Touring cross country with an ebike - Video

BBassett

Active Member
Unless you are extremely hardcore 12+ hours a day on a bike, day in and day out for a month is going to be a major sufferfest. Even on an electric bike.

Long Beach, CA to Brooklyn, NY is a little over 3000 miles, which is reasonably doable in two months at 50 miles per day. Or you might kick up the mileage a bit and have a zero day every now and then. So if she carried two spare batteries and maybe an extra charger she'd certainly be fine. Anyway at 50-60 miles per day your only looking at (at most) 5-6 hours of saddle time per day. Which leaves plenty of time to stop and sniff the flowers, enjoy a beer, or evangelize about e-bikes.

My own $0.02 is that having more than three batteries total, without major charging infrastructure, is unlikely to be helpful for most long-distance e-bikers.
I don't like to pass so many cool places when I ride long distances so usually don't move that far in between camping for a day or two. But I am sure you have had days where you hit 70 even 80 miles and could keep right on riding. I average between 10 and 15 mph fully loaded because I try and conserve as much power as possible. If she's smart she's is carrying 3 batteries so she doesn't have to destroy a pair of them on this ride alone. Ya can't fully charge and fully deplete a lithium battery and be shocked when you get it's minimum life (# of recharge cycles). If she is the type person to methodically plot every move, every turn, even stop for the night and possible power at daily stops like cafes she won't have a problem in my opinion. This ain't her 1st rodeo it seems.
 

BBassett

Active Member
If like me you cannot do camping, two months on the road with an average hotel bill of say $100 and other daily expenses of say $50, the trip is going to cost $9,000+. Also, 3 months of no income and you soon realize, this ain't a cheap adventure.
Don't you mean, "Will not do"? I have ridden for over a week at a time and not spend money on anything but fresh foods.
 

BBassett

Active Member
If it were me I would want to do the whole trip in turbo since most of it will be along highways. I know its not the race across America but I would still feel the need for 4 + batteries to do 8+ hours in turbo. There is no way I could stop the ride after only 4 hours a day knowing how much farther I still had to go. It is just not in my nature. I would ride at least 8 hours a day and maybe take a whole day off at a time , when it was a planned rest day or a rained out day.
Yeah, ya don't ride like that (as fast as possible) with heavy loads and pulling my trailer. The amount of time it takes to recharge starts to outweigh the advantage of trying to go "fast". On level smooth surfaces I travel between 10 and 15 mph with my maximum weight. So you ride slower, you learn to ride smarter, you use the motor in the best possible manner to get the bike moving and then to keep it moving or to augment physical input. When I'm in the zone I can keep my speed steady and watch the watt-hours per mile blink between 0 and 20 as I feather the throttle and pedal. When I zip around unloaded I use as much as 200 WH per mile trying to hang with traffic. I have ridden across the states a few times on a motorcycle and this is way better. Distances of 70 or 80 miles a day are easier with an ebike than you might think.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
I carry 2 30Ah EM3 packs. I only use 60% of the possible total charge, don't fill the battery past 80%... usually, and don't deplete past 20%... again usually. I can get 50 miles out of a single 60% load with a fully loaded bike... probably about 50 or 60 pounds heavier than what she is moving. When the bike is striped down I can ride 80+ miles on that same 60% if I leg it out rather than sailing. I carry 2 batteries that I can drop 15Ah into in about 4 hours with a Grin Satiator or about 4 hours with a 300W folding solar panel if I use daylight to charge. I'd prefer to have a 120V outlet anywhere I stop but I always seem to bump into people where there is power, usually people asking me for money to sleep on their ground. You can wait for fusion if you like, you won't see portable in your life but you could wait. She didn't want to wait, neither did I. I have the same trailer she is pulling with a couple of modifications, but I don't understand why she doesn't have front panniers. My bike is more stable with weight on the front, especially when all the trailer weight hangs at the seat post.

I went a different route with the bike but decided on the Mule trailer too.
awesome!
 

BBassett

Active Member
Good luck to the rider but that seatpost mount trailer looks unstable to me as seen in the last part where she drops off a curb and rides away you can see it wobble and track slightly off camber.

Anyone that has ever pulled a trail a bike with a kid on it has probably experienced this. A dropout mount trailer that attaches to both sides is much more stable like the Burley model and will carry as much weight.
It was off-camber... because when the person connected the trailer they inserted the pin and then tightened the QR clamp when the trailer wasn't straight. I own a Tout Terrain Mule that has been modified to carry a 300W solar panel. She will get better at loading the weight and getting it equally distributed. Also, remember it's a suspended trailer and is suppose to move around some. The weight at the seat post IS a big factor and I find full panniers and two over-filled bar-bags makes the bike way more stable with a full trailer. There is a definite learning curve and I would have suggested practice over a couple of months worth of rides around her home 1st, but she'll get it. Try doing single track in a Burley.
 

BBassett

Active Member
I 100% agree, and this is why Bosch needs to support the US market with a 6A or better charger.

I have found that there is Tremendous interest in long-distance travel based on all the questions I get. A lot of people are retiring and eager to do some bike touring, but nobody wants to sit and charge all the time. A trip of any substantial length means many will be camping for at least part of the time to cut down on costs but this means no guaranteed method of charging overnight.
Get past Bosch and their lack of understanding, move to a BBSHD with a 52V 30Ah pack and charge it with a Grin Satiator, fast, slow, trickle, lithium, lead-acid... it doesn't matter. The only reason I hit a campground or motel is to reset everything! Charging speed is always going to be an issue with lithium batteries, but with big batteries, you can fast-charge them to 80% with almost no negative effect. But it's not what I call fast. The best thing is if I can sleep next to available power and start charging the second I arrive. But if distance is your thing (it's not mine) you charge when and where you can and conserve as much as possible while riding and probably cook your batteries in the process.
 

BBassett

Active Member
My longest day was about 240 miles. I had to make a deadline in Harmony, MN and started in Jefferson, IA. The total climb was a bit over 5k, mostly at the end, while approaching the Driftless region, aka Mississippi bluffs from the west.

Every conscious moment was devoted to charging. If I stopped for restroom/hydration, I was plugged in. In the upper Midwest, all the convenience stores have external outlets.

I did a laundry stop. Plugged in. Lunch break, plugged in.

What made it possible was an excellent state bike map that allowed me to plan the best route w/o traffic, flats/downhills + constant systematic topping off. I was really moving on back roads.

It was a hassle but not terribly different from the stress of making longer milestones on a non-electric bike. Talking about getting in late after a long, hard day, wringing out your jersey, sleep, up, eat and off you go again.

It was disappointing to have to use so much time charging that could have been used for sleep, etc.

This 240 miles represents an outer limit, obviously. For 120 miles, I was already set up to not have to charge. My 100+ days were all contingent on having electricity at the next stop. I start charging while setting up camp, eating, and try to get the next pair going before sleeping.

Mountains meant a limit o.f 60-70 daily miles. The batteries drain awfully fast while climbing.

We need faster chargers. The 4A doesn’t cut it.
Or an electric motorcycle.
 

dblhelix

Well-Known Member
I

She didn't want to wait, neither did I. I have the same trailer she is pulling with a couple of modifications, but I don't understand why she doesn't have front panniers. My bike is more stable with weight on the front, especially when all the trailer weight hangs at the seat post.

I went a different route with the bike but decided on the Mule trailer too.
The R&M Nevo is a step thru with a a Suntour suspension fork. Two comments. The step thru model has its benefits, but my Charger last year definitely handled better up front. Second, few front racks will work on the R&M bikes save Thule Pack & Pedal which is restricted on max load.

You might then question choice of bike, ie, why an R&M over a “touring model” outfitted with a Bafang motor? I have seen a number of “No services 125 miles” signs this tour. I have never hesitated, and I doubt Bosch can find a better vote of confidence than a woman traveling alone over extended distances without services of any sort. I am not a fan of all of Bosch’s policiies and practices, as anyone here could tell you, BUT when it comes to confidence in an ebike motor, I trust Bosch. I have over 6500 touring miles on Bosch motors over a wide variety of terrain, without a hiccup or a hint of hesitation.

I will also add that @Chris Nolte and the Propel team have earned my trust when it comes to R&M/Bosch, and we have not always seen eye-to-eye on all issues. We’re all friends when things are working well, but the true tests come when the chips are down.

I think the Bafang motors are very promising and offer obvious advantages over proprietary motors, especially when it comes to higher rate charging and solar charging. There is no disagreement here. Let’s see if Bosch steps up.

I’m glad your trailer choice has worked well for you. In my case, not so much. I am working with an almost local bike shop that I trust right now, and they are doing forensics on my TT Mule tomorrow a.m. They have already offered a preliminary diagnosis that indicates that one particular part has been defective since Long Beach CA. I’ll find out tomorrow.

I used a Burley Travoy last year, the grocery-getter. Love it. I don’t have issues with seat post trailers. I’m also a fair person who is not interested in indiscriminately maligning good companies/products, but as I mentioned above, it’s when the chips are down that counts. I will tell you that I have received no assistance from Tout Terrain or their US distributor.

Additionally, their supply chain is kaput. An Omaha bike shop called Cycle Monkey about my seized push-button release axle that had turned a simple flat repair into a chore. Here is what they were told: perhaps maybe they could call Germany and discuss possibly an axle replacement ....

If you’re selling touring equipment, it’s to people who are touring. Nobody has weeks to wait on replacement parts. “Just-in-time” does not work for this application.
 
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dblhelix

Well-Known Member
It was off-camber... because when the person connected the trailer they inserted the pin and then tightened the QR clamp when the trailer wasn't straight. I own a Tout Terrain Mule that has been modified to carry a 300W solar panel. She will get better at loading the weight and getting it equally distributed. Also, remember it's a suspended trailer and is suppose to move around some. The weight at the seat post IS a big factor and I find full panniers and two over-filled bar-bags makes the bike way more stable with a full trailer. There is a definite learning curve and I would have suggested practice over a couple of months worth of rides around her home 1st, but she'll get it. Try doing single track in a Burley.
With all due respect, I don’t think you should offer a diagnosis sight unseen. It’s under control, no worries.

Tout Terrain should register an account and engage with interested parties here. It would inspire more confidence.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
The R&M Nevo is a step thru with a a Suntour suspension fork. Two comments. The step thru model has its benefits, but my Charger last year definitely handled better up front. Second, few front racks will work on the R&M bikes save Thule Pack & Pedal which is restricted on max load.

You might then question choice of bike, ie, why an R&M over a “touring model” outfitted with a Bafang motor? I have seen a number of “No services 125 miles” signs this tour. I have never hesitated, and I doubt Bosch can find a better vote of confidence than a woman traveling alone over extended distances without services of any sort. I am not a fan of all of Bosch’s policiies and practices, as anyone here could tell you, BUT when it comes to confidence in an ebike motor, I trust Bosch. I have over 6500 touring miles on Bosch motors over a wide variety of terrain, without a hiccup or a hint of hesitation.

I will also add that @chrisnolte and the Propel team have earned my trust when it comes to R&M/Bosch, and we have not always seen eye-to-eye on all issues. We’re all friends when things are working well, but the true tests come when the chips are down.

I think the Bafang motors are very promising and offer obvious advantages over proprietary motors, especially when it comes to higher rate charging and solar charging. There is no disagreement here. Let’s see if Bosch steps up.

I’m glad your trailer choice has worked well for you. In my case, not so much. I am working with an almost local bike shop that I trust right now, and they are doing forensics on my TT Mule tomorrow a.m. They have already offered a preliminary diagnosis that indicates that one particular part has been defective since Long Beach CA. I’ll find out tomorrow.

I used a Burley Travoy last year, the grocery-getter. Love it. I don’t have issues with seat post trailers. I’m also a fair person who is not interested in indiscriminately maligning good companies/products, but as I mentioned above, it’s when the chips are down that counts. I will tell you that I have received no assistance from Tout Terrain or their US distributor.

Additionally, their supply chain is kaput. An Omaha bike shop called Cycle Monkey about my seized push-button release axle that had turned a simple flat repair into a chore. Here is what they were told: perhaps maybe they could call Germany and discuss possibly an axle replacement ....

If you’re selling touring equipment, it’s to people who are touring. Nobody has weeks to wait on replacement parts. “Just-in-time” does not work for this application.
You are spot on about the Nevo fork. I bought a Nevo and exchanged it for a Charger after 30 miles because of the fork. There is no comparison. The ride position is great on the Nevo but a bike of this quality should come with air suspension. Also these bikes are rated to carry more weight so they should come standard with bigger Ice Tech rotors and finned pads.
 

BBassett

Active Member
The R&M Nevo is a step thru with a a Suntour suspension fork. Two comments. The step thru model has its benefits, but my Charger last year definitely handled better up front. Second, few front racks will work on the R&M bikes save Thule Pack & Pedal which is restricted on max load. - Yeah, I saw her bike in the video... she still could use a front rack, panniers and bar-bag(s), it would help distribute the weight of her gear much better. You don't want the majority in the trailer.

You might then question choice of bike... BUT when it comes to confidence in an ebike motor, I trust Bosch.- I understand you like Bosch but they aren't exactly over-powered and not just proprietary, but Very proprietary with small batteries. I'm not talking about reliability, I'm talking about their bike design being used as a tour bike.

I will also add that @chrisnolte and the Propel team have earned my trust when it comes to R&M/Bosch, and we have not always seen eye-to-eye on all issues. We’re all friends when things are working well, but the true tests come when the chips are down. - I tend not to put too much stock in opinions that are offered when someone is selling something. Again, I am sure the reliability is fine.

I think the Bafang motors are very promising and offer obvious advantages over proprietary motors, especially when it comes to higher rate charging and solar charging. There is no disagreement here. Let’s see if Bosch steps up. - Why wait?

I’m glad your trailer choice has worked well for you. In my case, not so much. I am working with an almost local bike shop that I trust right now, and they are doing forensics on my TT Mule tomorrow a.m. They have already offered a preliminary diagnosis that indicates that one particular part has been defective since Long Beach CA. I’ll find out tomorrow. - Something failed?

I used a Burley Travoy last year, the grocery-getter. Love it. I don’t have issues with seat post trailers. I’m also a fair person who is not interested in indiscriminately maligning good companies/products, but as I mentioned above, it’s when the chips are down that counts. I will tell you that I have received no assistance from Tout Terrain or their US distributor. - I am not shy about maligning a company that fully deserves it, one that offers the worst customer service and support on this planet and that's TOUT TERRAIN. They simply do not care about customers that don't walk into one of their stores and hand them money. I have had a terrible experience with them and their east coast distributor, he's easy to find. I don't suggest anyone buy Tout Terrain products unless you live across the street from a store in Deutschland. That being said after modifying their products I believe I have one of, if not The best eTouring bike on the planet.

Additionally, their supply chain is kaput. An Omaha bike shop called Cycle Monkey about my seized push-button release axle that had turned a simple flat repair into a chore. Here is what they were told: perhaps maybe they could call Germany and discuss possibly an axle replacement ... If you’re selling touring equipment, it’s to people who are touring. Nobody has weeks to wait on replacement parts. “Just-in-time” does not work for this application. - hehehe Why do you think I have posted so @#^$*& many posts in the last week?
If you do buy from TOUT TERRAIN buy nothing but a bike frame and go from there.
 

BBassett

Active Member
With all due respect, I don’t think you should offer a diagnosis sight unseen. It’s under control, no worries.

Tout Terrain should register an account and engage with interested parties here. It would inspire more confidence.
With all due respect... I have been pulling mine for 3 years now with heavier loads, I know the symptom when I see it, I deal with it every time I hook-up the trailer.

I don't think Tout Terrain cares about inspiring confidence or much of anything when it comes to customers. I didn't get all the parts I paid for when I bought my bike! It didn't even come assembled! That's because of Tout Terrain And because of PWC. I'm guessing their wasn't enough profit in the sale for him to actually do the work. I contacted the owner(s) personally and they told me PWC handles sales in America, contact him as their American distributor with any grievances, the same guy that literally threw "most-all" my bike parts in a box and shipped them.

P.S. I have thick skin, you won't make me cry by disagreeing with me and don't have to preface anything with a cordial modifier. If you think I have over-stepped say so... I haven't in this case. Cheers!
 

BBassett

Active Member
The Satiator I have is light and compact.
3 lbs. with the cord X 2 is 6 lbs. It starts to stack up fast. I have mine with me everywhere I ride and have contemplated another mounted to the trailer frame... but it starts stacking up fast.
 

GuruUno

Active Member
I'm sure it's been covered here (the story), but a few years back I met Marissa Mueller (marissamuller.com) here in Metuchen, NJ. I saw her having a cup of coffee at Brewed Awakening on Main Street, saw her e-bike, trailer, solar panel and long blonde hair. I said to myself, I gotta stop to see that bike ( :) ). At that time I too had my 1st e-bike, an iZip E3 Peak. Put a lotta miles on that one, and a second, and now my 3rd (Trek Super Commuter +8 S). I too, would like to in the next year or 2 plan a NJ to California road trip via e-bike, and may consider using the new Trek Allant+ 9.9 when it's finally out. My question(s) are maybe if Marissa visits these forums she could chime in, or if anyone has previous info regarding the pros and cons of pulling the solar panel. Reading here on these forums, it seems it's something that's marginal to charge the e-bike batteries, but I'd like to get opinions and feedback before the investment and decision. Is it worth it and will it work? If not, then just plug 'em in at the end of the day as referenced.
Additionally, if anyone else has done a cross country on an e-bike, experiences, opinions, the master list of what to do, not do, take, not take, etc., etc.
Just putting it out there to see if it might enhance my planning. Like the perfect setup, the zero stress configuration, preferred items, bike, trailer, accessories, etc.
Gotta pull the rip cord, gotta do it, gonna do it.
IMG_2233.JPG
 

BBassett

Active Member
I wouldn't want a big sail strapped to my trailer, it's bad enough already. The panel I use is a folding 300W panel that is deployed when in use then secured back in the trailer.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I'm sure it's been covered here (the story), but a few years back I met Marissa Mueller (marissamuller.com) here in Metuchen, NJ. I saw her having a cup of coffee at Brewed Awakening on Main Street, saw her e-bike, trailer, solar panel and long blonde hair. I said to myself, I gotta stop to see that bike ( :) ). At that time I too had my 1st e-bike, an iZip E3 Peak. Put a lotta miles on that one, and a second, and now my 3rd (Trek Super Commuter +8 S). I too, would like to in the next year or 2 plan a NJ to California road trip via e-bike, and may consider using the new Trek Allant+ 9.9 when it's finally out. My question(s) are maybe if Marissa visits these forums she could chime in, or if anyone has previous info regarding the pros and cons of pulling the solar panel. Reading here on these forums, it seems it's something that's marginal to charge the e-bike batteries, but I'd like to get opinions and feedback before the investment and decision. Is it worth it and will it work? If not, then just plug 'em in at the end of the day as referenced.
Additionally, if anyone else has done a cross country on an e-bike, experiences, opinions, the master list of what to do, not do, take, not take, etc., etc.
Just putting it out there to see if it might enhance my planning. Like the perfect setup, the zero stress configuration, preferred items, bike, trailer, accessories, etc.
Gotta pull the rip cord, gotta do it, gonna do it.
That sounds like an awesome trip.

First off, e-bike touring is a lot like touring with a regular bicycle, so a lot of the youtube channels (AdventureCycling and Bicycle Touring Pro are good ones) will give you a lot of good ideas on how to get started.

Second, think about your budget. With careful route choices and a bit of planning you could ride across the country and sleep in a bed every night. However, most bicycle tourists camp, at least some of the time. Bicycle touring can vary between luxury adventure travel and serious dirtbagging. It is really up to you.

Third, you need to think about how much range you'll need. If you have enough batteries that your e-bike can comfortably transport you 50-60 miles in a day over varied terrain you can easily put a cross-country trip together. You'll need to plan where you'll charge your batteries (or bring solar panels) but there are lots of ways of making it work. If you have a faster charger or can get away with very low levels of pedal assist you will have more options and more flexibility.

Fourth, consider making some less ambitious shakedown trips before you launch your big adventure. There is some appeal to winging it, but you are more likely to have fun and a more successful trip if you acquire some experience. If you can keep it together and live out of your bike for two weeks you will most likely do fine on the two months or so you should expect to take to ride across the country.

Ref: Adventure Cycling Maps page