Over50's Charger Chronicles

Over50

Well-Known Member
I should be seeing my Charger GT Nuvinci HS in the coming weeks. I wanted to start a thread anticipating posting some pics and enventually commuting video.

My purchase is through Propel Bikes in Brooklyn. Chris Nolte is very generous with his time and has been great about answering my silly/newbie questions.

I'm not thinking of any significant modifications. At the outset we're installing some security bolts - more info on that when the bike arrives. Also contemplating thorn proof tubes vs a liquid filler.

For the most part, I'll try the bike as-is/stock but may opt to change the pedals and seatpost in the near future. For pedals I like the Origen 8 Pro-Classique that I have on my human powered bike but not sure if they are appropriate for a speed pedelec. The stock seatpost is a suspension post by Post Moderne that probably isn't found much in the USA. I couldn't find much user review on the web but it does offer the ability to change springs and adjust tension. I'll give it a trial run but at some point I may opt to switch it out for a Body Float (assuming they have a shim that will fit). I have the Body Float with black/black springs on my human powered bike and I'm a satisfied customer.

For commuting I'll start out with an Ortleib Urban Back Roller pannier and a Brooks pannier. The two combined should fit laptop and a change of clothes. For security I'm still considering the Boomerang GPS but I have some doubts as to whether it will fit given the placement of the water bottle mounts on the Charger and the length of the Boomerang. I will also use at least two locks: the Abus Bordo comes with the Charger and is keyed the same as the Bosch battery pack. After that I already own the Litelok, the Abus Mini Ulock and an Abus combination lock. So probably the Litelok and the Bordo will allow me to secure both wheels and the frame. I'm hoping to be able to park in the same public garage where I park my vehicle. It does offer decent security with cameras and patrols.

The commute will be 16 to 17 miles 1-way. Some tough urban environments in stretches but some dedicated bike lanes in other stretches. I ventured out on Christmas and made this video with the dashcam on my Subaru. Originally 45 minutes is cut down to 6 at double speed:

https://youtu.be/2PWTnuO5918
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Bike came yesterday. We're having some unseasonal warm temps so I was out test riding today. First I noticed a very audible rubbing sound from the front disc brake. I swung by my LBS and the mechanic walked me through the adjustment. Not complicated but definitely it requires some experience to be able to find the right placement. The mechanic did a good job very quickly and it resolved the rubbing - hopefully next time I can figure it out on my own. After that it was all trouble free cruising. I put 20 easy miles on it today all in Eco (and a few blocks with no power). I hit speeds around 22mph in Eco without killing myself but mostly I cruised around 15mph. When I left the house this morning it was still about 35F. In Eco it said remaining range was in the 60s. I rode 4 miles and stopped at a coffee shop for about 40 minutes. When I powered the bike back up the range was in the 40s. I guess the cold really impacts the battery life.

I can't take better pictures than R&M has at their website but here are a few:
 

Attachments

SCbiker

Active Member
nice looking unit ... ill have to read up on the rear hub. Glad you were able to get some riding weather to break it in.

a good new years to you

B.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
On supplementing the stock e-bike lights: unfortunately I'm not finding great places to mount supplemental lights. My Tern Vizy is my preferred for a rear light but I don't have enough seatpost available due to the combination of the suspension post and my (shorter) height. I did find a mounting spot on the rear rack for a Knog rechargeable taillight. I haven't found a spot on the handlebars where I can get a good mount for a headlamp. For now I have a small flasher. I'll need to get the bike out in the dark to see if the stock headlamp (E3 Supernova?) is sufficient.

I feel like the bike is still too dark particularly from the profile. the bike is black, the tires don't have reflective sidewalls and there are no reflectors on the suspension forks. Has anyone put reflective tape on the lower portion of their suspension forks? Is that recommended? I'll have lighted leg bands and reflective arm bands for my early morning commuting but I think the bike still needs some additional reflectivity or lights from the side view.

In this pic, I managed to find a good mount for a Knog rear taillight (top position in the photo) to supplement the stock e-bike taillamp - I also use a Blackburn SuperFlea on the rear of my helmet:
 

Attachments

E-Wheels

Well-Known Member
On supplementing the stock e-bike lights: unfortunately I'm not finding great places to mount supplemental lights. My Tern Vizy is my preferred for a rear light but I don't have enough seatpost available due to the combination of the suspension post and my (shorter) height. I did find a mounting spot on the rear rack for a Knog rechargeable taillight. I haven't found a spot on the handlebars where I can get a good mount for a headlamp. For now I have a small flasher. I'll need to get the bike out in the dark to see if the stock headlamp (E3 Supernova?) is sufficient.

I feel like the bike is still too dark particularly from the profile. the bike is black, the tires don't have reflective sidewalls and there are no reflectors on the suspension forks. Has anyone put reflective tape on the lower portion of their suspension forks? Is that recommended? I'll have lighted leg bands and reflective arm bands for my early morning commuting but I think the bike still needs some additional reflectivity or lights from the side view.

In this pic, I managed to find a good mount for a Knog rear taillight (top position in the photo) to supplement the stock e-bike taillamp - I also use a Blackburn SuperFlea on the rear of my helmet:
Over50,
Great looking bike
You must be so happy with it
Your idea of using reflective tape sounds pretty good as it will not distract from the aesthetics of the bike and I have read about others using it with good effect
http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/ScotchliteNA/Scotchlite/Products/?N=4621+8696057&rt=r3
I have read good reviews of the E3 Supernova lights so will be surprised if you need to upgrade
Will be good to hear how it performs after you have done your night ride testing
In the mean time enjoy your new bike and we look forward to more updates and photos
 
Last edited:

Over50

Well-Known Member
Handling is great. Maybe because of the Super Moto-X tires the bike feels sure-footed on winding roads and turns. I've been riding conservatively because it is new and because I don't want to attract attention (especially from my neighborhood police). I think my max speed so far is 23 but that was through an empty boulevard in a large park yesterday. Its hard to compare to the bikes in Washington since we could only test those on such a small enclosed track. You can't really get up to speed there or test cornering at higher speeds.

I was trying to train myself on Eco mode hoping I could commute 100% in Eco. Yesterday I simulated the 1 way 16 mile commute by riding 8 miles in and 8 miles back. I had a decent headwind in and Eco made me work. I felt the heart rate up and I was sweating while maintaining speeds around 13-16mph. After the 8 miles in I checked my time and thought "isn't going to work for my goal of a 1-hour, sweat free commute". So I bumped it to Tour for the return trip. With the tailwind the 8 mile return was a stroll in the park compared to the 8 miles in. I was maintaining speeds around 20mph with little effort. So I finished the 16 miles in an 1:05. Maybe I was a bit overly optimistic to think I could commute solely in Eco mode and will likely have to balance Eco and Tour dependent on wind conditions. This test was also on a holiday with little traffic so likely I have to be flexible with my goal of a 1 hour commute.

Weight: yeah, its heavy since I'm used to regular bikes particularly my Spot that probably weighs 30lbs with rack and fenders. I haven't tried to carry it down the steps to my basement yet but I have lifted it onto the bike rack and up and down my patio steps. Not too difficult. When I started researching I really wanted the lightest possible commuter e-bike (like the XM 700 in the low 50s). This Charger is probably around 60 but I'm not too sure of the exact weight. For the extra weight, tt will give me a bit of extra versatility vs the more city/roadster style bikes I was initially considering.

Next steps: I know little about setting suspension forks (Sag, rebound damping...) so I need to learn that and any advice would be greatly appreciated. And the seatpost suspension we initially set very stiff. I tried to adjust it but lacked the appropriate tool. So for now I'm riding on what feels like no suspension at all. I might prefer to change asap to the BodyFloat if I can figure out the proper seatpost sizing. Right now the bike is riding rather stiff for my liking.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
Great news, you finally got the bike and got to do some riding on it. You are probably one of only a small handful of RM owners in the U.S. right now. While I don't have any future plans to get rid of my 2015 Specialized Turbo X, when I first saw the RM bike line, I was drooling.

Watching your commute video, I am saddened at the lack of shoulders through much of your commute. Lots of tight spots for 2 cars + a bike. Glad to read you are working hard at improving visibility. I noticed your wheels don't have spoke reflectors. May be a simple addition that helps address your profile visibility. Your tape idea sounds good too, if it will stay on in colder and wet temps. I didn't see any speed limit signs, but it appears to be mostly 30-40MPH range streets, which is what I ride on. Having a speed pedalec will certainly help keeping you closer to car traffic speeds. Also means their approach speed on you will be slower.

You have the same headlight as I do on my Turbo X. I find it more that sufficient for my needs. I supplement it with a flashing Cateye Rapid X2. I'm a big fan of one steady-on and one flashing rear and front light. I have a Cateye Rapid X3 in the rear mounted to my rack.

Weight is something that took me some time to learn to live with. My pedal road bike is only 26lbs, so going to the 50 pound Turbo took some getting used to. I had to adapt my living room for storing my bike and performing cleaning/maintenance as getting it up and down my stairs to the basement, just isn't going to work—even with the battery off.

I think we come from somewhat similar biking backgrounds with previous good experience on non-electric and going electric to help reduce the strain, sweat and commute inconsistencies. I also found there were compromises in terms of things like your eco-usage discovery and bike weight. In the end tho, I was able to make it work well. Both pedal and pedalec have their downsides—they're just different downsides.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Watching your commute video, I am saddened at the lack of shoulders through much of your commute. Lots of tight spots for 2 cars + a bike. Glad to read you are working hard at improving visibility. I noticed your wheels don't have spoke reflectors. May be a simple addition that helps address your profile visibility. Your tape idea sounds good too, if it will stay on in colder and wet temps. I didn't see any speed limit signs, but it appears to be mostly 30-40MPH range streets..
Thanks for the supportive post. A 16 mile commute on an e-bike should be a piece of cake. But this is a tough urban environment so it really isn't about the number of miles. My route is all 25-35mph. But people here typically ignore that and there is very little traffic enforcement. A couple of sections inside Detroit are wide streets but cars typically are driving 40-50mph which is 10 to 15 over the limit. Throw in cell phone use and its a dangerous environment. There are a couple of sections that really scare me where the majority of traffic moves over to a right-only turn lane and has to cross over a bike lane that continues straight. I typically see drivers here in excess of 40-45mph (10-15 over the limit) and driving in the bike lane until they can veer off right. It isn't uncommon for me to see school buses stop and put out their red lights only to have traffic continue to flow right past the school bus (and speeding). If drivers here don't even care to stop for the school bus loading kids then I don't think they will have much respect for bicyclists.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Over50,
Your idea of using reflective tape sounds pretty good as it will not distract from the aesthetics of the bike and I have read about others using it with good effect
I used one of my regular bikes for the reflective tape experiment (my Tern). I frequently use my regular bikes to get groceries at night so definitely will get some use from the experiment. I added the Lightweights for Wheels to the spokes (2 spokes then skipping 2 spokes). And the 3M silver reflective tape to portions of the cargo racks. Attaching a picture here of my Tern regular bike after the reflective tape is applied.

For the R&M I might try the black reflective tape (I'll admit to some level of vanity). I was thinking I should at least hit the Bosch battery pack, the motor housing, the outer stanchions of the suspension fork and sections of the cargo rack. Also some spoke reflectors. Does anyone have any other products or techniques they've used to enhance the visibility of the bike for commuting (apart from the obvious head and taillights)?
TernReflective1.JPG
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
Great to see this post and the details of your journey so far! I'm very excited to hear more! Let me know if we can help out with the seatpost and or suspension. For the suspension, you might need to just let a little air out. If you remove the cap on the non-drive side of the fork and attach the pump supplied with the bike you can press the little button near the gauge. Remove 10 psi at a time and test it out.

I have some wheel and fork reflectors to help with the side profile visibility. If you want I can send them to you. Let me know if I can assist further. Hopefully you're getting some warmer days like we are here. Happy riding!
 

E-Wheels

Well-Known Member
Over50,
No pressure, but are we overdue an update of your Charger?
How are you settling in with the bike and does it meet your needs & requirements as a daily commuter
Have you made a video of your commute yet
Also, I would be interested in seeing how the headlight performs during a night ride
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
Over50,
No pressure, but are we overdue an update of your Charger?
How are you settling in with the bike and does it meet your needs & requirements as a daily commuter
Have you made a video of your commute yet
Also, I would be interested in seeing how the headlight performs during a night ride
Pressure! The bike has been sitting here and I've made some adjustments that I am eager to test. Our weather turned cold and they resalted roads a couple of weeks ago. So last weekend I ventured out on one of my regular bikes and let the Charger stay dry. But we just had a big rain to wash the salt away and tomorrow is warm so I hope to get out tomorrow night and test the headlight. I switched out the seat post for a Body Float and I added supplemental head and taillights (battery usb). Supplemental headlight is the Blackburn Central 200. Supplemental taillight is a really cool one! The Lupine Rotlicht. It mounts under the saddle and has 5 power levels, 8 modes and a motion sensor and light sensor. I think the latter 2 are mutually exclusive. You can set it to act as a brake light or increase intensity if it senses a car's headlights. I still haven't added any reflectivity. Propel was kind enough to send reflectors for the suspension forks so just waiting for those. Video will lag a bit until I get the bike all setup and I'm comfortable that all is configured the way I want. I haven't purchased a camera yet but will start looking soon. I've got panniers on the bike but also have the Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus panniers on order from REI. I will see which bags work best for the commute and switch the others to my regular bikes.
 
Last edited:

vincent

Well-Known Member
think someone on this site posted about these lights, thought they looked really good- they also have a wireless turn signal switch
seem like good lights for serious commuters like you
reviews are good so far on amazon


https://www.amazon.com/LEDBYLITE-Wa...TF8&qid=1484803668&sr=8-1&keywords=ledbylites



i already have 6-7 pretty high quality lights front and back on each of my bikes or i would definitely get these
plus i dont really ride on roads like you are doing, mine is mostly very slow neighborhoods etc just for exercise

even then i usually run the integrated bike headlamp, a niterider lumina and a cygolite expillion on the fronts- one on blinker
then minimum 3 tailights, mixture of cygolites and niteriders
to me the more lights the better

really like the reflective stuff on the tern, just got some of the spoke tape etc but havent had time to put it on mine

if you try those LEDBYLITES please post back on how you like them
 

JayVee

Well-Known Member
Does anyone have any other products or techniques they've used to enhance the visibility of the bike for commuting (apart from the obvious head and taillights)?View attachment 13980
I purchased a pair of Ortlieb Back-Roller 'reflective' panniers. Haven't got the bike yet, so I've tested them by hanging them in my driveway at night, whilst flashing a torch at them. Dealer swears they are highly visible when shone upon by headlights, but I have to say that it's really difficult to reproduce.

A smartphone pic shows the effect though:

ortlieb-p.jpg
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
I use these Ortlieb High Visibility panniers and I think if there is a lot of ambient light they don't work as well. If it's dark they work better.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
I use these Ortlieb High Visibility panniers and I think if there is a lot of ambient light they don't work as well. If it's dark they work better.
I ventured out for six miles tonight to test the headlight and seatpost. Streets still a bit wet and slick so I took it easy 100% in Eco mode. The headlight combined with the supplemental is definitely enough for commuting in the dark. I had some lighting with the street lamps so it wasn't pitch black for my test. And the supplemental battery operated headlight did make a noticeable difference (tested with it off).

I had the 2 headlights, yellow flashing leg bands and blue flashing arm bands, the stock taillight, a supplemental Knog taillight on the cargo rack (probably won't keep that one), the Rotlicht under the saddle (used as a flasher) and a flasher on the back of my helmet. So I was lit up like a Christmas tree. But maybe one hole was no light on my chest to illuminate the Bosch controller and Nuvinci controller (probably can get by without this though).

For the most part there was little traffic but the cars I did encounter I felt as if they were almost stopping (oncoming) to let me pass. Cross traffic was stopping and waiting. I'm used to drivers not waiting and pulling out in front of me and not slowing down as they pass. Like maybe they were fascinated with the lights? I wonder if a rider can have too much lighting? I recall kayaking classes where the instructor would say "if you don't want to hit the rocks then don't stare at the rocks - don't focus on what you want to avoid". Could yellow leg flashers and blue arm flashers create a novelty that drivers want to check out?

Thanks for the pannier tips. I'm finding Ortlieb is the way to go for the R&M racks. I sent them an email to find out what brands they recommend for the best fit and R&M replied that Ortlieb and Vaude are the best bets. If the Ortliebs I ordered aren't reflective enough I'll add some tape perhaps.

The helmet: I recently dropped my Bell Annex twice and the second time was from a good height onto concrete. It was an clutz move for sure. I decided to replace with the Kali Protectives City Helmet. I have to say the fit can really be dialed in and it gives me a nice snug feel. It has removable ear pads that really add warmth and reduce the wind noise. It also has a visor that stows away easily. Lastly it has a light clip on the back. I really like the Bell Annex so I ordered another for warmer weather (it also has a rear light clip).
https://kaliprotectives.com/helmets/urban/city
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
think someone on this site posted about these lights, thought they looked really good- they also have a wireless turn signal switch
seem like good lights for serious commuters like you
reviews are good so far on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/LEDBYLITE-Wa...TF8&qid=1484803668&sr=8-1&keywords=ledbylites
I think I checked these out once before but I can't recall for sure. The turn signal option is great especially if the police get picky (I think I fall under a scooter law which says lights and turn signals are required). So I'm gonna give em another review and see if they might work for me. Thanks for posting the link.
 

Chris Nolte

Well-Known Member
That Kali protective helmet looks really nice. Bell is doing a similar one that we were thinking of carrying, but now that Kali one is really catching my eye. The protective eye shield really helpful when it's windy or when you're traveling at higher speeds. I like that you can hide it when it's not in use. I feel like I would feel a little funny with it down riding in the city when I'm going slow. Maybe I'm a little to vain.

I think we're going to start seeing more and more of these style helmets though. It's also included on the new speed pedelec helmet standards which are being developed for Europe at the moment. We'll see those trickle over here, even if they're not required at the moment.