsider if e-MTB would really meet your goal. It didn't meet mine (touring) although I had several interesting rides after I fully understood the purpose of that e-bike type.
I don't want to give you advices. Several Riese & Muller e-bikes (especially ones full-suspended, dual battery) would meet your needs but R&M are insanely expensive, with extremely long waiting times from order to delivery. There are some equipped Moustache e-bikes that you might look at (Friday or Samedi, full-suspension, at least sporting a good rack). Tough matter indeed.
 

Jboz

New Member
Region
USA
I just want to say an e-MTB is not the best idea for bikepacking.
Thanks for the advice Stefan, it's much appreciated - I have come to rely on the collective experience found on forums like this. I have ridden MTB's on borrowed bikes over the years and have really enjoyed it, but the steeper stuff was very difficult for me. I have a minor heart condition, and my cardiologist gave me the all clear for cycling (actually encouraged it), but recommended I make a concerted effort keep my heart-rate below 150 bpm. That's no problem with a road bike because I can just slow down, and if a hill gets a little too steep on tour, I can always hop off and walk it. But the steepness of some of the singletrack trails I hope to ride is a different animal, thus an e-MTB seems like the only real option for me if I want to tackle that. When I eventually pick up an e-MTB, it's primary intended purpose will be singletrack day rides on local trails. And of course you are right, bikepacking is a different animal still. I typically don't embark on anything like that without doing plenty of research. There are different types of bike for different types of riding, which explains my growing collection of bikes which my wife will never understand. At this point, bikepacking with pedal-assist is still a fleeting thought for me. When I decide to give it a go, I will need to figure out the best bike for that purpose...and hopefully adapt an existing bike for that purpose because I'm running out of garage space. My Orbea Gain is technically an e-Gravel bike and has clearance for 45mm tires, although I have it set up with 32mm at the moment. So throwing on some wider nubby tires might be an option depending on the terrain.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
When I eventually pick up an e-MTB, it's primary intended purpose will be singletrack day rides on local trails. And of course you are right, bikepacking is a different animal still.
I see your goals are clearly set. One thing is certain: with proper e-MTB your heart rate will remain in the comfort zone.

Your Orbea Gain is a gorgeous e-bike though it seems to offer not very much torque. Thought of some mid-drive gravel e-bike?
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I have ridden MTB's on borrowed bikes over the years and have really enjoyed it, but the steeper stuff was very difficult for me. I have a minor heart condition, and my cardiologist gave me the all clear for cycling (actually encouraged it), but recommended I make a concerted effort keep my heart-rate below 150 bpm. That's no problem with a road bike because I can just slow down, and if a hill gets a little too steep on tour, I can always hop off and walk it. But the steepness of some of the singletrack trails I hope to ride is a different animal, thus an e-MTB seems like the only real option for me if I want to tackle that. When I eventually pick up an e-MTB, it's primary intended purpose will be singletrack day rides on local trails. And of course you are right, bikepacking is a different animal still.

I was thrown off MTB on my chin 4 times with rear baskets. Weight behind rear wheel lifts the front, reduces adhesion of tire, which for me tends to whip sideways, dig in, & kick the seat in the air. OTOH I can pedal my stretch frame cargo bike up 15% with 32:32 low gearing. That is without power. Stretch frame hasn't thrown me yet, 6000 miles & 3 years so far. I pedal for heart health, I use the power for rides over 25 miles (60th to 80th hill) or days when I have a headwind dragging me down to 4.5 mph and I have 30 miles to ride. Even carrying 80 lb supplies up 15% grade, I can keep my pulse under 144 (12 in 5 seconds). In spring when I'm out of shape, I stop before the 3rd 15% hill. By June I can handle all three without stopping, in 32:24 instead of 32:32 available.
So, if packing off a MTB, put load on front wheel where you have to steer it. Or cargo bike, bosses in frame allow front basket to ride unsteered. Bodaboda has that, radwagon has that (and unpurchasable 22" tires).
Another datapoint, you like to ride unpowered. Options for no drag unpowered are geared hubmotor, mid drives brose, yamaha, shimano steps, bosch era IV only. I have my geared hubmotor on the front for better balance and to maintain the 24 speed selection (3x8) my bike came with. Mac12 mower only adds $1330 to unpowered bike. Conversion was $840 for ebikeling motor, same battery, but ebikeling motor wore out a gear in 4500 miles.
Would enjoy scenery of ragbrai, a college friend wants me to go. But I sit up straight like Mary Poppins on the caroussel, too much drag for 20 mph average over those 80 mile segments. Even a 17.5 AH battery wouldn't take me that far I'm afraid. Goes 53 to 45 volts in 30 miles after ~80 hills.
 
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