The Felt Sporte at 1,200 Miles

June 21, 2016   felt_sporte

This morning marked an interesting sort of milestone.

With the Bike More Challenge out of the way for the year, I don't really have any reason to record my rides:

So when I got up and checked the forecast and saw it was going to be cool going in (58 and rising), and wouldn't be that hot going home (78 or 79), I just packed my phone, wallet, and keys in the carrier I keep on the top tube, left the pannier with rain gear and shorts at home, and biked in. I didn't time the ride very carefully, but I know it was under 45 minutes long and have no reason to believe it was longer than 41 minutes. It never is, regardless of wind or mood. When I got into the office, I locked the bike up, rode the elevator to my floor, and started my day.

Reader, this is the first time in almost four years of sporadic biking to a downtown location ten to twelve miles from my home that I've ever achieved what I've come to think of as the Promised Ride: A leisurely, low-effort jaunt from home to office, done in street clothes, without packing anything along but the stuff I'd have along no matter what I was doing on a given day.

I call it the Promised Ride because every depiction of a bike commuter I've ever seen shows someone in street clothes on a nice, upright bike, breezing in to work. Sometimes they might have panniers, often they just have a bag. I've seen a few people like that in the wild, but I live pretty far out and the segments of my trip where I see other bike commuters dressed like that are usually inside a five mile radius from downtown. Being a prolific sweater, I know that six miles is pretty much my Sweat Threshold on a non-electric bike, unless I'm taking it very easy.

So, the ebike has delivered on that promise. I would never have attained it on my non-electric bike.

Anyhow, at 1,200 miles and somewhere around three months, here are a few more things about the Felt Sporte:

The brake pads and rotors are showing enough wear that it's time to replace them. I've talked to a few bike mechanics who say this is a pretty common aspect of ebike life: You go faster, you probably brake harder from higher speeds, so the pads and rotors need more frequent replacement. Fair enough.

I finally got a fitting. That went a long way to making it more comfortable. A new, longer stem gave me a more upright ride and better wrist positioning. That made the straight mountain bike handlebars a lot more comfortable after a day or two of adjustment.

The saddle is very comfortable. I can ride ten miles without bike shorts. On really hot days I switch into normal shorts. On cooler days, I just do my commute in jeans.

I also bought a set of flat-resistant tires and self-sealing tubes. The bike came with high durability tires, but I managed my first flat in four years a few weeks ago, and decided it made more sense to go back to a combination of things that had kept me flatless for a long while.

For a while, I was riding in to work in Turbo mode. Sometimes I'd bring the battery charger along. After a month of timing my rides, I came to a realization: Turbo mode didn't get me anywhere that much faster, so it wasn't really worth the hassle. So I just use Touring mode for my commute, except when I'm going up hills (like the Morrison Bridge). Then I notch it up to Turbo mode to make the climb easier.

I think the main thing I've noticed over a few months of steady use (as in, I have commuted back and forth to work on it every single work day since I bought it) is that I never have one of those slump days where I briefly consider just bailing out on the ride and taking the Max in. It just doesn't occur to me. I might feel briefly unhappy I'll be coming or going in rain, but I think I have reached a certain point of comfort with my ride that the only days I'd consider not biking in are going to be on the days where no commute is particularly advisable; Max, bike, or otherwise. That's pretty big for me.

Finally, a few people have noticed it. One guy rode alongside and asked me friendly questions about it. One woman rode asked me questions when we'd hit a stop sign together, then she drafted off of me for a mile or so, then when we parted ways at a turn she shouted over her shoulder that some day I'd be strong enough to ride a normal bike. One other guy pulled up alongside, cackled at the side of my head, then pulled away in what must have been a hard sprint for him. When I passed him on a hill a half-mile later, he cackled at the side of my head again. I don't know if that was owing to the electric bike or if he was just sort of a hypercompetitive weirdo.

So, that's about that. As things go, it is one of my favorite. I ride into work every day, I get some exercise, my mood is generally improved, and I'm a more consistent bike commuter than I've ever been without ever feeling like I have to bike in. I look forward to it each day.

Things is © 2015 Mike Hall.