Looks like I've put about 350 miles on my Felt Sporte since I brought it home a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few more things I can say about it:
It wasn't a cheap purchase, which Alison and I acknowledged going in, and about which she said, "well, it's pretty much your car," which was a useful way to think about it:
On the other hand:
In terms of usage, I've seen these things I'd hoped would happen actually happen:
On that last point, given a choice between the car and the bike, I'm generally choosing the bike now.
I don't know if I can do justice to how happy that's making me. I hate driving, I hate dealing with cars, I hate feeling dependent on a car all the time. Anything that gets me out of driving is good. While I'm not working as hard as I used to for my daily commute, I'm putting in enough effort that I can see the positive effect it's having on my mood and sleep. That riding gives me a certain level of emotional grounding that walking back and forth to the Max stop can't.
Regarding the Max, I love that my daily ride takes me less time than the Max commute by a solid 20 minutes. Granted, I lose the reading time the Max commute gave me. What I pick up is a better mood, less back pain and a greater sense of flexibility.
So, in general, I love it and I'm very happy I have it.
One thing I was curious about, though, was what would happen in the event I ran the battery down, or if I wanted to go for a ride with Ben and Al without using the motor. Last weekend Ben wanted to ride to Sellwood, so I took out the battery and pedaled along with him.
At 35 pounds without the battery, it's about five pounds heavier than my Trek Crossrip. The more upright ride, fewer gears, and lack of cleats make it feel less nimble. Still, when Ben and I got on the trail and I started pedaling along, he complained that I was going a little fast. We rode the five miles from our house to just past the bridge over 99E outside of Sellwood and turned back. I was a little sweaty because I'd left the house with a hoodie on, and it was a sunny day, but it wasn't bad. I'd guess that I could get it to 14 or 15 mph and be pretty comfortable for a while.
I've also been wondering about the best way to ride it given the several operating modes (Eco, Touring, Sport, and Turbo), and I've had some time to see how it likes to be ridden in each of those modes.
I've found that in Touring mode and given one of the higher gears at a relaxed cadence, the bike settles in at about 17.5 or 18 mph on flat terrain. In Turbo mode, it will hit 20.1 mph pretty easily. That's a pretty small difference for my morning commute, so using Touring mode means I'll have plenty of power for the ride home plus a grocery run or whatever in the evening without needing to take the charger to work with me.
When hitting a hill, the difference between Touring mode and Turbo mode is huge. It's pretty nice to be able to flip up to Turbo mode on a big hill and maintain a steady 15 mph until things level back out.
There's one guy I see on my morning commute whom I've taken to thinking of as "the white gorilla." He's super aggressive with his passing, doesn't really pay attention to context much when he's doing so, and he's pretty obnoxious about cutting back into his lane without a little clearance. I kind of hate the guy. He's a definite Type out there.
Here's a typical white gorilla scenario: A bunch of us stack up at a bicycle light. It turns green, we all push into the intersection, and the white gorilla comes up from behind. He didn't have to stop at the light, so he's still moving at his cruising speed. Seeing a collection of hybrids and road bikes, he could decide that they'll all need a few hundred feet to get back up to cruising speed, but he doesn't: He blows past everybody, cranking along, then slides back into the right side of the trail with a few inches to spare, because confronted with the choice of slowing down a little and figuring out this impromptu pack he stumbled across or doubling down on his cranking, he can't imagine going slower. At which point the guys on the road bikes who are out for a fast morning ride now have to pass him, and that triggers something inside him that cannot abide being passed, so he cranks harder and slides back in, egg-beatering along, until he hits an incline and can't keep up his pace, at which point the guys on the road bikes have to pass him again.
I can tell I drove that guy crazy last week. My bike gets up to speed pretty quickly and holds it. It holds it going up hills, holds it going down hills, holds it on flats. To look at me, though, I shouldn't be moving as consistently as the cyclists who are serious about cycling. I should be fading on the hills, coming off the stop signs slower, and fading back from 20mph as the path swells up and down.
Dude kind of couldn't get that through his head, so we ended up (or rather he ended up) jockeying back and forth with me, pedaling harder and harder and wearing himself out worse and worse until finally the last I saw of him was the back of his sweaty, pink neck as I passed him the last time and he faded away in my mirror. It seemed to be stressful for him.
Anyhow, people like that make it pretty hard to settle into a groove and not worry about getting cut off or brushed when they decide to thread the needle with oncoming bike traffic. Nice thing now, I guess, is that it doesn't last nearly as long. The worst offenders seem least capable of keeping up the pace they need to do this.
The good thing about the white gorilla is that he's modeled a behavior I could fall into pretty easily given the bike's ability to get up to speed more quickly. The people on the lightweight road bikes seem to cruise a few miles per hour faster than my bike's max, so when I run into a group that's still just a few feet down the road from a stoplight, I just back off until they can get back up to speed, then figure out if it'll make sense to pass them. Sometimes, there's so little difference in speed that passing just doesn't make any sense.
So, the missing piece has been hauling capacity. When I was first looking at e-bikes, I considered a few cargo models but ended up deciding they seemed a little much.
I've got a basket for my back rack that's okay for hauling a single grocery bag worth of stuff. It makes the bike a little harder to mount when loaded. It's no good for things like a big bag of dogfood or a 12-pack. I also don't like carrying panniers around (or trusting anyone enough to leave them with my bike when I'm in the store.)
I found a trailer from Burley that looks perfect: The Travoy comes with a big bag (and can be accessorized with more) to haul up to 60 pounds. It's very lightweight, and it doesn't seem to add as much length as other kinds of trailers might. It's built to be unclipped from the bike and used as a shopping cart inside the store, then hooked back up fully loaded. It looks like I could pretty easily pack it up with a sleeping bag and tent for a weekend retreat to Oxbow. Pretty nice use of my REI dividend.
It was really easy to assemble, too. It came with an Allen wrench to attach the hitch to my seat post. The REI folks let me unbox it, put it together, and air up the tires in the store so I could get it home without a car.
I guess I ought to make an entry for it.
Note: This is my first blog entry using an iOS-based workflow. If you use Middleman or Jekyll and have been wondering about how to use an iPad to maintain a Git-based static site, here are some pointers.