Riding a pedal assist across the country

Let me introduce myself. My name is Claire. My husband and I are retirees in our late 50's and early 60's and we are not cyclists. We are, however, active and adventurous. After walking 500 mikes on the Camino de Santiago in 2015, we decided to make 2016 the year of the bicycle trek.

Because we are not cyclists, because my husband is generally stronger and faster than I, and because I hate to fight the wind and hills, we decided to level the playing field by cycling with pedal assist bikes. Quite frankly I would not have undertaken this trek without pedal assist. We researched the different pedal assist bikes on the market, hoping to find one that was lighter in weight and with the coveted Bosch system. We also wanted a bike that was tough and would handle not only the road but also be versatile for trail riding. We settled on the Felt Nine E 20 hard tail mountain bike which weighs in at 38 lbs and has a battery range of 20-60 miles.

We equipped our bikes with a rear rack and installed fenders front and rear, attaching a blinkee to the rack. We also installed Ergon handlebar grips, a Mirrcycle rear view mirror, clip pedals, and replaced the stock saddle with Brooks B17 saddles. We purchased two large ortlieb panniers, one ortlieb medium size rack pack, a small bar bag, and a Rixen and Kaul klick fix handlebar bag for each bike. The Schwalbe stock tires were traded out for Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires in order to accommodate the fenders. And most importantly, we purchased an extra Bosch battery to ensure we had power on those long deserted stretches. Note that my bike -a medium frame, did not have any braze-ons for a water bottle, and the braze-ons on my husbands large frame bike did not fit his bottle. So we each put two water bottles in our handlebar bags.

And so we left July 14 from Eugene Oregon riding the Transamerica. After nearly 1000 miles we can report that the bikes have performed wonderfully. We were originally concerned about the stability of the bikes with all of the weight in the back, but we try to load the rack as forward as possible and all has been fine. We have had no issue with the components of the bikes.

My husband did experience 1 flat on the front tire; I have not had one. After 1000 miles the rear tire knobs are almost worn smooth and we have experienced that the Rapid Robs roll very slowly. So we are replacing them with Continental Travel Contact tires; I will get back to you on how they perform.

As far as battery performance is concerned, there has not been a mountain pass or a headwind that I cannot conquer. Of course the battery life is affected by these things. We are both carrying about 40 lbs of belongings on the rear, and with that weight we are able to ride about 40-45 miles on level terrain and about 30 miles when on rolling hills (note we are not heavy people: I am 130 lbs and my husband 160 lbs). Mountain passes exhaust the battery after about 20 miles.

When we first began I had "battery anxiety"; I was fixated on whether we would be able to recharge. After all these miles my anxiety is gone; there are countless placed to recharge. City parks, city libraries, restaurants, etc ( we ask permission and have never been denied). You will find electrical outlets in all kinds of places -just take advantage of them and be smart to recharge whenever you can. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to completely recharge.

And finally I was a bit worried about how hard core cyclists would react to us. In this regard we have not seen any other touring cyclists using peddle assist bikes. So far no one has said anything negative to our faces, and more often than not we are asked a lot of questions. However, if given a hard time, I already have my response: There are many ways to ride across the country; there are the purists who ride touring bikes, cook their own meals, and camp. Then there are those who ride with some amount of support, whether all of their belongings are carried for them or support only in the event of mechanical issues. I am a version of these cyclists-I carry my own things, camp when possible, and hand wash my own clothes. I do not receive vehicle support but rather battery support. I admire the purists but realize that I am not one of them.

And that is how I roll.

Claire
 
Claire, thanks for posting. I have a Stromer St-1 and am very interested in doing what you and your husband are doing--riding long-distances, day after day. So far I have limited my longer distance rides to rail-to trails--doing the entire Katy Trail in MO (229 mi. end-to-end), the Little Miami in OH (72 miles out and back), the North Bend in WV, and in WI the 400 Trail and the Elroy-Sparta.

Unlike your situation, my bike weighs 62 lbs. and each battery adds about 10 more lbs. I am 215 lbs., so the whole rig and I top out around 315 lbs. or so. I can get anywhere from 25 to 40 mi. per charge depending on terrain, riding style, and type of battery, so I have about a 90 mile range without recharging. Like you, I have found while it's important to think ahead about finding an available outlet, I can always find one--in parks, restaurants, businesses--I tell people I'll be consuming about 20 cents worth of power, and pay them a dollar if they're concerned at all. I have a Ibera RA-5 rack with two Ortlieb bags that hold a lot, and an Ibera bag that snaps on top of the rack. I pack in my charger, two extra batteries, a sleeping bag, a tiny tent, clothing, water, camera, food, etc. At the end of a long 90 mile or so day, I make sure when I check into a motel or campground to get my charger out and get busy charging, as each battery can take 2.5-4 hours to recharge.

Someday I hope to get out on the road like you have and really do something substantial.


Let me introduce myself. My name is Claire. My husband and I are retirees in our late 50's and early 60's and we are not cyclists. We are, however, active and adventurous. After walking 500 mikes on the Camino de Santiago in 2015, we decided to make 2016 the year of the bicycle trek.

Because we are not cyclists, because my husband is generally stronger and faster than I, and because I hate to fight the wind and hills, we decided to level the playing field by cycling with pedal assist bikes. Quite frankly I would not have undertaken this trek without pedal assist. We researched the different pedal assist bikes on the market, hoping to find one that was lighter in weight and with the coveted Bosch system. We also wanted a bike that was tough and would handle not only the road but also be versatile for trail riding. We settled on the Felt Nine E 20 hard tail mountain bike which weighs in at 38 lbs and has a battery range of 20-60 miles.

We equipped our bikes with a rear rack and installed fenders front and rear, attaching a blinkee to the rack. We also installed Ergon handlebar grips, a Mirrcycle rear view mirror, clip pedals, and replaced the stock saddle with Brooks B17 saddles. We purchased two large ortlieb panniers, one ortlieb medium size rack pack, a small bar bag, and a Rixen and Kaul klick fix handlebar bag for each bike. The Schwalbe stock tires were traded out for Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires in order to accommodate the fenders. And most importantly, we purchased an extra Bosch battery to ensure we had power on those long deserted stretches. Note that my bike -a medium frame, did not have any braze-ons for a water bottle, and the braze-ons on my husbands large frame bike did not fit his bottle. So we each put two water bottles in our handlebar bags.

And so we left July 14 from Eugene Oregon riding the Transamerica. After nearly 1000 miles we can report that the bikes have performed wonderfully. We were originally concerned about the stability of the bikes with all of the weight in the back, but we try to load the rack as forward as possible and all has been fine. We have had no issue with the components of the bikes.

My husband did experience 1 flat on the front tire; I have not had one. After 1000 miles the rear tire knobs are almost worn smooth and we have experienced that the Rapid Robs roll very slowly. So we are replacing them with Continental Travel Contact tires; I will get back to you on how they perform.

As far as battery performance is concerned, there has not been a mountain pass or a headwind that I cannot conquer. Of course the battery life is affected by these things. We are both carrying about 40 lbs of belongings on the rear, and with that weight we are able to ride about 40-45 miles on level terrain and about 30 miles when on rolling hills (note we are not heavy people: I am 130 lbs and my husband 160 lbs). Mountain passes exhaust the battery after about 20 miles.

When we first began I had "battery anxiety"; I was fixated on whether we would be able to recharge. After all these miles my anxiety is gone; there are countless placed to recharge. City parks, city libraries, restaurants, etc ( we ask permission and have never been denied). You will find electrical outlets in all kinds of places -just take advantage of them and be smart to recharge whenever you can. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to completely recharge.

And finally I was a bit worried about how hard core cyclists would react to us. In this regard we have not seen any other touring cyclists using peddle assist bikes. So far no one has said anything negative to our faces, and more often than not we are asked a lot of questions. However, if given a hard time, I already have my response: There are many ways to ride across the country; there are the purists who ride touring bikes, cook their own meals, and camp. Then there are those who ride with some amount of support, whether all of their belongings are carried for them or support only in the event of mechanical issues. I am a version of these cyclists-I carry my own things, camp when possible, and hand wash my own clothes. I do not receive vehicle support but rather battery support. I admire the purists but realize that I am not one of them.

And that is how I roll.

Claire
 

irenewg13

Active Member
Let me introduce myself. My name is Claire. My husband and I are retirees in our late 50's and early 60's and we are not cyclists. We are, however, active and adventurous. After walking 500 mikes on the Camino de Santiago in 2015, we decided to make 2016 the year of the bicycle trek.

Because we are not cyclists, because my husband is generally stronger and faster than I, and because I hate to fight the wind and hills, we decided to level the playing field by cycling with pedal assist bikes. Quite frankly I would not have undertaken this trek without pedal assist. We researched the different pedal assist bikes on the market, hoping to find one that was lighter in weight and with the coveted Bosch system. We also wanted a bike that was tough and would handle not only the road but also be versatile for trail riding. We settled on the Felt Nine E 20 hard tail mountain bike which weighs in at 38 lbs and has a battery range of 20-60 miles.

We equipped our bikes with a rear rack and installed fenders front and rear, attaching a blinkee to the rack. We also installed Ergon handlebar grips, a Mirrcycle rear view mirror, clip pedals, and replaced the stock saddle with Brooks B17 saddles. We purchased two large ortlieb panniers, one ortlieb medium size rack pack, a small bar bag, and a Rixen and Kaul klick fix handlebar bag for each bike. The Schwalbe stock tires were traded out for Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires in order to accommodate the fenders. And most importantly, we purchased an extra Bosch battery to ensure we had power on those long deserted stretches. Note that my bike -a medium frame, did not have any braze-ons for a water bottle, and the braze-ons on my husbands large frame bike did not fit his bottle. So we each put two water bottles in our handlebar bags.

And so we left July 14 from Eugene Oregon riding the Transamerica. After nearly 1000 miles we can report that the bikes have performed wonderfully. We were originally concerned about the stability of the bikes with all of the weight in the back, but we try to load the rack as forward as possible and all has been fine. We have had no issue with the components of the bikes.

My husband did experience 1 flat on the front tire; I have not had one. After 1000 miles the rear tire knobs are almost worn smooth and we have experienced that the Rapid Robs roll very slowly. So we are replacing them with Continental Travel Contact tires; I will get back to you on how they perform.

As far as battery performance is concerned, there has not been a mountain pass or a headwind that I cannot conquer. Of course the battery life is affected by these things. We are both carrying about 40 lbs of belongings on the rear, and with that weight we are able to ride about 40-45 miles on level terrain and about 30 miles when on rolling hills (note we are not heavy people: I am 130 lbs and my husband 160 lbs). Mountain passes exhaust the battery after about 20 miles.

When we first began I had "battery anxiety"; I was fixated on whether we would be able to recharge. After all these miles my anxiety is gone; there are countless placed to recharge. City parks, city libraries, restaurants, etc ( we ask permission and have never been denied). You will find electrical outlets in all kinds of places -just take advantage of them and be smart to recharge whenever you can. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to completely recharge.

And finally I was a bit worried about how hard core cyclists would react to us. In this regard we have not seen any other touring cyclists using peddle assist bikes. So far no one has said anything negative to our faces, and more often than not we are asked a lot of questions. However, if given a hard time, I already have my response: There are many ways to ride across the country; there are the purists who ride touring bikes, cook their own meals, and camp. Then there are those who ride with some amount of support, whether all of their belongings are carried for them or support only in the event of mechanical issues. I am a version of these cyclists-I carry my own things, camp when possible, and hand wash my own clothes. I do not receive vehicle support but rather battery support. I admire the purists but realize that I am not one of them.

And that is how I roll.

Claire
Let me introduce myself. My name is Claire. My husband and I are retirees in our late 50's and early 60's and we are not cyclists. We are, however, active and adventurous. After walking 500 mikes on the Camino de Santiago in 2015, we decided to make 2016 the year of the bicycle trek.

Because we are not cyclists, because my husband is generally stronger and faster than I, and because I hate to fight the wind and hills, we decided to level the playing field by cycling with pedal assist bikes. Quite frankly I would not have undertaken this trek without pedal assist. We researched the different pedal assist bikes on the market, hoping to find one that was lighter in weight and with the coveted Bosch system. We also wanted a bike that was tough and would handle not only the road but also be versatile for trail riding. We settled on the Felt Nine E 20 hard tail mountain bike which weighs in at 38 lbs and has a battery range of 20-60 miles.

We equipped our bikes with a rear rack and installed fenders front and rear, attaching a blinkee to the rack. We also installed Ergon handlebar grips, a Mirrcycle rear view mirror, clip pedals, and replaced the stock saddle with Brooks B17 saddles. We purchased two large ortlieb panniers, one ortlieb medium size rack pack, a small bar bag, and a Rixen and Kaul klick fix handlebar bag for each bike. The Schwalbe stock tires were traded out for Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires in order to accommodate the fenders. And most importantly, we purchased an extra Bosch battery to ensure we had power on those long deserted stretches. Note that my bike -a medium frame, did not have any braze-ons for a water bottle, and the braze-ons on my husbands large frame bike did not fit his bottle. So we each put two water bottles in our handlebar bags.

And so we left July 14 from Eugene Oregon riding the Transamerica. After nearly 1000 miles we can report that the bikes have performed wonderfully. We were originally concerned about the stability of the bikes with all of the weight in the back, but we try to load the rack as forward as possible and all has been fine. We have had no issue with the components of the bikes.

My husband did experience 1 flat on the front tire; I have not had one. After 1000 miles the rear tire knobs are almost worn smooth and we have experienced that the Rapid Robs roll very slowly. So we are replacing them with Continental Travel Contact tires; I will get back to you on how they perform.

As far as battery performance is concerned, there has not been a mountain pass or a headwind that I cannot conquer. Of course the battery life is affected by these things. We are both carrying about 40 lbs of belongings on the rear, and with that weight we are able to ride about 40-45 miles on level terrain and about 30 miles when on rolling hills (note we are not heavy people: I am 130 lbs and my husband 160 lbs). Mountain passes exhaust the battery after about 20 miles.

When we first began I had "battery anxiety"; I was fixated on whether we would be able to recharge. After all these miles my anxiety is gone; there are countless placed to recharge. City parks, city libraries, restaurants, etc ( we ask permission and have never been denied). You will find electrical outlets in all kinds of places -just take advantage of them and be smart to recharge whenever you can. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to completely recharge.

And finally I was a bit worried about how hard core cyclists would react to us. In this regard we have not seen any other touring cyclists using peddle assist bikes. So far no one has said anything negative to our faces, and more often than not we are asked a lot of questions. However, if given a hard time, I already have my response: There are many ways to ride across the country; there are the purists who ride touring bikes, cook their own meals, and camp. Then there are those who ride with some amount of support, whether all of their belongings are carried for them or support only in the event of mechanical issues. I am a version of these cyclists-I carry my own things, camp when possible, and hand wash my own clothes. I do not receive vehicle support but rather battery support. I admire the purists but realize that I am not one of them.

And that is how I roll.

Claire
No pics or anything? How about setting up a blog or something to document the trip? ;)
 

irenewg13

Active Member
You maybe know, well known member Ravi is also en route for a cross country. WI to CA
Perhaps you will cross paths!
Irene
 

John ware

Active Member
While ebikes have been making headway in acceptance for commuting and off road riding in the US, I think cycle touring on an ebike is a real possibility as well. I just completed a 7 day 450 mile ride across southern Iowa on my Stromer ST2 completely self supported from a gear standpoint. The bike performed flawlessly and I managed to make each day on a single charge including an 80 mile day full of heat and hills. My only "anxiety" was that my that charger might malfunction. I wish there were some smaller more durable options out there. That said, 50-75 mile days with gear are entirely doable.

I do have to sing the praise of the trailer for touring. I have many decades of touring with panniers but I have to say I've fallen for the convenience of packing and the lack of weight hanging off the bike that the trailer provides.


image.jpeg
 
As you will recall, in my original post I addressed that my husband and I were in the process of cycling across the US on Felt Nine E 20 pedal assist bikes. At the time of that post we had gone just under 1000 miles and were going to switch from Rapid Rob MTB tires to Continental Travel Contact tires with Duraskin.

Since that post we have cycled across Wyoming and Nebraska on our constant journey east. I continue to be impressed with my Felt bike as it handles the roughest of roads and shoulders with ease. We have met other cyclists who have suffered cracks in their rims; we, however, have had no such problem even though we carry all of our weight on the back (except for a handlebar bag which holds our water). Even in strong crosswinds our bikes consistently track forward. After nearly 2000 miles across country I have come to view my bike as my best friend.

We continue to be amazed by the resiliency and stamina of the Bosch battery. Of course in Wyoming we encountered mountain passes and headwinds which depleted our batteries causing us to have to recharge whenever the opportunity arose. However, we were able to ride distances of 80+ miles without a problem ( our greatest distance thus far was 115 miles). (With this said I must stress that we rarely pass up an opportunity to charge ). Here, in flatter Nebraska we need not be so vigilant about charging though we each set off in the morning with 2 fully charged batteries.

The Continental tires have proven a good investment. They roll much faster than our Rapid Robs, fit in our fenders much better eliminating the grinding from rocks trapped between the tire and fender, and they have proven stable in gravel and the "junk" that accumulates on the shoulder. So far no flats.

Tomorrow we hit the road again and will enter Iowa as we proceed to our final destination- Maine. I trust our Felts will continue to perform wonderfully

Claire
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Phenomenal, @Claire and Primo! You both are an inspiration. Try using a simple photo editor like Paint and resize your pics to be smaller, say 400 to 600 pixels in width, then the program will match the height. You should be able to upload pics with no problem then; we all really want to see a bit of where you've been :)
 
Here are some photos from our trip.

Day 1: Eugene OR to Mackenzie Bridge OR.
 

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