After spending most of a month in Amsterdam I was deeply impressed by the bicycle culture there and felt bad that I hadn’t been riding my bike as much as I would like or felt I should. A few years ago, I sold my (dead/dying) Honda Civic (f0r scrap) and since then, for the most part, I just don’t drive that much around town at all. Recent events (which I will get into in a future post) have pointed out to me that I need to be in better shape. Like, Much Better Shape. Riding a bike is, for me, an optimal solution. I find going to the gym one of the most boring and grim experiences I can think of. Riding a bike is fun and useful – I can get things done on my bike that I cannot do at a gym – like GO TO WORK.
The problem with riding a bike is my left knee. It’s not what it used to be, shall we say, and is showing signs of arthritis. cycling is tough on knees, and I am fairly certain that poor cycling habits was a key contributor to my present condition. My knee is fine for most efforts, but grinding u pa hill or extended efforts – it tires and hurts. Thus: the electric assist bike.
I’ve been contemplating procuring an electric assist since the early 2000s. Not far from where we lived in San Francisco was a guy who started an ebike company called Stokemonkey. He would take an extended bike frame (the “Big Dummy” built by Surly) and put a 1000w motor and battery pack on it. The results were amazing. I was especially touched by this video:
There she is pedalling her Stokemonkey / Surly Big Dummy with two kids on the back and four bags of groceries. Awesome – a simple, sweet, decent and wonderful scene. She is able to travel quickly and easily. I’m sure those kids are now teenagers. I hope they have happy memories of their mom carting them around town on her Stokemonkey. A friend of mine in San Francisco had one of these and let me ride it. At first, it scared the crap out of me – one simple touch on the throttle and suddenly I was going 25mph, without pedaling. I was impressed.
I knew then that some day I would have an ebike.
I looked at a bunch of different bikes. I was soon smitten by the Tidal Force 750. Here’s a video of some people riding Tidal Force 750s at speeds over 50kmph.
This is what the Tidal Force looks like.
It looks very milspec, because it kind of is. It started with a non-electric folding bike built by Montague for paratroopers. It was then electrified and they tried to get the pentagon to sign on. At the same time they were selling them to the public. Due to massive mismanagement, they went out of business very quickly. It’s an interesting story, and is told in some detail Here.
Tidal Force came and went quickly…
I liked the design of the Tidal Force. I also liked its specifications – it was VERY fast. I was thinking about the Tidal Force 750 a week ago, and then looked into Canadian ebikes. I found a company, Daymak, that makes ebikes and one of them is called The Arsenal. It looks A LOT like the Tidal Force. Like the Tidal Force, it is a folding bike. Unlike the tidal Force, it has a 350w motor, not 1kw. Also, it folds differently – more symmetrically – than the Tidal Force, making it a bit easier to pick up and haul around. Here’s a picture of the Arsenal:
As you can see – it looks A LOT like the Tidal Force, only without the giant motor… It is also speed limited to 35kmph.
I thought about the Arsenal a bit and concluded I don’t really need a folding bike. My office is big enough to accomodate a bike – folding it would gain me little. Also, the plan is to use this vehicle every day, and any locking mechanism would wear out with daily use. However, I was interested in Daymak – they are local to Toronto, so any repairs I might need can get done quickly and easily. I wouldn’t have to worry about the vagaries of dealerships. So I examined other ebikes they make, and felt that the Vermont 48 might be ideal. So I borrowed Beth’s car (GREENISH, the senile Prius) and cruised up to Ebike Universe in North York – the main showroom and dealership for Daymak in Toronto.
There, I met Elena Carbone and we talked for some time about what I am doing with an ebike and what my needs are. She dissuaded me from the Vermont 48 and recommended the Paris 48. Her points were good: the Vermont has a more aggressive “body forward” posture and a top tube in the frame. The Paris is built more like an Amsterdam “Oma” bike – it has a “step through” frame, and a more vertical body position. It has the same motor (500w) and battery (48v Lithium) as the Vermont. Thus, it has the same performance as the Vermont, while being much more comfortable and easy to ride. This is especially true, she pointed out, in city traffic, where one must frequently dismount at stoplights or crowded intersections. The Paris, like the Vermont, is both a pedal assist or throttled motor, at the push of a button. I am certain I will use pedal assist the most. I don’t mind pedaling. My knee doesn’t like hills much and tends to ache after 40 minutes of solid work. The pedal assist will allow me to
– pedal and not feel like I am breaking my knee.
– not have to stew in the T.T.C.
– get me to work in 35 minutes (driving takes 27 minutes, so it’s nearly as fast as driving a car!)
– get out and exercise more, which is the whole point of this, anyway…
Elena also pointed out that the Paris 48 is $100 less expensive than the Vermont 48. Also, because it’s the middle of the winter, they are having a sale where if I put $200 down *now* they would take $200 off the price when I come to pay it off and collect the bike.
Her argument was convincing. And so at the end of February I will collect a brand new black Daymak Paris 48. It’s not a Stokemonkey rolling on a Surly Big Dummy. I don’t have a squad of kids to haul with my groceries – I have a bike trailer for that. It’s not a Tidal Force 750, but then I don’t need a folding bike, or one that can be thrown out of an airplane. And, it’s not a Vermont or some fancy carbon fiber bike – I like the step-through design and the vertical position of the Paris, and I find carbon fiber bikes very brittle to ride and expensive. There are a number of features I wish the Paris 48 had (a charge sensing battery charger would be nice, and a brake activated interrupter on the motor would be nice. But for less than $2000, I can deal with that.
At the end of February, I will have a daily ebike, a vehicle I can ride to work.
We are pleased.